There’s cold comfort in knowin’ that Persimmon Joe was wearin’ gloves when he froze to death overnight in Vagrants’ Alley. The only good that come of it was that the cops that got called to the alley said it’d make gettin’ his fingerprints easier, and maybe they could find out his real name. Maybe contact family, if he had any.
We called him, Persimmon Joe, ’cause he always had a squished-up face like you get after you bite into a green persimmon – eyes all squinty, mouth drawn up in a pucker so tight you couldn’t wedge a toothpick in there. He wore that expression so long that tiny lines was etched ’round his lips, like spokes on a wheel. It made him look mad all the time too.
The only time he let loose of that pucker was when he was yellin’ at Liver Lucy… that’s ’cause of all those purple spots on the backs of her hands and up her arms. She told somebody onetime that they’s called, “liver spots,” and the name stuck.
Joe and Lucy was always yellin’ at each other. Joe almost lost his place in the alley ’cause he kept yellin’ after curfew. If one thing’s sacred, it’s curfew. It’s lights out, noise shut. The cops roust us if we get loud at night. Nobody likes movin’. A few of the fellas had to tend to Joe, make him see the errors of his ways. It was tough. Joe likes to hear himself talk.
Lucy was tellin’ him some story about how this lady was goin’ to be the next president of the United States. Joe was havin’ none of it. Spoutin’ off about, “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen” was where women ought to be, not supreme commander of this great country, ‘Merica.
Joe said that’d only happen if Hell freezes over. It was only first week of November, it didn’t never get that cold so early. The gloves was cold comfort.