Friday, October 24, 2008

THE FOOL ON THE HILL




ENGAGING THE REAL THING

Day after day, alone on the hill
the man with the foolish grin
is keeping perfectly still.

But nobody wants to know him
they can see that he’s just a fool
and he never gives an answer

But the fool on the hill
sees the sun going down
and the eyes in his head
see the world spinning around

I FOUND ONE! A real live “fool on a hill” In a small town in Nevada resting in the shade of a tree; and I’m curious to know if what the beatles said about such a person is true.

I U-turned, parked nearby, and using a technique I’ve learned to approach jittery, sensitive or crazy people, stood some distance away looking casually about until he noticed me. Then I moved slowly in ,looking needy and asked easy questions. Where can I get some water? In garbled speech he told me, seemingly proud he knew something useful.

How do I know he was a fool in the Beatle song sense? He was alone, weird looking and weird acting. Surely the kind of person no one wants to know. I took a few surreptitious pictures and later got permission for more.

I sat down, admired his equipment and waited in silence till at last he began to talk. (I learned this lesson the hard way in North Carolina when a very shy person literally ran away from too much talk) Ever so slowly, I got the story: He is alone in the world, survives on about $400 a month SSI benefits, has a secret place to sleep, travels about on his bicycle with all his possessions piled high. He’s careful in his choice of gear as a cyclist must be. He loves radio music. His garbled speech may have been lack of practice. I guess few are eager to engage him.

Then a dreadful memory flashed in my mind. Our small town (Sondheimer, La) had someone like this, Ramondell Black. Much worse actually, because he would yell maniacally as he wandered around. One day, our gang teased him and he threw something that hit a girl in the head. The authorities took him away to live and die in an insane asylum. He lost his freedom forever and I feel guilty yet.

So I’m doubly inspired to use this occasion to show some respect to an alternative mind. In memory of Ramondell Black I will give this hapless man the most valuable thing I have: MY FULL ATTENTION. He seemed delighted; SOMEONE WANTED TO KNOW HIM. I wept when I left. Forgive me Ramondell–wherever you are.

6 comments:

Rojo said...

Randy,
This is the best piece I have read from you since I have been following your Blog. thank you

Rojo

wisesongbird said...

Ramondell has forgiven you in your act of kindness for another and your simple request. Beautiful, touching piece. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of someone. I don't know if this link will work....http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/ron_mueck/big_man.php

Randy said...

Thank you anonymous for the link. It worked and I see what you mean--a considerable resemblance to that (famous) work of art--a portrait of Ron Mueck. Makes me wonder if there's a characteristic facial expression mentally challenged folks display. (puzzled helplessness?)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful writing. I've been humming Fool on the Hill all day long!

Anonymous said...

Maybe "puzzled helplessness"=defeat or perhaps, resignation. Ron Mueck's expression looks angry/frustrated, not yet defeated.
Certainly there is more vacancy in "The Fool's" expression.
Interesting study...