SLOW-GOING

Rupert Evertt photographed by Steve Pyke

The face of the movie actor is transformed into sculpture. Light. Nose. Hands. Hair. Eyes!! But no ears. There is no sound. It is night. Homer wakens on his cot at the back of his electronics repair shop deep into the inner city, east side, at the fringe, where people are isolates, without any of the golden lines of attachment that define status beyond this hidden world below the below.

He knows something is wrong. Sniffs the air for fire. Listens for an intruder. Did I lock the doors? Was glass broken up the street? A shot to the north? A shout? Is that siren closing in upon this block? Silence. No sound.

Homer wakes again. The same night? The night after? Or could it even be the night before? His mind is muddled. A whimper? A whisper? “GoHo Go Cream Ho Ice Cream Go.” Over and over the sound softly repeats, “Cream Ho GoHo Go IceCream Go. Cream Where’s Buzzy. GoHo. Buzzy! Buzzzzzzz.”

In the morning Homer finds no one dead, no destruction, no sign of intrusion anywhere. Everything on the street is normal. The used-furniture store has an early customer who buys a doughnut and coffee from the X-press store and then hires a ragged little boy to holler if anyone tries to mess with his car. A policeman knocks on number 18 where a crazy lady with all her kids and cats had been squatting but they moved on yesterday or the day before. So the day continues. Homer’s only customer’s a pawnbroker with three TV’s that need fixing-up. Not a great day but good enough to just get by which is all he imagines to expect.

Sleep again. And the voice in his head.
Find Ho GoHo PapersCan Ho Find Go. PaperCans Ho GoHo FindHo Find Buzzy! Buzzy!” The whisper, at a distance or in his head, drones on and on until Homer slips into a dream of playing hide-and-seek with his mother or maybe an aunt or a sister and no one comes to look for him and he is finally rescued from the empty house by social services. “Coco Ho Bake bean boy. Good BoyHoBakeBeanBuzzyHo.”

Homer lives his next day like all his days. Just enough. Alone except for an occasional customer and Madge who brings him a sausage for lunch and a Jamacian pie for dinner and two cans of warm ginger ale. And the postman who delivers spare parts. But today the night words have got hold of Homer’s brain. He remembers his first night in foster care right up to his last as one great hole six feet deep. He consoles himself that the grave is a destiny that all men share so he will finally be included.

That night Homer doesn’t sleep. Never takes off his pants and shirt. Sits on a chair in the dark. Waiting for the sounds. The radio that turns itself on. Someone is using a TV to drive him crazy. He will trap and end it. But there is silence all night long.

Homer staggers through another day and prepares for another night in his chair but falls asleep early just after dark and wakes with the words in his ears. Goes to the sink, washes his face. Is afraid of the man he sees in the mirror. The noise has slowed, weakened? “No moreBoy. No more. Yup NoBoy. AllGoneHoHomer Ho Home. No MoreGuzzy. GuzzyHo. HoGuzzy. Home. ”

When Homer wakes the next morning the words are entirely gone. He opens the front door and at his feet he finds the barely breathing body of the little boy who’d been living on the street. What, Homer thinks, must I, can I, will I do?

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Rupert Everett  photographed by Steve Pyke in 1987
Getty Images, Los Angeles, CA USA

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