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death row, what a cabbie knowSimon’s biological clock is mainsprung. The sun arc-lamps his third– or will it be his fourth?– morning today. Frail rain falls. Vandam Street has taken early Autumn leaves to itself: each shines like a still-wet decal. Aromas are leavened out of porous concrete. Simon had been walking all night: to Manhattan’s bow and then back aft to the Fifty-Ninth Street bridge, down its tedious, stair-circling Queens-side tower. His left show is without a sole tip now. Five toes pat the rough, chill cement, yet New York is no more valid than Barcelona forty years, forty blocks, ago. Simon doesn’t want to draw any conclusions, or even beginnings, from that. He walks, the empty Jack Daniel’s quart at his mouth: he blows a lone tugboat sound from its hollow neck. Oooom. Ooom. Good booze wasted once again. His heavy-duty metabolism, the cholesterol-fat brain, seven and seven-eighths in depth, have matched the intobumper cropxication surge for surge. He tries to stagger: to playact it. His feet dally at each step, ankles unlatched, as if he were crushing cigarette butts out, the way pianists will rub fingers on some already struck key: useless musically: a trick of cheap peacockishness. Ah, it’s Simon’s great burden in life: he’s never had a cheap drunk yet.”

– D. Keith Mano, Take Five (1982)

Beadel Debevois, Fiction Editor, asks: Vandam Street, Manhattan, or Van Dam Street, Queens? Long Island City? Fifty-Ninth Street bridge? “Stair-circling”?!

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