They call it the trap.
“It’s a place to do drugs. Once you up here you’re trapped. You only coming out in a body bag or a police van.”
Takeesha calls it the dungeon. “Cause that’s what it is. On warm days it’s hotter than a devil’s toenail. On cold days it’s colder than a witch’s tit.”
Four people have beds here. Many more come and go. Up to ten at a time, sleeping on couches, other people’s beds, or floors.
Johns creep in. One is slumped against the wall, a finished bottle of brandy clutched in his hand. Another wanders out of a room. Michael yells at him, “Get back in there. You ain’t allowed to explore.”
Sue came three days ago. She had no money. She crashed in Pepsi’s room for two days. When she awoke, ‘sicker than my dead grandmother,’ she tried to go outside to earn money. Michael and Pepsi stopped her, “You ain’t right. Lay down. Take a few free hits. Get better. It’s hot (police) out there. You still got a fever.”
Pat is curled up near the TV. She has been sleeping for longer than Sue. Her body broke out in sores a few days ago. She couldn’t earn and sickness overwhelmed her. She collapsed in the corner and has been sleeping since.
Pepsi cooked silver pancakes nude while taking swigs from a Pepsi bottle
Carmela rests in the hallway after a long day walking Tiffany Street. A sliver of light, power stolen from another building, slants on her.
Takeesha smokes, alternating between crack and menthols. She holds a paper from an upstate rehab center that promises to pick her up Tuesday, “I am sick of this dungeon.”
One cat remains. It jumps off the windowsill to the awning of the store below. It looks back before escaping to the sidewalk.