The Story of Hand

Hand lived two floors above Sad in a five-story walkup downtown. Hand was old and had difficulty walking down the stairs, so sometimes Sad would come up to visit Hand, have coffee or a beer and watch the game with him. Sad and their friend, Yellow, who lived across the street and down the block a little, also helped Hand with the groceries. They took turns helping him down to the store and carried his groceries (which weren’t much, really). Sad and Yellow discussed whether they should just take his list and do it themselves but they decided that it would be better for him to walk down at least once a week, and to have some contact with the world outside. It was a slow walk but – Sad, in particular – enjoyed hearing Hand talk about the neighborhood and how it used to be when they were all young men.

One day, Hand’s daughter came to take him away. She stopped by Sad’s apartment, where Yellow was also, by prior arrangement. Sad put out some ice cream in bowls. She thanked them for all they had done for her father and reassured them that he would be fine. Those were nice things for her to say, they told her, and added that it was no problem, they were glad to do it, but they didn’t ask where she would be taking him because they thought it was none of their business. She said that she’d be taking him in a couple of weeks, that she had to get some of his personal business sorted out first. After she left, Sad and Yellow bought a bottle of whiskey and went up to visit Hand and to say goodbye. They had a few drinks and reminisced. No one got sentimental or weepy.

The day came. There were big men going up and down the stairs noisily, carrying Hand’s furniture, cooking wares and clothes. They recognized the one suit he wore when he went out but there was so much more on hangers. They didn’t know until then how much clothes he had. What for? His daughter was also there to make sure the movers were careful and to walk Hand down the stairs, one last time, to a taxi that took them both away. It was the weekend and Hand’s daughter left the key with Sad to give to the landlord on Monday. After they’d left, Sad and Yellow went up to the empty apartment. They stood there in the middle of the living room and Yellow wondered out loud, in the echo of the empty room, who would get the apartment because rents were expensive in the city then and apartments were hard to find.