We reached the corner of 43nd and 9th Ave. We continued to hug the wall as we turned the corner. We hadn’t seen an avenue in a couple of days. It looked like a huge river of pavement. We would have to cross it on our way back to Show World, but it was merely a frightening sight, at this time. We inched past the florist, arrived at the door of the liquor store. The door was wide open.
“Liquor store,” breathed Mike. “Let’s stock up.”
Lynn grabbed his sleeve. “People been looting the liquor store for days. If there is anything left in there, you don’t want to see what it is.”
“Oh,” Mike said. We inched faster past that doorway. It was the same story at the deli, and at the bank. The doors were flung open, and we caught sight of the aftermath of frenzy inside. We hadn’t realized that the big bird on 42nd St. had kept other dangers at bay.
We hot-footed it across 42nd Street, desperate to hug the buildings we saw on the other side. We loved buildings. We lusted to press ourselves against them. We all looked longingly west on 42nd St. We’d far rather go that way than down to 41st. St. 41st. St. hadn’t been nice even before the world ended. However, staying out of Bob’s sight remained a concern. He’d kicked us out, so it was doubtful that he’d send men out to snatch us back, but he might send people to take what little we had out of pure spite.
41st. St. was ill-lit and way too quiet. It felt clammy and cool, like a cave. There were no awnings to give a sense of security, however false. There were only a couple of street lights, and no light coming from windows to spill a little comfort onto the sidewalks.
“This, I don’t like,” Lynn breathed. She broke into a mad dash. We all followed suit. The bunch of us skidded to a stop at the Houseman parking lot gate, then we dared a glance back over our shoulders. No one was behind us. Jonathan fumbled the gate remote out of his pocket, and it rumbled and clanged open. We stepped into the parking lot, almost home. The door began its shut-ward grind when four people emerged from the shadows and charged for the gate.
We didn’t wait to see if they were going to get through. We raced for the steel back door of the theatre. The key was on Jonathan’s gate remote, and he had it in his hand, pointing it at the door like a little tiny light sabre. He stabbed the keyhole right in the heart, and we were in, throwing ourselves against the door to slam it behind us. On the other side of the door, we heard wild hammering. At least one of them had made it through the gate. “We’d best get that food and move on,” Lynn advised.
Everything was where we’d left it. Nothing had changed. The TV was even still on, but it was just a test pattern, again.
“Do you think we can risk taking these shopping carts?,” I asked Lynn. “They make a helluva racket.”
“Not to mention they are basically an advertisement for what we have in them,” Mike added. “I’m not crazy about risking my life to get this stuff just to have someone take it from me and then shove the carts up my ass.”
“We can’t carry all of this,” Moira said.
“Cable hamper,” I said. Jonathan and I ran to the workshop and grabbed an empty one. The big canvas hamper was sturdy and it rolled. If it could hold thousands of pounds of electrical cable, it could hold some Spam. Jonathan looked at me and grabbed a handful of broom sticks. “Weapons,” he said, grimly.
Everybody else already had their arms full of groceries when we got back to the greenroom. A few minutes of frantic dumping, and we were ready to run again. Except the back door was out. The menacing banging had never ceased. “Front door,” we all shouted.
The front door was still wide open from our mirror box magic trick. The Houseman hadn’t been looted because of the bird on the roof and because nobody thought a theatre would contain anything worth having in an emergency, I guess.
If Bob was watching through a window, he got quite a show. Moira, Lynn, and I ran pushing the hamper. Trish, Jonathan, and Mike dashed alongside, brandishing their broomsticks. Bethel, finally pushed to the limit of her ability to withstand jouncing, barfed down my front.
We crossed the intersection of 42nd and 9th on a diagonal. No waiting for a little pedestrian light showing us we could cross east, then waiting for another little pedestrian light to tell us it was OK to cross north. In a few minutes, we would be at Show World. We were no longer interested in traffic crossing laws. We were lawless people.