On the Game of Dominoes and the Queen of the Apartment Palace


There are many games of dominoes in Washington Heights, but we prefer to avoid those on Broadway — populated by noisy, drunken louts — in favor of the more intense and serious version found on the side streets leading up to Amsterdam. Here the diamond-studded drug lord steps out of an armored SUV to take on the big-haired queen of the apartment palace, the stocky numbers runner, and — most daunting of all — the crippled savant said to have the ability to see through tiles and over whose head can frequently be seen a single white moth. The gay recluse walks by slowly — detached and invisible, always the flaneur — as the tiles are slapped down on the folding table and mixed together in a cloud of clicks. It is a new game; bets are being placed and the air is filled with the intoxicating sense of possibility. Our mind drifts back to a period of our youth when every night was a drunken phantasmagoria of furtive glances and accidental touches; when we, too, could have killed for a single kiss.

The Queen of the Apartment Palace

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