Having arrived in Manhattan the previous week from the Midwest to take up a position he had been offered Adam hadn’t really had time to explore his new environment. Now it was Easter Friday and the office was closed for the latter half of the day. He decided it was time to do some exploring. He spent the late afternoon strolling around Times Square. When he was done he had the urge to range further afield. He was still unaccustomed to the subway system but ventured down into the underground at Broadway and 7th Avenue and, taking a deep breath, caught the 1 Broadway Local.
He marvelled at the variety of people on the crowded train. Young, virile Dominicans strutting their stuff in their wife-beater tee-shirts, business men in sharp three piece suits, hip-hop artists in baggy trousers and everything in between. He had planned to get off on the Upper East Side and look around but the stifling heat of the subway car and the gentle rocking motion soon had him nodding off. The conductor who shook him awake sometime later was grinning at him as he opened his eyes and looked around in confusion.
“Wha…did I nod off?”
“Yeah, man, you sure did. Anyway, train done broke down, you got to get off now.”
“Where are we?”
“Riverdale. The Bronx. 242cd Street.”
“Damn. How do I get back to Manhattan?”
The conductor shrugged. “Get a cab topside I guess.”
He looked at Adam and then at the open door of the car. Adam looked around and saw he was the only one left. He got up and walked onto the platform as the Conductor went back to his station at the front to wait for instructions. He saw some unsavoury types eyeballing him from further down the platform and decided he’d better go up to the street.
Seeing that it was evening when he reached the top of the stairs he realized how hungry he was. He walked down the block looking for a taxi stand but his search was fruitless. He was in a dingy neighbourhood of decrepit brownstones. Lots of people of uncertain ethnicity lounged around the stoops shooting the breeze while children played in the trash-ridden streets as mangy mutts rummaged through garbage cans.
A mid-western boy new the Big Apple, he felt a growing uneasiness, especially as the locals began to look him over, some of them making comments to each other he couldn’t quite make out followed by howls of laughter. He decided to keep moving. Nothing helpful could eventuate on this street.
He walked toward some neon lights a few blocks down but found most of the places closed when he got there. There were a couple of liquor stores with salty looking dudes lazing about a seedy looking deli that he wouldn’t dream of entering.
“Yo, man, what you lookin’ for? I got it for ya right here.”
Adam looked at the young black man making an obscene gesture and decided he’d best keep moving. He turned the corner to get out of view but found himself on a dark street with no street lamps and no one in sight. He was about to turn and go the other way when he caught sight of a bright red neon sign a block further down. It looked like the sort that would be on a café or restaurant though it seemed an unlikely location. This was, however, New York so anything was possible. Perhaps he could at least call a taxi from there.
He walked fast, his eyes darting from side to side to avoid any nasty surprises. When he arrived at the storefront with the sign he saw the windows were covered with white curtains. He could tell there were lights on inside. He looked up at the sign. Carib Repas. He had no idea what it meant but he was certain it was a café. He tried the door and found it unlocked. He stepped inside.
Part 2 Tomorrow