From one minute of the day to the next, Neckwrek Handel-Handel sang the song endlessly, “Ain’t No Jail Aholtin’ Me,” sang it, mouthed it, uttered it, yelled it. For his five years in Yakima Territorial Prison the guards always knew where he was, in what disposition, secure in one cell or another, or laboring on a prison work detail. Prisoner #127 was known by the only name ever used by him, Neckwrek Handel-Handel, but history had other versions that are worth unveiling if the man is to be known if not understood. Yakima Territorial Prison, as described by some Washington folks in the know, was “200 miles of nothing between here ‘n’ there,” and about the toughest place in the territory. He was 24 years old when he was brought to Yakima, the prison then just over a year old, and 29 when he escaped, in 1881.
It was a late spring day in 1981. Ana Severino clocked off early from the paediatrics ward in Hospital de Madrid. The new national healthcare system meant there were more and more staff on the ward, so no-one would notice her leave a few minutes before the end of her shift.
“Your limbs grow weary, and the inn’s still far. Rest here. No need to punish your faithful and pleading flesh. Rest a moment, only a moment, and then proceed with new vigor and greater speed.”
“Foul specter, hush, quiet your insinuations and temptations. The inn’s fifteen easy minutes on a good road, and dusk stirs; the sun lowers, and your kind will be about soon. Still, still, it’s too soon to vacate your gloomy tomb.”
Henry watched the girl in her drop-waisted dress, heavy brown hair tied up in an even heavier bow, as she scrubbed molasses off the drive chain of the Black Beauty bicycle. She worked the delicate brushes through the tiny crevices, dunking them in saltwater — a necessary evil — to free them of gook. Her dress was stained, and brown water dripped over her knees.
Solomon Sands stood on the dock at Norfolk Navy Yard and wondered how the hunched skeleton in the wheelchair could have ever cut a fearful figure. River water, bay water, ocean water, chopped into crests and troughs, assaulted the USS Cormorant, ready for decommissioning this October day in 1868.
When the German artillery finally ceased firing around sunset, Jack’s neck and shoulders slowly relaxed; he hadn’t realized he’d been tensing them all that time. The relentless shelling had forced his company to hunker in the trenches for over forty-eight hours. Now the silence unnerved him. The shelling could resume at any time, but the officers sent word that the men should rest as best they could.
The last time I saw M. Renoir, he was sitting beneath an umbrella at a sidewalk cafe in Paris, leisurely drinking coffee and glancing through a newspaper. M. Renoir, every inch the French gentleman with closely trimmed mustache and beard–gray streaking at his temples–was usually impeccably dressed, his hat and cane placed casually upon the seat of an adjacent chair. I say “usually” since, on this occasion, he appeared not altogether unlike a much poorer and less refined version of himself. I was, I confess it, rather taken aback at his appearance.