At 3:00 that very morning, I had called an Eighth Avenue bodega and told them I’d give them twenty dollars for a pint of milk and a Hustler magazine. The guy who answered the phone had a thick Arabic accent. “You are crazy,” he said.
“Come on, mister,” he said. “Come on with that.”
“Seriously,” I said.
“Mister fucking crazy man, we have no Hustler!” he continued. “What is your room number?”
Twenty minutes later, the guy was at my door with a quart of 2 percent and a shrink-wrapped valu-pack of three Hustlers. He sighed and smiled when I gave him the twenty. “It’s snowing,” he said, as if to explain his relief. But I understood. The twenty is an important contract and no one, on either end, wants it broken.