The Smoker

This one time, my dad bought me a house in Providence, Rhode Island. It was a two- fake Colonial with yellow aluminum siding on Hawkins Street. We bought it from the bank for $55,000; it was one of many properties under foreclosure in the city in 2009. Dad and I spent a few days looking around and looking at these houses. In one driveway, I found a dirty playing card depicting the biggest penis I could ever imagine—I still have it. In one basement, the realtor had to disclose, the former owner had tied his girlfriend's lover to a chair, tortured him, and then shot him in the head. The man who had lived in my house on Hawkins Street had owed more on the house than it was worth. It was in an undesirable part of town, or so I was told, but I loved the neighborhood. The houses were small. There was a permanent lemon icee stand a block away. I was twenty steps away from a bodega that functioned as the neighborhood grocery store. My next-door neighbor was an elderly lady from Portugal who spoke almost no English and complained to me about all the dogshit in my backyard while bragging about the tomatoes in her garden, which looked exactly like her breasts beneath her housedress, heavy and sliding. A chainlink fence. The layout of the house was nothing special when you walked through […] Photograph by Ottessa Moshfegh.

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