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The Observer R a l p h U t ta r o

“But Maria was sweeter. Life hadn’t hardened her yet.”

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“I know people,” Little Joe Pugliese would often say. “I’m an observer of the human species. I know their tendencies.” His observation post was a stool behind the counter of a newsstand on the platform of the 23rd Street subway station. It was a dingy triangle of space recessed into the tile wall lining the platform. Strip fluorescent lights buzzed overhead, their bare tubes and exposed ballasts crusted with soot and the remnants of dead insects. He and his brother Benny had inherited the lease from their father. It was a damp Wednesday night in late October. Little Joe wore a knit cap on his head with the hood of a sweatshirt pulled up over it, fingerless gloves to keep his hands warm, but still the chill penetrated deep into his joints. His knees ached. His arthritis was flaring up again. He had spent the evening as he always did, watching the passengers spill out the doors of the trains onto the platform in front of him. A few of them stopped to grab a paper, a bottle of Diet Pepsi, a pack of gum. One of his regulars lingered to talk baseball. His Yankees were in the World Series again. Little Joe was a Mets fan. It was a little after ten-thirty, almost time to clear out the till and close up for the night. A young girl paced back and forth in front of the store. Women would do that if they were alone, especially the younger ones. It made them feel safer. This one was blonde, her hair cut short and blunt, big pale blue eyes, long legs sheathed in black leggings and black boots, a wool coat that hung like a cape from her shoulders. A real doll. The R train rumbled into the station but the girl didn’t get on. A young couple got off and quickly disappeared up the stairs. The girl looked to her left down into the dark tunnel, then to her right at the long row of thick

Profile for Apeiron Review

Apeiron Review | Summer 2015  

The summer issue of Apeiron Review, a Philadelphia-based literary magazine, is ready for you and a glass of your favorite beverage. Cool off...

Apeiron Review | Summer 2015  

The summer issue of Apeiron Review, a Philadelphia-based literary magazine, is ready for you and a glass of your favorite beverage. Cool off...