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There was once a very sad and impressionable man who lived in a shabby apartment in a desolate section of Queens. Grady was his name, and it had been quite a long time since anything had gone right for him. Eight months earlier, he’d been fired from his job at the pencil factory. It wasn’t a great, but it had paid the bills and kept food on the table. He hadn’t been able to find any work since.

Fed up with his lack of initative, his wife had packed her bags, grabbed the kids, and moved to Jersey, leaving him alone. And now the landlord was threatening to have him evicted for being months behind on his rent.

His clothes grew threadbare and smelly, as he could neither afford new ones nor even spare the quarters necessary to do a few loads of laundry. For food, he’d taken to hanging our near the dumpsters behind area grocery stores, waiting for nightfall so he could rummage through the discarded bruised vegetables and dented cans.

His days grew slower and heavier, and he wandered the streets of the city, stopping at each business he came across to ask for work. He was often sent away before he could finish asking on acount of his foul smell and unkempt appearance. Sometimes he was granted an interview, but usually only as a cruel joke. It was never very long before he found himself back on the sidewalk, his face as long as a rainy week.
—from These Children Who Come At You With Knives (Simon & Schuster, 2010)

rated A- by Entertainment Weekly— really!

Photograph, “Shabby, Desolate & Almost Queens” by Amber Tides, from the collection of the Lindenwood Historical Society.

See also: Jim Knipfel’s Park Slope Liebestod, winner of the 2009 Lee Mortimer Award for Crime Writing.

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