Persimmons, shiny in Pasadena's late November drizzle, hung on the dark naked branches right outside the kitchen window. A sparrow squatted on top of a persimmon and ate his perch out from under him.

Later Roommate would duct-tape the tiny bathroom window shut, but he hadn't yet. Even as the woman's voice grew quiet and pulpy like the persimmons, I could still hear her and the older black man.

Roommate clumped up the narrow back steps; he'd come home for lunch. The spring on the back door was still tight: it was the only thing in the apartment that worked. The door slammed shut at his heels. Startled, the sparrow flew off; the persimmon had a hole in its side as large as a bird's head.

"Are you going to work today or what?" Roommate stood in the kitchen door.

"Yeah. Maybe. There's no hurry." I told him.

"It's smoky in here. Did you open the bathroom window?"

"Yeah," I said. "I was listening to the guys downstairs."

He shut the bathroom window and latched it. "I don't want to smell their smoke. It makes me sick."


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