On a humid mid-July Thursday evening, a young woman in a cream-colored Macy’s pantsuit went into the small bodega on Nostrand and Lexington Avenue (by the twenty-four-hour Laundromat) and walked to the back refrigerator . . .
The moment Elaine walks out of the air-conditioned hospital hallway, she is covered in a sheet of liquid. It is not sweat, but rather condensation from the difference in interior and exterior temperature. A thunderstorm is coming, maybe even a typhoon. The moisture in the air has captured all the smells on the streets. Beneath the pungent aroma of fermented tofu and fish balls, there is the distinct scent of mold from children’s nylon backpacks. Further down the street, there is the body odor of an Indian delivery boy—cumin, the cheap perfume worn by women who disappear into buildings with pink neon lights—green apple, fresh citrus scents from Bergamot oranges and pomelos, and the smell of ocean from the fish stall next door . . .