New York Home

Short Story

As I got closer to home, people were distinctly less ‘American New York’, and more ‘Irish New York’, or ‘Russian New York’, or even ‘German New York’. The Lower East Side had more and more immigrants every day – not that I cared much, I mean, if it hadn’t been for the Pole who offered me a discounted apartment on the condition I taught his kid to write English, I probably wouldn’t be living anywhere at all.

The apartment was pretty crummy anyhow, the definition of Lower East Side; I’d jammed a torn up sofa into a corner, across from a shelf with a couple of records and a busted player that I’d copped from a junkyard whilst I was working there. The kitchen began immediately after, the white tiles now yellowed from smoking, or perhaps just age, the sink taps dripping hypnotic drops of water. There was a small table and two chairs that my father had made for me when I first moved to New York – he actually made four chairs, but the apartment wasn’t big enough for it. Two doors went off from the kitchen, one to my bedroom, furnished with only an aching double bed with sack-quilts which itched and a dresser with clothes and books strewn across it, and one to the bathroom, the tub jammed so close to the toilet that I could clean it whilst taking bath if I so pleased.

I’d promised Roland that I’d go out with him tonight, so I didn’t collapse on the sofa and listen to some music like I usually do – I headed straight for the bathroom and drew a quick bath so I wouldn’t smell like a john when walking round the city. The water was actually surprisingly warm, considering most of the time it would either be freezing cold or a blah-lukewarm that didn’t really feel very comfortable, and I was tempted to draw out my wash, but I quickly drained and dried off with some old towel left hanging off the door.

I took a look outside to see what time of day it was getting to, and to my dismay it was indeed dark, so I changed quickly and headed out the door, back into the city.

***

Continuation on my last ‘New York Scene’

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New York Scene

Short Story

 

It’d just stopped raining outside, and the streets had that depressingly wet feel about them, and had there not been cigar-booths, hot dog and hamburger stands with Spanish folk trying to peddle their mystery meat, and plenty of other diners all competing for business, I’m sure it would have smelled equally depressing. I started my short walk home, swimming through the sea of New Yorkers hustling and bustling to get to their homes and move onto the next day.

‘New Yorkers’ was a strange phrase for me. There was no defining feature that you could point to and say “yes, that’s a New Yorker” –

Bratty kids tear up arcades, pockets jingling with loose change, screaming and yelling and pushing and shoving to get a peek inside the stand-up cabinets, only to find they’d ‘struck out’, the ball sliding past the bats and into the machines, and just outside these arcades there are at least two or three bums hoping to catch a few cents from them as they leave. And then opposite the street, teenagers waiting to go into whatever Bogart movie was in at the time, this time the bums being shooed away by movie-goers and employees alike. And then further down the street, Bowery and Third Avenue bars filled with suits, glasses clinked and cigars smoked, the businessmen of our day swigging away after a hard day’s work, jukeboxes roaring away with Fitzgerald, Sinatra, Armstrong, or whoever, the bartenders who’ve heard it all a thousand times before – and then just outside, in the alleyways out of plain-sight, paranoid teenagers with bottles, cowering in corners out of fear of being caught. And then the finest America has to offer, men and women in at least five or six coats and jackets, purses filled to the brim with all kinds of wealthy secrets, walking past phone booths filled with lively conversations with friends and families. And just down streets, trees peak round corners, park birds making residence for the night, shouting from tree to tree about the adventures of the dwindling day. More alleyways filled with the smell of tea, two men round a corner laughing away at jokes which trail off into the slowly-darkening skies of New York City.

***

This was an excerpt from a short story I started writing a while ago but just kind of left in the dust – not sure if I’ll pick it up again, but we’ll see