It was winter in Buffalo, NY as only winter could be in Buffalo, NY. Even when the sun broke through the overcast skies and the streets were clear except for random, carbon flecked, crystalline piles, it remained gloom filled Buffalo. The weathered, asphalt shingled structures seemed to lean on each for support. Cinnamon colored brick churches dotted nearly every corner ministering to generations of Italian and Polish immigrants.
It was rumored that a powerful underworld mob controlled Buffalo. The names of their leaders were well known but no one ever seemed to be arrested and things carried on as usual.
We were down-staters who had come to Buffalo to attend college but we looked south and occasionally north to Toronto for culture. Buffalo to our eyes, was provincial.
We had gone to a restaurant near the abandoned steel mills and automobile plants.
“Let’s try something different!” someone said.
So we piled in a car without heat or windshield wipers and drove off. We passed miles of decaying industrial plants. The scene resembled photographs of post-war Germany.
We finished our meal and began to exit the restaurant when we suddenly heard a muffled commotion. A small gathering blocked my view.
“What’s going on?” I asked, trying to look around them.
My friend approached.
“Stay here,” he said.
Were his arms stretched out to stop me from moving?
“You don’t want to see this,” he said.
A patrol car sped up.
The arctic wind rushed down the street, entering the cuffs of my parka. My boots seemed wet.
Then, peering around the men, I saw a little white arm drop lifelessly.
And I knew.
“In the street?” I asked my friend, over and over. “In the street?”