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It was hot and crowded at the gallery on 126th Street in Harlem.
Black viewers dominated the Jazz inspired exhibition. I was standing
along the East wall with a plate in hand. Some rice, some pasta and
some fresh vegetables were spread evenly on my white foam plate.
With my plastic fork I stood there eating my free food, my starving
artist food that I scored at this gallery opening. I stood and observed
the crowd. As I stood there, to my left was an man of about age 70 who
sat on one of the rare wooden chairs in the gallery. I saw him earlier
in the space. He was decked out in a very fashionable jazz outfit. I
remember him distinctly because he was dressed in a bright red suit
and yellow shirt with matching colourful shoes. His shoes were red and
glazed with a shine. They looked like great works of art, almost like
dutch shoes, but these were more electrified with Jazz, like Coltrane
blew music through the soles. He walked with a fancy cane held by a
hand with a silver nugget ring. Now I stand along the wall, eating my
freely scored meal. Out of the corner of my eye I see this wonderful
beautiful man all of a sudden slump over and fall out of the chair. For
half of a second I pondered if this was performance art, then the other
half of the second I realize that there was something seriously wrong.
I quickly put my freely scored meal down on the floor with my bag which
contained my Bible and went over to the aging black man in the red suit.
His face was against the floor and his body twisted in a fashion quite
unusual. His cane to the side and his legs overlapping each other. His
thick rimmed glasses knocked off of his face, with the weight of his
head pressing down on them against the floor. His red cap still on his
head. I cradle him in my arms and yell, "Sir! Sir!?" I get no response.
A woman walks quickly over from the front of the gallery, "Norman!?
Norman!" I realize this woman must know this man and this man was
Norman. I cradle him more, with my arms around his back and pick up his
head slowly. I yell "Norman!? Norman!?" As I hear various other art
viewers yell "Call 9-1-1! Call 9-1-1!" Finally, Norman, with the yellow
ochre pants and grey socks slowly opens his eyes. The first being this
black man sees in this Harlem gallery is a young white man with blue
eyes. I wonder if he thought he was in heaven with white folk or knew
where he was. In this hot gallery. This over crowded space with people
who chit chatted to loudly when the speakers wanted to speak. I
continue to soothe Norman and his companion leans over with tears and
yells for Norman to come to complete consciousness. Norman was only
probably out a mere eight to ten seconds, but felt like the lifetime of
a pet with four legs. His glasses were off his face now. Yellow glasses
with black stripes forming the pattern of a zebra. His yellow shirt
cleanly pressed under his stop-sign red jacket. As I continued to
cradle this beautiful Jazz man, a man approached me and said "I am a
doctor, can I help?" I said yes, and the doctor took over the procedure
for caring for the man. As the doctor continued to assist, I stood near
by in case if another helping hand was needed. Finally, in a short
amount of time, the emergency workers arrived and attended to my
beautiful jazz friend and he finally arose and walked with assistance
to the waiting ambulance outside.

 2003 David Greg Harth