Friday, October 14, 2011

You Never Take Candy from Strangers

There was a quick storm that left beads of rain on the office windows. There’s a hole in the sky up on the right where the sun was shining this whole time. But the clouds are moving fast. They cover it up. They let it shine again.

I can see 14th Street from here—from 26th. Just the intersection with Eighth. All the way Downtown the rising Freedom Tower glitters from behind a shroud.

I’m in an odd little annex to the main room on the floor. The 13th floor. 12A if you want to know the truth. There’s a glass partition between us in here and everybody else, as though we’re exhibits in a diorama, or they are.

In the front corner of our space two steps lead to a door that opens upon a strange space behind a parapet. A walkway, except it’s not for anyone to walk. There’s a gutter there, and two industrial air conditioners. It’s the sort of door that no one’s ever meant to open, leading to a place that no one’s ever meant to go.

It reminds me of being about five or six at JFK Airport. We were going to France. I was excited—as usual. The clean and modern, formal space. The candy stands and restaurants and bars. All the people walking by so resolute.

My mom and I ambled through the passageways, looking at the planes. There was ours, a TWA 707, in peppermint-stick white and red stripes in the sun. I saw a door that led to the graveled roof of the concourse below. A door you should not open. A door you must not open.

An old lady with lipstick on appeared. She leaned over me, saying what a cute boy, what a nice boy. She handed me a Jolly Rancher. I took it.

“What do we say?” Mom said.

“Thank you.”

And the lady was out of sight. My mom demanded it from me.

“Why?” I protested.

“Because you never take candy from strangers.”