“Where are you going?” one of the women asks, fingers poised over the buttons to select a floor.
“Ground floor,” I mumble.
“To hell,” the big guy says loudly.
Everyone laughs. The woman presses “1” for me, “B” for the big guy, who’s dressed in a sort of janitorial uniform.
“I didn’t realize that was in Malden,” I say, to more laughter.
“It is Malden,” he replies, to even more laughter.
Malden: About five miles from Boston, 5.1 square miles of land with 55,816 people — and growing, with 19 building permits in 2001, 25 the next year and 50 the next — served by orange line T service trundling over simple, cluttered homes with hopeless-looking aboveground pools. Downtown, the food is good, but the level of sophistication is somewhere in that basement. The local daily paper, all 12 sprawling pages of it, continues to exist with five or fewer ads per edition and a lot of wire copy, stripped of its “Associated Press” identifers so it looks as though the Malden Evening News has a Victor L. Simpson in Vatican City just as it has a Kevin Maccioli down at the brush fire on the Melrose border.
The lead item in the front-page “It is said ... in Malden” column for Wednesday, April 20, verbatim:
That Malden Police community officer Ptl. Jon Crannell is reminding Malden and area resident that the memorial season is approaching and that they should take extra care in securing their motor vehicles and personal belongings when visiting cemeteries due to heartless and conniving criminals who will stake out and steal from those visiting graves and tombs of their loved ones and that anyone observing any suspicious behavior in Malden cemeteries are urged to contact Malden Police immediately.
On the bright side, there’s free skating this afternoon at 3 p.m. at the rink on Holden Street.