From time to time, usually in Midtown but not always, a piece of Manhattan is cleared out--bright yellow tape is strung up, cops are dispatched, and one block or another, or several, is closed to traffic. Buildings are evacuated. Sidewalks are vacated. Streets are washed clean.
All the animals come out at night.
This usually happens during business hours, while people are toiling away at workplace workstations doing whatever it is people do while earning a living. At night, the animals come out, too busy going about their business to cause a multi-block forbidden-zone fuss.
A man takes a job, you know? And that job - I mean, like that - That becomes what he is.
Kathleen Caronna, in 1997, was an investment analyst enjoying the terminally unenjoyable Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when The Cat in the Hat float humped a light pole and knocked it over onto Caronna. Caronna spent a month in a coma (I know, I know. It was serious). Nine years later, Caronna was minutes away from her home when a Cirrus SR20 plane piloted by Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle slammed into her bedroom.
If she'd been home at the time--she nearly was!--her last thoughts as the engine slammed thru the ceiling and pushed her across the room into the wall might've been, Jesus, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade almost did me in; now this Yankee is trying to kill me. I've got to get out of New York before the Intrepid starts firing on me.
You know, like - You do a thing and that's what you are. Like I've been a cabbie for thirteen years. Ten years at night. I still don't own my own cab. You know why? Because I don't want to. That must be what I want. To be on the night shift drivin' somebody else's cab. You understand?
A few weeks ago, a Muslim cabbie was attacked by a drunk white guy. It's true! The cabbie pulled to the curb, allowed this drunk white guy to get into his car, pulled away from the curb, and suddenly found himself dodging knife-slashes.
Here's what happened:
Drunk white guy to cabbie: Are you a Muslim?
Cabbie to drunk white guy: Yes.
Drunk white guy to cabbie: Consider this a check-point! [stab slash slash stab]
(While not as good as some of Schwarzenegger's pre-kill phrases, 'Consider this a check-point' was the drunk white guy's attempt at a witty coup de grâce.)
I mean, you become - You get a job, you become the job. One guy lives in Brooklyn. One guy lives in Sutton Place. You got a lawyer. Another guy's a doctor. Another guy dies. Another guy gets well. People are born, y'know?
Not too long ago, a "successful psychologist specializing in couples therapy" attacked her own husband with two fists full of kitchen knives. The couple lived on the Upper West Side, in a nice apartment. Here's what the successful psychologist specializing in couples therapy screamed before going at her husband like a drunken white guy with a disgust of Muslims: "Get out! Get Out!" Less clever than "Consider this a check-point," but certainly better than "Let's kick some ice."
Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.
This one night, I'm riding in the back of an ambulance, rushing down the West Side Highway. I'm sitting on a bench. The only windows are the windows to my left, in the double doors of the ambulance, and all I can see out of them is the car tail-gaiting us. The car's skin is dark, and goes from blue to red to white as the ambulance's lights run their cycle.
There's rain. To my right, I can hear the ambulance's windshield smashing thru the rain, wipers smacking to and fro, the rain sliding along the side of the ambulance. Below, the wheels cutting thru the rain collecting on the asphalt. And I know, tho I can't see it, behind me is the rain falling on the Hudson, dotting its surface like a volley of bullets against the brick of a fortress.
Greg is on the bed at my knees. He's both sick and not sick, well and not well, sitting up, collapsing, lulled by the rain smashing into the roof of the ambulance, and awakened by it.
There's a paramedic with us. The paramedic is sitting on a bench opposite me, taking Greg's vitals.
"He seems okay," Paramedic tells me.
"I am," Greg responds, forhead beaded with sweat.
When we pull into Roosevelt Hospital, Paramedic tells me to wait. Paramedic is joined by another, and they pull G out, stretcher and all, and roll him away. I hop out of the ambulance, and while it is raining pretty hard, I am dry because I'm sheltered by a suggestion of roof. The rain, tho, is collecting in a pool at my feet. A small stream. My shoes are covered in a slimy dark skin of water, rushing past me to get to a gutter, or a river, or a drain, or anything that will let it reunite with more water and not be stuck, as rain in cities usually is, in a stream of filth: a stream of disgusting detritus rushing away in search of a drain to a river and to cleansing freedom.
Anyway, shit happens. In NY, we have car bombs and planes crashing into our apartments and giant cartoon cats trying to kill us. We have couples therapists stabbing husbands, white guys giving out random checkpoints, and rain water looking for a place to get clean.
And police tape marking off blocks and blocks.
And here's the thing: You won't be safe. Ever. You can live here, in this paranoid, schizo city, and you won't be safe, no matter what. Suspicious vehicles come and go, explosions are thwarted or not, but in the end we're all Kathleen Carrona. If the Cat in the Hat isn't trying to kill us, a pitcher for the Yankees is. String up all the police tape you want.
Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.
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