The Naked City

By Paul Pasulka

“There are eight million stories in the naked city.”

Ray, no! Ow! Ma!

“And you have just witnessed one of them."

I am eight years old. My brother Ray and I are washing dishes - not a fleeting relationship when dinner is for twelve children, parents, grandparents and occasional stray friend or relative who has nowhere else to go. And while I’m sure the terror of the Naked City began earlier, it didn’t have its own hashtag until the TV show of the same name aired.

Ray is 18 months my senior. He is bigger and stronger. And to make sure I fully understand this, he routinely puts me in a headlock and punches my arm. After each performance, the number of stories decreases by one. There are are 7 million - nine hundred ninety nine thousand, 999… Ow! There are - seven million, nine hundred -  get it? And you know, if you keep subtracting one from eight million you won’t even get down to a million until - like, forever.

The punches are not vicious. They are positional, as puppies establishing position. Or to use another animal metaphor. To establish the pecking order. And here I was clearly the peckee. That made him the… well.... You get it.

Ray’s Naked City productions even have a theme song - Ray crooning: “You must remember me, cause I  dismember you. Twas not so long ago, I broke your arm in two. Tears on your pillow, pain in your heart, caused by me. Ow, ow ow ow.” Even more painful? He doesn’t have a good voice.

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