There was initially some hesitant applause. Disney haters tho’ they were, the crowd seemed to think they might be seeing some new special effect, created by Disney to win us all over. Then, the huge bird thing screamed as it drew the news chopped toward it and the blades bit into its belly. The chopper sang back a high pitched shriek at the bird. Protesters dropped their signs to cover their ears. Bloody feather fragments the size of newspapers drifted down to the crowd. A doll-like figure was tipped out of the chopper and headed toward the crowd at a far faster pace than a drift.
People were recovering from the initial shock and beginning to stir. With Bethel still tucked under my arm, I grabbed Moira. “Run,” I gasped, “RUN!”
I wasn’t worried about the giant bird, not at the moment. I was worried about the mob. Bethel was ten pounds, and Moira and I were only 100 more pounds apiece. We were in considerable danger of being trampled by the panicked crowd that Disney had wrought.
I jerked Moira off Broadway and onto 174th St. “Run west, run west, run west,” I chanted. I wanted to get away from the path the protesters were most likely to take, which was the way they’d come uptown. The subways. Some locals kept pace with us, but we weren’t in the middle of a mob, for the moment. We hit Fort Washington Avenue and slowed, panting. Then I spotted something I’d never seen before in my life… a yellow cab with its “Vacant” light on in my neighborhood. “TAXI!!!!,” I roared.
Our butts hadn’t hit the back seat before the little troll of a driver started chattering. “Hello, Goils! I’m surprised I got a fare so fast. I thought I’d cruise around up here until all those Tribecca Do-Gooders got tired and decided to go home. No offense taken, I hope. You ain’t got no signs, so I figure you ain’t here to ding The Mouse. What brings you caucasian ladies to this largely Latin area a’ town? That dog ain’t going to pee pee in The Lope’s cab, is he?”
“My dog is a girl,” I said. I wasn’t entirely myself, at the moment.
“Drive, dear God, shut up and drive. There is a huge fucking bird eating helicopters!” Moira had no problem keeping her priorities straight.
“Oh. I see. Giant boid.” The driver floored the gas pedal. The cab rocketed south.
“You believe us?,” I asked, stunned that even New York credulity for the outrageous could be stretched so far so quickly.
“I mean I see a GIANT BOID in the rearview.”
Moira and I scrunched around to see out of the back window of the cab. Sure enough, the bird was flapping lazy circles over the relatively low buildings. It was hard to judge its size, but its wingspan had to be twice the width of the road. At least.
“How big IS that thing?,” Moira muttered.
“I don’t know exactly, but when it first spread its wings, it blocked out the sun,” I replied.
The Lope had been driving a cab for as long as we’d been alive. He jabbered to us that he often sought out events that were likely to attract fish out of water. He’d gotten a big tip driving protesters uptown to the Loew’s 175th St. demolition, and he’d figured he’d get a bigger tip taking some of them back to their downtown homes. He was also after what he called “The Scoop.” He claimed he liked to hear people’s stories. I didn’t see how that could be possible, since Lope never seemed to shut up. He lit a joint and offered us a hit. Moira grabbed the joint and proceeded to bogart it.
“Hey, sister, hand that back. The Lope ain’t made of weed.”
Moira meekly handed the mangled joint back to him.
“So, where did Big Boid come from?”
“How the hell should we know?, smarted Moira.
“You’s goils was running from it, wasn’t you’s? I figure you’s know more than The Lope.”
“We couldn’t see everything that happened, Mr. um…Lope.”
“It’s ‘Lope’. No ‘Mister’ required. We’re all friends, here.”
“OK. Lope. The bird appeared during the demolition of the Loew’s 175th St. It was like it came OUT of the building in a puff of dust. Then it attacked a NY1 helicopter and we ran, but that was mostly to get out of the crowd.”
“Thunderboid. The Lope has hoird of this. Har-bringer of doom.”
“That too. You got pretty good Scoop. I might not hit you up so much for a good tip. So, where you goils headed?”
“Headed?,” I asked.
“I got to drop you’s off somewheres, don’t I? I ain’t sayin’ I haven’t enjoyed havin’ such flowers in my cab, and the dog ain’t even peed, but all rides gotta end.”
“Take us to the northwest corner of 42nd and 9th,” Moira said.
“Show World. Live Goils. Couples Welcome,” The Lope replied.