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A Woman Without Her Neighborhood { 2 }

I was close to the hot iron center of activity but not in it. Ginnie kept me close but she kept Mango closer. They thought they needed me because I told them my grandpa had sold red Levis jeans to the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh cult and they almost kidnapped me on a family trip out West when I was a baby for wearing a red jumper. They liked red. I don’t know if any of it’s true; it’s old family lore. But I was a good organizer. I knew how to navigate the Internet and the streets and I knew how to befriend old men with media clout.

But we had time. The destruction of our building was a process; it would be a year before they evicted us. They couldn’t use machines. Instead they would have to take it down brick by brick because of the asbestos.

One day I saw Ginnie walking down the street in a business suit with two tennis rackets under her arm and she looked good, not terribly sticky like the rest of us. I hadn’t heard of any stunt with business suits and tennis rackets and I couldn’t believe she hadn’t told me so I followed her underground with narrowing breath. There was a swarm of kids in my way and I thought I’d lost her and the train was coming, but there she was again deep in the subway. Down there, in August, my ass was always the first thing to sweat. I couldn’t tell if she knew I had followed her. She always looked at her feet. Or her breasts.

I leaned against the door and tried to sketch her like that without her noticing, though I’m not much of a drawer. I had to sketch her because she moved me then. I don’t know why she moved me; I was supposed to be angry. She stilled me like a screw.

Her face was sculpted in one plane, in one dimension but none of her features were flat. Her nose was not pressed or stingy. Her profile was Olympian. She was a Pantheon statue. But head-on her eyes narrowed and she could look like a wicked schoolmaster with a wooden spoon in her belt. I hoped someone would notice me sketching her. Then a kid with a scooter threw up behind me. Ginnie saw me then and I hid my notebook and sat down by her and finally noticed Mango on her other side. Ginnie shot me a cutting smile. Ginnie could produce a nation with that look.

Mango and her flirted and it annoyed me terribly. I’ll bet you ten dollars, Ginnie said. No. Five? No. One? No. Respect? Respect, OK, if you’re right. They tried to be witty. Mango was an alcoholic but if you told her so she’d threaten to pick up heroin. She was running out of moves. We all were. I felt young.

In the middle of all of this, Ginnie’s brother’s girlfriend had hung herself. In their bathroom at home. Ginnie’s brother and mom found her and there was a body print in the bathroom door. I guess she swung. Fuck. Fuck. Ginnie had met her a few times.

That’s where Ginnie was headed in that business suit, to the funeral.

{ Continue to Page 3 of 5 }

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