Thursday, May 23, 2013

{shady characters and the library}


I was standing on the corner of Amsterdam and 96 West waiting for a walk light when the mini van pulled up a few feet away. The passenger window rolled down a crack and a toothless old woman wearing a bandana poked her head out.

"PPPSSSSSSTTTTTT!" I wasn't sure whose attention she was trying to get. I glanced over quickly and when she caught my eye she erupted with cackle-y crackly laughter. I looked away.


Her voice was incredibly eerie. Her skin looked like leather, and she was waving a lit cigarette at me out the window now, laughing like a goblin every time she knew she'd gotten my attention. The walk light. I gathered up my goosebumps and got the heck out of there.

I was on my way to meet Emily for coffee.

Emily, of the blog If Ever I Could, which I've been reading for, hmm, a few years now at least. She reads my blog too. And blogs are funny that way because when two people consistently read each others' blogs for long enough, they become friends at some point without even consciously choosing to. Because, you know, you get the basic rundown of what's going on in their world and how they feel about it and you get their reaction to current events and entertainment and all that, and they know all the same things about you--all the same things you'd share with a real-life friend. Right? It's like having a bunch of pen-pals. Kind of. Right?

Anyway. The point is not that. The point is that I'd emailed Emily a few weeks ago, when I found out I was going to be in New York, and kind of awkwardly asked if she wanted to go for coffee. (It's always a little awkward asking a stranger to go for coffee.) But she'd said yes, and we'd picked a date and a time and a little coffee shop on the corner of Amsterdam and 96 West.

But now, as I run-walked away from the mini-van with the goblin lady in the window, I had a horrible thought: What if Emily was the goblin lady? What if her whole blog, all that writing, all those beautiful words and thoughts and pictures, what if it was all just a ploy to... Here my train of thought derailed. To what, Suzy? To what, exactly? To get people to come to New York and ask her to coffee so she could drive up in a mini-van and laugh at them? Brilliant.

I slowed down a tad and entered the safety of the small coffee shop, checking my phone to see if I was late or early. Because I'm never, never on time.

There were two tables and a bar. Everything was modern and simple. There was a bored-looking young man standing behind the counter, and a nice-enough-looking old man sitting at the bar with a muffin, a cup of coffee, and a paper.

What if Emily is actually a nice-enough-looking old man!? 

I laughed inwardly at myself. Paranoid to the max. I took a seat to wait for Emily. I was early.

At exactly 11 AM, the time we'd set to meet, a shady-looking character walked past the coffee shop, looking inside intently. Right at me. He was wearing a ball cap and had a gross old moustache. He looked like a creep. He disappeared around the corner, only to reappear a minute later, walking the other direction, still staring. When he rounded the corner again, I could see his shoulder still and realized he was just standing there. Waiting. I know he wasn't wearing a black trench coat, but when I picture him now, he is wearing a black trench coat.


Emily has a gross old moustache and is going to kill me!

The man peeked around the corner and and in the window at me again. I texted Emily.

was that you in the mini van?

there's a big creep hanging around the coffee house

No reply. Obviously. Because she was hanging out around the corner getting her gun ready.

To shoot me with it.

I smiled at the old man as he took a sip of his coffee. I wondered if he was strong enough to fight Emily.

Time ticked by, and I wondered what to do. The street the coffee shop was on was a busy one, but I didn't want to walk past that guy by myself. A policeman walked past the window. Perfect. It was 11:40 now, and no sign of Emily the blogger, just that annoying murderer. I gathered up my stuff and scooted out the door, falling into step beside/behind the policeman. I followed him, closely, past the creepy man and down the street to the subway station a few blocks away, and joined a crowd of people heading into the station. I sighed and swiped my Metrocard and jumped onto the first train and ended up in Times Square.

I felt like I needed to find my sister or her friends now. I knew that the man at the coffee shop had probably just been a coincidence, and that Emily and I had probably just missed each other because of a miscommunication or a delay in the subway, but I also used to watch CSI. Garbage in, garbage out. You know?

I stood for a moment in the middle of the busy sidewalk and looked around. Masses of people buzzed around me with their cameras and backpacks and noisy conversations. I felt like a speck of sand on a beach. "Suzy!" I turned, and there was Denae. And Kevin. And Tyler. And Naomi. And everyone else. Right there. Small beach.

"What're you doing here?" Denae asked. "Elise said you were meeting a friend for coffee."

I shrugged. "Walking around," I said. Because I felt completely silly about everything.

And then it started to rain, buckets and buckets-worth of water. We pulled our sweaters up over our heads and bolted through the downpour. I didn't know where we were going, but I was pretty pumped about not being murdered.
 photo 245E4C3B-1E76-4E5B-AD6F-60E323E4510C-304-00000028749FBF7E_zps1888d11b.jpg
{Click here before continuing. It will help you appreciate this next bit better. I promise.}

So we ran and ran and ran, and even though I had my sweater over my head, I was soaked right through. Naomi led the way across the street and into a beautiful old building, which I later found out was the New York Public Library.

Seriously: Is there anything better than escaping certain death, running through the rain with new friends, and finding yourself in the biggest library you've ever seen? There isn't.
 photo 3A5850F5-8EE1-4DB0-A85B-41CCE1FAC3F3-304-000000287D9703E0_zpsfbe4ad80.jpg  photo 2582877E-173B-445A-A204-992C1E53C10D-304-0000002889484978_zps5e59d592.jpg  photo E47A6A48-7225-40DD-AD0A-1EDCEDE94335-304-00000028A3A5BFBE_zps22b6f6e8.jpg  photo 2828F7F3-B23F-422C-B1E1-FF580A90CFA0-304-00000028B2DA7103_zpse6f10b1a.jpg  photo CC1CEA48-4FDE-4039-8DF4-46F75CB95409-304-00000028BAE0F54A_zpseadd7fe9.jpg  photo 65EF6E17-C73E-4F56-ABC4-8E6C4245BD39-304-00000028DC834EA9_zps5ba279e9.jpg  photo 5A0BC14E-9B8B-486A-8239-333395269771-304-00000028E7A1B5C9_zpsa29c8392.jpg Anyway. The story ends happily, because Emily was totally not a creep in a black trench coat. She's one of the nicest people ever, and everything was just a mix-up with delayed trains and bad phone signals and stuff, and we did get to go for coffee. But I'll tell you about that tomorrow, probably.