“Excuse me, do you have any matches?” I ask them.

 One of the women takes matches out of her purse and offers them to me. Her gesture makes it understood that I may take them with me.

Now I could make the last dash to 125th Street.

 The 24-hour favorite grocery store appeared already in the distance. The store’s door is closed at night: everyone is served through the revolving window with bulletproof glass – the owner takes his precautions as well. As usual, a group of noisy intoxicated Blacks and Latinos hangs out in front of the store; and Jamil-Africa is there along with them. I buy 12 bottles of beer and a pack of tobacco. I give one bottle to Jamil and he gives me a joint.

I’ve almost reached my destination. I turn off the avenue, cutting through the bushes and the thick grass. There, near a low, one-story building with boarded up doors and windows, lays my mattress, piece of plastic and blanket. It is my summer residence. This home is in a great location: hidden behind the fences and shrubs.

 I notice that someone is here. A black girl sits on my mattress and smokes. She jumps when she sees me.

“Sorry, sorry,” she murmurs. “I only sat down to rest. Is this your mattress?

“Yes. This is my bedroom,” I joke.

 She giggles, appreciating the joke. I notice in the dark that this girl is pretty attractive. I’d say she is about 25. Judging by the clothinga very short skirt and cut-off sweatshirtshe is a hooker. Slung across her shoulder is a purse, which probably holds the slut’s work supplies: cosmetics, cigarettes, and condoms.

“What do you drink?” I asked.

“Everything. Whiskey, vodka, rum.”

“What about beer?”

“Beer, too. Do you have any?”

“Sure. Have some.”