He was a man around whom rumors swirled like heat. He was huge, nearly silent, and wore his parka and orange hat even in the summer. Being black in this town didn’t help.
Though he owned a house in what college kids still call “Browntown,” he also rented a storefront downtown on Fifth Street, which he called his office. You could see him on his way there, pushing a dolly. He carried newspapers, magazines, boxes of aluminum cans. You heard that he murdered his wife and spent years in the state hospital here. You heard that he was once a jazz guitarist. You heard he read newspapers and magazines aloud, and if you listened when somebody started him talking, you saw that he could talk, all about politics.
He slept in his office, mostly when it was very hot. He had an air conditioner there. Walking by, someone saw him in the doorway, and behind him, junk piled to the ceiling. The fire was caused by bad wiring. A few days later, the door was still open and you could look in. The place had been cleaned out, but the smell hung still. On the floor was a stain, like a police outline of his body.
Photo By: Life Pilgrim