Friday Firesmith – Larry

It’s difficult to describe Larry in terms so people might understand him, mainly because I didn’t. He was a few years younger than me, and light-years smarter, and by that, I mean off the charts intelligent. Larry was one of those people when you first met him you assumed he was some sort of brain-damaged alcohol-fueled pothead, and he was. But then there was the satellite dish, and that’s where things got really, very, impossibly strange.

Larry was good with electronics, and this was all back in the ’80s before everything had to have a computer in it. He repaired televisions and radios, as well as anything else that had juice flowing through it. But Larry drank, a lot, and he smoked a lot of pot. Living in a single-wide trailer on a patch of land just big enough for it and a small shed, Larry was also a bane to his neighbors, and none of them were much better off.

Some people lack an understanding of boundaries and that would be Larry. He walked into any house if the door was unlocked and take anything he could pick up. His tiny shed was filled with tools that belonged to people he knew, and people he didn’t know. Larry didn’t seem to understand ownership and privacy. But that man knew electricity and how to make it work.

About the time his neighbors were planning to burn him out of the community, Larry came up with a satellite dish, yes, one of those big ones. How he got it to his trailer, no one knows, and he never said, but suddenly, he was snaking cables and lines to anyone who wanted three billion channels of television, and coming up with those huge satellite dishes, all for free. Larry helped set up a dozen more dishes, and all was forgiven. There was a chip that connected each dish with something way up in the sky, and Larry discovered computers, and how to speak to them. But Larry also discovered porn, a thousand channels of porn, and that was a very bad thing.

Larry watched porn like he drank cheap beer and smoked homegrown pot, which was all the time. To go over to ask him to help set up a dish was to walk in with porn on his television. People could put up with the missing tools and Larry just wandering into their homes, but when kids started going over to Larry’s to watch porn, things got weird and illegal.

Larry was arrested for stealing cable from the power company. He pedaled his bike to the Gold Plate restaurant on Patterson Street and sawed off ten feet of cable from a truck parked in the parking lot. The guys inside watched him, called the cops, and Larry was arrested. When they searched his trailer, they found the illegal dish, some pot, and three kids in his living room watching X rated television.

There’s no evidence, really, Larry ever touched a kid, or was interested in such a thing, but simply having kids over to watch that stuff was enough to get him locked up. Larry wasn’t capable of sticking to a cover story; he never lied about the tools he took or anything else. But people were happy to see him go, and after he was gone, they lived in peace again, albeit without free television access to a billion channels.

I helped his sister and her boyfriend clean out his place, and found a stack of technical manuals and a lot of books on electronics, and of course, porn. I never did figure out the connection. I never understood why electronics and people having sex were connected in Larry’s mind, but they were. I always wondered if there wasn’t some way to get that man into a shop of some sort, where he had everything he needed to work on, all his mind could handle. I wonder if that might have been enough to burn through the beer and the pot, and the porn.

Take Care,

Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit. Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.


7 thoughts on “Friday Firesmith – Larry”

  1. Some kind of electrical savant.
    I’ve known guys like that. I know a guy who is a Vietnam Vet who came back and went to Harvard, got a great education, but got lost in the drugs and booze. But if you take the time to speak to the man you discover a genius. He can do any type of math calculation in his head, no matter what it is. I sat with my friend who is a math teacher and that gentleman one night and watched them talk about math equations and theory for hours, I was lost, they had a blast. He does the New York Times crossword in pen and it doesn’t challenge him. But all anyone sees is an old druggie. It’s a shame. He gets better for a while, then gets lost again.

  2. one of my brothers died a couple of months ago. two of my sisters and I went over to clean out his place a few days later… It was… eye opening to say the least.

    we found lots of drugs and lots of porn… mountains of it… easily over 20,000 magazines plus books, videos, printouts, photos cut out of magazines.. it took 4 truckloads to the recycling center to get rid of just the porn. he was one of the smartest people I knew but he was clearly obsessed with porn to a point that he could barely function in society. I certainly check out plenty of porn myself but the sheer volume of his collection just boggles the mind; who has time for that?

    the weird thing is that the huge stash of old magazines/books etc. probably contributed a good deal to his early death. – the amount of mold in his place made it difficult to even breath when we were clearing out his place.

    • Keith, I really do not understand that amount of porn. Why keep a magazine you’ve had for years, no matter the content.

      That really is a mind blowing image.

  3. Larry had his priorities straight, probably enjoyed life more than the rest of us. Satellite TV and sex/porn are two things that aren’t just handed to you for free. You buy them or figure out how to hunt them down and take some home. He wasn’t taking it all, just a little bit and willing to spread it around like Santa. Children should be singing his praises while their parents spread palm fronds. Hail Larry!

    • Bruce, I did not see that coming but it was not all together unexpected. Still, maybe so, and maybe Larry was happier than those who just flatline their way through life.


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