The wind barreling along the Grand Concourse picks up a page from a newspaper and slaps Javier in the face.
“It’s brutal today,” he says. “That wind will cut you.”
Javier beats it by stepping into a doorway to light his cigar. It takes several tries, but he finally gets it lit only to have the wind ram the first puff up his nose and down the back of his throat.
“Damn,” he says gagging. “I’d smoke at home, but people complain that I stink up the whole building.”
He tries to be a good neighbor.
“Going easy on the cigars is the least I can do,” Javier says. “They don’t complain too much about my codfish stew.
“That stew is the reason my wife left me,” he continues. “She said it smelled like City Island at low tide.”
Javier draws on the cigar and turns his head to blow a puff of smoke that quickly vanishes in the wind.
“It’s delicious,” he says. “The cigar, of course. But the codfish stew, too. I use them both to celebrate. I have a cigar after every Yankee win and I make the stew after something bigger. I made it last year when they wrapped up a playoff spot. They had a good team, but they’re even better this year with all the kids ready to help.
“I can’t wait to see what they can do,” Javier continues. “I think they’ll have me buying a lot of cigars and the neighbors had better get ready for plenty of codfish stew.”
There will be no complaints.
“Well,” Javier says, “the codfish might complain.”