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Saul Leiter


Image Source: Saul Leiter

Funny, ain’t it? I been staring at this framing for years, an’ I never really thought nothin’ of it. It ain’t much to look at, an’ it ain’t in no tour guides, so why would I think anything of it? It’s just a door frame, an’ I ain’t got the time or the inclination to go ‘round starin’ at door frames, if you know what I’m sayin’.

But one day, outta nowhere, I saw that frame, an’ I noticed all them patterns in it, from all them cracks. And son of a buck if it wasn’t all of a sudden one of the most beau-tee-ful things I ever did see! I can’t tell you why or how I saw it: I just saw it. I saw the patterns, an’ all of a sudden that door frame looked like one of them paintings up at the museum by the park. Can you imagine that?

Well, I don’t know nothin’ about art, or much of anything else, for that matter. But seeing all them cracks, it really made me think. I started wondering how they all got there, like from gettin’ hit by briefcases an’ purses an’ delivery boxes an’ all like that, an’ maybe from the building settling.

An’ some of the patterns were perfect an’ looked kinda like stuff, like faces an’ like that. An’ some of the patterns were broken an’ went nowhere. Just like life. Lots of bums goin’ nowhere, but overall it’s beau-tee-ful an’ perfect.

It ain’t much of a discovery in the grand scheme, nothing like curing polio. And I ain’t turning into some kinda pixie that goes around starin’ at every door frame in town an’ talkin’ about what I see. But it was kinda nice to be able to see that frame a little different, like to see it up close. Sometimes seeing things a little different makes all the difference.
 
 
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Photo Source: Saul Leiter

It was about four o’clock a few days before Christmas, an’ snowing like a bitch, if I may say so. I was getting slammed, on account of people sneakin’ out of their offices early to beat the snow, an’ my paper kiosk being set up right next to a bus stop. Of course, because of the snow the busses were all running late, but everybody was leaving the office early anyway, an’ they all wanted an evening edition for the commute. It was a lousy day any way you looked at it.

I had a fire going an’ I was moving around selling papers, so the cold wasn’t too bad. But with the wind and the wet of the snow, it was lousy, an’ not at all Christmas-like. I was feeling like a prize heel, to be honest with you. An’ then Robert the Sneak come running over.

Robert the Sneak is a regular at Mulroney’s. They call him Robert the Sneak ‘cause he always seemed to have some inside dope that none of the rest of us at the bar had, whether it was a tip on the horses or who was having a birthday or if someone was falling a bit behind an’ needed a little extra. He just knew these things somehow. So that’s why we called him Robert the Sneak.

I was just about to shut down when Robert the Sneak come running up to my kiosk, slipping in the snow an’ about to bust with excitement. He come over an’ yells at me, “The Grunt is in the hospital!”

The Grunt is another regular at Mulroney’s. We call him The Grunt because he does odd jobs around the bar for his drinks. Grunt work, you could say. The Grunt is old an’ frail, an’ prone to “fainting” spells, if you catch my drift. So occasionally he gets picked up an’ taken to Bellevue to dry out a bit.

So Robert the Sneak tells me that a few of the regulars are gonna go o’er to visit The Grunt at Bellevue an’ sing some Christmas songs to him. He figures if The Grunt can’t be at Mulroney’s for Christmas, we’ll bring Mulroney’s to The Grunt. Of course, I thought this was a grand idea, an’ I shut down my kiosk and headed downtown.

Five of us from the bar showed up an’ headed to The Grunt’s room. He was in his own room, lying in the dark an’ just staring out at the snow. He looked so sad an’ lonesome, it kind of tore at your heart seeing him in that condition. So I snapped on the light, an’ there we were.

You shoulda seen The Grunt light up when he saw us standin’ there! He was like a kid with a new toy. We barged into his room an’ spent probably a good hour there singin’ Christmas songs an’ making like we was all just sitting around the bar like always. An’ The Grunt, he’s the strong, silent type, but if I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was about to cry the whole time. What a scene that was!

Funny, just two hours earlier I was feeling lousy and not at all Christmas-like. An’ after we all left Bellevue an’ headed back to Mulroney’s, all we were feeling was Christmas. It didn’t take much an’ it didn’t cost a thing, an’ we made The Grunt’s night. Just goes to show you that Christmas ain’t about the getting, it’s about the giving. An’ after that night I ain’t had a day where I didn’t have that Christmas feeling.

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