Saturday, February 24, 2007

Contents Of A Dead Man's Pockets



Charles Gramlich has recently posted on overlooked writers and I'd have to add Jack Finney to the lot. Most known for his novel INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, he wrote several novellas involving time travel and ghosts of Hollywood actresses in the 1920s, and some of the best damn short stories this side of Robert Bloch. There is a story that has stayed in my head since high school, and I have never seen this story in a collection (The Chicago Public Library information desk verified it was indeed Finney), but it is still crystal clear in my mind. A man in a Manhattan skyscraper finds himself on a ledge after trying to retrieve an errant legal document that has flown out the window. His suit jacket is on his chair and he ponders what people would make of the loose change and laundry tickets in his various pockets, none of which held his ID. I have in my wallet a folded piece of hotel writing paper a note someone has written, hoping to find information about a dead friend. Perhaps notes were left on buses everywhere; I found this as my eyes strayed from a Dennis Lehane novel in the year 2000. I look at the words every so often and wonder if the writer ever did get the information (s)he wanted, from the somewhat primitive way of leaving notes, or at least that one, solitary note. I'd like to think that there were more out there, that autumn weekday 7 years ago. I reflected on what might found on my body should the Reaper take me for my last ride to the dirt nap farm. I almost posted a photo from my mugging last summer when my wallet was indeed stolen and I was kicked into a muddy drainpipe on a day that rained torrents. I chronicle everything, my friend Greg took the photos as my wounds were still wet. It doesn't belong to this post, though, because these words are not about graphic photos, but of varied items of note and a tiny pleading for information on the dead Eddie Curry. RIP, Mr. Curry.

9 comments:

HemlockMan said...

Sad bits of paper. Yes.

About four years ago on one of my routes (I'm a mailman), I picked up a postcard someone had discarded and which was lying in the street. It had been rained on and run over a few times. I could still read it, though. It was written from prison and the author was begging his relatives for some common items--he'd made a modest list of things he claimed to desperately need, including powder, some soap, toothpaste. The last lines were:

"Please answer this letter. Don't yall do me this way."

The oddest things cause pain for years.

Charles Gramlich said...

"The contents of the dead man's pockets" is the name of that story, I think. I read it in an old Pan book of Horror and it is one of the most memorable horror pieces ever.

etain_lavena said...

The commenting did not work for me last night.
I hope you are well.;)
My most prized special 6 word story is not in my wallet but in my heart:)....so no one will ever see it...and I keep my piercing jewelry in my wallet...:)
Take care my friend:)

Sidney said...

That is a sad tale Hemlockman.

On the story, I find myself wondering what it would be like today - it would probably be a jump drive with business data rather than a piece of paper, and a cell phone would have to factor in. Maybe he'd leave it on his desk or maybe it would lack a charge...

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

thanks for the comments; i hope the attached photos were visible. my hard drive crashed within an hour of my post, perhaps a more dire version of what sid describes. by the way, sid, thx for that email sat. i enjoyed talking with you. next post, when my computer is a repaired: sticking it to the man! i promise your cat daisy and your blinds will play a role...

abbagirl74 said...

Okay, so I can't get the pictures to come up and that really sucks! I wanted to see them. Stop by and let me know when you get them back up. See ya!

etain_lavena said...

hope you get your computer fixed soon.....take care of yourself my friend:)

Kate S said...

I always liked Jack Finney's books.

Sorry about the crash. I can't see the photos, either, which is a shame. Sorry about the mugging too. Jeez. Glad you survived it though!

Steve Malley said...

Good post.

Keep it up!