The following is a true story. (I think)
A couple nights ago, I was coming home late at night after a get together with some friends…it must have been like 2 or 2:30 AM. New York has changed so much to the extent that I’ve never felt in danger walking home alone late at night. It actually is amazing, when I think about it, that in two whole years, I’ve never felt threatened or in fear for my life in the City. This was the first time.
It was dark and I was alone. This is how most scary movies set up a gruesome homicide, isn’t it? Stop me if you’ve heard this one: The sound of my footsteps resonating across a quiet empty street, when suddenly, another set of footsteps appears behind me, at first slow, and then a very sudden and alarming quickening of its pace toward my direction.
My heart rate jacked up, my hands went instinctively to my wallet. The footsteps were directly behind me now, pattering lockstep with mine. I was afraid to turn around and see a gun pointing at my face. But I did anyways.
I turned around. And then I looked down. There was a boy who couldn’t be any older than 6 years old staring at me dead in the eye. I scanned down the street to see if there were any adults, maybe his mom or his drunk uncle…anybody. Nobody. This boy and I were the only awake human beings on the block. And he was just staring into my eyes like it was the most natural thing in the world.
At this point, it might have been prudent of me to ask the boy his name and what the hell he was doing alone in Queens at 2:30 in the morning. But please understand, fear had already gripped my motor-rationalizing function, and instead of asking the boy the obvious questions like “Where’s your mommy?” or “Are you lost little boy?” my immediate thought was, “Oh My God! A gypsy child!” And then I broke into a dead sprint toward my apartment.
Safely inside, it dawned on me that I might have just abandoned a helpless little boy to his doom. I would like to say that my better nature took over, that I overcame my fear and I went up to tend to the boy. No. What I did instead was that I went into my room, bolted my door shut and blared Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” track to ward off evil spirits.
Look, I wasn’t going to be that idiot in every scary movie who opts to talk to Satan child, only to give him the opportunity to say something like, “You have three days…” Hellllllzzz no. Mama didn’t raise no fool.
Bolt the door.
Live to see another day.