November 1st, 1947 It was raining in the Borough of Trees. A hard rain. The kind of rain that washes the grubby scum from the gutters of Bay Shore down to drown in the teeming, fetid waters of the East River. A crash of thunder woke me up as I was lying there, passed out on my kitchen table. The stub of the Chesterfield cigarette I vaguely remembered lighting was still hanging out of the corner of my mouth. It was wet and sticky, and I had no idea why, so I tried to push myself up into what I hoped would at least pass for 'sitting'. As I did, my head felt like it weighed fifty pounds, and there were explosions inside my skull as if there were a dozen grenades all going off in there at the same time. My eyeballs felt like a coupla fuzzy grapes, and my teeth felt like they were wearing little sweaters. Dirty sweaters.