Very alone in Manhattan.

11 Jul

I woke up from a nap and the streets are completely empty. There are cars scattered on Eighth Avenue, but from what I can see no one is inside of them. The electricity seems to be on but I think I am going to take the stairs down to get out of the building. I don’t know where to go first though. I am the only person alive in Manhattan.

 
I was on stage at the Imperial Theatre. How many times had Gavroche been slaughtered on that spot I wondered. I ate a box of Junior Mints singularly left in a shattered glass case in the lobby, then found myself backstage and pried open Matthew Broderick’s dressing room door with the metal feet of the ghost light. I tried on his tux and tails (they were a bit too big in the waist so I tied them off with a piece of mylar from the set), hit the stage, and danced with myself to the melody of a Gershwin tune I vaguely heard in my head. I looked up into the empty mezzanine and balcony and felt a moment of joy, shattered in the next by the dread thought that I was acting for myself. Again. It is harder than I thought being the only boy alive in Manhattan.
 
I had seen Times Square like this only once, during the blizzard of ’92 when I ventured out at 4AM to see the snow. But the empty plaza with its overturned chairs and convecting heat waves radiating off the abandoned pavement was a far cry from the blanket of peace and mercy I recall two decades earlier. I just climbed to the top of the red bleachers hovering precariously over the TKTS Booth to see if anyone else might be around at all. There is no one. So I took all my clothes off. I am the Naked Misanthrope, a Lonely Cowboy in an urban prairie. I laughed as I thought to myself and aloud as no one is here to hear, that I’d never make any tips this way, not a brass farthing. But, and of course, money is useless when you are the only boy left alive in Manhattan.
 
The A Train is surprisingly user-friendly. You don’t have to steer it, you just apply gentle force to the throttle for speed. It is important to slow down between 14th Street and West 4th Street however because the train lurches and makes a deafening grinding noise when you hit that curve too quickly. No one is playing hoops on Waverly Place. But someone left a basketball. I took a shot, but it flew over the fence and landed in an unreachable patch of filth just behind the greasy empty Washington Square Diner. I instinctively looked around to see if anyone would mock me. Isn’t that funny? I have a feeling it will take days for old patterns to unravel. Manhattan Theatre Source was entirely vacant. I walked over to Washington Square Park and wondered what I would do if I found a bag of pot. After looking in every single hedge, I’ve decided to stay sober, in a fellowship of one. “My name is NC and I am the only person alive in Manhattan.” “Hi NC.”
 
I am going to walk up Fifth Avenue to The Met. Luckily, all the street vendors seem to have been interrupted leaving their stores of Poland Spring water in their umbrellaed carts, so I should make it without dehydrating. No one left their keys in their abandoned automobiles. I would drive one of these accordion buses, but I think it incumbent upon me to start thinking seriously about the environment since I seem to be the only steward left. This bus in front of me here reads “hybrid,” but I’ve decided to set a higher standard and until I can get one to run on my own urine or Poland Spring water, I’ll hoof it. I’ve got nothing but time, anyway. I’m guessing all my appointments for the rest of the week will be cancelled as I clearly am the only boy left in Manhattan.
 
It felt good to finally rub my hands all over Vincent van Gogh’s cypress trees and wheat fields. I’d been wanting to do that for thirty years. Somebody actually locked The Met, but as the entire wall just north of the Temple of Dendur is glass, I picked up a trash can from Central Park and simply lobbed it through the window. The alarms are still working, but no one is around to prosecute. I tried on some of the masks from Indonesia and that weird Paco Rabanne metal dress, then walked up the stairs to the 19th Century European paintings. I rearranged all the Monets according to season and put the Gaughins closer to the Fauvists because they all have such pretty colors. I just walked through the American Collection and using spit and sweat and backwash in a Poland Springs bottle, dropped Madame X’s shoulder strap back down to where it belongs. There are no more prudes in Manhattan, doncha know! The cafe right behind the Burghers of Calais still had a lot of sandwiches under glass desert domes, so I’m eating them and wandering around the musical instruments. Bach’s Prelude in C-Major sounds no better even when I play it on the oldest piano on earth. Dammit. I may just park myself here for a while and practice. I sat Henry VIII’s suit of armor on the piano bench next to me, so it looks like he is turning pages. Hee hee. God, I am so funny, but no one would ever know when you are the last boy alive in Manhattan…
 
I just had a lovely splash in the Bethesda Fountain. I had hurt my back badly ten days ago when there were still people in Manhattan and I may have overdone it this afternoon. I was supposed to see the chiropractor tomorrow, in fact. Frankly, I expect exactly the same result from not seeing him. The healing gaze of the Angel of Bethesda may prove to be a more successful treatment. I have to convince myself of these things anymore. As the gentle waters played across my aching lumbar, I couldn’t decide if I was lonely or alone. I have a feeling a lot of these questions will start percolating. Like, and for instance, I was resting on a park bench after my fun at The Met, and I decided to take all the memorial plates off the backrests and claim every seat as my own. There are thousands of them! However, after having hit I’d say conservatively, two-thirds of the benches, I was struck down with guilt. How selfish of me. But is it possible to be selfish when you are the last boy alive in Manhattan? Anyway, I decided to put them all back, at least place them on the seats as I had destroyed all the screw holes, but I never kept track of where I had taken them from in the first place. Did Edna and Wayne actually get engaged on THAT bench? Did Felicity feed the pigeons HERE? It’s all a big mess now. I’m sure they keep records downtown and I will have to go there at some point I suppose as who else will keep important records if I don’t? Downtown. Jeesh. I guess I’LL have to finish the Freedom Tower. It’s gonna be a far more organic affair than originally planned. Twigs and whatnot. I think it’ll look more like a nest that will change subtly after every storm. That will be fun. Something to look forward to: An ever-changing skyline and all for my eyes only.
 
I tracked mud all over Yoko Ono’s apartment. I’m such an idiot. I should have gone into Lauren Bacall’s apartment first because it’s all earth-tones in there. Yoko Ono has a lot of hair in the drain but I think Lauren Bacall might have been wigged before she disappeared. Her drains are immaculate. My voice sounds amazing bouncing off these coffered ceilings, rich and throaty. I sang “Simple Song” from MASS in Lenny’s old apartment and I’ll admit it, I brought a tear to my eye. You can climb up on the roof of The Dakota Apartment House. It has such steeply pitched gables, I never knew access was possible. But if you climb out the window of one of the old servants’ quarters at the top, there are some perches where you can get both a lovely breeze from the river and a view of nobody in Strawberry Fields. I’m collecting diaries in here and then plan to do the same up the block in The Langham and the San Remo. I’m starting to freak out a little bit, seeing people that aren’t there in mirrors where I catch a glimpse of an arm that turns out to be mine. Rosemary’s Baby was filmed in here. What if even a part of that was true? I have a feeling tonight is going to be hard. I may need to stay up all night in case anyone shows up. I still don’t know if there are people in the other boroughs. How am I going to explain to some stranger that no one else is alive in Manhattan? I may need an attorney. And I’m in a neighborhood full of empty doctors’ offices. It hurts sometimes when you’re the only boy in a Garden of Eden, just made for one.
 
I didn’t know quite where to go for a while. Having spent the afternoon in other people’s apartments, I realized I just wanted to be in mine. So I’m headed back to Midtown. I picked up four dollars worth of daisies in a bodega on Columbus and left a five dollar bill on the counter. There was nobody to hand it to, and I’m not quite sure there will ever be again so I suppose I can always go back and get it, but it felt good to let go of something after a day of taking everything. The daisies are pretty. I wish someone else in Manhattan were here to see them. I don’t know how to grow daisies and it saddens me to think these may be the very last daisies I will ever see. I think if I put an aspirin in the water, they may last a bit longer. I’ll keep them by my bed tonight while I figure out exactly what this flag is going to look like. I think I need a new flag. Something green with a daisy on a field of white in the middle. A single daisy. I kind of like that. The sun is starting to set over the Hudson and it is settling somewhere between orange and pink. I just waved at it, it is my friend, and as it falls beneath the cliffs of Weehawken, it will just be one more thing I’ll miss tonight.

This is not scary, no. And it was fun for a time at that. But nighttime is not the time to be the only boy in Manhattan. Perhaps when I awake, someone will have wandered or swam or flown over and on to this lonely island. Perhaps the dawn will bring a miracle! Perhaps a daisy will have cracked the quiet sidewalk.

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17 Responses to “Very alone in Manhattan.”

  1. MaryRivesBrown July 12, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Oh, this is so good – reminds me of a “Twilight Zone” episode but really so much better. Why don’t you have a literary agent?

    • NC Coot July 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

      Because you’re in real estate instead.

  2. Richard Daybell July 12, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    Excellent. I was wondering where you’ve been. This was certainly worth the wait.

    • NC Coot July 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

      What a thoughtful comment. Thank you, RD!

  3. Andrew July 12, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    I’m glad were in agreement that you should have gone in Lauren Bacall’s apartment first.

    • NC Coot July 12, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

      That houndstooth suit was still hanging in her closet.

  4. Hope Garland July 12, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    Love your brain…and you too 🙂

    • NC Coot July 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

      This makes me so wish you were in Manhattan. With what and all I remember love to be, NC

  5. pouringmyartout July 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    This was awesome. But I must demand that no one be allowed to try on Mr. Brodderick’s clothing. It is disrespectful.

    • NC Coot July 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

      I believe you to be correct, even mythically, as I have been plagued with plaque psoriasis ever since my transgression.

      • pouringmyartout July 16, 2012 at 2:31 am #

        That is what you get for messing with such a cherished actor!

  6. butimbeautiful July 17, 2012 at 2:31 am #

    Very funny! I especially like the bit about tracking mud into Yoko Ono’s apartment. I bet the carpets are all white!

    • NC Coot July 17, 2012 at 10:30 am #

      Well, not any more…

      Thank you so much for writing! And so kindly, too.

  7. transparentguy July 21, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    It’s been too long since I’ve had time to read and savor your work.

    • NC Coot July 25, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

      I’ve been so distracted lately myself! But thank you for writing this really kind note of encouragement. I’m honored, as I truly love your work.

  8. Dugutigui August 26, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    We read to know that we are not alone, and I suppose we write for the same reason… and I get a little moody this time but I think that’s because I like to read your piece. I guess people that like to read are always a little fucked up…
    As you said to one of my posts: sci-fi soft-core. I LOVE it!

    • NC Coot August 26, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

      Good heavens, I was watching SHADOWLANDS, the film about CS Lewis in which your quote figures heavily, just the other night.

      I think that people who like to read have kept the youngster they once were alive in their soul. And I approve.

      Thanks, as ever, D. So good to hear from you.

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