Only The Shadow Knows — Part One
MAD Magazine was the Bible of my youth … contemporary generations would find its twisted wisdom an asset to survival of the modern world.
When you mentioned ‘the shadow’ it all came back to me in a meteoric flash, including that monumental moment when my cell partner, Crazy Frank, gifted me with one his most cosmic insights.
“You know, Devil, it’s OK to be seven different people as long as they all get along.”
You need a bit of background to really appreciate this. Frank was the closest thing I ever met to a human piranha. A piranha with a massive intellect; huge Brillo pad afro; deep, deep set black eyes; and a very dark sense of humor.
Being really small / tiny man (like Prince actually) he was strongly averse to being bullied. When it had reached the boiling point at the age of 14, he tied his tormenter to a tree in a New Orleans park and stabbed him with an ice pick in the range of 40 times (I never asked as to the exact number.) He was doing “life without any option for release”… and he took it all very personally.
Frank was dangerous; by all known measures. No one in the joint made eye contact with him; no one raised their voices in his presence, and when he came into a room, everyone left. The administration had placed us together in the same cell with the direct ambition of having Frank kill me (I had asked ‘why!?’ far too many times.)
The Warden etc. were totally shocked to find we actually got along fabulously. Why? Well, Crazy Frank concluded I am The Devil Himself. And he found that fact to be profoundly amusing. For me, being locked in the same cage with him, that was a good thing!
So, over time, which we had a lot of, I slowly learned his mind set. And that brings us back to the 7 people theory. We eventually ended up defining our individual sub-elements — — not names but functions. Such as ‘the priest’ and ‘the pirate’. We eventually combined those two into ‘the ethical pirate’ who only made you walk the plank if you absolutely insisted!! Altho, admittedly, we were pro-shark.
The point: that cell housed an army of shadows, Elizabeth. the real story is how they all played out (developed and interrelated) over the long term.
This introduction offers only a bit of foundation; there is more to it. But I need to stop for now. Can send more if you wish. You have to really want it because the shadows grow very long and develop sharp edges toward the end, by the time Frank offed himself.
But I have to say that ultimately he was one of my great teachers … and I miss his extravagant madness and true friendship.