This is Barb Troiano. She lives upstairs from me. She’s a fish hoarder. When I took this shot, she was going through a mackerel phase, but there’s been other stuff, believe me. Scallops in their shells, shad roe, eels. I’m not completely sure where she gets this fish, but I sense she’s got a connection to the Fulton Fish Market, I think a mob guy she used to date. She’s spoken fondly of Eddie, and I’ve seen him, or some older guy, hobbling up to her apartment with wooden boxes. He looks to be about five foot two, maybe Irish. Not bad looking. Old flames die hard.
Needless to say, her apartment stinks. About four times a year the social services send a group of men in hazmat suits to clean through all this misery (she doesn’t even eat fish, so this compulsion is truly wasteful). They often resort to hanging a thick plastic tube out her window that leads to a dumpster, which quickly gets filled. Then for a week or two I’ll see social workers marching in and out of her place with clipboards. I can hear Barb crying that she’ll never do it again. She’s reformed. But then she’ll start screaming that she hasn’t had a paint job in 16 years and she’s due one, as if these social workers had any say over that. She’s got a complicated mind. On two occasions she’s dropped typing books off at my apartment. Barb seems to think they’ll help with my career.
The eviction notices build up, but it’s hard to evict anyone in this welcoming city, especially an older person. And the thing is, Barb is nice. She does an amazing Billie Holiday interpretation. That’s probably one of the reasons Eddie fell for her. I wonder what she looked like when she was young.
It’s now early spring and I’m sensing it’s about time for another hazmat show upstairs. It smells, but it has been worse. At the moment, I’m thinking slightly over the hill mussels. Poor Barb. She’s a tormented soul. Maybe a good candidate for Lexapro, not that she’d ever see a psychiatrist. I don’t want her evicted. Where would she go? I just want her to stop what she’s doing.