My elderly Cuban super and his wife were sitting on folding chairs on the sidewalk outside of the building. They had their dog, Mochie, with them. Mochie was a lively little scamp of a Shih-tzu. He was actually the only Shih-tzu I’d ever liked. I’d had to return him home more than once when he raced away from his hobbling owners to slip into the elevator with me. Bethel liked him, too. I put her down so they could have an intense face-to-face tail wagging greeting.
I was a little concerned that Mr. Rodriguez and his wife would question the presence of Sadad, but they didn’t even seem to see the little girl. “Marina, are jew moving out? I dunno where you go. Nowhere to go,” Mrs. Rodriquez said.
Mike and Moira were still carrying the guns, and of course they had their backpacks. Jill and I were carrying the futon oars diagonally through the straps of our backpacks. As long as we didn’t sit down, it was fairly comfortable. Jill had Lexington in his carrier for the trip to the river, but I was letting Bethel walk. I hoped that the little girl was going to be able to walk all the way to the river, but my hopes weren’t high. Jill also had the deflated inflatable bed in a little grocery cart, with the life preservers popping out the top like an ugly exploding fungus. We had a load.
“We are going to stay in a friend’s apartment for a while,” I lied. “My friend is scared to be there alone.”
Mr. Rodriguez shrugged. “We all alone. She needs to get used. Nice guns.”
“Thank you. We…um…found them on a curb,” I said.
I couldn’t believe they weren’t going to comment on any other aspect of our traveling junk yard, but they settled into their chairs and stared into space. Mochie jumped into Mrs. Rodriquez’s lap, and she absently petted his head.
“Well, you folks take care. We’ll see you around,” I said. They didn’t even look at us as we headed west.
The path to the park was only a couple of blocks from my building. We didn’t see anyone else on the street. I was a little surprised. My neighborhood tended to be out and about during times of adversity. Block parties had erupted during the last blackout. I guessed this was different. I guessed people were staying in until they absolutely had to come out, and they wouldn’t be coming out for a party.
We left civilization behind when we took the little footbridge that crossed the Henry Hudson Parkway. We’d be on a wooded, but paved, path the rest of the way to the river. There were light posts, but most of the fixtures were broken, so it was going to be a dark walk.
We stopped for a minute and I passed out little Mag-lite flashlights on velcro straps, also standard equipment for theatre electricians who had to crawl under dark stages. Jill strapped hers to the front of her cart. The rest of us strapped them to our wrists so we could point lights ahead of us. Sadad looked on like she saw people putting lights on themselves every day. She still hadn’t said anything, and I wasn’t sure she could even talk.
Lit up, we continued on. The path wound downhill, so it wasn’t a taxing walk, but we did have to be careful to not trip and go ass over teakettle down the hill. On the steeper parts, Jill walked backwards so her cart wouldn’t pull her out of control.
We were quiet and watchful. Normally, a walk like this would have found us laughing and talking loudly to dispel our nervousness, but I’d warned everyone to be quiet. People lived in these woods. I’d caught glimpses of them in the past on my walks with Bethel. Other people might be in the woods now, too.
After a good fifteen jumpy minutes, the path curved and we were walking along the little cliff above the river. “Stay away from the side,” I warned everyone. The trees broke after another minute, and we were looking out over the river. I’d never been this close to it at night. It was just lovely. Probably deadly, too. But, I preferred to have my breath taken in a good way, for the moment.
“Douse the lights,” I whispered. We were coming up on the supports for the bridge. I didn’t know if anyone was on the bridge, but better safe than sorry. The lights that ran along the suspension cables like a string of pearls were still burning. They weren’t bright enough to show the cruel additions to the bridge, thankfully, but they were throwing a little ambient light. If we walked slowly, we were safe.
We crossed under the on-ramps for the bridge. The giant shadows seemed endless, but we finally walked out of them. As we left the bridge behind us, Sadad suddenly gasped and said softly, “The little red lighthouse!”