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Crime. Poverty. Desperation. They're synonymous with Gotham's East End. Hotel rooms are rented by the hour in this part of town. Drug dealers sell their products in broad daylight. Shady landlords exploit their tenants. Sidewalks, buildings, and streets bare the multi-colored scraps of graffiti. No unadulterated space is sacred. There is layer after layer of it in some spots, a testimony to the number of years Park Row has stood in ruins.

Leslie Thompkins prefers to call it home.

There is a single lock on the door to her apartment. Nothing worse stealing is inside. She can count the number of valuable possessions in her life on one hand. They all reside at the clinic. The studio holds nothing but furniture and clothing. It's simply a place to rest her head.

The mile between her residence and her place of employment is an easy walk. There is no fear. No reservations about exposing herself to the public. It was a decision she made consciously years ago. Amidst the shootings. The drive-by assaults. She walks religiously. Almost as a statement.

She stops at the corner of Ninth and Madison and waits for the light to change. After a brief moment, the pedestrian sign flickers to life. Five minutes later, she's still standing on the corner. A look of bewilderment is on her face.

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Dr. Leslie Thompkins

February 2017

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