A VERY BAD MAN by Peter Nolan Smith

While awaiting my trial in Thailand, my good friend promised a ‘soft landing’ back to New York. The architect kept his promise and provided me a room and a little food in his Fort Greene brownstone. Sleeping on a sofa was never a permanent option and at the summer’s end I moved out of my luxurious surroundings to crash with my DJ friend Vladmar in Williamsburg.

I liked the Italian neighborhood off Metropolitan Avenue. The food reminded me of Boston’s North End and I considered the pizza at Carmine’s the best to be had in New York. The cheap basement apartment was small enough that you couldn’t swing a cat around your head. Next door was the boiler. The room was warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The dampness didn’t bother me, but as winter swung into spring I opened the bag containing my warm weather clothing.

Everything was carpeted with furry blue mould a millimeter thick.

Mould was dangerous and Vladmar’s Russian friend said that he had lost his teeth to mold fungus after a long sea cruise.

“They fell out one by one. Healthy teeth.”

This discovery acted as an impetus to leave Valdmar’s basement.

That afternoon AP offered his top floor as a refuge. It was cheaper, cleaner, and bigger.

“I moving,” I explained to Vladmar that I was leaving his place.


“In about thirty minutes.”

AP was picking me up in his Audi.

“That’s not right.”

“Maybe.” There was no maybe about it.

I had given Vladmar no warning.

“Thanks a lot.” He felt betrayed.

I didn’t want to be a bad man, but this is 2009. It’s every man for himself or ‘sauve qui peut’ as the French sailors say once the women and children are off a sinking ship.

Vladmar said, “Selfish bastard. Go on your merry way.”

I packed my bags within an hour. AP took me to Fort Greene. I missed Vladmar and the old neighborhood, but slept better knowing the deadly mold fungus was not lurking beneath my feet.

One day Vladmar will get over it too, because I’m brave enough to know when going is better than staying.

And that doesn’t make me a bad man.

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