Born Late
David Pratt
E very day from nine to five he stood to the side of the token booth, turning around and around. He held the photograph of a woman or a man, he didn't know which. He felt so graced by the androgyny, so forgiven, he turned around and around and sang it a song of thanksgiving: "A kanda rey me le, a kanda rey me lo!"

By 1984 the city had recovered economically. They tore the guts out of that subway station, but he found a new spot, by a bar on Eighth Avenue. There he turned around and around and sang to the photograph, in heat and freezing cold, with bronchitis and abscesses on his feet. He never missed a day.

But by 1984 people had come to their senses. They'd been crazy and depressed before. What had they been thinking? Now they'd set things straight. The mayor issued a directive:

"No crazy people within 500 yards of a church, school, superstore, or each other."

Nobody built new churches or schools, but they built superstores and this made more people crazy, so you see how things had to end up.

He found a spot before a blind building on Eleventh Avenue. He still had his work, and the androgynous being in the photo gave him hope.

They remodeled the building and he went to the piers.

Off of one of which he fell.

The photograph was lost.

They buried him in Potter's Field. And did not move him again.

First published: May 2000