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7

CHAPTER ONE

It is a blistering, hazy, humid Sunday morning in mid-August. The fowers wilt, half dead and in need of water. For a week it’s been like this. Central Park stinks from uncollected garbage. Normally the hyper squirrels jump from branch to branch, but now they simply stretch out in the downward-dog position on thick tree trunks, shaded by leafy branches. Meanwhile, a group of pigeons, some with deformed feet, circle the overfowing cans searching for yesterday’s scraps. They peck listlessly at the littered ground, sometimes at breadcrumbs, sometimes at just plain asphalt. Make up your mind,” I say to them. “Are you hungry or not?”

The few people who are around aren’t looking to make eye contact. They keep to themselves. I smile at a thin, tired-looking woman in her sixties, with wispy blonde hair and gold-rimmed Jackie O sunglasses perched on her head. She doesn’t smile back. Her sheltie, who is groomed like a million dollars, fdgets, squats, then scans around to see if others are observing her vulnerable position. In need of privacy, the sheltie turns her back to my stare. “I don’t have all day,” her owner says.

When I owned as many sunglasses as this woman probably does, I always smiled back at others because I

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