In a stairwell, steps below the sidewalk, he huddled over a small flame that licked from a coffee can. He positioned himself to block the light to the street, and every so often he held a hand above the flame and quickly opened and closed his fingers. He stamped his feet in the snow, each time sending out a muffled whoosh when a shoe hit powder. He wiggled his fingers over the heat, and his mittens crackled when brought too close to the fire.
Across the street, a limestone building, a hotel, small, elegant, rose several stories high. Inside, on the ground floor, behind the belted velvet drapes, a cocktail lounge gleamed. A glistening mahogany bar ran the length of the room where guests disappeared into overstuffed chairs that were neatly placed in pairs and set against the arched, crystalline windows.
Inside the coolly lighted room, he watched a young woman with silky hair and sleepy eyes as she ran a finger around the rim of her drink. The woman glanced once at the silent snow falling in the dark. In the stairwell, he listened to the whisper of the fire and the beat of ice crystals as they fell against the steps.