Alan Blue didn't die last week. He probably will, soon. He isn't old and he isn't young. He has been a wayfarer through his life, one who never changed. He was an errand boy, a clerk, a waiter, an actor, not a husband nor a father or a relative. And he was important though he didn't think so. He is ending his time lost in fading memories. He is a wayfarer... and I knew him.
So? So this. When I knew him as an actor he was kicking around New York and the summer-stock circuits. Lots of off-Broadway and off-off Broadway but never 'on'. Always secondary often very minor roles, never a lead. He is a small man, with an interesting face and an interesting voice. Dilgent, professional, easy to work with, people liked him because he had a wayfarer's ego that didn't shine, when they even remembered who he was.
During one off-Broadway show, a Shakespearean production, he met a girl, who played a minor role as he did. Ellie was a fragile, nervous, jittery woman who had to smoke a little dope or sip a little wine to get herself on stage. Alan became her friend, helping to get her to the theatre on time, to get through the performance, to get herself together to go home. But now Ellie was in trouble. In the space of a few weeks she had been the victim of a series of assaults—one on the street, one that burgled her apartment, one that came through her bedroom window when she was asleep. She was terrified to go home, terrified to go anywhere.
So they moved in together into Alan's place, a 4th floor walkup. He provided as much comfort and security as he knew how. He wasn't quite her lover or her boyfriend, he was her fellow-traveler, her protector. And then, like a little black cloud over her head, it happened again. He was out at a store, she was alone, a man came in through the only ungrated window that was slightly open in the bathroom. She screamed just as Alan came up the stairs. The man bolted back out the window, Ellie collapsed in hysteria. Who wouldn't?
Since they were between shows, Alan had the opportunity to be with her all the time. He called in a carpenter to reduce the window to a near port-hole size and to install a grate over it on the outside. Slowly, she relaxed and began to feel somewhat secure. By time he returned to work, a new show, she was smiling again.
Enter the black cloud. Some weeks later, late at night, a man, a junkie, tore the grate off the bathroom window, smashed the glass, and pulled his withered, thin body through an opening a small child might not get through. The broken glass shredded his skin. When she heard the noise, Ellie froze and then pushed herself into the hall. There, coming toward her was the man dragging himself on the floor in a stream of blood out of the bathroom. She screamed and ran screaming down the four flights of stairs, out into the street and disappeared.
Alan came home soon after to a commotion of police and neighbors. The police helped him look for her and he found her in a hospital. She had been picked up and put in a psychiatric ward for observation. She was heavily sedated. He went to see her day after day, but she had completely wihdrawn. Eventually, she was committed to a psychiatric facility for long-term care. When a timely opportunity presented itself, she took her life and ended it.
Alan said, "I couldn't save her. I can't save myself. I can't save anyone."
There is no moral here, no lesson to be learned, no point taken. This is just a remembrance—just another image to add to that fat scrapbook:
Life On Earth in a Not Too Empty Universe.