~Larimer Street in Denver~
~it’s the place to be for the in-crowd~
~sports junkies, girls on the make~
~the haves pushed the don’t haves out years ago~
~it used to be skid-row~
~I liked it better then~
~spilled some blood there~
~not all of it my own~
His knuckles were pushed back, forever swollen in his huge hands whose fists had made him king of the Larimer Street Bars. Quiet and soft-spoken, he took this sixteen-year-old kid under his wing. I worked the yard with him at a scaffolding company. It was my first job and he was my boss.
George took me to the bars some Friday nights after work. The Yellow Cab would pick us up and drop us off in skid row downtown. When we walked into the bars loud voices hushed in respect. Madmen and wild women parted and made way for me and my gentle giant friend.
George put my hand to a wrench, taught me to drive the Case forklift, though he never drove a car and I asked him why. He swore me to secrecy then showed me a document from his wallet that stated his driver’s license was revoked for the remainder of his life for driving getaway cars from bank robberies in the thirties and forties.
Within a year I was George’s boss. He pushed me ahead of himself, told me I would be a man of words, that he was a man of hands. A year later, when George was fifty-six years old, his cigarette smoking and bar room brawling days caught up with him in a rush. I’ll not forget his gasping breath, its halting whoosh as emphysema put him down.
I had helped George tag all his tools and wondered why he would paint them bright orange to separate them from the others in the shop. At seventeen-years-old, after my first pall bearing, George’s wife asked me to gather them up and bring them to her. When I brought them to her house she informed me he meant for me to keep them, every single one of them. They were many, amassed over twenty hardworking years. I loaded them back into my hotrod Mustang, shed a tumble of hard-bitten tears. I have been haunted and blessed the whole of my life by memories of George’s hands.
©graphic artwork & words conceived by & property of
Tom (WordWulf) Sterner©