We called him Rob, Robby, sometimes even RPG, his full name being Robert Peter Garretson. He lived in a small studio apartment with his girlfriend in a flashier part of Brooklyn than where I lived much deeper in the borough. An aspiring graphic designer, his craft, as he always referred to it, never involved digital tools or serious equipment of any kind.
His nasal sing-song leaped out of the side of his mouth and filled the bus. It was not the way any normal person spoke, but it was the manner that all street hawkers and vagoneros in Mexico City learned to cut through the noise of grinding axles and construction. Foreigners on the metro held their ears when Israel worked near them.
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