Larry and Finney
It was cold last night. But Larry and Finney insisted on staying on that bench — on riding out the night. That’s probably why they ended up calling an ambulance. But that’s not why I’m writing this story.
Larry and Finney make a great pair. Both are hefty, about 60 years old. Larry’s dark skin and thick beard beautifully juxtaposes Finney’s fare skin and whiting hair. More than once, I’ve seen amateur photographers zoom in from afar and snap pictures of them. It’s like black Santa and white Santa.
But beyond the visuals, the two of them talk about philosophy as if they were Plato and Socrates. And when they do, they repeatedly call each other by name — Larry, Finney, Larry, Finney.
Anyway, that’s what they were doing last night, on that bench. Something about Voltaire, then Foucault. At first, the conversation was quick — back and forth, back and forth. But then the conversation slowed; Larry’s eyes closed.
Finney wanted to keep talking, though, so he nudged Larry; no response. Finney tried again; nothing.
Eventually, Larry was flat on the ground.
Finney called an ambulance.
A crowd gathered to watch the paramedics try to lift Larry onto the stretcher — yes, try. Didn’t work; Larry’s a big dude. So Finney trudged over and, with one hulking hand, grabbed the back of Larry’s blue coat and pulled him up. Larry grumbled.
As the paramedics secured Larry to the cart, he opened his eyes.
“Finney,” he whispered.
“I love you.”
Finney smiled. “Love you too, Larry.”
In a way, it was so trite — so scripted. But, thing is, it wasn’t. Perhaps we are too used to hearing the word “love.” Or perhaps we know when to expect it, or perhaps the word is abused. Or perhaps — and this would be sad — we’ve worn out the concept to the point of making it lukewarm. Like I said, this would be sad.
As Larry was lifted into the van, he said, “Finney, if I don’t get out soon, have a good Christmas.”
And Finney said, “I’ve told you a million times, you bastard: I’m Jewish.”
December 11, 2010