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Freezing Indoors
by Albert Russo

“Ok,” my uncle sighed, after inspecting the place, still flabbyghosted, “let’s put some order here and make that corner over there our living quarters.”

There’s a folding screen with wooden panels painted over with screaming colors - I hope it’s not Nick’s masterpiece, coz if it is, he oughta see a sigh-kayak-tryst, maybe even two - separating the bathroom from the rest. The shower stand is all rusty and don’t ask me to tell you what the toilet bowl looks like. I get constipated just thinking I’ll have to use it ... if it works. Thank Goddess there’s an electric radiator located in our bedroom corner, it’s bulky and it huffs and puffs while it heats, you’d think it was the insides of an old hippo, it even smells of fart.

Hotels get stars, but if I had to rate this place, I’d put 5 stink bombs next to its address in the New York list of Quaint Lodgings; only in this case, they’d have to mention B sans B, on account that you have to use a prehistoric gas stove if you wish to cook some sort of breakfast, but as the stoopid saying goes, beggars (my uncle, not me) aren’t choosers (definitely me). And these lofts are supposed to cost the earth nowadays!
Unky Berky sleeps on the only mattress available here and you oughta see how. Over his flannel jammies he wears a robe that’s a cross between a night gown and a kimono judo wrestlers use, plus two pairs of mountain socks that make his feet appear bearish (the arctic type). I don’t want to offend him, but, dressed in this fashion - poor Versace, his bones would rattle in his grave if he saw us -, he does look like a bum, and I, like the mummy of a bum’s niece, on account that I have to zip myself up in a padded sleeping bag, with only my lil head sticking out. Talk of a picnic. That’s called camping out right in the middle of town.

In almost every film or video I’d seen in France about New York, whether they were set in our days or in the future, there were screeching car chases, bank stickups or encounters of the bloodiest type that took place in some crummy backyard littered with junk and broken glass. So much so, that my early memories of Brooklyn became blurred and I would dream of being assaulted by thugs the minute I walked out of our apartment building. That kind of mind air-conditioning is worse than Legionnaire’s disease.

At first, I was almost disappointed to see how tame New Yorkers behaved, in the streets, in stores, in coffeeshops or even in the subway, which is supposed to be the pits; they looked like silent lil lambs to me and this has nothing to do with the movie in which Jodie Foster who’s one of my favorite felinist actresses gets into trouble. Enough with all that butchery already!

Excerpt 4 from ZAPINETTE GOES TO NEW YORK by Albert Russo