A MR. NIEMYER
He wasn't a clockmaker, exactly - though I'd seen
him fix many. More like a very short man, and that
was that. Nothing distinguishable at all about him, no
real 'thing' to point out. He just was. And I knew him.
How it came to be, I can't remember; I'd seen him once
or twice along Eighth Street, when it was filled with
shoe shops and hippie stores, smoke shops and an
Orange Julius too. Now that's all gone, and I haven't
seen, I have to say, Mr. Niemyer is forty years plus.
What's it matter now, except that you're probably
saying 'well then, why write?' And I don't know - why
do anything? How to make reason of the way things
come back into one's mind, one's realm, again out of
nothing, from so long ago. What is the past that we must
must know it, and know it twice? One day he asked me
in, gave me some food, and a bottle of beer - which I
didn't really drink, and it may have been actually my
very first beer out of home - on the road, as it were.
We talked. I saw he was very nervous, and then he told
me about everything that he'd lost, that had been lost,
in the war - his mother, his wife, his children, his world.
Burned, embers, nothing, death. The only way he'd survived
as sole survivor was by hiding on a ship and ending up in
Baltimore, from where he came to New York City on a
chartered bus, pretending to be a member of the Knights
of Columbus heading to a convention. He got out in
Philadelphia, took a train from there, alone, and with
one bag and his clockmaker tools, he'd found a room
on Allen Street, and stayed. And stayed some more.
And stayed - only because, he said, he
was afraid to ever move again.