The apartment turned out to be a real dump, though. One room with a bed, a table and two chairs, and a kitchenette. I'd never been in an apartment before where the shower stall stood between the gas range and the kitchen sink.
Across the street sat one of the biggest and most attractive townhouses I'd ever seen. It was supposed to belong to this big-time Syndicate boss but I thought it was just bullshit until a big Lincoln coupe with dark windows pulled up unexpectedly and sat double-parked with the engine running while we unloaded our meager belongings from the trunk. Then it took off, the driver apparently satisfied that we weren't hit men from Cleveland or the "heat" setting up a stake-out.
When we asked the landlady for the rent check back the next day she didn't even bat an eye. She just stuck in it a sandwich bag and lowered it on a string three flights down to the lobby of her building (a much nicer place) where my girlfriend stood dumbfounded and wide-eyed as I waited in the car.
After that, I was ready to put The Big Apple in my rearview mirror once and for all. That was 1978 and I haven't been back since. And this is a strange but, unfortunately, true story.