A young woman's search ends
I saw her sitting on the steps of number 15 3rd Street. It must have been a cold sit-down, the temperature had passed the freezing mark and was quickly on its way to zero. She puffed a cigarette and tried to warm her naked hands around the lit end. Dry snow swirled in the wind at her feet. It was then that I noticed she wore ballerina’s slippers. Not the ones with the steel toe for dancing en point, but softer ones; more like something you’d wear at home.
She pulled her coat across her neck and peeped out from beneath her knit cap that said “STEELERS” in bright yellow letters.
I walked to the corner where an all night grocery lent its yellow light to the frozen landscape of ice and pavement. Inside the shop was warm, almost suffocating. “Give me two coffees and, uh, could you make me a sandwich?” I asked, removing my gloves.
“We only got white bread, no rolls ‘till six o’clock.”
“That’s fine,” I answered picking out several little pies, two apples and an orange and laying them on the counter while the attendant prepared a roast beef and Swiss sandwich.
“Ya want a pickle with dat?”
“Yeah, why not shoot the works?”
The man wrapped the sandwich, put the food in a plastic shopping bag and took my twenty dollar bill, handing me the change.
“Oh, yeah,” I said, “gimme a pack of cigarettes.”
“I don’t know, uh, Marlboro, okay?”
He handed me back the cigs and I handed him seven bucks.
I left the grocery and walked back to where she had been sitting. Very few cars were coming down 3rd, it was late on a freezing night. I darted across the street just above number 15 and made a bee-line for her. She had finished her cigarette and was trying to crawl as far up into the doorway as was possible for shelter.
“Hey,” I said, as I approached.
This startled her and I saw her jump up and grab for her things, a ragged looking duffle bag and another worn and tattered paper sack.
“No, it’s okay, really . . .” I said, “you don’t have to leave. I just brought you something, look.”
She squinted at me, her eyes were running water from the cold and she brushed tears away off her cheek,
“Wha’dya want?” she asked, still grabbing at her bags.
“To give you this . . .” I said, holding out the bags of food and coffee.
“Why” You weren’t asked for anything.”
“No, but, well . . . it’s cold and I thought you might like something to eat.”
“I already ate,” she said.
“Yeah, when?” I asked.
She didn’t answer she just stood up and hauled her duffle bag over her shoulder.
“Look,” I said, “I got cigarettes, too.”
I held up the Marlboro and saw her eyes flash at the sight.
She continued to stand, her bag slung across her shoulder ready for flight, but slowly she reached her hand out for a cigarette. I placed the whole pack in her hand.
“Woo-wee! Must be Christmas!” She snatched her hand back with the cigarettes clutched securely within and turned to go down the stairs.
“Where are you going?”
She stopped and looked at me, “why? What do you care?”
“Well, don’t you want some hot coffee?”
“What the hell are you Little Mary Do-Gooder?”
“No, I . . . I just saw you sitting there while I was on my way home from work. You looked so cold.”
“Yeah, I am cold, but so what?”
“Do you have a home?”
She laughed aloud tossing her head back. It was then I noticed she was missing several top teeth.
“A home, boy, you’re something else! I mean, you must really be some kinda nut.”
“Well I’m not nuts, honey,” she said, “you’re the one walking up and offering food and such. Asking if I’ve got a home.” There was a hint of derision in her tone.
I hung my head. It had been somewhat naïve to ask.
“No, honey, I don’t have a home, or a house, a shack or anything that could be considered shelter. Unless I go over cross town to the old Subway entrance. Maybe Cotton will le me stay with him in his box.”
I shuddered involuntarily; the idea of spending the rest of this frigid night sheltered by cardboard was unnerving to say the least.
“Well. I have some rooms over there on 10th Street,” I said.
“Wait a minute,” she said, a wary look in her eyes, “are you telling me that you’d let me stay inside your house?”
“Well, uh, sure. What harm is there in that? There’s four rooms and my roommate is away overseas.”
“Your . . . roommate, a man or a woman?”
“Is your roommate a man or a woman?”
“Oh, a man. He’s gone back home for a while. Back to France.”
“A Frenchy, eh? I used to go out with a fella that was French. Long . . . long time ago . . .” she let her voice trail off and stood there on the stoop with her hand on her forehead as if lost.
“Well,” I said, “common, it’s a hell of a lot warmer indoors.”
She hesitated for a few moments while I motioned her along. Then, picking up the paper parcel she followed. Snow had begun to fall again. We’d had a lot of it this year and the streets bore piles of snow and patches of slick ice.
I walked a bit ahead of her while she shambled along behind. When we reached the northwest corner I paused waiting for her.
“There’s my building, the red brick.”
She looked up at it; the place had just been refurbished and looked brand new.
“Wow! Hoity-toity, eh?”
“It’s not as expensive as you might think, really.”
Jasper, the night doorman was sitting on his little stool and when he saw me he opened the door. He held the woman back with a strong, stiff arm.
“It’s alright, Jass,” I said, “she’s with me.”
Jasper frowned and stared at me for a moment.
“With you, huh? I hope you know what you’re doing, Miss.”
“Don’t worry, Jass. I’ve got it under control. Come on, this way,” I said to the woman.” She pushed past Jasper, smiling her gap-toothed grin and walked behind me. I pushed the button for the elevator watching her as she pulled open the pack of smokes and stuck one in her mouth.
“You can’t smoke in the elevator,” I said.
“So what? It isn’t lit.”
I smiled and when the door opened I let her enter first. Once inside the elevator I noticed her odor; a smell of an unwashed body, clothing and rotted food. I stood well to the other side, smiling at her a few times until the elevator stopped on the fifth floor.
When the elevator stopped I stepped into the hall but the woman hung back. “Come on, this is my floor. I live down the hall. Come on, don’t be afraid.”
She took a tentative step across the elevator threshold and looked right then left as if traffic could suddenly appear and run her down.
I turned to my left and headed toward my door. It was one o’clock in the morning and no one was in the hallway. I unlocked my door, reached in and switched on the light, then motioned her closer. She walked slowly like a person going to her death and I realized then bow very frightened she must have been. How easy it was to lure her with the promise of warmth and food.
“No one’s going to hurt you, come in.”
My cat, Mitzy ran up to me and twisted herself in and out of my legs. I placed the bags of food down on my counter and waited. I walked back to the opened door and looked out. She was standing about five or so feet away and just looking at the opened door.
“I promise, no harm will come to you. Come in, relax.”
She became brash then, “of course nobody’s going to hurt me, I can take you on, you’re nothing big. I’ve taken on worse than you.”
I saw through her bravado when she laid her hand on the door and pushed it further inward; it shook with such fury that I though surely she would faint.
“Come on,” I coaxed, “come all the way in and then you can eat.”
She came in but insisted that the apartment door remain open. I saw her point, she wanted a quick get-away should the need present itself.
“Here,” I said, laying out the sandwich and both coffees.
She looked at me for a few more moments, trying I guessed, to figure me out and what all this was about then, she dove into the sandwich and gulped the coffee finishing the meal in less than five minutes.
She lit a cigarette and blew the smoke contentedly up to my ceiling.
“May I close the door now?”
“No, you just leave if open.”
I sat down on my couch and looked at her. She had on at least four dresses, a despicable imitation of a fur coat that was so threadbare that the whole back lacked fur and the Steelers cap. She also wore a pair of greasy, stained trousers and then, the ballerina slippers.
“Would uh . . . would you like to take a shower? Maybe change your clothes?”
“I don’t think so. Hey, what’s your name, anyway?”
“Carol,” I said, “and yours?”
“Deese,” she answered indifferently.
“Okay, Deese, you know, you can settle your bags down. There’s no one here but me and Mitzy.
She turned in the chair and looked around the room wild eyed.
“Who the hell’s Mitzy? I though you said your roommate was away?”
“That’s Mitzy,” I said pointing to the small white cat that peered from the pillows piled on the couch.
“Oh, hey, I’m not afraid of a cat.” Deese said and waved a grimy hand my way.
“Really, Deese, it would be considerate of you to bathe.”
Her rank odor was beginning to irritate me and turn my stomach, “you’ll be more comfortable if you do. I’ll even give you some clean clothes.”
“Yeah? Well you’re too young and slim to be Santa Clause, what was your name?”
“Carol,” I answered.
“Well you’re sure not him, so, why do you want to give me clothes?”
“Because the ones you have are filthy.”
“Let me see the clean ones.”
“Are you deaf? I said, let me see the clean ones.”
I sighed and went to my room. Opening my lower drawer I pulled out two old pairs of sweat pants and a sweat shirt, some socks and a T-shirt.
“Here,” I said as I returned to the main room. She was standing outside in the hallway, her bags over her shoulder and under the other arm, a box of Cheerios that had been in my pantry.
“Where are you going?”
“I . . . just remembered, I gotta meet somebody.”
“Where? It’s mighty cold outside, Deese.”
“Yeah . . .”
“You don’t want to go back outside. Come back in here and look at these nice clothes I’ve got for you.”
She stretched her neck to look but I had laid them down on the couch and the back of the furniture obscured her view.
“Oh . . . all right!” and she ambled across the threshold.
Misty stepped up and rubbed her sleek body across Deese’s legs.
“Hey! You stop that now, I don’t have any food for you.”
“She doesn’t want anything to eat, Deese. She wants you to pet her.”
“I don’t touch animals. They steal your food.”
“Mitzy doesn’t steal food. She belonged to me her whole life and she’s plenty well fed.”
“Hmpf!” was Deese’s reply. She entered and this time, closed the apartment door. Then, she settled her bags, placing the box of Cheerios on top of the pile and proceeded to the couch where she looked over the clean clothes.
“I like the green pants,” she said, smiling.
“Then you can put them on as soon as you shower.”
Deese frowned a bit and started to mutter something under her breath.
“What’s wrong? Don’t you like water?”
“It’s cold outside, shouldn’t bathe and go outside.”
“But, you’re not going outside, that is, at least until the morning.”
She fiddled with the buttons on the ragged coat and looked like a child trying to avoid bedtime. She pulled the coat off and I thought the thing would fall to pieces as it touched the floor. Large clumps of fur fell of the thing and Mitzy was busy investigating the furry balls, sneezing afterward.
“I got an old coat in there too . . . it . . . used to belong to my Mom. You can have it. It’s good and warm.
Come with me, I’ll show you how to work the shower.”
“What is it? You think I’m stupid? I know how to work a shower!”
“Oh, I didn’t mean it that way, Deese, I . . .”
She waved a hand at me, “don’t worry about it. Just give me a cigarette and I’ll figure out the accommodations, okay?”
I reached across the counter and dumped a cigarette out of the pack. I handed it to her, “gimme a light, huh?”
I handed her the table lighter and she took it disappearing into the bathroom.
She emerged from the bathroom in a cloud of steam. Wrapped in towels and one of my old robes, she looked completely different.
“You know,” she said, “ I kept my knife on the sink all the while I showered.”
“Your . . . your knife?”
“Look, honey, I don’t know who you are and what your motive is. I don’t have a clue why you brought me to your house. For all I know, you wanted me with my guard down. You could’ve wanted to kill me.” She held up a blade at least four inches long and shaped like a boning knife.
“Why would I do that?”
“I don’t know. There’s all kind of crazies out there, you know?”
“Look, I meant you no harm. I just . . . well, I just thought if you got a break, you might use it, that’s all.”
“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”
“You know, get off the streets.”
Deese laughed. She continued to laugh as she sat down in the armchair.
“Boy, honey, you sure have some grand ideas.”
“Don’t you want to leave the streets?”
She paused in drying her hair and looked up at me, “that’s none of your business.”
“But why . . . I mean, why are you on the streets?”
“Right now, I don’t have anywhere else to go. Believe it or not, you need money to pay rent.”
“I know,” I said, a bit piqued at her response, “I pay rent, I work too.”
“Aha! That’s it. Why I’m not working! Well, I used to. I had a good job, too. Worked for a financial firm on Wall Street as a financial advisor. Why are you looking at me like that? You don’t believe me, do you?”
“I shrugged and stammered a reply, “I . . . I believe you, Deese, sure. I just . . . how’d you end up on the streets?”
“Boy! You sure are persistent. Maybe I don’t want to talk about it! Maybe I’ll just take the shower, clean clothes and those Cheerios and be on my way.”
She stood up and removed the robe, pulling the T-Shirt I’d provided over her naked breasts. She was so thin her ribs could be counted as she raised her arms to put on her shirt. I watched as she pulled on the sweat pants. She wore no underwear and pulled on a pair of my old socks before she put on the pants. She had a long scar running across her abdomen. When she saw me looking she hurriedly pulled up the pants.
“That’s some scar you got there.”
“It’s old, nothing at all, really,” she said holding her hand up as I advanced toward her.
She brushed past me and picked up her bags, the box of Cheerios falling of the pile. She tried to pick up the cereal but her hands were full.
“Why don’t you wait till morning?” I asked, “it’s really freezing out there . . . “
“Cause, you ask to many questions.”
“Okay, I won’t ask any more questions. I promise, just relax, okay?”
Deese pulled another cigarette from the pack and lit it.
“You got anything to drink around here?”
“You mean, like liquor?”
“Yeah, I mean like liquor.”
“A little Vodka.”
“Could I have some please? Just a little in a glass with some water.”
“Sure,” I said and walked to the alcove that served as my kitchen. I poured a liberal shot of Vodka into a glass and added cool spring water, “here,” I said, handing her the drink.
She took the drink and looked at it, examining the liquid, then without another word slugged it down. I looked at my watch. “I’m going to make you a place to sleep on the couch. In the morning we’ll talk about your situation.”
“My situation!” she said, the very picture of indignation.
“Just . . . get some sleep, okay?”
I began to wonder at what I had done. I knew nothing about this woman except that she might be the one I was looking for. So far she fit the profile yet how could one be positive? I had a photograph but that was 15 years old. She had an abdominal scar and had claimed to at one time to have worked on Wall Street and that fit as well, but . . .
I stood by my bed and undressed. I felt very tired now and hoped that there would be no trouble and that Deese would stay long enough to discover what I needed to know.
I have never been a fan of bright sunlight, so I keep light blocking shades and heavy curtains on my windows. Consequently, by the time I woke it was well past 11:00 AM.
I remembered Deese in a sudden fit of trepidation and jumped out of my bed. I tossed my bedroom door open and sure enough, no Deese. The blankets had been folded neatly the pillow left on top and a little note scribbled on a Post It told me that she thanked me for the hospitality but she had many appointments to keep.
I hit the wall with my opened palm in a sign of frustration. Now, it might be another couple of months before I could find her once again.
I was walking by the Cooper Union building. The big black cube surrounded by students studying, listening to music or just enjoying the beautiful spring day. I looked across the street and on the corner opposite the school I saw Deese. She was trudging toward Second Street, weighed down by four overstuffed shopping bags. She pushed through the people, leaving dirty looks behind at those who got in her way.
I decided I would follow her and see where she was headed. She wound through the crowds of people and headed right on Second Street toward the part of town we call “Alphabet City”. Avenue A, B, C, all of them more derelict than the one preceding. Perhaps she had found rooms, perhaps I had planted a seed.
She was quick on her feet and I found myself hurrying to keep up with her. She turned on Avenue B and headed right, toward a dilapidated row of grey stone house. People sat on stoops and curbs, most of them drunk or “high” off one drug or another.
She seemed to be of single purpose and kept on trudging forward, her bags in tow. I watched her duck into an alleyway using steps that led down from the street. The building was abandoned it seemed, all the windows had been replaced by boards and the hallway door was sealed shut with a large sheet of metal.
I waited a bit then descended the stairs and followed Deese.
The alleyway led straight back for a while then the passage shifted right. Ahead I could see an open yard and people passing a bottle around.
Her back was toward me but the other persons looked up at me. Deese turned quickly, looking at me. Surprisingly she smiled and turned back to the others, “ that’s lil’ Miss Do Goodly,” I herd her say.
I walked forward toward them and stopped in front of Deese.
“Hey, Deese . . .” I said smiling, “where you been?”
“Out and about,” she answered. She pushed a section of matted hair behind her ear with a grimy hand.
“You got a smoke?”
“I don’t smoke, Deese,” I said, “I only bought those cigarettes for you. I looked for you,” I continued, “you haven’t been around the neighborhood.”
“No,” she answered and looked at me,” I haven’t been feeling well, look . . . what do you want from me anyway?”
”I uh, think you’re nice.”
The other people, two men and a woman, laughed. I smiled in return and asked, “don’t you thing she’s nice?”
“Oh, she’s nice all right,” the biggest of the two men said, “nice and tough!”
The others laughed again and Deese rubbed her running nose with the back of her hand.
“Yeah, I can beat the daylights out of you guys.”
Their laughter stopped abruptly and I believed that Deese could whip the heck out of them. They stood quietly around not looking at Deese or me.
“Come on inside,” Deese said to me, grabbing the sleeve of my blouse between her thumb and forefinger.
I looked around to see where she might mean for me to follow and saw a doorless entrance level with the back yard. The interior beyond was black and nothing within could be discerned. I followed her and was struck by the foul odor of fetid water, garbage and human waste once I crossed the threshold. I stepped backward out of the door, “could we talk outside?”
“What’s the matter? You week or something?” she asked with a twinkle in her eye. She knew the place was objectionable to me and seemed to care little.
“No.” I answered, “I’m okay,”
“I don’t like to talk in front of them, they’re nosey. Now, what do you want?”
“that night in February, when you came up to my apartment . . .”
“Why didn’t you stay?”
“What the hell for?”
”Well, so we could talk, get to know each other.”
She chuckled. “Why in hell would I want to get to know you? Why would you want to know me, for that matter?”
“I thought you might need a friend, that’s all.” I felt foolish telling her a lie.
“Friend! Look back outside round that bottle. Those are my friends. They understand, the support me in a way you could never do. What do you mean friend. What could you do for me? Make me realize what it is you think I don’t have?”
“But, you were successful once.”
“Yeah, and I’m not going back that way again. I can’t take that life anymore.”
“Why?” I was aware that my voice sounded small and weak. She had bent and was searching through a pile of clothes that could scarcely be termed as such. There were more holes in them than material. She held up a stained and frayed sweater.
“You think this’ll fit me?”
Whether she meant to change the subject or just plain ignore my question I did not know. I stood next to her and watched her pick through the ragged clothes.
“Deese . . .Deese!”
She looked around at me perplexed at my annoyance.
“I . . . uh . . .”
“Look, honey, either you got something to say or you don’t. Why’d you come around here anyway? How’d you know where I’d be?”
“I didn’t know I saw you on the street near Cooper Union.”
“Oh. Well, why’d you come around here?”
”Couldn’t we go somewhere else and talk?”
“Sure, I keep regular rooms at the Waldorf Astoria.”
I turned to leave and stepped out of the doorway. I filled my lungs with the air while standing there, it was better than the room’s rancid stench.
“Hey, listen, what was your name?”
“Carol,” I said hanging my head.
“Yeah, Carol. Well, look Carol, why don’t you go on now and forget about me. I mean, someday I’ll come round with some money and pay you back for the Cheerios and cigarettes.”
“I don’t want you to pay me back, Deese.”
“Well, what the hell do you want?”
I turned then and walked away, back through the alley and up to the street. I looked back when I climbed to the top of the stairs, but could not see her.
It was the week before Thanksgiving when I saw Deese again. The air was just turning cold and she was begging money on the sidewalk near Thompkins Square Park. I walked up and tossed a twenty dollar bill in her cup. She started to mumble a thank you, just another passer-by until she saw that I’d given her some real money. She looked up then and a crooked smile lifted one corner of her mouth. I could see that her left eye and part of her lip was swollen and blue.
“What happened to you?”
“Oh, its Miss Polly Purebread!” she said with a little laugh.
“I got into a little fight at the City Shelter. They tossed me out afterwards. Said I can’t come back.”
“They can’t refuse to take you in when it’s cold outside.”
She looked up at me shading her damaged eye with her hand against the Fall’s weakening sunlight, “they can do whatever the hell they want to do, Missy. Thanks for the cash.” She completely ignored me then turning to the next passer-by with her extended cup.
“Look, it’s getting really cold out here at night. You want to bunk with me?”
She looked up at me and passed me a wicked grin, “no! Ask Pete, why don’t you? He’s always complaining it’s too cold.”
She hooked a finger at an old fellow who nodded on a bench behind her. Beside the usual filthy clothing his hands bore sores that seeped some substance.
“I don’t want to bring Pete home with me, I will take you home with me though.”
“Look,” Deese said, and sprang to her feet so quickly that the movement alarmed me and made me take a few steps backward, “tell me what’s this big interest in me, huh?” She walked toward me and I backed up until my feet felt the edge of the street curb where I stopped.
“I can’t talk about that here, come to my apartment with me.”
“You tell me here, you tell me now, or next time . . . hell! There won’t be any next time!”
“Because . . . your name is Diana Desensia.”
She stopped as if someone had turned her off. My guess was she hadn’t heard her proper name in many a year.
“No, my name is not what you said, Diana, somebody?”
“Yes, Diana, that’s your name. It took me eight years to find you.”
Deese looked around wildly for a place to run. She backed away from me, her cup of change grasped tightly in her hand, her eyes darting from side to side as if trapped.”
Why . . . would you . . . want to find . . . me?” she was breathing heavily as though she’d just run a long way and despite the crisp air, I noted a sheen of sweat rise on her forehead.
“Come to my place and I’ll tell you why.”
“No, I can’t go anywhere with you. I don’t even remember your name, you know that? Why are you following me around bothering me?”
“Come with me and I’ll explain.”
Deese bent down and picked up her bags and the coat I’d given her last year and began to head through the people toward Washington Square.
“Deese!” I followed her. She was fast when she wanted to be it wasn’t easy keeping track of her with the weekenders that shuffled to and fro through the park.
“Deese, wait!” I began to run. I couldn’t afford to lose her now if she was this spooked. I saw her about to cross the street and picked up speed to catch up. She was just about to step off the curb when I put out my hand and grabbed her shoulder. She turned around holding that knife of hers.
“Leave me alone! You don’t know me, leave me alone!”
“But, I do know you!”
“How,” she asked, her narrow eyes scrutinizing my face as if it were the first time she’d ever seen it.
“Because, I’m your daughter,” I said just loud enough for her to hear. She looked at me and incredulously. “You’re crazy, you’re no daughter of mine.”
“Yes, yes I am and I’ve been looking for you for eight years.” Tears began to trail down my cheeks. We were standing in the middle of the sidewalk, me in my 5th Avenue originals and she in her cast-off rags, me and my manicured neatness, she bedraggled and matted.
“You are Diana Desensia. That’s why they call you Deese. You worked on Wall Street from, 1980 until 1984. At the time of your disappearance you were married to Mark Desensia and had one child, Carol. Me. The scar on your abdomen you received giving birth to me. A Caesarian section.”
“Look at me, look me in the eye and say I’m lying, Deese! Look at me, see? You can’t, ou know it’s true.”
I saw a police officer approaching, perhaps he had seen Deese’s knife, perhaps he had thought we were arguing but I took hold of her elbow and steered her across the street just as the light changed and the corner crowds strolled across.
“Put that knife away, please. A cop was watching us across the street.”
“Where?” Deese asked, stretching her neck to see over or around the people.
“It’s okay, he’s gone now,” I answered, looking back at the park.
“Well, suppose I am who you say, what do you want from me?”
“I want you to come home.”
Deese laughed. She laughed until her eyes teared and I felt like a fool on the corner, listening to a ragged woman laugh at me.
“I’m not going home. I don’t have a home anymore.”
“You could have one. I’m not married, I haven’t any kids, it would be just you and me.”
She had turned her back to me as I had spoken but now she spun about and looked steadily at me.
“I’m not going home with you. I left your father eight years ago and when I left I left for good! I don’t want a home. I don’t want a husband . . . and I . . . don’t . . . want . . .you!”
She turned and gathered herself like a warrior who goes to battle knowing it could be his last.
“thanks for the money. Oh, and take these, will you? They’re really not good for much.” She handed me the worn and dirty ballet slippers she’d had on when I first saw her.
“They were yours, you know. I . . . don’t need them,” she said, saluting me then letting her hand slip in front of her face with her thumb touching her nose. She waggled her fingers at me in a “screw off” gesture. I stood there and I felt like I should cry, but what good would that do? I’d found her only to discover that she wished to stay where she was. All the work, research and waiting had truly been fruitless. I could not force her to stay with me or anywhere. I would never discover just what it was that had made her run away from Dad and I, or what kept her on the streets.
I shoved the ballet slippers into my pocket and walked back through the park and across town toward my apartment. I knew now that I would have to leave New York City. I could not continue to live here knowing she was just outside my door, just outside my life, though it was by her own choice.
“Dad,” I said into the receiver as I sat in my apartment that night, “it’s no good, she wouldn’t listen to me . . . yeah, she believed I was who I said I was, I saw it in her eyes. No, Dad, she won’t come here to live with me, and she won’t go back to you . . . I don’t know. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her . . . Dad . . . would it be alright if I came home for a while? Okay, thanks, Dad, see you then.”
I lay the receiver in the cradle and stood to look out of my window. The night had gone quite cold, lower thirties throughout the city. I sipped my scotch and looked at the street below. People passed by oblivious that on the sidewalk’s curb, at their feet, a tattered man sat his hand stretched out for spare change and that he, like countless others may have once been somebody’s someone.