When I moved back to Birmingham around 1990 I took an apartment in Southside (1414 15th Avenue South to be exact) with my girlfriend Anita Our building had four units and faced a dilapidated little house shaded by a dead willow tree Chuck Blythe lived there Chuck had stapled painted paper plates to every inch of the walls Every horizontal surface was covered was littered with bits of wire bolts nuts and assorted electronic detritus Chuck taught electronics but wanted to be an artist He was a great neighbor to have for a late night insomniac like me I'd be awake at three AM and I'd make a pot of coffee and take it across the street Chuck was always awake I don't know when he slept but he was always up for coffee and a little conversation Chuck was a cosmic Christian He was convinced that the End Times were upon us and he had sketched out elaborate plans for a compound in the woods from which I suppose we could either greet Jesus or fight off the barbarian hordes depending on which side of the pre- or post-millenialist fence you chose to straddle
Many of Chuck's scultures were small semingly slapped-together figures made of circuit boards and transistors and copper wire Some were crucifixes Some were of his cat Sophie a grey and white ghost who would disappear from Chuck's lap like a puff of sweet smoke when anyone knocked on the door and spend the duration of the visit glaring at the intruder from beneath the couch One day Chuck handed me a gleaming assembly of nuts and bolts formed into two interlocked hands and spray-painted gold "Guess what it's called" he asked and I said "One hand washes the other?" and he smiled triumphantly and said "Midas' Last Touch"
I wish that I'd bought it
Chuck died this week
I don't know the details Dan called while I was at work and Lady took the message I'll know more tomorrow
Ironic that I have no periods or commas as I write this post There's no pausing there's no stopping it's just on and on until the end
Bye Chuck You were a pearl