Back Story to my Bronx Noir Story...
I knew a lady, a saintly lady, who used to go to my church. She wasn't one of those people who look down their noses at you and whose profane nature comes out with just a scratched. No. She brought home drug addicts and prostitutes to give them hot meals - not a soup kitchen. Her kitchen. She gave spare clothes to these people and even gave them a place to sleep in her own apartment if they didn't have one. Not like they were her family members except in the way that we're all family on this planet.
Anyway, once I asked her why she did this. She looked at me like I should have known her story. "I was like that," she said. I thought I knew what she meant - we're all sinners until God's saving grace, etc. Nope. She had been addicted to heroin. Used to shoot up. Used to pay for the smack selling herself on the streets. Had a husband she loved but who was in just as bad a shape. They were homeless at times, on the streets at times, but always together - high like that.
One night, passed out and snoring, she woke up. A man was creeping through the bedroom. She reached under her pillow and when he made his move to get on top of her, she stuck him in the gut with her knife. It was a big knife and her husband bled out in her arms. She was screaming with tears when the police came to take her away. She did hard time but came out changed. Saintly.
This woman - since moved on to her next life - is the basis for a major character in "Early Fall."
Another woman is one whose name I never knew. I was walking through this very rough part of the Bronx one night, when I came upon a woman who was trying to get back on her feet. Literally. Her nose was bloody and she was disoriented. Two of her customers had decided to smash her in the face with a rock rather than pay her. They had driven off. The rock was at her feet. A squad car came by a minute later and I flagged them down. They didn't get out of the car. She told her story, described the men and the car. They rolled their eyes. None of it written down, not a pen taken out to even pretend interest. "Don't you think it's time for you to go home?" one asked her. "I guess so, officer," she said. That's what happened. She went home.
This incident is a basis for a central one in the story. I can't say that every part of the story is true - what would be the fun of that? But it's grounded in truth. The truth of the Bronx way back when. Hopefully the story gives you some idea of what that was like.