The Good-Bye Guy

“Going out of business (3/3/12).” These words, which forever alter the futures of Tom Park and his six employees, are scrawled in cursive on a piece of lime-green cardboard taped to the front door of Johnny on the Spot. Johnny on the Spot has been on this spot at Ditmars Boulevard and 37th Street for so long that nobody, not even Tom, knows when it opened. It had that name when he, full of hope and ideas, bought it nine years ago. Tom has spent his career in the dry-cleaning business, and he lost a shop once before. But he’s&…

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The Banker Everybody Loves

Michael Serao isn’t wearing a suit. This would not be worth noting were it not for the fact that Michael is a banker, whose ranks are most suited to suits. His uniform — striped tie and shirt, black slacks and baby-blue sweater that matches his eyes — suits him and the …

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The Fake Flowers

I moved to Astoria on a February day, when the daffodils were in full bloom and the snow was on the red, red roses. It wasn’t just my front yard that was blossoming. Up and down the block, the mini gardens were filled with summer flowers in winter: black-eyed Su…

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The Woman With 101 Candles on Her Cake

Pull open the drapes! Betty Gelb wants to see the sunshine. She’s as excited as a kid going to the circus because she’s opened her eyes to another day. She’s pushing 102, and, hey, you never know. She pulls out her crocheting — she’s making a red and black scarf for her physical therapist. She’s sitting in a wheelchair, she’s tethered to an oxygen tank, and she’s got an ACE bandage on her right wrist, but her golden crochet hooks are flashing like shooting stars. Betty used to knit, too, but the needles hurt her …

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