Main Street Film

Ryan Larkin  sits on his bench,
His back is against the fence.
And beyond the fence stone blocks with names.
Some of the characters are Hebrew.
Hanging from above on a panel: L.Berson & Fils.
Beside the stairs in the back in blue and red: Stanley Lewis.
Smoke escapes from his cigarette and he coughs.
And arches his back against the fence.
Curses silently, but can’t remember why.
He places his smoking hand between his legs …
His smoking fingers yellow from the nicotine juices.
At first he fixates the sidewalk…
His eyes climbing back to his arthritic fingers.
But this is the proud hand that signed
The blue and white posters: La Main.
The One Hundreth Birthday of the Main.
Feels like they celebrated my Birthday.
Rubbish.
He throws  the half smoked cigarette unto the ground.
And crushes it with his cane.

He turns towards his knapsack..
And removes a scrapbook and a pencil.
He draws the façade of Schwartz.
Adds the sign. Then scribbles in the next building.
He takes his time sketching Coco_Rico.
Paying meticulous attention to the details of the feathers.
Next he draws Simcha’s Fruit Store.
With so much fidelity that we can see the red and yellow in his black pencil strokes.

He lifts his bi-spectacled eyes from his scrapbook.
And the whole street becomes animated.
Filled with people and sounds.
He places his right hand on the bench.
And taps a rythm with his fingers.
With his left hand he points to a character:
Replete with cane and Panama hat.
The newly arrived skinny Englishman struts his way
Up the street looking quite confused
But very happy to be in his new found land.
A fat Polish lady follows.
Ryan’s Strumming rhythm slows down.
As she looks right and left.
Holds unto her hat  as the wind blows down the main.
Ryan’s fingers come down to a halt.
The lady stops and looks at a Kosher fish shop.
Makes a disgusted face and pinches her nose with her free hand.
Ryan restarts his finger shuffle and winds up to a scherzo.
The lady in the red dress is on the run.
One hand holding unto her hat .
The other still pinching her nose.
Ryan lifts up his hand
And the lady disappears into Warshaw’s fruit store.

He puts his scrapbook back into the bag
And takes out a cup.
Crosses his legs and holds up the cup.
Twitches his face .
And with his beady eyes hunts for his first philantropist
A young man walks by, recognizing him,
Drops spare change into his cup.
As the youngster walks off,
Ryan looks into his cup and smiles.
Encouraged by his early success
He intercepts the next passerby.
He serves him a generous rendition of ?SPARE CHANGE!
He continues on until  the cup gets heavy enough to cover his immediate needs.

After putting away his new found riches.
He dons his packsack and holding unto his cane,
Treks down to his office: Copa Cabana.
That’s where I saw him regularly,
Sitting at a corner table by the light of the front window
I greeted him with small talk.
He was ready for his early afternoon ritual.
The packsack lay on the ground next to him.
Next to it was his trusty cane.
On the table itself rested a shooter glass of brandy,
A beer and a coffee.
His hand was already armed with his smoke making device.
This smoke was primarily used to make him cough.
He also used the smoke to shield himself from unwanted glances.
On the table lay a paper or two.
Something to do with a new Film.
He was quite enthusiastic as he spoke of it.

I had not noticed. But behind us was a white haired gentleman
With thick eyebrows, heavy shoulders, square jaws.
He added a word or two to our neighborly conversation.
When he saw that I was carrying a camera,
He invited me to visit his Studio.
He introduced himself as Stanley Lewis.

Before leaving I asked Ryan if I could take his picture
To this he agreed without hesitation.
I brought the camera to my face,
Pointed the lens in his direction.
He extended his hand
Palm facing upward, cupped and ready to receive.
I focused on his face.
I could see his moist eyes,
As his lips moved past a sequence of words:

?SPARE TIME!

Alvaro Pacheco

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