It was my true days of independent living on the east coast where I learned to be truly responsible for others besides myself. I was alone living in the maid’s room converted into an apartment of a four-story lovely old Victorian house.
“Can I buy you another coffee?”
I said to the man I called Desperado.
Walking to work I often saw Desperado. He also shared a room at the Victorian house. He hung out at the local coffee shop otherwise he hit the booze. He symbolized the furthest I have been away from California dreaming. That song synchronized embarrassment every time it played on the radio.
“All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey. I have been for a walk on a winter’s day. I’d be safe and warm if I were in LA, California dreaming on such a winter’s day.”
Rochester, New York has humid-hot-thunder storms in the summer and freezing in the winter. Walking through tunnels made of snow made me shiver; sometimes the two native American chiefs were lying on the street. One evening they recited Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. Broken bottles framed around them as they shouted,
“Vainly I had sought to borrow,
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore.”
Then they chanted together,
“We went to the best colleges in the country!”
They made me laugh.
I just listened and observed that autumn and winter. The only time my eyes lit up was when I went to the local bar. One, two, three, four shots turned upside down. Neat upside-down.
It was not to set me up for a quick date. It was a friendly gesture of east coast drunks. I felt safe here where the men danced together.
My white nurse outfit and nurse shoes took me to the untouchables of the city. I was not cared about, so I tried to care about others, those that were almost dead to the world.
One late evening while walking back to my apartment from work, a New York detective greeted me. The neighborhood was blocked off with yellow tape.
“Nurse, could you step over here I need to talk to you?”
“I am not a nurse. I work at the local Visiting Nurses Association as a Home Health Aide.”
He then asked where I lived, and I told him.
“Miss, a woman was murdered across from your home. Have you noticed anything unusual over the last few days?”
“Yes, someone keeps leaving flowers on my front doorsteps.”
He smiled, but Mr. Detective did not seem interested and then said quickly,
“A body was dumped in the large trash dumpster across from where you are now living… we need you to call this number if you see anything unusual.”
He handed me his card.
I was screaming in my head as my heart raced. Thinking to myself,
“That dark alley… the one I walk by every night?”
I had enough of serial killers on the west coast. Did they have to follow me here as well? I was not so far away from home as I imagined.
Darkness is everywhere.