Monday, May 19, 2014

One-arm Barry


I bumped into One-arm Barry this morning. Only I didn’t bump, exactly. And neither did he. We just passed one another by. And his name most likely isn’t Barry, anyway. But that’s what I call him. Because he only has one arm.


You know that thing you do when it’s cold? Shove both hands in your pockets and stumble on, like a top-heavy Tudor house leaning into the street? That’s how One-arm Barry walks, only one of the hands stuffed into his pockets doesn’t really exist. If you look close, you can see — underneath the right sleeve of his coat, there’s nothing. It’s like a clever Origami fold twixt shoulder and pocket. 2D masquerading as 3D: thin air as arm.

So as I see him, talking to Mr & Mrs No Idea Who They Are, and I wonder — have they, too, figured out that he’s One-arm Barry, or has he fooled them into believing he’s just some plucky chap, stood with his hands in his pockets cussing Gordon Brown for dragging the country into recession?

“Third place in the Euro elections,” he says — and it’s true. The Conservatives have maxed out and the independence parties have had a field day.

But is this really what he believes or is he merely saying what he thinks will afford him a moment’s “time of day”, spared from having to explain himself? To explain what it’s like to be missing an arm?

I pass him by, with no idea of how the conversation got started, and though One-arm Barry is clearly a tucker-awayer, I consider whether I’m being unkind in gracing him with a shunning of the truth. Nonetheless, I’m minded to think that perhaps we all persist in this weird kind of inbetweenworld somehow. That we all have a phantom arm, tucked into our pocket, just so, whose existence compromises us in all that we do.

Or maybe you’re spared this unsettling conjecture?

(originally posted June 2009)

20 comments:

Robin S. said...

Nonetheless, I’m minded to think that perhaps we all persist in this weird kind of inbetweenworld somehow. That we all have a phantom arm, tucked into our pocket, just so, whose existence compromises us in all that we do.

I agree, that's what we do - in the name of getting along and doing our best to be part of the humaity surrounding us.

McKoala said...

My uncle lost an arm in the war and always kept his sleeve tucked neatly in his pocket. He was well known around town, because mostly he just seemed to roam fairly aimlessly. It was once suggested he may have also left a little bit of brain behind on a French battlefield, but I was too young to tell. It was kind of cool, though, being related to him, like being related to the cathedral or the harbour, something that everybody knew.

He could also tell people how old they would be when they died and he was always right. He got his own age at death right too. That was like a superpower to us.

Kiersten said...

If so, I think I'm grateful that people don't call me on it. Also, Mrs. no Idea Who They Are owes me two cups of sugar.

Mary said...

Like McKoala, I had an uncle, though he was not a blood relative, who lost an arm in WW2. Another uncle, who was a blood relative, lost no limbs but all his self-confidence fighting that war. The two uncles were close friends. And two-armed uncle knew the moment one-armed uncle died. He then died two weeks later.

One uncle had two arms. The other uncle was short of an arm but full of joy.

Whirlochre said...

Seems like the partially limbed are a decent bunch...

Kasie West said...

Why Barry?

And yes, I believe we all tuck our weaknesses in our pockets and hope people don't notice them.

BTW, because your blog is such a dark color, when I click over to the comments section, the brightness of it causes momentary blindness followed by black streaks across my vision. :) It is quite a trip.

Whirlochre said...

I have no idea why it's Barry — same as why the guy with the long legs is called Leggy Watson — but a colour scheme change is in the offing. This one's a bit wintry and I'm warming to an orange theme...

Chris Eldin said...

Nonetheless, I’m minded to think that perhaps we all persist in this weird kind of inbetweenworld somehow. That we all have a phantom arm, tucked into our pocket, just so, whose existence compromises us in all that we do.


That's beautiful. Will he be a character in one of your stories?

Robin S. said...

Oh no. Please - not orange!

Whirlochre said...

Not sure, Chris.

And what about lims green? Or umber?

Robin S. said...

What about a nice rich shade of blue or green - not pallid - bold.

writtenwyrdd said...

When confronted with a difference that it's socially awkward to visibly notice, it seems to bring up a general feeling of inadequacy in me. I can't help noticing, and often something awkward pops out of my mouth.

It was the other way around in my youth when I had a condition that lost me my hair for a while.

So, from both sides of the coin, it's just...awkward. And we have to pretend we don't mind. That's what's really awkward!

ril said...

So... Generally, if I wander through here, I wander through in my lunch-hour at work. Thing is, the wonderful technology that stops nasties getting into the corporate network, and stops me seeking out nasties on the incorporate network, refuses to let your background pass. So, your blog, to me, appears as white text on a white background.

I like it.

writtenwyrdd said...

I have the same problem as ril lately. So I just use Ctl+A to highlight everything so I can read it.

Whirlochre said...

OK, I've fixed the colours for now & should be readable...

Robin S. said...

OH - SO glad there's no orange.
Thank you thank you thank you.

ril said...

OK, I've fixed the colours for now & should be readable...

These are, of course, independent variables... But yes to both. No longer must I heat your blog with a warm pressing iron to reveal the secret messages.

You realise that means the enemies can also read it, don't you?

Miscellaneous Marauding Evil-Doers said...

Yessssssssssssssssss.




Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.






And now we will feed on your souls...

Kiersten said...

I think you have the best comment trails of any blog ever, Whirl.

Whirlochre said...

Especially when you're here, Kiersten...