We stood out on the street, just at a loss. Bob and his guys were glowering at us from the doorway of Manhattan Plaza. The night glowered at us from every other direction. Unfortunately, the night was where we had to go, so we turned and went into it.
West, there was basically nothing. A lot of empty buildings, then the river. East, there would be stores and people and possibly incredible danger. We automatically went east. It was a New Yorker’s choice we made. You just don’t go where there is nobody to hear you yell for help.
“Fuck Bob,” whispered Mike. “We’ll be back. He’ll see. My God, I don’t even get kicked out of BARS. We’ll go back and get Jill and beat his ass.” The loss of our safety and the loss of Jill had tensed Mike like a wire.
I put Bethel down to pee. She’d done precious little peeing outside, the past few days. I was worried she would forget her housebreaking. Bethel gratefully peed a miniature river beside the nearest wall. I sure wasn’t going to curb her. We were going to hug wall until we ran out of wall to hug.
“The damn world ends and you still carrying around that mean little dog like you at the Westminister dog show. Peeing where people got to sleep,” came a voice from the shadows.
“Lynn?,” I said.
“Oh my God, it’s your crack whore,” Moira said.
“I see you still carrying around that other bitch, too.”
I’d met Lynn on 42nd St., where she basically lived, until someone chased her off. She slept huddled next to the Church Of The Holy Cross. She cheerfully asked all who passed for quarters during the day. I was struck by her sunny little begging. I’d started by giving her quarters on my way from the subway to work, breaking my rule of not giving to money to beggars on streets I frequented. She just seemed sweet, somehow. Later, I gave her subway tokens in the winter, worried that she would freeze. I gave her pop-top tins of Chef Boyardee so she wouldn’t starve. It had never occurred to me that Lynn might have something I would need, someday. But, that day had arrived. Lynn knew what was happening on the street, and I needed her knowledge.
“Lynn, Moira is upset. She didn’t mean what she said.”
“The hell she didn’t. She always calls me a crack whore. I don’t like the company you keep.”
“Apologize,” I said to Moira.
“No way,” Moira jutted her jaw. “She called me a bitch.”
“Do it. We need to get along right now.”
“Yes, Moira,” Jonathan said, “you got us kicked out of an actual building and lost our chance of finding Jill, so maybe you don’t want to blow anything else for us tonight.”
Moira spun on him, her face twisted in an agony of guilt.
“Cool it,” Trish said, and threw an arm around a quaking Moira. “Hi, Lynn. Nice to meet you.”
Lynn relented. “The new one is nice. Where’s the skinny one?”
“We lost her, Lynn. We need some help. Can you help us?”
“Lost is bad, right now. The skinny one is nice, too. OK. What do you need?”
“We need to get to the back doors of the Houseman Theatre, over on 41st. St. We’ve got food in the building, and we need to pick it up.”
“Beer, also,” Mike said, “and many cigarettes are still there.”
“Cigarettes are good. Getting hard to find,” Lynn said.
Mike beamed at us.
“But why you want 41st. St.? 42nd St. doors are closer.”
“We don’t want the people in these buildings,” I patted the wall, “to see us go into the Houseman,” I said. “Can we make it across 42nd St.? Is the bird still there? Do you know?”
“Don’t matter at night. The birds don’t hunt at night. But people do. People are hunting at night.”
That gave me considerable pause, but we couldn’t just stand where we were.
“After we get the food and the cigarettes, we need to get back into Show World.”
“Show World,” said Lynn. “Live Girls. Couples Welcome.”