Stepping back onto Atlantic Avenue, the air is different. Thicker. Chalk when it should be glass. Distal. My breathing is not my own.

Along the sidewalks, bums rattle at me noiselessly; I check my watch a dozen times before I reach my hotel. My eyes are layered over with abrasive anxiety, and the receptionist can tell midway through gurgling a greeting I have no intention of returning the acknowledgment.

In my room, a bed, a chair, a desk, a lamp. A bathroom. A Bible. "Those damn Gideons." It's just another apartment; I'm just another transient. The cross of my window frames another night in New York.

The city, this city, is still sneering, but at who anymore I don't know.