And when he told Spider Mayo to stop
The Spider turned to see who be talkin’,
And kep’ walkin’.
The street was crowded. The day was hot.
He pushed on through and broke into a trot
But Harry’d already started to run,
And had out the gun.
Spider ducked down an alley and disappeared.
Harry ran in there after him and peered,
And couldn’t see much in the shadows at all
Till he looked up the wall.
On a ladder above him three floors high
A black-widow silhouette crawled for sky.
Harry holstered the Magnum and started to climb.
Had him this time.
Up top the Spider was three roofs away.
Harry had no time to stop and survey—
He come up to the first gap on the run
And landed scrambling for the second one.
A plastic chute for construction debris
Was the only way down that Spider could see:
He crawled in starfish and, clawing around,
Worked his way down
Until Harry landed on him astride.
They fought like a rancid burger inside
A convulsing gut till they came unstuck
And fell in the truck.
Spider was already down on the street
And running when Harry got to his feet.
He took out the Magnum and hopped to the ground.
Wasn’t no one around—
Just Spider going. An approaching van.
Harry took up the stance and raised his hand.
A light wind streamlined his aim and his clothes.
He held the pose.
But Spider tore open the driver’s door,
Jumped into the van, knocked the guy to the floor
And drove back at Harry, foot to the mat—
Laid it out flat.
Harry stood there, put three slugs through the glass,
And jumped on a parked car as the van veered past,
But it slammed in broadside as hard as it could,
And he fell off the hood.
Spider screech-stopped, reversed and, squealing wheels,
Roared back at Harry still crouched on his heels—
And shattered the light bulb out in his head!
He had to be dead
But Spider would not be played for no chump:
He backed over Harry till the wheels went bump,
Then put it in forward and did it again
And again, up to ten,
And drove away feeling that he’d been firm,
Left him in the street like a squeezed-out worm,
And before Harry would have had time to nod
He was facing God.
“Well, Harry,” God told him, “you sure blew that.
I was countin’ on you to ice that rat.
I mean I've seen screw-ups,” he thumped the desk,
“But this is grotesque!
“Spider Mayo’s done things too bad to name!
If he does any more now, you’re to blame!
I’m not threatening you—I know you’re a guy
Who’d spit in My Eye—
And you’re up here somewhat prior to plan!
You owe Me!—and I want one more k.o.
Go down there and git Me: Spider Mayo!”
Now, Harry’d as soon have thrown down his badge
And turned in his car keys at the garadge,
But he figured when it came from this high
He oughta comply.
He lay on the pavement with open eyes,
Already beginning to draw the flies.
The sun overhead returned his look
Till his retinas cooked.
The police were waving the traffic through,
Restraining the crowd; the ambulance crew
Rolled out the stretcher and opened it up
When Harry—sat up!
Bloody tire tracks crossed his chest and his legs.
His ribs were a bagful of broken eggs.
But he got to his feet as the onlookers gawked,
Purple hollows hung under his eyes;
Reporters surrounded him, dwarfed by his size.
One held a microphone at him and said,
“We thought you were dead.”
He stopped and looked at her. His skin was gray.
What she saw in his eyes is hard to say;
She was standing there with the mic still on
When Harry was gone.
“Dirty Harry is dead,” she said on TV,
“But he’s back on the street and it looks to me
Like whoever he’s after’s chances are slim,
And I wouldn’t be him.
“Meanwhile the mayor was quoted as saying
That Harry’s been linked to last week’s slaying
Of one of the lords of the inner city,
And it wasn’t pretty.”
Shot of the mayor. “He’s got to be stopped.
All he is now is a renegade cop.
Some private idea of good and bad
Has driven him mad.”
“The mayor would not go into detail
About his own dealings with Spider Mayo.
Informed sources say this could get scary.
Good luck, Harry.”
He sat at the bar with a sense of mission,
The only one watching the television.
Somebody waved in front of the screen
And said, “Sweetheart, you’re green.”
He was too stiff even to turn his head,
And might not have even if he hadn’t been dead.
The bartender said, “Ignore that queer.
I’ll getcha a beer.”
The drag queen hung onto his shoulder
And Harry, if possible, got colder.
She said, “So you’re showing a little mold—
You're not that old.”
He got up from the stool and limped outside;
What he needed now was a place to hide.
The floozy followed him into the street:
“Let’s get something to eat.”
She stopped at a window to fix her hair
When she turned around he wasn’t there,
A pang went through her for his quiet strength
And potential length.
He fiddled a lock and went inside.
A woman looked up from the late show and sighed.
He sat down as was his habit to do
And watched too,
His hands on his knees, his eyes straight ahead.
She observed him a while before she said,
“Well, Harry, I’m glad you’re keeping in touch,
But you haven’t changed much.”
In bed she fingered him where he’d been scarred.
She said, “Hon, you’re cold but you sure are hard.
It’s times like this that I wonder whether
We should get back together.
“That look in your eyes you used to get when you came,
It’s there all the time now—but just the same,
I don’t know, Harry, it’d never last.
The past is past.”
When she fell asleep he got up tip-toe,
Uncovered his police radio
And got the location of the tail
On Spider Mayo.
A flop house. Night. He stayed out of the light
Till the unmarked car circled out of sight.
The desk jockey opened his mouth to ask,
Caught Harry’s look and just let him go past.
Harry turned a knob, didn’t make a sound,
Pushed the door open, paused, glanced around,
Went in and closed it without so much as a breath,
And waited for Spider Mayo like death.
A match flared, showed Spider’s face in the dark,
Lit his ciggy and burned while he remarked,
“Harry, it ain’t only you look like hell,
You startin’ to smell.
“The chick on the news says you fuckin’ dead.
‘Bout time somebody put you to bed.”
And holding it out for Harry to catch,
He tossed the match.
Harry hadn’t sniffed: the place was seething
With gas fumes but he hadn’t been breathing.
The room was a furnace. Out in the hall
Spider was sprinkling gasoline all
Over the floor and then touching it off,
Laughing insanely and starting to cough.
Harry limped after him blinded by heat,
Barbecuing his feet.
“Hey, Step-and-a-Half, I’s over here!”
Called Spider when Harry happened to hear
A scream upstairs. The whole place was on fire.
The scream got higher.
Spider laughed gleefully, threw in the can,
Gave Harry the finger and turned and ran.
No telling how much time it would cost him
Now if he lost him.
He staggered upstairs and kicked in a door.
This whole moral effort—what was it for?
A young woman’s face showed brand-new horror
As he looked around for her.
And carried her back down into the fire.
When they made it outside, no Spider there,
And most of Harry was medium-rare.
The girl reached up to kiss him but quickly found
She’d much rather Harry just put her down.
Still, he left her with a sense of elation
That may have been more than just smoke-inhalation.
Next morning the mayor spoke to the press.
“Where Harry is now is anyone’s guess.
Last night he burned down an entire hotel.
The man’s not well.”
“I love him!” the girl said that Harry had saved.
“He may be dead but he’s awfully brave,
And I’m willing to give him my maidenhood
If it’ll do any good!”
“That creep,” said Spider, “got nothin’ on me.
I got me a contracting company
And legitimate deals with city hall,
At the bus station in a TV chair
Harry sat listening to the mayor,
Wrapped in a raincoat and turned-up collar
Till he used up his dollar.
Spider chopped powder with a razor blade,
Rolled a new twenty when the lines were made,
Held a nostril closed, snorted up his share
And passed the other half to the mayor.
He said, “I be the one that takes the heat.
I want that motherfucker off the street.”
The mayor said, “Yeah, I’m doing my best.
Don’t get that shit all over my desk.”
He vacuumed the dust as if with a hose
And sat back holding the bridge of his nose,
Feeling the present tense fill out his clothes
And hearing his office door open—and close.
He tilted back further, peered under his hand,
Unhurried but starting to understand.
A man in a raincoat turned and faced him.
It was a moment before he’d placed him:
His face was bad meat—the skin had melted.
The mayor saw it after he smelt it.
The eyes had gone livid and seemed to stare
At the mayor.
Spider sat wondering what he’d been hit with
And what they could have been cuttin’ this shit with.
The mayor pressed a buzzer and grabbed a phone,
And Spider felt profoundly alone
As Harry advanced on him. He couldn’t scream.
He was paralyzed as if in a dream
Until Harry grabbed him around the throat.
He shrieked, jumped up and brushed at his coat.
“Don’t touch me, you asshole! You fuckin’ dead!”
He backed to the Board Room, holding his head,
And slamming a fourteen-foot oaken door,
Locked it and made for the next one before
Harry kicked through it as smoothly as fate.
Spider locked another and didn’t wait—
He ran screaming as Harry burst through again
And again, up to ten,
Till Spider was racing through the lobby,
Hopelessly stoned and panicked and sobbing.
He rushed through the door to the open air,
And found cops all over city hall square
Holding the crowd that was straining to see
Just how dirty Harry could be.
Then a gasp went up from everyone
As Harry staggered out into the sun,
A botched and putrefied resurrection,
Looming in Spider Mayo’s direction.
Though the cops were there because of the mayor,
They wouldn’t let Spider run anywhere.
He cried, “Harry, I didn’t mean what I done,
I’s just havin’ a little fun!
You ain’t gonna hold that against some’un!”
But Harry kept comin’.
His ex ducked the cordon, broke away,
And said, “Hon, you left before I could say—
I don’t know, Harry, I guess I’m a jerk,
But I think it could work!”
He didn’t slow down. At his other side
Was the girl for whom he’d got himself fried.
She said, “When you carried me out of that fire
You touched my desire!”
The drag queen grabbed his hand to implore him
While the newswoman backed along before him.
She said, “Harry, can you give me a moment?
Don’t you have any comment?”
He stopped and looked at her. His skin was cracked.
Their entire affair had been eye contact.
But he lurched ahead, having no time to linger,
And left the queen still holding his fingers.
Of the worst drug vision he’d had for ages.
Harry’s shadow fell over him like a tree’s.
He dropped to his knees
And said, “I’ve sinned! The mayor made me do it!
You wouldn’t know without you been through it!
Dealin’ drugs was my way out of the gutter!”
He gave a shudder
As Harry reached for him with his good hand.
He said, “Harry, you gots to understand
A mo’ ruthless sense of reality!
You just like me!
“You try livin’ there! You don’t want to hear it
But my childhood twisted my little spirit!”
He pleaded, with all the tears he could summon,
But the hand kept comin’
And grabbed him. He clawed at Harry’s face
And the flesh came away without leaving a trace.
He gaped up at a skull with blow-dried hair
And yellow eyes that continued to stare
Into Spider’s soul. But the soul was gone:
Whether the revelation had been too strong
Or whether he’d snorted too much meth,
He was scared to death.
Harry put him down with the gentleness bred
Of the strange brotherhood of the dead,
And stood for a moment over Spider
With the tact of an insider.
To the women he turned his face of bone.
At least it was clear his teeth were his own,
But they weren’t all that sure now they wanted to marry
Nevertheless they stood there undaunted
Waiting to see which one he wanted—
But he reeled and stumbled toward the crowd:
It screamed so loud
That he faltered back and groped in the dark,
A wino about to pass out in the park.
An arm slipped out of his sleeve to the ground and
He tripped and fell over into the fountain
Where he lay face-down, savoring release as
He drifted slowly apart into pieces.
An eye let go, fell away from the skull
With a thud that was underwater-dull,
Slid over the bottom toward the hole,
Paused at the rim, a reluctant soul,
Took a last look around at what it had been
And slipped in.