The day started off good - at 8 AM I found a shopping bag full of luxury ladies shoes on the sidewalk near my brother's apartment in Greenpoint. Prada, Robert Clergerie, Stephane Kelian; red suede, khaki, calfskin.
For a second I thought I must still be sleeping, dreaming the perfect dream. But I knew immediately they were too small. They always are. Still, I gathered a few choice pairs up - maybe my brother's girlfriend? She can walk anywhere in heels, and they looked closer to her size, seven.
I clutched them to my chest and then remembered: bedbugs, the scourge of New York City. Was the shoe bag a dirty trick, the result of an infestation? Someone's powerlessness turned to anger to a chance to play God? Was the infestee at this very moment up at her window with a morning cup of coffee, cackling at any fool stupid enough to grab herself some soiled high-end bounty?
Or maybe the bag was fallout from a breakup - a jilted lover reaping his revenge, hitting his gal where he knew it would hurt the most?
I took a closer look at the shoes, being careful to hold them away from me, and weighed the possibilities. They were definitely several seasons/years old. Probably a closet purge that took a benevolent turn when selling on eBay or through consignment seemed like too much trouble.
And I was so happy to be back in the city with all its stories, all the possibilities. I'd missed New York.
* * *
"FUCK YOOUUU!!" Honk Honk. "YOU FUCKING BITCH - YOU FUCK, FUCK YOOOUUU!!!"
Me? I looked up at the garbage truck shuddering to a stop next to me at the light. "Me?" I mouthed to the red-faced driver of the truck.
"YOU - YOU FUCKING BITCH - YOU BIIITCH!"
What had I done? Yes, I'd gotten on the eastbound L.I.E. in error and had just exited and was sitting at a stop light. But where had the garbage truck entered into the equation? What had I done to piss this guy off?
And the word "Bitch" carries the weight of intent and that confused me even more. Whatever wrongs I'd committed had been carried out unconsciously. His use of the word was making me feel doubly bad.
The guy continued to honk and scream and I raised my hands, a question, what did I do?
This only enraged him more. "THAT'S RIGHT - YOU! YOU FUCKING BITCH!!!" He mimed a steering wheel in his hands - I'd been driving. That was my crime.
My look of shock and dismay only set him off more. All that time in France had made me as placid as a Limousin cow. "FUUUCK YOOOOUUU!" he yelled, and raced off as fast as his dilapidated piece of shit garbage truck would take him.
I caught my breath and made my turn.
Yeah, I'd missed New York.