Friday, February 15, 2008

A Night in New York

I suppose this would have been in October of 1994. I had gone out to eat with a couple of friends of mine. We had a great meal in Greenwich Village and afterwards we went for a walk to stretch our legs and see if there were any shops still open at that hour. The weather was cool and there was a drizzle of rain but it wasn't bad enough to call off a walk, especially if you were fortified with a couple of drinks. New York was quiet that evening, or at least that little section of the Village was, the usual city noises seemed subdued by the night.

After a few minutes of walking we came upon a small shop that shimmered like a gem in the darkness. I remember the light from inside was an amber sort of color as if it were being generated by gas lamps as opposed to electric bulbs. The effect was mesmerizing and inviting. Upon entering we found that much of what the shop offered was statuary, some of it plaster knock offs of works by Rodin and Michelangelo, other pieces were obscure, the likes of which I've not seen again to this day. It may have been a trick of the light but many of them seemed to be real marble and bronze. The bronze had the patina that only comes with age and much of the marble was pitted as if weathered. At any rate, everything in the shop was visually interesting and as I walked through I was less and less aware of my friends Kevin and Carol and more taken with the little world of needful things. I had the sense that I didn't want to leave that shop, that it would be nice just to stay there, forever. I felt... Comfortable? No. That's the wrong word, I was beguiled.

At no point did I ever make eye contact with the woman behind the counter or her partner, the tall man in a long black coat. They both looked like poster children for the Goth Movement. They were pale, thin and tall. Impossibly tall. And there was something else about them. They both had grace. No, it wasn't grace, it was more like poise. Yes, I'm sure they were both poised...for something.

I was never asked if I needed help or if there was anything in particular I was looking for. I had the strange feeling that they knew the things I wanted. And they knew I would have to look elsewhere. I remember Kevin talking a great deal with the man in the long coat. Kevin was interested in a number of things that the shop had to offer. The man was courteous, helpful and almost courtly. I stepped out onto the sidewalk while they talked more. The misty air chilled me but I still stayed outdoors. My friends emerged and Kev was still chatting with the tall man asking if he could stop by tomorrow morning on his way into work. The man said that would not be possible as his shop was never open during daylight hours. Cocking his head to the side Kevin asked why and the man replied, "Because we are Vampires sir."

I was looking down when he said this, starring at the man's boots. They were magnificent riding boots and seemed so well made that they were almost one with his leg. Being from the horse capitol of the world I had seen many such boots. But these were different, they reminded me of the way a horses leg blends into the polished surface of a hoof.

Kevin, Carol and I turned and walked on into the night leaving the little shop to diminish behind us in the darkness. For weeks afterward, in my free time, I would walk from midtown down to the World Trade Centers to catch the Path train home. I would choose a different way every time so that I could check out as many New York streets as I could. Kevin knew this about me and he would often ask if I ever saw that little shop again. I would just look away and mutter that I hadn't. "Isn't that strange," he would say.

It was. But not as strange as the conversation Kevin and I had upon leaving that odd place. We'd stopped only a few blocks away and turning to me Kev said, "I believed him."

"So did I, Kevin...So did I.

No comments: