New York City - Episode One
The sound of an accordion drips from an open window onto the street, traveling with the hot metallic breeze that seems to seep up from the sidewalks. It rushes over me, sticking to my skin and making the hairs at the nape of my neck curl. Orange light glances on the rooftops as the sky edges into evening shade. The arrows of sun look like the glow from a childhood nightlight, trickling through a cracked bedroom door.
Summertime beckons the residents of Bushwick outside their cast iron gates. Muted bass throbs from front porches and the smell of seared meat gathers in plumes of smoke that escape a smoldering grill.
Children swarm like bees on a cracked stoop, clutching candy bars and running between the hunched statues of their parents. They fly over the trash bags that line the street, empty orange juice cartons and styrofoam takeout boxes spilling from their gaping drawstring mouths. Across the street a woman sells cubed fruit from the shadows, it’s bright flesh wrapped in plastic, juice dripping.
Corrugated metal sheets, dotted with orange blemishes of rust, cover the entrances of Chinese takeout restaurants and hardware stores. The graffiti drawings on the sheets are bloated and overlapping, some calculated, others crude. The ancient air conditioners affixed to bodegas leak steamy air that smells like wet laundry.
In the nested garages that line Jefferson Avenue men gather around gritty folding tables, flicking cigarette butts onto the concrete and folding poker cards. Humming fluorescent lights overhead cast grim shadows from their brow bones, painting the hallowed eye sockets of a jack-o-lantern.