|Excerpt: In front of an apartment building on the Lower East
Side, New York City. The present.
I was late with my rent for the first time ever. That was enough for their fancy lawyer to get me evicted. But I'm not finished. Not me.
Not yet. My mother used to say, "Life may get you down, but you're only out if you
wanna be." And I don't want handouts from anybody. That's not the kind of person I
am. I come here every day. Right out here in front of the building that was my home for 28
years. And I sell a few things. Enough to get by. And then the owners all complain about
me to the cops. None of the neighbors are left here anymore. They're all strangers.
Owners. They paid a lot of money to buy a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. And they
don't want to know the kind of poor person who used to live there before they renovated.
My friend Arlo says that downtown is working so hard to be uptown,
pretty soon there won't be any place left for poor honest people to live. Arlo stays over
by Avenue C. Everybody likes Arlo. He's got a hole in his tongue--he got it pierced--and
he's getting his whole body tattooed, he told me. Right now he's just down to the
elbows--he doesn't have the money to go further just yet. Arlo's a real nice boy. He looks
out for me. He told me when he gets down to his right hand, he's going to put my name
there. He says that way he'll think of me whenever he reaches out to people. I told him he
should be thinking about a woman his own age, I could be his mother, but he just laughs
and says I'm his favorite woman and anyway, he likes other boys. That's all right with me.
My mother said there's room for everyone in this world, and people should just live and
This morning Arlo told me that he heard talk that they're going to
build a big fancy hotel and office building between Avenue A and B., near the restaurant
where I used to work. Oh, it's called a "cafe" now--all the restaurants are. I
always thought cafes were places for sitting outside and drinking when you're in Paris,
like they show in the movies, but here they're calling all the new restaurants and even
some of the old ones, cafes. Like maybe people from out of town won't know the difference
and think maybe they're in France instead of on East Fourth Street on the Lower East Side
in New York City.