The Guy in the Blue Suit
From my office window I saw this guy in a blue suit walk out of one of the dark clouds. He looked like he just got off the elevator and found himself on the wrong floor. Then he disappeared into the sky.
It was after I saw this that I figured we all had the day off. Maybe I could get in to see my podiatrist. I had an ingrown toenail that was killing me. After, I'd catch a movie.
I followed my co-workers down the steps. Some of them had already gone all the way down to the black marble lobby and were coming up again to look for others. "Did you see Cheryl, the timekeeper?" one of them asked.
The security guard in the lobby shouted, "Go north," and everybody from my building crowded into the street and moved in the direction of my podiatrist's office, which was three blocks north. I decided not to go. I got away from the crowd and bought a newspaper from this guy whose stand was always open no matter what happened, like the last big snowstorm or the almost hurricane. I would look up movies and head in a different direction. Maybe there was a good comedy playing.
I sat down on an empty park bench and noticed people from other buildings streaming toward the express buses that wait at the edge of the park. They started shouting to each other, "The buses are going out of service!" They changed direction and herded themselves to the foot of the bridge. "Hurry before the bridge closes!" a woman yelled. A group of fat park squirrels began to swarm around me on the park bench. They were looking up. The guy in the blue suit had just floated by. He was still figuring out how he got off on the wrong floor. [End Page 187]
The writer who said he was writing short fictions from Weegee photographs had to first explain who Weegee was, that Weegee was a photographer famous for black-and-white crime scene photographs in New York City in the 1930s that showed women, men, children who were murder victims, or the victims of themselves, hanging in empty rooms, laid out on bloody mattresses—transients, the original street people, gangsters, no one too fancy or high class, that Weegee had a shortwave radio that allowed him to get to the scene before the police, who didn't really care that he took photographs because these were poor people, criminals, prostitutes, bums. But I knew this already because I was older than the rest of the audience, and my husband, who had been a photographer, told me about Weegee on our first date many years ago in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens when we took pictures together not of dead things but of purple flowers in the Japanese Garden. We rubbed our fingers against the herbs in the Herb Garden, bought each other plastic frogs for souvenirs of our visit, held hands for the first time, went back to my apartment, ate cantaloupe slices because this was the only thing I had in the refrigerator, and later ordered Chinese food from the corner, went to pick it up, waited on line, patiently enthralled with each other, polite, cautious, as we brought back egg drop soup that leaked from the bag, improvising all the way from some movie we saw, some dream we had before we met each other of how it should be between a man and a woman, a boy and a girl who could possibly show themselves to each other, listen, and discuss the photographer Weegee. [End Page 188]
A small round piece of sponge cake topped by a mountain of whipped cream with a cherry at its peak. Your mother buys it for you. On a silent walk under the El in the Rockaways when the trains aren't running, pass the bungalows emptied by fall weather. Far away from your father and your two brothers in the apartment you live...