Downtown you felt netted like a one-eyed fish, big behind double-paned glass. Soprano sax piped from invisible outdoor speakers, stunted shrubs that weren’t shrubs at all, even though that’s what you called them. Women slender in dark skirts taunted by city wind, wrapping around, patted it all back down, and threshed a weave with closely cropped angular young men who never had hair growing where it shouldn’t.
You felt missing for cool air, crisp air. Sometimes there was no air. It was dirty air, thick air. Stainless steel and glass. The wrong change in your pocket you watched the bus roll away. Your buddy wearing Brooks said to never let them see you ride. You took a walk hopped the turnstile underground.
Peanut brittle crumbled in your pocket as you picked up the paper blue bundle at the narrow storefront uptown, took it up your three flights. The skinny old laundry man fucked it up. Lost one of your best socks. The one in your hand now worthless.
And that’s the word you used when you said it out loud to his face. Scrawny old gray stubble ripping you off for a bundle of laundry and the folds done the wrong way. When he opened up the half door counter in the back where he hid, you snapped in a circle, the reek of vodka, sweat and chlorine. You saw the dark inked letter, dashed with a four digit number embedded in his arm, looked away and never went back.