ROCK DOOR by Peter Nolan Smith

Back in the 90s my English friend AC lived in ground-floor triplex’s back door onto East 13th Street. He loved the location with his own personal exit onto the sidewalk. Homeless people also appreciated the step’s functionality as a refuge from inclement weather.

“I keep walking out of my house into someone else’s home.” The overhang protected them from the rain and heat seeping from AC’s door provided an unexpected comfort for the bums living in the rough.

“I chase them away in the morning and they come back at night.”

“Like a homeless shelter.”

“And I’m not getting paid by the city.” AC reflected on this problem. Polite requests to vacate the step were countered by the derelicts insulting him as a limey teabag. Complaints about this problem were ignored by the landlord and police.

AC’s solution proved to be simple.

In the late winter he transported a giant rock from Dutchess County. The rock was not particularly blessed with beauty, but its mass halved the alcove’s sleeping space.

The rock became AC’s doorman. AC called it ‘Edgar’.

On warmer winter nights we sat on Edgar and spoke to the stone, as if it might answer our questions one time.

Edgar was silent.

Silent as a rock.

At the beginning of April AC exited from his apartment and the rock was no longer on duty. He quickly surveyed the neighborhood without finding ‘Edgar’.

“The bums stole my rock.” AC was flabbergasted by the theft.

“It could be stoned college kids.” NYU students loved their pranks.

“All I know is that they had to be strong. That rock weighed a ton.” Its actual weight was somewhere around 250. Edgar was not an easy lift.

The bums didn’t return to the step. Edgar’s presence had done the trick. The homeless were crashing somewhere else.

“I miss Edgar.”

“You have your girlfriend.”

She was beautiful, but Marina was a piece of work.

“Edgar was a friend. I could talk to it. We talked to it.

“I grew used to it.” The rock was a good drinking companion. None of his friends vocalized that shared sentiment. We were considered bums by Marina, who considered us idiots..

“Personally I thought that Edgar and AC made a great couple.

AC was stunned on a June morning by the return of the rock. Edgar was in his old position more or less. He didn’t look any worse for wear. AC didn’t ask any questions about where the rock wanderings the last months. It was the rock’s business and they keep secrets to the grave.

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