Shut Up, Little Man!

Stories and anecdotes : Shut Up, Little Man!

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“I Got My Picture Taken Tonight” — Fond Remembrances of Raymond Huffman, Little Man

ray at walgreens
Ray photographed buying
booze at Walgreen's

Mitchell and I decided that it was high time that we supersede the audio documentation of Pete and Ray and make an attempt to secure some photographs of our bellicose neighbors. One autumnal eve we were in a most gregarious state of mind, and, as we later discovered, so was everyone’s favorite little man, Raymond Huffmann. Mitch and I were sipping a few beers in the living room when we heard Raymond hollerin’ out on the veranda: "Heh heh heh. Fuck you, Peter Haskett! I. . .I . . I’m goin’ down to Walgreen’s to get me some fuckin’ wine!" The door slammed with a thunderous crash. Mitchell and I gave each other a cartoonish wide-eyed look: "Let’s get the camera!" While Mitch loaded up the camera and snapped on the flash, I tossed on a ragged old wig and an overcoat. Hastily, we scuffled out of the Pepto-Bismal Palace and out onto Haight Street. As we spied once we emerged around the corner, Ray had hardly made much progress up Haight. He was totally boozed, shit-faced, pissed to the gills, and yet fueled with an almost super-human determination to somehow get more booze. He waddled and weaved down the sidewalk. Often Ray’s sideways progress out-measured his forward progress. Ray’s gait was like an underwater clubfoot ballet: dreamily slow, clumsy, and yet rhythmic and almost musical. One foot stretching tentatively out in front of the other, the planting of the foot, a jerky drunken imbalance settling momentarily to steadiness, then a weave to the left or to the right. Every once in a while Ray would stop his drunken passage, look up from the sidewalk toward Walgreen’s, heave a booze-soaked sigh, and then commence his stagger. Mitchell and I were sympathetically relieved when Ray finally completed the full one-and-a-half blocks and leaned hard into the entrance door to Walgreen’s.

Once Raymond made it to the booze section at Walgreen’s, he leaned his leaden booze-laden head back to survey the abundant shelves full of liquor. To his left there were shelves lined with Gin, Vodka, Vermouth. To his right were the Brandies, Whiskeys, and Wines. Just behind him was a cooler full of cheap 40-ouncers of Beer. Ray took a looming sweep around to take in all the varieties of sauce. Scotch, Cognac, Liqueurs! Sneaking my way down the aisle toward Ray, I had a revelatory moment of pure empathy with the Little Man. I could see that this vision of a seemingly endless variety and ceaseless supply of sauce was what constituted Heaven for him. Ray smiled.

eddie and ray at walgreens
Eddie incognito sidles
up to Ray at Walgreen's

When this reverie dissolved and he got a slippery grip on himself, Ray decided on Mickey’s Malt Liquor. He managed to get the cooler open and wrangle himself two 40-ouncers of the stuff. He swept around and began to hobble toward the counter. In my mind I had a sudden flash that Ray was not going to make to the counter with the two big beers. And sure enough, one of the Mickey’s slipped and smashed on the floor. Everyone in the place turned their eyes toward Ray. The accident seemed to shatter Ray’s drunken narwcolepsy, for he stiffened up and called out with authority: "Was not my fault! Was not my fault!" Then, slower: "Was. . . not. . . my. . . fault!" He lowered his head and looked at the little green bits of broken glass floating amidst the puddle of brown beer. And, silently, almost imperceptibly, he mumbled: "Welllllll, maybe it was."

A young Walgreen’s employee approached and swept up the mess. Ray, with new-found vigor, returned to the cooler and again procured two big bottles of Mickey’s. He approached the cashier. The cashier who always seemed to be behind the booze counter at Wahlgreen’s could not understand what Ray was asking for, because: (1) Ray was ripped and mumbling, and (2) Ray couldn’t understand the attendant’s thick accent. I snuck up behind Ray just then, and Mitchell snapped a photo of me buying a big ol’ jug of wine behind my hero, Ray Huffmann.

Mitchell handed me the camera, and I ran on ahead and positioned myself on Haight Street for the impending arrival of the Little Man. Ray somehow crossed Fillmore safely and began his drunken little two-step home. Mitchell slid up behind Ray, and I snapped a shot of them both. The flash sort of startled Ray, and he looked up and then around. But, by that time I was half-way down the block ahead of him. I stopped, pivoted, and walked back again toward Ray, who was totally oblivious of my movements. I jovially asked: "Hey there, how ya doin’ this evening?" Ray brightened up and looked me in the face: "Hot damn! I got my pitcher takin’ tonight!" He walked on. Mitchell was a few steps behind him; we hugged each other, laughing uncontrollably.

No End.