That strange little house in the middle? A hoarder lives there.
Across the street is my favorite neighborhood café. The people who work there tell me that they gather at the plate glass windows every time someone sounds the alert that the Hoarder's door is opening, hoping to get a glimpse of the interior.
The other day, walking by, I finally got my own chance to see the sun-starved marvels of an unhinged mind. The door was flung wide, almost defiantly wide it seemed to me. The Hoarder was on his step, verbally abusing a young man who seemed to be an assistant of some sort.
I glanced inside, in the studiedly casual way that all NY-ers have developed; there is a lot to look at, surreptitiously, on any given day in NYC: dramatic accidents, street brawls, supermodels and superstars, robed psychotics denouncing their particular demons in high oration, men dressed as horses, fabulous homemade shoes and unlikely pets on leashes. It is well worth honing that skill, the stealth assessment, so that one need not miss a moment of the glorious horrible insanity of the city.
What a revelation was the Hoarder's Collection. Teetering ceiling-high stacks of old newspapers formed a dark mad cathedral, the path between these pillars so narrow that I have a hard time understanding how a Brooklyn rat could pass through, let alone a portly old man.
What nightmare vision created his home, what nightmare sustains it? What chases this man down, forcing him in daily retreat further and further back into this cramped stifling warren of newspaper? I can only imagine that he is shoring up his days and ways against an onrushing tide of fear, in the only way he knows how.