You were a fine man. Besotted and bedraggled, a rounder, bounder and down and out. But you knew how to share and with whom to share what. When we met in the cot shelter down on Center Street, when I was ragged and worn out at the end of my rope, you offered me a swig of your contraband hooch.
I declined the offer, but was quite impressed that the good folks tending night watch who would otherwise have no tolerance for such poor behavior as yours found some forbearance in the illumination of your inherent sweetness.
Still, you were no innocent. You knew how to find a place to escape the rain in the city and the floods down by the river, the cops in the parks in the late night and early dawn. I cannot share those secrets, as I do not know them as well as you and, like you, would not want to give a friend a bum steer. But, I do thank you for pointing me toward that space under the old church one punishing night that fell upon a particularly hard day.
You gave me other gifts, as well. One afternoon after a hard autumn rain, I found you sitting in a muddy puddle under the trestle on Main Street. You were content, but would entertain some company. It was my privilege to join you. Skinny as your sorry butt was, you were the biggest fish in that pond, and I was your guest. You honored me with a smile and some wry crack about proper people walkin' by. I don't recall what it was you said, it's now lost on the wind, but I felt at the time that there was some wisdom in your observation. I know it made me smile and to be proud to be sitting in that puddle.
That wit! You kept a tight grip on it, but you could fling it like a switchblade to tear the meat off the bones of the pompous and self-absorbed. A few moments later you would be dispensing more kindness to those folks around you who knew what to make of such.
Well, anyhow, in your hours 'tween blood and roses, you did stomp on the floor boards of what can pass for reality to most of us. Your clear eyes, no matter how drenched in that russian wine, never lost their shine until they closed one last time. Your voice is now silent, yet still on the wind. You don't need anymore change nor booze. So, in a way you won when that vein in your head finally blew out. But, your loving friends have lost a treasure.
Thank you, Andy. I gotta go now to steal a twig of evergreen and toss it on a memorial to fine, strange, beautiful man who is gone from this fine, strange, beautiful world that he once graced.
Hic Finis Est,