Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Legend of Lloyd Black

Once upon a time, a long time ago (pre-1965) a Major American Airline (MAW) hired a man named Lloyd Black to work at La Guardia. He worked as a Fleet Service Clerk (bag buster) along with our dear friend Red and, later on, Richie.

Lloyd was a big guy, probably 6 ft. 6 in. with a v-shaped body like a body builder or a prize fighter. In fact, Lloyd was known as a brawler; it was not wise to get on the wrong side of him. Previous encounters (he won them all) had left him with souvenirs, namely a nose that lay parallel to his cheek bones. It had been broken so many times, it was a flat as a pancake.

When I met him, years later, in the South of France, he wore his graying hair in a crew cut and worked part-time as a body guard (Cannes film festival) and in the movies as a bad guy. Perhaps the flat nose was a career-enhancer? Lloyd was too smart to mess with the gravy train.

But, back in the day, none of them had yet married. They were very much young bucks or, as the Irish would say, "lads." It was their habit to stop after work or a league softball game for a drink. And in these regularly-scheduled meetings, Lloyd really made a name for himself. He would not deliberately provoke another man, but he did not suffer fools -- at all, gladly or not. It was considered prudent to use a civil tongue around him.

On the way home from South Texas, we spent the night with Red and Barbara. Red got to reminiscing about Lloyd with great fondness and not a little admiration. Lloyd and Red were an unlikely pair in that Red had a hot temper and I would never have figured him as a restraining influence on Lloyd, but, Red said, "He'd listen to me."

Red laughed and said to Richie, "You remember that time with Tim Connolly?" Richie grinned and Red went on.

"Time was a little guy, probably only about 130 pounds, but he had a bad habit when he got drunk--"

"Which was most of the time," Richie interjected.

"And he'd start mouthing off to guys he really shouldn't have. Well, one night, Lloyd and me and (another big guy) were sitting at the bar when Tim comes in and sits at the end of us. Now we tried to avoid him, because he was annoying, but that night there he was. Sure enough, he starts in on Lloyd. Lloyd takes it for a little whiule, but I'm thinking, 'Uh-oh' and sure enough! -- get this! -- Lloyd reaches around both of us, never gets up offa the bar stool, picks Tim up by the neck, throws him over our heads! (hand describes an arch over his own head) against the back wall. I was sure Lloyd had killed him this time-- he's all slumped on the floor -- knocked out or dead and I don't know which so I get down and go over there and whew! He's just knocked out. So I say to Lloyd, 'You can't leave him here like this!'

So Lloyd gets up, walksover, bends down, grabs him by the neck and seat of the pants and throws him into a booth.

"There," said Lloyd, "you happy now?"

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