To See (joined and reworked)

Writing fiction is a new endeavor for me. Comments would be great, but if I get far with this I’ll probably finish it separately for obvious sorts of reasons 🙂

I’m leaving the first two posts up but will remove them in a few days if anyone wants to see how it changed.

To See

She is suddenly standing in a hallway, disoriented. She can’t recall how she got here, the last thing she remembers is lying down to sleep in total exhaustion. “That’s it? That is the last memory I have?” see’s thinking to herself, still wandering. In fact she’s now realizing that she isn’t dressed for bed at all.

She’s standing there in a leather skirt cut five inches above her knees, a sequined top in red and a clutch in her left hand. As she continues she starts to remember climbing up the stairway.

“Hey Jill” she hears a guy call her name, “wait up, you didn’t finish your drink,” and her memory goes back to being at the bar. She kicks off her heels and picks up speed, running through the door at the end of the hallway, down the stairs, out the alley she finds. She hears him cursing in the background as he tries to follow but she’s on the street at 2am in the morning.

Anywhere else at 2am she might have been in trouble, but this was Times Square and you’d think the party had just started. She hails a cab, tells the driver the address and looks with hate at the bar guy’s back behind the cab looking for her, but now dwindling in the background. She shivers a little but the cab is warm, and safe.

Her memory starts to come back.

“Are you ok miss?” asks the cabbie, are you sure you don’t need no help?

“No, I’m ok, just a little bruised.” she says.

She has a look at her feet. Her hose was, of course, ruined from running, especially in the alley, but miraculously uncut.

“I love it here miss, I come from Kenya” he says, making some conversation as they fly up the West side highway toward 82nd and Columbus where her parents had an apartment. It wasn’t her apartment but she wasn’t up to the trip out to outskirts of Queens at 2am, it would take forever on the subway, and would be questionable as far as safety, and would be long and expensive trip by cab.

“What is Kenya like?”

“Oh, I live there with my family.  You heard of Mombasa?”

“Yeah”

“Well, we live there, my parents and my brothers and sister. But I really want to come here, so I came. I study to become a computer technician. I didn’t have much education in Kenya, but I’m studying first for a GED and a green card.”

“Wow that sounds really hard.”

“I work from 10pm to 4am each day, then I sleep to 12pm and study until 6pm each day.”, “Every day” he adds. “If I don’t do that I won’t have my dream.”

They reached her parent’s apartment.

“Good luck” she said as she paid him, “What’s your name?”

“Walter, miss”

“God bless you Walter, you work so hard”

“Thank you miss, you have a nice night”

She let herself into the building and the doorman knew her of course. You don’t forget someone you saw grow up before your very eyes from an infant to a grown woman.

“You ok Jill?” asked Henry.

“I’ll a little rough on the edges but I’ll be fine. Everything ok with your wife Henry?”

“They were able to operate and said she should have a full recovery. The kids are really relieved, and of course I am too. I’d just be lost you know.”, and his eyes moistened.

She gave the old man a huge hug, and squeezed his shoulder and whispered “It’ll be ok”. She waved good night and tool the elevator up. A little cramped cab three by seven feet wide on the inside. It used to seem huge when she was seven.

She exited the elevator on the third floor. It used to be a five floor walkup back in the day, now it was twelve condo apartments. Henry would be retiring in two or three years and probably wouldn’t be replaced. It’s really a pity, but the residents resented spending the money on four doormen to cover the day and night shifts.

She quietly let herself in and went to sleep. Cozy with the old smell of home around her, some cedar from a big armoire, a little bit of odor from the fading wallpaper’s glue and a bit from the old down comforter in the chest at the foot of the bed.

<*>

Morning came early as it always does, but particularly in New York the noises start up at the crack of dawn. Some morning your neighbors are moving their cars and the street sweepers are moving through. The garbage collectors make their way down the side streets cleaning out the dumpsters. Yet for the most part, many of the streets in her parent’s neighborhood were pretty quiet. The traffic noise from Columbus Ave and Central Park West were audible, but not really loud.

The neighborhoods can change quickly around there too. You can go two blocks and find yourself in a neighborhood clutching your purse instead of shopping for gouda, or you can walk up to Zabar’s on Broadway and have your choice of cheeses from the entire world to choose from. If you like pickled herring, get some.

Jill started to stir at 8am but took one look at the clock, and despite some very tempting odors from the kitchen, pulled the warm blankets and sheet well over her head. She began dozing again, but there was a knock at the door and a soft voice called out “Jill? you awake yet?”

“Yes mom”

“You know it’s 10:30?”

“Oh” she hadn’t, but she had been exhausted from the whole mess last night. She sat up and drew on an old bathrobe and followed her mom into the kitchen. The coffee was still warm in a carafe, her mom knew she would kill for coffee in the morning, and there were some warmed bakery buns with frosted sugar. Terrible nutrition but just the thing after last night.

“Your dad went for the paper at 6 you know, he does that every morning. Down to Pat’s? You used to like that place. Anyway, the doorman tells him that Henry left a note for him and hands him a folded piece of paper. So let’s talk”

“Nothing much to say really”

“Oh? Nothing much about arriving barefoot at 3am in nylons with the feet worn off and bedraggled? Doesn’t sound much like nothing.”

“Well, maybe not, but I’d really, really not like to remember that. It wasn’t fun.”

“Are you OK? Do you need a doctor? It could just be you and I who go.”

“It was nothing like that. Just this guy got really creepy and I think he slipped something into my drink. I didn’t drink much but enough that I was unsteady. Luckily I went off to the ladies and found a way out from there and he didn’t follow for a minute or two. By the time he was chasing me I was slipping into a cab.” She thought it better not to talk how he had almost been stalking the bathroom.

“OMG” said her mom, “Well what about reporting this guy to the police? He clearly had no good intentions”

“Who had no good intentions” said her father. Who chose that perfect moment to enter the room and poor himself a cup of coffee. He was in sartorial splendor, a pair of boxers and a white cotton t-shirt that perfectly set off his somewhat hairy legs, although there was a lot of grey in that hair these days.

“Um, OK” said Jill.

“You remember my friend from school Olivia? We had like half our classes together. I mention her a fair amount so I’m guessing this rings a bell. Well we wanted a night out and it was Friday, and by time we were ready it was ten. We went to this club in Times Sq., we’ve been there a good number of times and it is safe other than last night’s nut job.

Well Ivy went off with someone she hit it off with to find somewhere quieter to talk and I was left with Jake to talk. Well, Jake, or whoever he really was, tried to drug me. That’s it, that’s the whole story. The rest you know, I ran from the club, got a cab, came here because it was 3am and collapsed. Now I’m am forever eternally grateful to you and Hashem for coffee and glazed donuts.

“Well if the drug part wasn’t there I’d be in stitches”, said her dad, “but that’s pretty serious stuff. Who knows what he intended, anything from minor stuff to rape to kidnapping and murder. These guys are totally nuts.

“Dad, you’re exaggerating and just trying to scare me…”

“I wish I were, thousands of people are abducted every year. There are all kinds of reasons and a lot of those are probably not random, but a guy like this should be looked into. Can I take you down to file a report with the police?”

“I really don’t want to”

“What if the next girl isn’t as fast as you, or drinks a bit more” asks her mother, “do you want that on your conscience that you didn’t do what you could?”

“No, I suppose I don’t” she suddenly had a vision of her friend Ivy or any of a dozen other young women she knew personally being led off to unknown fates. She started to cry, first just a bit. Then, as she really realized that she had been in real danger the night before, and that “Jake” could have had a weapon, or accomplices and she might not have escaped so easily, the sobs came out.

Her mom bundled her up.

“I’ll go” she said after he mom handed her a wad of Kleenex and she got her composure back. “I think I just realized how serious last night really was.”

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