Q Two Brooklyn may be more crowded at midnight than in the afternoon: Stroller moms; older women with shopping carts; Girlfriends sharing earphones and mouthing lyrics. All this makes for a relaxing sight in that late hour.
On this particular night, the car I was in was empty, except for three men who sat equally in front of me.
As the train drove across the Manhattan Bridge, I closed my eyes against the fluorescent light, my thoughts falling into the deep waters of the East River below.
I heard what I thought was a woman singing softly. Startled, I looked at three men in front of me: an old man who was closely studying a small book; A young goon leaned forward and was swiping his phone; And a big construction worker craning his helmet while sleeping, his mouth slightly open.
I must have fallen asleep too, I thought to myself.
The train went back underground, and I let my eyelids drop. I heard beautiful voices again this time, more confidently, and some notes that sounded like opera. I tried to figure out where it was coming from, but the melody stalled.
Just the same three men, in the same position.
I got off the train on Seventh Avenue and so did the construction worker. As I walked up the stairs, he broke behind me throughout the song. We went in different directions, but I could hear his flying falsetto as it bounced off buildings and filled the night sky.
When I closed the door to my apartment two blocks away, I could still hear it faintly.
— Michelle Fawcett
It was raining and windy Tuesday afternoon, and I was walking along Fifth Avenue near Central Park. I was in a suit and tie and all I had with me was the remains of my double bass and a cheap umbrella.
I was just turning to 87th Street to pass through the park when a UPS truck stopped traffic in the process.
“You want a ride?” The driver asked, and then opened the passenger-side door before I could answer. “please come inside.”
There was the sound of cars, the rain was still falling and I was 20 minutes ahead of me.
I climbed in, sat down and balanced the bass between my body and the inner wall of the truck. The driver dropped me off at the C train station. He was telling jokes all the way there.
— Noah Garabedian
standing tall as a soldier
Blintzes and Stuffed Cabbage
seal our lips
with a fear
To walk on holy ground.
“No,” she whispers,
wrinkles on forehead
moves like soft waves,
a sea of old land
coming back through
smell of food
to smell like incense
from inside history
while impatient horning
of city traffic
brings back the day.
— Katherine Anne Sweeney-James
I ordered a ride-share car to take me back to the Upper West Side from Queens. When it showed up, to my delight, I had the first female driver ever at the wheel.
We soon made another stop to pick up a beautifully dressed lady. When she slid into the car, the driver and I commented on how great she looked and asked if it was a special occasion.
“This is my first date since my divorce,” said the woman, admitting she was nervous.
Knowing our role in this moment, Driver and I expressed our confidence. The driver volunteered that she was about to remarry after 35 years of her first marriage. She said that she has found someone who loves her.
“You have to hold out for love!” he said.
Then the attention turned to me.
“I?” I said. “I am single. There is no one in my life at the moment.”
The driver smiled at me in the rearview mirror:
“None yet,” she said, “but you’re in New York City, darling!”
— Annie Fox
It was a few years ago and I was working in Midtown. One day, my wife called and asked me to stop by a fisherman near the Port Authority terminal on the way home and get some fish for dinner.
I went to the place where a large counterman greeted me and quickly filled my order. I asked him to add a fresh lemon.
“I have a deal with you next door,” he said, looking up. “He doesn’t sell fish and I don’t sell fruit.”
— Howard Schwartz
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Illustration by Agnes Lee