Fiction from NER 36.3
The building was a tinderbox, especially in the dog days of summer. The oppressive heat, the close quarters, and the strain of trying to make ends meet pushed people to the brink of violence. Was there ever a night when a tenant didn’t wish for thicker walls, when he wasn’t tainted by the bad blood in a neighboring apartment?
Ralph lives and dies with the Dodgers, and he’s spent the better part of the last month dying. Thirteen games in front and it looks like a lock. Then it’s down to eight and it looks like anything but. Durocher and company keep reeling off wins and the Dodgers play like they miss being called bums. The slide takes its toll: Ralph is even more irritable than usual, he’s taking potshots at Alice with greater frequency and greater gusto. After one particularly devastating loss he stops at a luncheonette and picks up his very first pack of cigarettes. His uniform reeks; it takes only two days to burn a small hole in the lapel. If nothing else he figured it would curb his appetite but no such luck: he’s eating like there’s no tomorrow, even if everything tastes vaguely of smoke.
Wayne Michael Winfield is a writer and creative director at a New York advertising agency. He has written a memoir, A Heart Out of Tune, and a collection of essays about golf titled An Eloquence Words Can Only Envy. He has two children and lives in Westchester, New York.