The French doors are wide open. You can see them through the Japanese Boxes, lined neatly in a row that divides the restaurant from an alleyway. A TV blares inside. It’s a sports bar and boxing fans usually gather inside and out during a match, the latter brazenly avoiding a cover charge. More recently, it was the World Cup and the restaurant was at capacity, the TV announcers shouting so loudly that anyone could hear, and stealth wasn’t necessary. Today, the station is turned to CNN.
Across from the Boxes, along a wall that forms the other side of the alley, two kittens play in a dirty stream of water. The voice on the TV is an unlikely soundtrack to the pouncing and splashing.
“And by the way… the L G B T community is just… what’s happened to them is just so sad and ask yourself: ‘Who is really the friend of women… and the L B and L G T community?’”
One of two women – homeless, their skin the same sheen as the sidewalk – arches her head forward, squinting her eyes. A passerby has just asked her a question.
“What are their names?” the man repeats.
In the background, CNN is turned up.
“This is Zoe and this is Pickle.”
Holding each kitten up, the woman displays a gap-toothed smile, but all you really notice are her dimples. Her partner lovingly caresses her back. They are a staple of the alleyway. I’ve seen them many times. But it’s a first with the kittens. The passerby too seems enamored and reaches for his wallet. The couple segues into a lament. Apparently, the business owner kicked them out when they asked for water.
“Leave it the way it is, right now,” the TV voice continues. “There have been… very few problems. There have been very few complaints, the way it is.”