by James McGirk
A large pile of garbage has accumulated outside my front door. One of my neighbors is fighting with our landlord. She leaves bags of refuse just outside of the receptacle, untied and upside down so as to better disgorge their payload of soiled panty-liners onto the pavement in front of our house. The cans are in a wire enclosure a few yards away, very easy to access; convenience and squeamishness are not the issue here.
This mischief is intentional. I know it is. Each arrangement is more shocking than the last, the woman has a serial killer’s flair for the grotesque. There is motive too. She was once employed by our landlord as the garbage-minder but was suddenly replaced. I can only assume she is baiting the city into fining him for violating New York's sanitary code. So far it hasn’t worked. She remains a tenant in good standing and the area is horrific. Armies of cockroaches scurry over discarded pizza boxes and piss-soaked kitty litter. And anybody on the block who feels their garbage is too nasty to keep in their own bin will happily dump it on ours. They don’t even bother doing it under cover of darkness any more.
I tell you all this because the other day I opened my door and found a jack-o-lantern sitting on my doorstep: A shitty one. A disgusting withered one collapsing in on itself with rot. At the time I was wearing heavy boots and my first impulse was destroy the thing. I swung my foot back, and was about to punt the thing into the road when I stopped myself. It was almost Halloween, and this unhygienic squash seemed as a fitting a tribute to the horrors I had experienced in New York City as any I could possibly hope for. And believe me there are horrors-a-plenty in this supposedly spic-and-span city.