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At the Diamond Cabaret, the Platinum Club, the Jewel Box and the Crystal Palace; at Roxy's, Miss Kitty's, Dollie's Playhouse and PT's; at the Chameleon Club, the Pink Slip, the S&L Rub and at C-Mowe's, at all the strip clubs and massage parlors that do business in the communities that ring East St. Louis like a noose, people gather by the thousands in the wee hours of a weekend morning.

In 1992 I was chairman of the History Department at New York University—where I was also the only unmarried straight male under sixty. A combustible blend: prominently displayed on the board outside my office was the location and phone number of the university’s Sexual Harassment Center.

We careened south toward Okinawa’s capital city, Naha, after eleven on a Saturday night. On the left, the U.S. military base fences flashed, silver and barbed wire. On the right were convenience stores and used American furniture shops with names like Graceland and U.S.A. Collectibles.

The offices of Jimmyjane are above a boarded-up dive bar in San Francisco's Mission district. There used to be a sign on a now-unmarked side door, until employees grew weary of men showing up in a panic on Valentine's Day thinking they could buy last-minute gifts there.

When the zipper became popular in the 1930s, my grandmother once told me, all the boys in town complained: Zippers made too much noise in the movie theater.

Detective Michele Deery works in a cubicle in the basement of the Delaware County courthouse, in Media, Pennsylvania. The only window is high on the wall, over a tall filing cabinet, and opens into a well, below ground level.

Zina and Veronica are on a train traveling east, though the direction doesn’t matter, because north or south or west would take them just as surely away from home and toward somewhere else, which is the only place they want to go. They think they are dreaming.

Trent Arsenault was in the Borg Cube when he heard the knock. “Trent,” his father called through the door. The Borg, tucked into a canyon southeast of San Francisco, consists of a modest two-­bedroom ranch house plus a few tents Trent has erected in the backyard.

In February, at a hastily convened meeting of Catholic Church lawyers and administrators in Center City, that was the first question Cardinal Justin Rigali asked. And he needed an answer quickly. 

Stella Walsh walked out of Uncle Bill’s Discount Department Store with a bag full of ribbons. It was the evening of Dec. 4, 1980. The sun was long gone and a chill was filling the air. Two weeks earlier, she had given the key to the city of Cleveland to the Polish men’s national basketball team. In a couple days, she planned to give these ribbons to her native country’s national women’s team before an exhibition game at Kent State University.

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