Door Buzzers that Never Ring



Neighborhood: Williamsburg

Door Buzzers that Never Ring
Photo by David Goehring

I leap down the stairs, unlock and swing open the wrought iron gate. Priscilla, my best friend and playmate, is leaning against the fire hydrant, fidgeting with her treasured Elvis Pez dispenser. She runs to me, pulls on my sweater, and drags me to the corner of Madison Street. Speechless and excited, she nudges my shoulder and points once, twice and a third time to the shiny sandstone wall.

Glance fixed to the dark stained gray pavement, I look up and see reddish brown patches and dark streaks staining the lower two surfaces of the stone wall. Grabbing hold of my sleeve, Priscilla pulls me back across the street, excitedly urging me to look here, now look there, as she points to clues all the way up the stoop. Breathlessly she pushes hard to open the front door into the vestibule of row house apartment building number 872. Pointing to a cramped corner between a stack of old Daily News and crumbling wall paper, beneath a scarred, discolored brass plate of round, black door buzzers, Priscilla wails, “She died here!”

Later, playing the scene in my seven-year old mind, I imagine a young woman beaten and stabbed. I imagine her, with brown curly hair fallen over her face, lying in a puddle of blood, too weak to yell out for help. She crawls her way to the other side of Madison Street, lugs her weakened body up the steps, and pushes open the entry door.

Lying on the cold tiled vestibule floor, with one hand clenching the edge of the stack of newspapers, she pushes herself up, extending her right arm. Soiled hands bloody the wall as she stretches toward the row of black plastic buttons that buzz tenants in each apartment to announce someone is there.

Wearing one black patent leather shoe, she cries, wiping her nose on her torn floral corduroy jacket. Over and over again, fingers push then slip beneath each one of the tiny buttons that never ring in anybody’s apartment – just like they don’t in mine.

Flo Gelo was born in Brooklyn, where she lived until her early teens. She’s published numerous articles in professional literature about illness, death and dying. This story is one in a series about her life on Madison Street.

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