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There was no smoking gun. No horrible family secret behind why I left. No reason at all for me, at nineteen, to leave for New York, ready for anything life had to offer—especially if it involved certain proclivities. In the time required to walk to Times Square from the Port Authority Terminal, my naiveté was wiped away. I witnessed a prostitute performing her nightly hustle. In the days to follow, I was mugged twice, ripped off while trying to purchase pot, and beaten to the point of soiling myself. But a chance encounter with a young hustler led to a meeting with Mr. B, mob-connected owner of multiple clubs on Times Square, all under fire from a new mayor embarking on an anti-sleaze campaign directed squarely at The Deuce.
I spent the next twenty years of my life coming of age on the streets, but now, as I speed south across the countryside, heading for my native New Orleans and a dying sister, I make a pact to leave New York in New York, only to find coming home proves harder than coming out.