While breaking ground for the new Department of Water and Power, contractors unintentionally dig up what was once the Red Light district. They halt construction, and give archaeologists two weeks to excavate bones from superior cuts of steak, oyster and lobster shells, the finest in English china, and hundreds of jars and bottles: face cream, champagne, “Darby’s Prophylactic Fluid,” and “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup,” an apparently popular tincture of brandy and opium.

© 2024 Ivan Morley