The East Village in lower Manhattan. A real meltin’ pot o’ cultures, life-styles, perversions and aesthetic sensibilities – my kind o’ place.
As a young lady pushes her equally young blind male friend in a wheelchair down the street, two thugs approach her. The skinnier one notices the guitar on her back, puts his arm around her and asks her if she plays that thing. He also asks what she has in there – a fender, dat a strat, pre-cbs? He then tells her to hand it over and maybe his buddy Drang don’t do somethin’ bad to her boyfriend, the doorstop. The man in the wheelchair calls the thug weasel-breath and for him to take his hands off of his friend. His lady friend tells him, Clive, not to pay them any mind. Drang pounds his fist into his hand and tells Clive dat’s not nice what he called his boy Sturm. He’s gonna haveta pound him till he’s completely useless.
At that moment, a voice calls out and tells him, gorilla-brains, to tell his trainer to lay off and make tracks. Turning around, all Drang sees is a mime and asks who said that. Logan informs him that he did and to beat it. Seeing the short man standing before him, Drang begins to laugh hysterically. Just then, Logan grabs his tongue and pulls him to his knees. As he does so, he tells him if he wags that fat tongue o’ his around like that he’s bound to get it caught in a ringer. Logan then challenges Sturm and asks if he wants some o’ the action too. Sturm replies no way, he was just leavin’. Logan tells him to don’t let him keep him and to take the big slice o’ ugliness with him. With that, Sturm and Drang run off.
With the thugs gone, Clive tells Logan that they didn’t ask him to employ violence in their behalf. Logan replies that he can respect that. As Logan gets back on his motorcycle, the young lady tells him that Clive doesn’t mean to be rude, he’s… what she means to say is thanks. Logan tells her to forget it. The young lady introduces herself as Kristin and asks if he is on the road and if he’s coming or going. Logan replies that he just left a place where he’s been hangin’ his hat for a long time. Left temporarily anyway, ‘might say, he’s lookin’ for a change. Kristin smiles and says this might sound hasty, coming from a complete stranger, but the apartment next to theirs is vacant. She’s the super there when she’s not waiting tables at the Third Eye or helping Clive publish his poetry. What does he say about her putting in a word with the landlord? Thinking for a second, Logan informs her that he’ll take a look at it.
As the trio walk down the street, Clive tells Logan don’t mind him, he’s still what you might call a little bitter. Logan says oh, he got somethin’ to be bitter about. Clive laughs and says a fellow of infinite jest; he likes that. He then asks Logan that his name’s not Yorick, is it. Logan replies no, just Logan.
At that same time, a mime wheels down the street riding his unicycle and juggling his miniature bats. When he passes by one of the stores, a chain suddenly emerges from the entrance to the basement below. The mime is surprised and dismounts his unicycle. He calls down “neat trick.” That must take a lot of practice. He then asks how they did that anyway. A voice tells him come down there and he’ll show him. The mime says sure and then says that he’s not supposed to talk at all when he’s in character but he sure would like to know how to do that chain trick. Descending the stairs, the mime asks where the person who is talking to him is at. The voice replies over here in the shadows. Seeing the glowing eyes, the mime utters, “Oh my Lord.”
The next day, Logan calls the Xavier Institute and talks to Jean Grey. She asks him how he’s doing and where he’s staying. Logan informs her that he think he might’ve found a decent place to stay for a spell. Don’t know how it’s gonna work out but something Bobby said before he left really stuck with him. He said that he had a life, been out in the world, a long time before he joined the X-Men. It got him to thinkin’ about Charlie an’ what he wants for them. He thinks after all that’s happened to him, to all the X-Men recently, this is a test. To see if he’s still part o’ the world, to see if he can still walk among men instead o’ huntin’ deer on the grounds of the Xavier Estate.
Jean tells him that she doesn’t think he has anything to prove, not anything he hasn’t proven time and again. Logan replies only to himself. Jean then asks him if he’s set up with the rest of the team for their rendezvous in Scotland. Logan informs her that he’ll be there till the end and that, if she needs to get a hold o’ him, she can leave a message at the Third Eye Café. Jean tells him to do what he has to do and remember that there are people up there who care about him. Logan replies that he ain’t about to forget that and hangs up the phone.
Walking the streets, Logan thinks to himself that he has plenty to do all right. Like broadenin’ his intellectual horizons with theological dialogues with other lost souls. As he sits on a park bench, a man preaches about reincarnation and that it’s gotta take more that one lifetime to get this messed up. In a café, Logan also experiences exotic cuisines. There, the owner asks if he wants red cabbage wit’ his pierogies or pickled beets. Walking down the street, he also participates in the vibrant social life o’ the East Village.
From behind him, a lady tells her boyfriend to slow down. They don’t want to get too close to the creepoid up ahead. He looks like he belongs in a cage. Another man asks him if he wants to be his friend. When Logan doesn’t answer him, the man calls him a creep. When Logan wants to be alone with his own thoughts, there’s the privacy and comfort o’ his new digs. It’s a chic address, none o’ them impersonal elevators, just genuine hardwood stairs.
At night, he has so much to do that he drops off to slumberland like a rock every night to sleep the untrammeled sleep o’ the innocent. Yeah, right. He lies there sweatin’ bullets. It’s like every mistake he ever made in his life is loaded on a freight train that rolls through his head with the throttle wide open and the whistle wailin’. Ain’t no escapin’ the deep blues at four in the mornin’ in a lonely bed with no plans for tomorrow. Can’t stop thinkin’ about Professor X, Charlie, how it’s on account o’ his animal rage that the man he respects most in the world got himself into so much pain. Nothin’ to do but tire himself out.
Even when he knows that exhaustin’ his body won’t shut down his brain. It’s like havin’ a TV tuned to a bad station and there’s no “off” switch. He does pull-ups until his arms go completely numb. When the numbness wears off, the pain kicks in. Then, his mutant healin’ factor takes over and it’s like he’s been wastin’ his time and workin’ up a sweat for nothin’. Except now, he’s hungry and there’s nothin’ in the fridge but half a six-pack and a deck o’ individually wrapped processed cheese food slices. At least it’s two o’ the major food groups.
Down on the street, there’re two winos arguin’ the pros and cons o’ the Taft-Hartley Act at the top o’ their lungs. A garbage truck is grindin’ and gruntin’ on the next block. An ambulance siren dopplers away in the distance and something vaguely familiar comes peddlin’ down the sidewalk. It’s the jugglin’ mime, the same one who rolled by while he was helpin’ out Kristin and Clive. But he sure ain’t jugglin’ Indian clubs this time, its knives and cleavers. His neutral, blank mask has taken on what ya might call a “studied air o’ malevolence.” As he passes, he doesn’t make any noise at all but he could swear he was whistlin’ “In the hall o’ the mountain king,” from Peer Gynt. Logan then determines that he don’t need this weirdness, he needs to get his head straight.
The next morning, Logan makes his way to the Third Eye Café. Kristin mentions to him that he finally decided to drag himself around. Logan tells her that he’s been busy and asks for a cuppa java – black, no sugar. Kristin then recommends to him that he should get a job. Logan quips what is she, a social worker. Perturbed by that comment, Kristin walks away and says no; she thought she was his friend. Seeing his mistake, Logan calls out to her and says that he didn’t mean that and asks if she has any hot prospects.
Several blocks away, Logan is on top of a construction site. There he meets Helen Bach. She informs him that there’s not much she can do for him, work is scarce these days. Logan asks if there is anything available on this site. Helen tells him this isn’t a job, it’s a co-op. All the folks signed on to work on this burnt-out shell of a building and restore it to useable living space. In return for their labor, they get a reduced price on buying their own apartment. All the units are already allotted. The Onslaught crisis wasted a lot of housing and there was a shortage to begin with. These folks are looking to reclaim something there.
Logan looks down to the street level and sees all of the workers. He informs Helen that he can see that; she has no shirkers there. Logan then says that he’s not interested in a paycheck and he’s not interested in homin’ in on an apartment. He’s just lookin’ for some honest work with some good people for a few weeks. Helen asks that he wants to work for free, is he independently wealthy or something? Logan says no, but he’s got enough salted away to live on. Let’s just call it “independently lower middle-class.” He’s been doin’ a bit too much lookin’ inside o’ himself concentratin’ his attention in the wrong direction, so to speak. You might say he’s lookin’ to reclaim somethin’ himself.
Getting ready to leave, he tells Helen that he’s sorry he wasted her time. Helen informs him that it’s not up to her. She’s not the straw boss there. The foundation that helps fund this project hired her to be the on-the-job trainer and the font of practical information. This is their building and their decision. One of the ladies on the ground calls out that they let Jimmy Carter work on these projects, she guesses they can’t be too picky. The other workers agree, let the man work. Tossing Logan a hammer, Helen tells him that he can start right in on the cross-braces. She adds that she expects him to wear a hard-hat on site at all times to which Logan complies.
Much later, the end of the day has come and Logan walks down the street with Helen. Helen tells him that she’s very impressed with him. He is one hard worker, but she still doesn’t think she swallows his story. He doesn’t give off the vibes of somebody who’s running away from something. Logan tells her that he ain’t runnin’ from anythin’ as much as he’s tryin’ to find somethin’. Like he said before, he’s been gazin’ at his own navel too long. Lookin’ for everything inside yourself can’t but lead to becomin’ self-centered and that ain’t no way to be a part o’ the world. Then he remembered that old saying: no man is an island.
Helen says a drifter-biker-construction worker who quotes John Donne; he is an odd duck. Logan looks at her and says that he’s dinin’ al fresco tonight. “Une saucisse allemagne pour vous, mademoiselle?” Stopping at a hot-dog cart, Helen replies a “chien chaud,” all the way Mr. Logan. Logan tells her just plain Logan. He had a, he guesses you would call him a teacher. But there really ain’t no word for it in English. He studied martial arts with him in Japan. He quoted Donne all the time. He taught him two very simple but important things. That the only logical reason for mastering a martial art is to get so good at it that you never have to use it again and that it don’t do any good to develop the body if ya don’t work on the mind.
Helen says that he sounds like a very wise man. Did the knowledge bring him happiness? Logan tells her no, you might say he was seduced by his dark side. He’s dead now, so it don’t matter. Helen then tells Logan that Kristin told her about how he met her and Clive. She won’t tolerate any rough stuff on her site. Logan says she got it, no rough stuff.
As they turn the next corner, the duo witnesses Sturm and Drang trashing a motorcycle. Helen says that’s disgraceful. Look at what those hooligans are doing to that motorcycle. Logan exclaims that it’s his Harley! With glowing red eyes, Sturm tells him it used to be a Harley. Drang adds that, now, it’s just junk. He then challenges Logan to mosey over there and let them do da same to his face. Before Logan can make his way over there, Helen grabs his arm and tells him to call the police and not get into a confrontation over this. Drang goes to grab her by the neck and tells her to stay outta this girlie.
At that moment, Helen smacks him in the face with her metal lunch-pail and follows that up with a kick to his crotch. She tells him that nobody calls her girlie, not her friends, not her enemies, and certainly not some low-life street punk. Pulling out a gun, Sturm tells her that she’s dead meat. Instinctively, Logan leaps at him and pops the claws on his left hand. It’s pure reflex more than anythin’ else at this point. An’ animal reflex to lash out with extended claws. But it’s the thinkin’ human in him who retracts the claws at the last second before he punches the punk in the face. Luckily, it seems it all happened so quick that Helen never even saw the claws.
Laid out on the ground, Drang asks Sturm how come they tangled with the little sucker again and where’d they get them bowlin’ pins. Sturm tells him they’re called Indian clubs and all he remembers is they wuz watchin’ that stupid mime guy and all of a sudden, there they were. Once they leave, Helen notices that the back of Logan’s hand is bleeding. Logan tells her that he broke the skin when he clipped the little guy. Covering up his wound, he mentions to Helen that was some display of hand-to-hand and asks where she learned to… Helen cuts him off and says that she doesn’t want to talk about it. Walking off, she tells Logan that she will see him on the site at seven a.m. Logan calls out to her, but Helen tells him that is the end of the conversation.
Alone, Logan looks at his damaged bike on the street and determines that he can’t leave it on the street like this and that he should bring it up to his apartment. Once he gets there, he sees the mime in his apartment. The mime tells him that he’s been waitin’ for him, he’s been waitin’ for him for a looong time. Logan recalls that he’s seen this yahoo out on the street but he’s different somehow and his voice is a blast from his past, but he can’t place it!