For old timeís sake


Why Carol insists on meeting me in Thompson Square Park, Iíll never know.

Maybe itís nostalgia for those days when we both lived here as hippies, during those sappy days in the early 1970s before people learned how to be greedy again and started voting religion and quoting the Bible.

Iím not a brave man, but I do have heart.

So when she told me she had seen a murder on her stoop, and that the killers had seen her, even chased her, I felt obligated to do something if only to meet up with her long enough to calm her down and then call the police.

Thompson Square is the last bastion of the old guard, a fortress of cold concrete surrounded by hordes of greedy yuppies ever ending, doing everything in their power to drive the poor people out.

Being here, I feel a little like how Davey Crockett must have felt at The Alamo, part of a noble, but doomed effort.

Carol shows up, huffing and puffing, so full of sobs I only get a word about pursuit after the two men appear and see us, draw guns and come towards us.

I tell Carol to run, knowing we canít possibly get away.

Weíre not young hippies any more.

These arenít thug cops from Chicago either.

Iím confused, too.

My memory of the place eludes me as we run this way, then that, turning along the turning path towards what we hope is one that comes out on a street.

Finally, we run blindly.

Who are they? What do they want?

Until this moment, I assumed The Godfather movie was something of the past, an evaporating culture we no longer have to worry about in our lives.

Then we run into the streets, the old neighborhood, the run down brown stones converted into luxury apartments for the new Wall Street rich. I want to ring a door bell or knock on a door, and try, but hear only voices of the intercom for us to go away.

Not until we come to the Hellís Angels club house on Third Street do I realize how far we have come.

I grab Carolís hand and drag her inside. The place is filled with motorcycles and the graying faces of old bikers, many of whom have likely been here since my days living here.

Theyíre as stunned to see us, as we are seeing them.

For a long moment, nobody moves.

Then, right behind us, the gangsters from the park rush in.

Theyíre young wise guys with no sense at all. They actually tell everybody not to move, waving their pistols around as if they might kill us all.

I guess maybe this pisses off the bikers. Or maybe they see something in me from those good old days when we all shared this part of the world, when we all understood our place in the universe, when we passed each other in the streets not trying to take up too much room or breathe too much air.

Maybe thatís why when the gangsters wave their guns, the bikers rise in mass and make their way towards them, some grinning at us as they pass as if to say, ďWeíre doing this for old times sake,Ē leaving us to rush back out, letting us reach the street before the shrieks of those foolish gangsters reach us.

Some things, I think as I lead Carol away, never change.



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