the first floor. Apparently Maxine didn’t dare confront Talia about her
stomping overhead for fear of approaching an angry black woman. But
Mr. Figueiredo was a staunch advocate of Talia. Not only did he ignore
Maxine, but he hadn’t raised Talia’s rent in seven years. Talia prayed
daily that he would not die—at which point she would surely have to
pick up and move to Providence like everyone else.
Now Maxine was squinting at her. “You feeling all right?” For an aw-
ful moment Talia thought the hole in her brain was somehow visible.
“Gordie said you were in the hospital.”
“I’m well enough now.”
“Well. I guess that’s good.” Maxine let the screen door slam behind her.
Sometimes Talia wondered why she clung to this setup, a bigot literally underfoot. It was pathetic to be afraid of losing something so mediocre. Other times she felt amazed at her luck: a friend right next door and
a short walk to her workplace and her plot in the community garden.
She even found a certain comfort in the Coynes and D’Amatos yelling
at each other across their rusted chain-link fences, and the skinny MIT
kid riding a strange bicycle assembled from junkyard parts, and Neil
D’Amato tearing around in the boxy white US Postal Service truck. It
was true that addicts tossed their nip bottles and sometimes needles into
the overgrown bushes at the end of the street and that more than once
Talia had had to ask the cops to break up a brawl below her window. But
it was what she could afford, and it was enough.
Even so, she had begun to look for work in Providence. People said it
was what her town used to be, affordable for upstarts and creative types;
Dani had bought a condo by the river. In fact, Talia had gone ahead and
had an interview, just last week. The position, grant writer for a music
program, was similar to her current work, and the interview had gone
well. Dani, who for over a year had been pressuring Talia to make the
move, kept asking if she had heard back yet.
The interview seemed distant now, something from another life. Talia took a seat on the concrete stoop and checked the photographs on her
phone in case there were clues about her jog. She found two new ones: a
scruffy gray dog in front of No. 1 Yummy Chinese and a close-up of two
intensely wrinkled men playing backgammon in front of the Hellenic
Both locations were about halfway along her usual route. Since Talia
had no recollection of looping back, her seizure had probably taken place
somewhere after the Hellenic Club but before the dubious “Lounge”