Parked In Front Of Something Beautiful
The gangster, now removed from his violent youth and a respectable businessman, assumed the stores were next to each other because it made keeping an eye on his employees easier. The police were unaware he owned both properties, as the names on the titles were well-removed from him. The clerks punched in and out, marking the hours on timecards, and had not even a faint scrap of intuition as to why they passed each other at 8 in the morning and 5 at night.
Why do atoms gravitate towards each other? Why do barflys pair off at the end of the night, swapping electron kisses in covalent, codependent bonds? Love, or something like it, is behind all things, and so it was with the stores.
The bookie’s had originally been across the street and several buildings down. The massage parlor had been on the second floor, but a drop in rent prices had facilitated a move to street level. It was at that point, they first noticed each other. Over the next few years, as people entered and exited, they flirted with sighs of air conditioning, sometimes using compulsive gamblers with too much stress as a way to steal a quick peck on the cheek.
Through sheer force of will, and a willingness to allow a water heater to explode (what was a temporary injury for a chance to be closer to one’s love? Van Gogh would be proud!) the buildings migrated ever closer until plummeting real estate prices and their procuration by the notorious East End thug allowed them to stand together at last.
The pub at the corner, oldest building in the neighborhood, gave his blessing and married the two. That day, newspapers blew down the street like confetti, and traffic jams caused cars to honk their horns in celebration. On the top floor, fire escapes enmeshed, and stay that way to this day.