Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Noah left the imposing Sixth Avenue building housing Palmer/Midkiff/Carlyle and began wandering aimlessly up the avenue, into the West Forties. Even though it was still technically the final days of summer, the tourists had largely decamped after Labor Day, and he was determined to enjoy the relatively uncrowded sidewalks. The holidays, with their maddening hordes, would arrive soon enough. After a dozen blocks, as he approached Radio City Music Hall, he saw something out of the corner of his eye that stopped him in mid-crosswalk.

It was that stranger, the handsome young man from Bar 51, walking south on the opposite side of Sixth Avenue.

Noah squinted, unable to believe that he was having this third coincidental encounter. As he stood in mid-crosswalk, the lights changed; two milliseconds later, a line of cabs and delivery trucks laid on the horns. Noah jumped and dashed for the opposite corner, narrowly avoiding a bicycle messenger in the process.

He looked back at the stranger, who now -- thanks to the ruckus -- was staring back at him. And when he smiled, Noah smiled sheepishly in return.

His view temporarily blocked by a row of passing tour buses, Noah tried to make a quick decision. Should he be bold, and dart across the street while he still had the light? Or should he walk away and recognize this for what it was: a chance series of encounters?

The decision was one that, in the end, he didn't have to make. Because when the buses were gone, so was the stranger.

Anxiously, he scanned the sidewalk, looking up and down Sixth Avenue, but he had completely vanished.

Noah thought, How the hell does someone disappear like that? Where did he go? And he cursed himself again for letting opportunity slip through his fingers.

From When the Stars Come Out

Kensington Publishing Corp.
September, 2006

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