and Curtis, my house painter cousin,
at our Nouvelle Ukrainian coffee shop,
when a young woman in tights and a jacket bumbled
conspicuously to the rest room, dragging a huge pocketbook
grabbed from another customer, it turned out.
The manager followed her. He took the bag.
She threw herself on the drafty floor.
Curtis noticed how her belly was exposed under her jacket
as the manager tried to haul her to her feet.
She slid uncooperatively from his hold.
Call the police, Arthur said, to avoid a struggle.
The manager let her lie on the floor and phoned,
and Curtis fetched a drop cloth to cover her.
A young cop followed him in.
Oh, it’s you, the cop greeted her. What’s going on?
I feel like killing myself, she said pleasantly.
I can send you to Bellevue.
I want to go to Beth Israel.
So that was it. She wanted a hospital bed,
preferably at a private hospital.
And she had a plan to get one.
Bellevue, the cop said.
She went off with him, our spinach and cheese pirogi came,
and another customer stopped to ask the story.
I told him, She grabbed somebody’s pocketbook.
She wanted to go to Beth Israel.
Israel? he said, bewildered.