In the courtyard Cindy counted the broken clocks.  She wasn't one to keep time, she just happened to adore cuckoos which she strangled and then stuffed.

Cindy walked about the garden waiting for the air raid sirens to scream.  She dreamed of hydrogen fission and the fusion fuel, the spectacle and the splendor of the blazing day when all of the birds would no longer tweet and she would be able to get some sleep.

For a girl who was only six years old she frightened her teachers more than any high school in the South Bronx.  When she rode the subway she would always carry a pair of sharp scissors which she stuffed in her puffy coat's pocket.  Whenever the train stopped at 34th Street she would bring the scissors down into her neighbor's knee and run off screaming.

34th Street was her favorite street.  She'd race through Macy's, shoving the girls behind the perfume counters onto Santa Claus' lap during the Christmas rush, positioning them in provocative poses for holiday photos.  The perfume counter girls kept quiet knowing that miracles never really come true on 34th Street and that Natalie Wood ended up floating in her socks off of Catalina Island.

Cindy loved to batter Horace Greeley's bronzed face as he sat in the Square.  The cops all knew that it was best to beat it when they saw her dancing down the center of 6th Avenue with Jonathan Richman songs playing in her head.

"Hey, uncle, you got a nickel?" Cindy would ask every old man that she passed.

"Sorry darling, you should be getting home, it's long past your bedtime," the old men would all inevitably reply.

Being a six year old Cindy reveled in originality and loathed pat replies.  She would trip the old men and, if they were lucky, break their wrists, if not, it would be their spines.  After looking down on them broken she'd walk off with all of their pennies, nickels and dimes.

Her father lived in a boardinghouse on the Bowery and her mother lived in a basement that had a backyard three blocks from the F stop at Smith and 9th.  Sometimes on Sundays she would go down to Sheepshead Bay to visit her grandmother and spit on posters of Stalin, Saint Sebastian and the forgotten sailors that were plastered on the walls of Emmons Avenue.

Not having time for kindergarten Cindy skipped straight to the fifth grade.  She wanted to get out of the city for a while and was hoping to enter Harvard in the fall.

"Give me the Congo of Conrad and I'll bake you a beautiful cake with King Leopold's beard on top.  Give me a dozen Belgian blue eyes and I'll beguile you with a birthday dessert that will have you salivating in anticipation of scrumptious delights," Cindy would say as all the bakers tried to run away, knowing that she had graduated magnum cum laude from Le Cordon Bleu.

Henri Michaux petitioned for Cindy to be awarded the Ordre de l'Étoile africaine and all of the bureaucrat boys in Brussels quaked in their boots knowing that they'd be on the gallows when that day came.

Such an award would make Cindy merry for she had often dreamt of sailing into to the port of Antwerp.  Her father always talked about setting off across the sea while he sat stiffly on the stool in the middle of his bleak, green curtained room.  She would love to never see him again and an ocean adventure would be the perfect ruse, once they made a left at the Azores she could push him overboard.

Cindy promised herself that before landing on the Continent she would stop off in London to scar the face of Big Ben, leaving it blind to the time and then suffocate every budgerigar in every pet shop window that she'd pass to jam down the clock's throat to quiet its chimes.
John Greiner