Sunday, April 22, 2012

This Is the Way They Operate


“You! I’m gonna kill you!” Estelle’s finger jabbed in the direction of a middle-aged woman walking past our bench outside Espresso 77 in Jackson Heights. Rain was trailing down halfheartedly, shunted away from us by a skimpy awning, but Estelle kept her umbrella at attention anyway.

The passing woman looked startled and almost instinctively guilty, clutching the cottony evidence of a dry-cleaned shirt. Estelle glared and gibbered. I thought I was in the presence of an octogenarian lunatic—until I realized she was ranting about dry-cleaning receipts. Then I was sure of it.