That Paolo was a pothead I already knew. But the news that Antonio was a cokehead was a nasty surprise. Paolo’s girlfriend told me that Antonio was so desperate for a hit that he couldn’t wait for the powder to travel from his nose to his bloodstream. So he was in the kitchen mixing up some heated whiskey with cocaine so that he could shoot it up his arm with a borrowed syringe. I didn’t want to even think about needles.
Usually I wouldn’t have given a f–k, except that the scene was being played out in my kitchen. And as everyone knew, rule number one for anyone crossing the threshold was Don’t F–king Die In My House. Period. No exceptions. Paolo was a friend, one of those cafe house friends who gather after school and talk philosophy and shit when they don’t want to face the crowded subway home. He was here because my roommate had a crush on him. Antonio wasn’t even that – he got invited because he was Paolo’s best friend and shadow. In some circles he was known as The Lamb (like Mary’s, get it?) but not to his face because under that very Latino face was a very Latino temper and Halloween was better when the violence was fake.
Oh yeah. Today’s Halloween. That’s why all these people are in my home, flicking ash on the carpet that I spent hours cleaning because my mother taught me that no lady invites friends over without cleaning the house first. I gave up on being a lady a long time ago, right around the time when I figured out that the list of qualifications was only getting going to get longer, not shorter, the older I got. But somewhere in the back of my head is my mother’s voice, striking when most unexpected.
Kate, my roomie, says it’s her shade come back to haunt the one who got away – I’m the Unmarried Daughter at the ripe old age of twenty nine – but Kate is Irish and in her I finally found someone more superstitious than Indian me.
“Hey, bitch!” says Mandy, staggering in. She’s wasted and hanging onto some guy I never laid eyes on before. “’S up?”
I hug her hard and hardly notice the cloud of alcohol and tobacco that envelopes her black-clad figure. A sneeze builds up but clings stubbornly to the cartilage, refusing to leave my body. She’s Edward Scissorhands and I just know a disaster is waiting around the corner. Hopefully the bloodstains will come out easy. Yeah, right.
“F–king cokeheads in my kitchen,” I say into her ear.
“Cool,” says stranger dude, eyes lighting up.
“No,” I enunciate very clearly. For all I know he’s just as f–ked up as Mandy and the last thing I want is another potential suicide in my kitchen. “Not cool. Of all the things I hate, you know what I hate the most? People dying in my house. So you wanna snort, you wanna pop, whatever you wanna do other than smoke the plain old cancer leaf – do it outside. Get it?”
Stranger dude gives me an unfriendly look. “Get a lot of visitors?” he asks snidely.
“Shit, they ODing in there?” asks Mandy, grinning at me.
“I don’t know,” I sigh. “I sent Kate in there.”
Mandy whistles. Or tries to. Actually she spits into my ear, narrowly missing my face. I wipe my ear off with one finger as ostentatiously as I can. Gross. She giggles again. Now, I hate gigglers. Too annoyingly cutesy and girlie for me. But not Mandy. Mandy giggles like they say Casanova made love. It’s an art form to which she has devoted years of study. I didn’t need her to tell me it pulled the boys in high school like iron to magnet.
“I love this woman,” she tells stranger dude, who is looking around for the kitchen. “One day she’s gonna rule the world – she’s so evil!”
“Who’s he?” I mouth.
“What?” she yells above the music. Show tunes. That’s what happens when you know an inordinate number of musical theater folks.
I give up on discretion. “Hey! I’m Alisha – who’re you?”
“Hey,” he nods. Right, international man of mystery. F–king James Bond, ruining men around the world, giving them ideas only .01% of them could carry off.
“Listen,” I tell him. “Here’s another rule we have in this house – no one comes in without telling us their name. Especially when they’re so f—-ing interested in what some dumbass doper is up to. So what’s your name?”
He looks me up and down the way a lot of people without imagination think is very intimidating. Then points to Ali, schmoozing up to a couple of over endowed girls brought along by someone who knew someone who knows Kate – or something like that. “He knows me.”
“You’re kidding me!” Ali knows everybody, most of them people I’d rather cross the street than meet. “And your name is?”
Mandy giggles. “His name’s Mohammad. He’s a terrorist.”
I look him over critically. He doesn’t look like a Mohammad or a terrorist. I said so.
“He’s undercover,” she giggles some more. Stranger dude allegedly called Mohammad smiles tightly at me. I hate people who grin without opening their mouths. I mean, what are they hiding anyway? “Come on, Lish, let him in.”
“Is he a run of the mill terrorist or is he a suicide bomber?” I want to know.
“What’s it to you?” he cuts in, finally baring his teeth at me. It takes a moment to understand that he’s trying some more intimidation stuff. The condition of his teeth is either genetic or his dentist is worth his weight in gold.
I shrug. “If you’re going to blow me up I’d like to first know why. If all you’re gonna do is sit around and pout at us, I don’t really care. You might like the anarchists – they’re over there I think, by the communists. Communist, actually. Only Tina showed up.”
In case you’re marveling at my courage or sneering at my foolhardiness, perhaps I should tell you that I don’t really think this guy’s name is Mohammad (with copper hair and dark blue eyes? Well, I guess anything’s possible) and I highly doubt he’s a terrorist. Either that or the terrorists of the world are getting really desperate. This kid couldn’t terrorize his way out of a lunch queue.
He didn’t say anything, just gave me his best impression of a shark grin. Which wasn’t very good. I nodded. “Hey Ali, you know this guy?”
It took some doing but finally Ali looked up from his study of some hippie’s droopy breasts to peer at the terrorist in the dim light we’d arranged for the party.
“Hey!” Ali said. “It’s the terrorist!”
Shit, I thought. Maybe he was for real. I wouldn’t have believed it of Mandy but perhaps she had been on the level instead of trying one of her famous “Statements”. A Statement, according to Mandy, was a verbal showstopper. Once a week she tried to liven things up by introducing a Statement where it did the most good. Like a yell in the Egyptian wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art or whispering at a crowded Wendy’s. Anything that drew more attention than necessary and had the fringe benefit of embarrassing anybody she was accompanying qualified as a Statement. Half the fun, she said, lay in no one quite knowing where and when a Statement would strike.
“Guess what, man?” Ali continues. “My dad’s a drug baron!”
Okay, let me explain. His dad is not a drug baron. Ali’s dad is in fact a very nice Afghan man, who’d left his country and crossed the border to Pakistan when things got too hot with the local Taliban and now lives on a farm somewhere on the border surrounded by more Americans than his son in New York.
Right after the war drove the Taliban underground and reduced much of the surrounding neighborhood to rubble, poppies were once again merrily painting the fields of Afghanistan red. In case you didn’t know, that is some seriously bad news for people fighting the War on Drugs (how come everything is now a ‘War’? It’s like ‘war’ is too passe to mention). Anyhow, it might have been years since poppy had been the main crop in those parts but enough people remembered it as a great way to get some fast cash to get it growing again and as Ali’s dad saw more and more of his neighbors growing the stuff, a thought to his stomach made him too take to cultivation.
In the years past, the opium would have traveled from Pakistan to India through the porous desert borders, there to take ship to the rest of the world. Now there were new middlemen and a hell of a lot closer than the Indians. GI Joe with his plane that flew unchecked to the West was fantastic at the drug trade. More than a few were personal customers and only too willing to risk shipping it along with their personal effects for a suitable recompense.
Ali said this to Mohammad. That was his name, I found. He really was a Mohammad. But he wasn’t a terrorist. He’d merely looked like one to the FBI when they drove by his flight school and discovered he was a half-Palestinian guy called Mohammad learning to fly who worked part time for a successful Arab who was an illegal alien because he’d denied he was a terrorist when he’d first sought asylum in the United States seventeen years ago. No one was interested when Mohammad’s employer had explained that the terrorist organization was a Kurdish resistance front funded by the CIA in the heady days of the Cold War. But they’d finally listened to Mohammad when he said that he wasn’t a terrorist and was only the guy who sat behind the cash counter at the Arab’s restaurant. Of course, Mohammad was a citizen, courtesy his American father. The Arab may have been married to a citizen and the father of another but he was still an Arab.
Today the Arab is in back in Turkey where he’d been imprisoned and tortured for ten years before escaping to the United States and God knows if he is alive or dead or, even worse, back in prison. Mohammad is in New York where he is giving his dreams of flying as dignified a burial as he could arrange in marvelous little pills and powder. Just pills and powder – he doesn’t like weed and won’t drink alcohol. Had he been called something else, said Mohammad, he would have. But he didn’t think anyone called Mohammad should drink. That much he could do for his mum and the God she’d brought him up to believe in. So he didn’t drink.
Paolo and Antonio had come out of the kitchen while Ali and Mohammad were trading stories in front of a fascinated audience. Antonio was blown, you could tell by the glitter in his eyes and the energy of his hands if not the smile on his face. In Paolo the weed and the coke were at war and the whiskey was playing cheerleader for both. So he was hungry and he was buzzed and he thought he was Superman. The one on TV that all the girls find sexy, he says, not the old guy in the wheelchair, ha ha. Then he says shit, I’m so going to hell.
He starts jumping up and down and grabs Antonio by the hand so they are jumping up and down in tandem. The random people filling my house either laugh at the two crazy Colombians or else give them a wide berth. Every time Paolo jumps up, his jeans slide down to reveal his butt crack and the Chinese tattoo looking down into it. Every time Antonio jumps down, he looks like he’s going to puke. Paolo’s girlfriend thinks they’re adorable, I’m hoping they won’t throw up on my carpet.
I’m really paranoid about the carpet. It’s a thing of beauty and unimaginable comfort and, most importantly, brand-new. In a couple of weeks you could use it to wipe your muddy boots and all I’d do is chase after you with a cleaning bill – nick it right now and I’ll come after you with a carving knife.
“Hey, you think your country’s f–ked?” Paolo yells at Ali as he bobs up and down the length of the living room with Antonio faithfully clutching his hand. “You should see my f—-ing country.”
Ali grins peacefully from amidst his collection of living dolls. “No thanks, bro! One f–ked up country per one shitty life.”
Paolo and Antonio hoot, turning to face each other in mid-jump and bumping chests. A couple of idiots lying nearby join in, faces blank and eyes dazed as if they were a new breed of hooting zombies created by Bacardi. Put them in front of a speeding train and they’ll hoot all the way to the morgue.
“Tell them about the cocaine,” encourages Coco, Paolo’s girlfriend who’s about to become a supermodel. That’s her real name, too. I swear. Antonio says it’s because her mother was a bimbo who was hooked on couture and when the labor pains hit her during a Chanel show, she promptly named her child after Coco Chanel.
“Oh yeah!” said Paolo, flinging himself at the couch where he landed with a thud. “Antonio, you tell.”
Every conscious eye swivels to Antonio, now collapsing on the TV bereft of Paolo’s iffy support. I wince and glance at Kate. She’s glaring at Paolo and Coco, now stuffing their tongues down each other’s throat. Of course.
“Yeah, Antonio. Tell us,” I chip in.
“Okay,” he says in his accent, more pronounced than that of Paolo’s because he comes from a part of Colombia that breeds sexy, macho, extra Latin types. No, that’s not my theory. That’s what Coco tells me. Apparently there are a lot of women panting after him in Colombia. Or rather a lot of girls – Antonio likes them young, usually just out of school. More sanely, Paolo told me the difference in accent arose because of where each went to school – Paolo went to the American school in Bogota and Antonio went to the Swiss school. So Paolo talks American, Antonio speaks English. So Paolo merges better and will find it easier to get a job; Antonio stands out in every crowd and hasn’t spent a night alone since his face cleared up.
“No way you can top my dad,” yells out Ali. Sexy brunette has beaten out hippie in her see through clothes and is now draped over one broad shoulder casting smoldering looks up at Ali’s hawk-like countenance. I wish her the best of luck. With Ali in his present condition, she’ll need tons of it if any of what she’s promising is to be accepted upon delivery.
“Oh yeah?” Paolo breaks in before Antonio can begin his story. “In Colombia there are places where people have no money. So you know what they do when they want food? They grow cocaine and take it in a bag and f—-ing barter with the guy who sells them food! Coke for f—-ing Ramen, can you imagine it?”
“Shopkeepers are dealers in Bogota? I thought there were cartels selling the stuff,” says Ali. Just what I was thinking.
“Nah,” Coco shakes her half-a-million dollar head. I mean, I’m just saying. “The shopkeeper sells it to the cartels and the cartels sell it over the border or whatever.”
“You think it’s the cartels and the dealers who’re running this shit?” asks Antonio, as usual not in the least upset at being upstaged. “No way, man! You take away the f—-ing crop, those poor people, they’re all gonna f—-ing starve!”
“Hmm,” I muse. “I never thought of it that way – drug dealing as social service. You should tell that to the feds.”
“I wouldn’t tell those pigs the time of day!” spat Mohammad. I’d forgotten about him.
“Hey man, I wanted to ask – was prison as bad as the movies?” asks Ali.
“No, I’m sure it was a trip!” I nip in.
Coco ignores my sarcasm. “Martha Stewart’s prison looks like a hotel.”
This is an unarguable fact. Everyone looks disgruntled. Things were just getting to the point where everyone had something to say when Coco had to go spoil it with things like facts.
A sixth sense tickles and I turn around as Billie hunches to the front of the crowd. She is met by howls of welcome, including some by people I’d never met before that night. It would be entirely like Billie to direct people to my home on the off chance that she might make it. It’s been a couple of months since I saw her last. I don’t know how she knew we were throwing a party. Anyway, if I know my Billie then she’s here to score, not for the company.
An exchange of high-fives and cursory hugs later, she grins at Paolo. One of the benefits of knowing a junkie who can more than afford his junk is that he is always willing to share. Of course, it cuts both ways – he’ll expect you to share when he’s looking for a fix and doesn’t have his stash on him but Billie takes care of that little problem by never showing her face unless she’s the one in need. Right now, she puts two fingers to her mouth, curled as if around a cigarette and sucks air noisily before grinning some more.
Paolo gives his wasted-but-who-cares smile and fishes a baggie out of his pocket. Coco watches him go through the motions with a beady eye. I’ve never seen her on anything but alcohol but every time anyone tries anything narcotic she watches them like a hawk. I once asked her why and she said she wanted to be prepared. I didn’t get it until Paolo explained that he’d once taken her to a rave where some kid too young to know what he was doing had convulsed to death just two feet away from her thanks to too much E and not enough water. Understandably that had left an impression. Paolo on the other hand had been less than impressed by the little idiot. But then, by the time Paolo had reached the advanced age of eighteen, he’d already spent a lifetime in the modern party jungle. Coco said that wild past would make him a very steady and reliable husband once he was ready to settle down. Of course, he’d need to be alive to do it but…
Getting back to Billie – she is here alone, which is uncomfortable news for a number of people. No one is more uncomfortable than Rita Patel, Billie’s quasi-American Born Half-Confused Desi ex, here today with her boyfriend, Jayesh the king of all a–holes. Jay as he invited me to call him, as if I would ever call him anything other then ‘you’ and ‘a–hole’, is now giving Billie the evil eye. From the looks of it I’d guess he knows that he comes a poor second to Billie in the bedroom. In fact, he comes a poor second to Billie in everything but personal hygiene (Billie’s have been stuck at pothead levels for years) but it’s going to take him some time to figure that out. Or for Rita to tell him so.
Who’re they? Jayesh – he’s the IIT kid who’s gonna start a website about making aloo gobi mommy style and sell it for a gazillion dollars. He’s the Indian who will drive for hours just so he can eat some chicken tikka masala made by a Bangladeshi who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing with the recipe except making money. According to him, everything is frickin’ but never f—-in’ – I don’t know why he’s in love with one ‘f’ word and not another but there it is. They call him Monkey Boy at the office where he looks down on everyone from his vantage point of five foot five-elevated-to-seven, thank you dearly Payless Shoes.
Rita I’ve known for years. Her family moved to Bombay from Seattle back in the mid 80s when her parents decided that Rita and her two brothers were growing up too un-Indian. Rita and I were the same age and when our mothers hit it off we had to be friends too. Their sojourn in Bombay didn’t last very long: her parents found that they could teach their kids to be more Indian in Seattle than in Bombay and Rita’s younger brother had massive adjustment problems that just wouldn’t go away. So they packed up and left three years after they’d moved in next door to us but our families maintained the contact and when I’d first landed in America, the Patels were my hosts.
Right now Rita is a bit fragile: the break up with Billie had been painful and she’d jumped at Jayesh’s offer to pick her up and dust her off, even though she couldn’t stand him. The other night she’d stunned me into speechlessness when she let on that she was thinking about marrying the smarmy bastard. The only reason he wanted to do anything of the kind was so that he could get his f—-ing green card. And Rita knew it too.
Ali, her best friend from the days when she was a snotty little kid with a darling lisp getting the shit beaten out of her on every playground, and I were waiting for her to find her feet and kick the asshole out of her life. She hadn’t done it yet, but maybe meeting Billie again would do the trick. On the other hand, it could very well send her scurrying into marriage. If so Ali and I were staring a life of crime in the face – we’d kidnap Rita before we let her say ‘I do’ to that waste of sperm.
Billie and Rita meet, exchange nods and look away hastily. Jayesh frowns on and only increases the scowl quotient of his face when Ali leans over with a carelessly familiar arm to snag Rita into the group on the floor with him at its center. Somewhere in his weasel brain, Jayesh is convinced that Ali and Rita had a thing for each other. Come to think of it, from the day he realized Rita was bi he can’t stop hooking her up mentally with every other person he comes across. Including me.
“So, what’s going on?” asks Billie.
“We’re regaling the company with dope accounts,” says Ali.
“Eh?” Billie’s just crawled off her couch. I can tell. I feel I should be honored she felt the need to do so for my shindig but who am I kidding? She didn’t come here for anything human.
“Stories about dope from around the world. My dad is a drug baron – did I tell you?”
“Your dad is a drug baron?” sputters Billie. “Mad cool, man! Can he get me some?”
“You do opium?” asks Paolo, impressed. I can see the dumbass wants some.
“You get me the shit and I’ll try it!”
I’m surrounded by idiots. Including Kate, eyes still plastered to Paolo like she wants to find new patterns in his skin. Maybe she’ll be the first to discover skin printing. Kinda like fingerprinting but you could use any part of the skin. Silly ass.
“You wanna be careful,” admonishes Paolo, suddenly serious. “There’re some things you just wanna stay away from!”
This from the man who minutes ago was injecting cocaine and whisky up his arm with a borrowed needle just a few feet away in my kitchen. Bastard.
“Yeah, things with needles and things,” says Mandy lying almost forgotten in the crook of Mohammad’s arm.
Antonio jumps a foot and gives me a guilty look. Too right. He knows how I feel about that kind of stuff in my house. I glare at him.
“Hey man, I’m just a pothead – I smoke, eat and sleep,” says Billie. “I’m a f—-ing national treasure.”
I don’t whether you’ve ever noticed this, but the moment the pothead population crosses two in any room there is a sudden dramatic decrease in energy. This event was held at bay in my house until Billie, the original pothead reincarnated, crawled into the crowd. Conversation has almost dropped to nil and no one is really interested in talking any more. Jayesh gets up and holds out a hand to a bemused Rita.
“We’ve got to go,” he says tersely.
“What for?” asks Ali, refusing to let go of Rita.
“I’ve got to get to work early tomorrow.”
“So? Rita doesn’t.”
Have I ever mentioned how much I love Ali? He’s the man! Of course, Rita had to go spoil it, acting all mealy mouthed and traditional wife. And everything directed at Billie, bent almost double on the floor and wafting smoke like a chimney. Suddenly she looks up and I swear to God, the two of them just freeze. Billie and Rita, that is. The a–hole keeps on blah-blahing about some system he’s gonna install for some American company too dumb to read the instructions. His words, not mine. Ali keeps nodding at him hoping, I know, that it would give the girls some time.
As if to reconfirm, Ali grins at me at one point and the brunette snarls at me in instant reaction, the way pretty girls snarl at other women they fancy to be competition. Yeah, she isn’t going to last very long with an attitude like that. Ali’s the bee type that flits from flower to flower and hates it when the flower does some flitting of its own. Primary reason we weren’t together. I like to cut the wings off any bees that come sniffing around.
“Hey,” says Billie to Rita.
Her voice cut Jayesh off in mid-sentence. Uh-oh, I thought.
“Hey,” says Rita to Billie.
Jayesh is stiff enough to make me want to check for the poker up his bum. “We have to go,” he says again.
“Yeah, I don’t think so,” says Ali lazily, checking Rita’s instinctive move. Honestly, I think she’s on doormat autopilot. “You’re not gonna desert me are you, baby? Not when I need to talk to you in the worst way.”
“Yeah, about what?” asks Jayesh with more than a hint of rudeness. His eyes are beginning to ignite and fascinatingly enough resemble those of Sylvester (you know – the cartoon cat that wants to eat Tweety Bird?) with their manic gleam. I don’t know what he’s thinking but any moment now his pupils are going to go round and round.
“It’s private.” Ali is laconic. He is laconic because he knows it’s going to drive Jayesh up the wall. Rita shifts restlessly
The rest of the crowd is busy doing their own thing but Rita is surrounded by those of us who know and care – Billie, Kate, Mandy and, oddly enough, Mohammad as well me.
“Are you coming?” Jayesh addresses Rita directly, his ears going purple as the red seeps into his face. We are all enthralled by the hues of his face. We can’t help but stare at it. We’ve never seen a human rainbow before.
“Um,” says Rita.
She looks at Ali who looks back very steadfastly. Rita looks at all of us. Then she looks back at Jayesh who is now audibly grinding his teeth. Very impressive. I’ve never actually heard that before. Does he do parties?
“Actually, Jay, I did tell Ali that I would talk to him,” she says very softly. It’s been so long since I heard her stick to her guns, I can hardly believe my ears.
“Fine,” he replies. His voice sounds like someone is strangling him slowly. “Don’t come then!”
Suddenly, Mohammad: “It’s a free country, dude! You can hardly see it any more but it’s still a free country.”
Jayesh mutters something too low for anyone to hear but it sounds faintly like “Paki motherf–ker”. He looks up and sees that I caught it. He smiles stiffly and walks out.
These are the moments when I don’t know what to do and then feel like shit because all too frequently when I don’t know what to do, I don’t do anything. Like right now, I should have caught his collar and stopped him and made him apologize and a million other things. But I didn’t. I don’t know if it’s cowardice or if it’s because I’m still blindly answerable to that voice in my head that says a lady doesn’t embarrass the guests in her home. Another thing I’ve noticed – I’m full of shit.
Rita breaks into my reverie when she rushes out the door to catch Jayesh by the elevator.
“What?” I ask Ali.
He winks at me. “She just wanted to kiss him goodbye.”
“What did that son of a bitch call me?” asks Mohammad, not angry just inscrutable.
I shift my feet and look uncomfortable.
“’S alright. I got worse in prison.”
Like that makes me feel better. I look at Ali imploringly – wasted effort ‘cos he’s once again immersed in sultry brunette’s boobies. “Pakistani who likes his mother?” I venture.
“Paki motherf–ker!” yells Rita.
I spin around and there’s Rita, looking stormy and beautiful. “Wh-at?” I yell back, scandalized.
“That’s what he called you Mohammad. He called you a Paki motherf–ker! You know somebody who can break his kneecaps?”
“I know somebody who can break his kneecaps,” drawls Ali. Good old Ali.
“You’re Pakistani, huh?” asks Mohammad, sympathetically.
“Nah,” Ali shakes his head. “She just figured out who she was dating.”
“Jay, right?” Mohammad is confused.
“An asshole,” Ali and I chorus.
“Too right,” says Rita, still breathing fire. “And you two! You set me up!”
“Yup,” says Ali happily.
“He broke up with me! The slime bucket just dumped me!”
“Hallelujah!” and Ali and I are dancing around the room with Kate clapping her hands. Coco looks up from the rapid-fire Spanish exchange the three Colombians are conducting with an Argentinean who was somebody’s date.
“I knew a Paki once,” muses Mohammad dreamily. “Owned this gas station in my town.”
“Is it a good story?” asks Kate, who cares for that sort of thing, immediately diverted.
Mohammad shrugs. “This black girl, real hot, walked in once and asked for a pack of cigarettes. This guy, real old, he was behind the counter. She picks it up, grins at him and says, ‘Thanks, dog.’ Next thing we know, that old guy’s yelling – ‘Bitch! How dare you? Get out of my store!’”
Ali rolls about laughing. The story isn’t that funny but hey! Rita isn’t getting married to Monkey Boy.
Paolo breaks in: “Hey, who wants to do shots?”
“Shots?” asks Mandy, perking up. “Of what?”
As Paolo explains what he has in mind, as Mohammad drags out more stories of the one and only Pakistani he ever met, as Rita hugs Ali and me and begins to cry, as Billie snuggles into a corner without taking her eyes off the three of us, as the sultry brunette turns to Antonio in a huff, as strangers litter my floor and hippies fall down drunk, as dawn steals into New York City – I suddenly get the feeling that God’s in his heaven.
[Originally published at Chowk, January 2005]