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Outlandish New Ways to Punish Strangers

It was November. Short days, the evenings long and dark and cold. It was night when I
arrived. The directions led me to Sanson and I parked alongside the thin, over -crowded
street. Steam from a manhole in the distance, an orange-red shine of light over the back
entrance to a deli. Nothing specific, nothing particular. Once I was sure the old brick
building in front of me was the right one, I climbed the fire escape, the metal of the
handrail painted black and peeling in my hand. The first floor was abandoned, stains
from a fire covering most of the floor and wall. Another flight up and I found a window
painted white, a note written in red marker on the outside glass:
‚Do as it says,? a voice called up.
At the bottom of the fire escape was the build of a large man in an oversized,
billowy jacket, and he was pointing a gun up at me.
The big guy had nicknames when I reached the bottom.
‚You look a little like Pee-Wee Herman,? Lionel said in his loud, jovial voice,
standing over me at twice my size – I had thought he was large until I met Cass, who
was even larger.
The weather was cold and my ears had frozen to a solid red.