Yuri pulled his Nissan Maxima into the shopping center and waited . . .
Earl felt the warmth of his extra hot coffee seep through the cup onto his hand as he leaned over the second story railing of the shopping mall and reflected on how many times he’d taken in this view over the years . . .
Chloe Zolovská had sworn never to return to Southeast Baltimore’s wasteland of condemned rowhouses, abandoned factories, defunct railroad tracks, pimps, hookers, junkies, and the babies they had by accident—including her—but there she was . . .
She came up to me in the parking lot behind the Slung Rig after the show. The lot reeked of piss, puke, and exiled pizza scraps. Even the rats were too finicky to troll around this Hamden hole, where headbangers and punkers partied or balled inside their cars whenever there was a gig. Those who could get it on around this stench had a better constitution than me—that, or some sort of mutant fetish, but hell, that’s mutants for you . . .
There was a murdered corpse found across the street from us, on the top floor of the vacant house at the end of the block, across the alley from the KFC. The house is no longer vacant. It has been renovated and new tenants have moved into the apartment where the body was found. There are only a couple of vacant houses left in the row now, and all of the units on our side of the street are full; I see the windows lit up like eyes in the masonry on my way home at night. The neighborhood is changing . . .
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