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Fiction #6
(published Late in the Year, 2000)
Apartment on Niagara Street, Buffalo NY
by Stefan Kiesbye

Don't you want a warm sweater? It's a little cold in here, I try to save on the heat, the heating isn't really working. At night, I put on my gloves, there, the patterned ones, they're Peruvian wool.

The traffic I don't hear at night. I wear a blue hat against the cold, so I don't hear the noise. You're sure you don't want the sweater now? Don't look at me, I'm embarrassed. The wool actually smells a little damp, it's a little damp in here, I don't pay much, it's cheap.

This is the kitchen. No, not against rats. There are no rats, they don't come up here. In the living room I keep the curtains closed. It's a little dark, but this way it doesn't smell that bad. It's good against the soot, too. My Grandma used to clean her windows every day, it was that bad.

Be careful when you sit down on the sofa. There's my little bear. His name is Mr. Bear, he has only one eye, don't sit down on him.

Downstairs lives Troy. When the traffic is slow you can hear him talk. In Spanish. He leaves the door open, so you can see him on the phone. He spends all afternoon on the phone and all night. Sometimes he speaks English, a few words Italian and oftentimes he uses a language he's making up. He always keeps the door open. I tried, his telephone is disconnected.

These I take against the headaches. My whole family has them. They are cheap. Everyone has them. I'm embarrassed. Don't look. I work as a waitress. It's the fifth one this year. The tips are great before Christmas. Sometimes I just don't go there again, the last few times I got fired. I was in filmschool, in New York, had to leave though. I didn't hand in a single one, not a single one. Wrote them all and kept them. No idea how I'm going to pay them back.

The roses I get from my ex-boyfriend. He moved in right across the street. Sometimes it's flowers, sometimes bagels or a tape. Sometimes I don't switch on the lights at night, so he doesn't know I'm here.

This is nothing. Two years ago we had one and last year in May, it was the tenth, I know that because it was my sister's wedding. My parents didn't come because she got married in the cemetery. They have classical concerts there, too, and the week before it had been real warm. My sister has asthma, she went to Mount St. Mary and when she was eighteen she had to get married. It was snowing and everybody had to go inside the mausoleum. In 77 we had one.

All shops were closed and the snow went right up to this window.

For five days I had no electricity. The drifts were so high, the buffalos left the zoo and ran into Delaware Park. They stood on the meadow, right next to the baseball stands. Then they went downtown. They went to the marina, and from there to the lighthouse.

From the bathroom window you can see the lights on the Canadian side.

If you step on the tub you can see the Peace Bridge and a part of Lake Erie.

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