all you need is love (and a job (or maybe not a job))

She makes a point of saying the cross-street, across from the building where the famous singer lived, the one across from the park where a nut with a gun killed him, and people still leave him flowers. She used to live there but she left the city for sprawl with a beach and no winter. She wants to open a doggie daycare but she doesn't have to do shit, really. She is back to see friends and hang for Halloween, but she has no fucking costume.

She says her age and I cannot believe it, and she says she used to have a job she was really great at and she spent a decade after college staring at three computer screens for 20 hours a day. Now it is her time. She earned it. She has not worked in a couple years — well, not full time, just here and there, a few hours a week consulting, and she still makes more than me and you and everyone we know combined. Tough time to be out of work, lady. But she might not ever have to work again if she plays it right. She was one of the youngest and the best at the bank (ever), and she worked and worked and worked for this, she says.

She says she might not dress up at all, and I shake my head. She buys a couple shots. She could buy the bar. But not a costume, apparently. She says she would rather watch the parade from the rooftop garden of her friend's building, and when she says "friend's building" it sounds different than when I might say it to mean "the building my friend lives in." I tell her to do both. Parades are for being in, not for watching from a distance, on high, above it all. I tell her that if she is still doing that shit, then she is still not really living.

I think about her on the train home, jealous and angry and drunk.

Some homeless old lady pulls a can of air freshener out of her bag and sprays it a couple seats down from me. Smells much better now. Her back is hunched, her hair is white and she is with a younger but graying homeless woman who looks like she might be her daughter. Same clothes, same hair tucked the same way under wool caps.

The old woman keeps spraying. She sprays her clothes and the other homeless woman's clothes, and she sprays paper towels and their hands, and then I smell the piss. She has several rolls of paper towels in her bags. She is even sitting on a roll. She sees me typing on my phone and I think she thinks I am taking photos. She looks angry, violated, but I keep typing.

More paper towels, more air freshener. She keeps spraying and the smell goes away. My nose is clogged with chemical flowers. The women adjust their clothes and hats. They hunch forward, lean their heads together, and close their eyes. The piss smell rises again. These women do not work either.


7 x like a billion = how much I love you:

gamefaced said...

ironical. my verification is insul..and i feel insulted as my office has no windows and i am stuck there (here). bitches.

Chick said...


Did she live in my favorite NYC building? The Dakota (it was my fav before he got shot there...it's lovely & haunted).

~otto~ said...

gamefaced: No windows should be criminal

Chick: You are berry berry smart

~otto~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rollerfink said...

This post might be removed by the author. not sure yet. i'll see how it goes.

rollerfink said...

also, i very like this. oops. i really like this. i should just go back and edit that.

TC said...


One thing of which I am reminded every time I read you is that anger is an essential ingredient in the word creation kit (something tells me they don't stress that too much in writing school, perhaps because the teachers are not unemployed?) and that tension is its source and spring and that in this respect, urban living is perhaps a writer's best friend (as well as, in other respects, a writer's worse enemy -- but let's not go there and anyway, it appears you can take it, as well as leave it).

About costumes, I don't know, it's so easy to see right through them

Amid the street torrent of witches and princesses and pirates and fairies and Scream clones the other night there was one guy who took the prize you deserve when you actually cause busy pedestrians to stop and do double-takes: a portly bearded older dude with "street guy" written all over him, in a snow white Crusader's mantle with cross of St. George on front, wielding a heraldic shield, listing badly as he staggered amid the stream of tinseled and pointy-hatted children (perhaps looking for one to take home to add to his collection?).

Ran into a Palestinian friend later in the evening and passed on the word that maybe there is not much to worry about with the next Crusade.

But as to the principals in your tale, again, it's your writing that costumes them quite accurately for us, I doubt they could have dressed up better for the occasion had they tried... or cried.


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