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up reams of paper on the Black Mask's mimeograph machines and went up to the rooftops bordering the streets and tossed them into the air to float down to where the department of sanitation men were working. The leaflets all said the same thing in big black block letters: PICK ME UP, MOTHERFUCKER! And the sanitation men did, just as they picked up the other symbol of the modern slum, the mounds of broken glass which were everywhere. In the contemporary nonreturnable world of the Lower East Side, bottles were only good for throwing and not for the regular two cents or nickel deposit they had been worth a few short years before.

The fire department was there too, giving out stuffed fluffy animals to the children as an expression of their goodwill to the innercity ghetto community. There were two types of small stuffed animals packed by the gross in boxes. One set was small black kittens with white faces and the other was a thousand or more tiny gray mice with black button eyes. As if the children of the Lower East Side didn't have enough real mice to play with in their own kitchens! Was it just that the firemen were all so blind dumb from their weekly whiskey-beer bashes in Staten Island and strangers to the reality of the neighborhood they were paid to protect, or was the giving away of the stuffed mice to the children a conscious insult meant to demean the residents of the community? The children didn't really care to figure it out, assuming instead that the firemen knew what they were doing. When the fire department officers sitting on top of their bright red hook-and-ladders cheerfully handed the tiny gray cotton-stuffed playthings to the children lining the sidewalk, the kids didn't return the smiles, but simply stared blankly back at the men who were supposed to be "public servants," and dropped the little toy mice into the gutter where the water being used to wash down the back alleys ran off the sidewalks and carried the hundreds of make-believe rodents to the whirlpool over the sewer at the end of the block. The last thing that could be seen of the sinking toy mice was the glimmer of their shiny black button eyes, as they congested at the mouth of the corner sewer, like a rush hour crowd pushing and shoving and cramming together into subway trains to get somewhere ahead of god-knows-who.

At first, Emmett had no idea who informed the mayor's office of the planned Lower East Side cleanup on Saturday by the private sanitation companies. But it didn't take him long to figure out that it was one of the self-proclaimed leaders of the East Village hippies who did it just to make Emmett look bad in the eyes of the gentle [end page 338]


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