You say that you love New York, and fine, I won’t disabuse you of that notion, all I’ll say is that while you were flying business class into JFK and staying in a $200-a-night Airbnb, I was taking a redeye into LaGuardia and sleeping on a bunk bed in a youth hostel, King’s Place in Flatbush specifically, a shady operation all around: there was no reception area, I just had to text some guy who went by J (just the letter) to let me in, and it was one huge concrete room filled with bunk beds like the barracks in Full Metal Jacket. It was spooky, to be honest, especially since I took redeyes, like I said, so I always arrived in the middle of the night with my nerves on edge, worried that J might be asleep, which would leave me stranded on Church Avenue until the sun came up. That never happened though; J was always there to let me in, I guess he was nocturnal or an insomniac or something. I don’t even know if he spoke English, it was always “Hi, here, bye” with him. Whatever. That was a good spot—it’s a pity they banned me, and all for a silly little prank. Okay, fine, it was a big deal, but cut me some slack, I was friends with him, and it only lasted half an hour, if that. At least, we were sort of friends (Justin and I), because our travel schedules inexplicably aligned, so we always bunked together. I took the top bunk, and he took the bottom, not that it matters. We were friendly enough, at least, that when I saw that bottle of Lidocaine spray abandoned on the sidewalk outside the jerk chicken spot on the corner of Church and Atlantic, I thought—well, wait, let’s take a step back—when I first saw that bottle I wasn’t thinking about anything, I just grabbed it because I was curious, and it wasn’t until after I’d read all the fine print that the idea struck me. The instructions said it was some sex thing, guys would spray it on their dick so they could last longer, I don’t know. I mean, imagine that! Imagine if your only problem was getting too hard too fast. That’s fucking unfathomable to me because I can never get hard enough, but whatever, point is it was a numbing spray and first I thought, “Could I use this on something besides my dick?” Then “What if I sprayed it on my hands?” Then, lightbulb moment! “What if I sprayed Justin’s hands with it while he was asleep, then woke him up?” He’d wake up and think his hands were missing and freak the fuck out and it’d be hilarious, right? Right? So that’s what I did, I took the bottle back to King’s, found Justin asleep, all cute and shit, tucked into a dirty comforter which I pulled back to reveal his skinny white hands, clenched tight like he was about to fight someone. Maybe he was having a nightmare? Who knows. In the moment I didn’t consider that, I just sprayed the mist all over his fingers and shook him awake. He opened his eyes and smiled when he saw me, then he tried to get up by grabbing the ladder at the side of the bed for leverage, but he couldn’t do that, obviously, his hand just smacked the metal and made a thud noise, then a confused expression came over him and he brought his hands up to his face with this look in his eyes like he was staring at his reflection in a mirror and analyzing his pores or applying aftershave, and after a second of that he started smacking his face over and over again, meanwhile screaming “I can’t feel my hands!” He noticed that I was laughing and started grabbing at me and yelling “What did you do? What did you do?” over and over. Basically, it was fucking hilarious. Everybody else woke up and J came over to ask me what was going on, but I didn’t hear a word he said (I was laughing way too hard for my ears to work), and I never explained myself to anybody, I just packed up my shit and stood around until the Lidocaine wore off, giggling all the while. Then I was out on the street, and J’s last words to me were trite: “Never come back.”