That said…

It’s a new day today. The earlier post, despite its 25 May date, was written on 24 May. Later on 24 May, I wrote, on my MacBook Pro, the following:

“Have you always been here?”

The doorman or guard or lobby cop or whatever we call the people who keep us from just walking into office buildings nowadays lifted his head to look at her. He smiled. The young whatever we call him, the smile a vote of confidence in his ability to turn this into something more than whatever it was at this point. “Started at seven. Well, quarter after. The Hell Train.” He was so happy she was there, warmed by the explosion of red waves around her pale face.

“I meant, the paper? Times Square. I thought….”

Another doorman or whatever leaned in. He was older. He was her age. Or close enough. They could be one of those handsome couples from the pages of AARP or Modern Maturity. Or from a Cialis ad. No, no–not Cialis. Viking River Cruises. He told her everything she wanted to know and way more: 1851, New hyphen York, Park Row, Boss Tweed, written in longhand, Times Tower, New Year’s Eve ball, Titanic scoop, 229 West 43rd, yada yada.

And then, on another page:

Some pictures need a thousand words—or several, anyway—to explain what’s going on. That the man with the smirk dismembered his wife, or won a Nobel Prize. That the luxury apartment building is the world’s tallest, or is six degrees off plumb.

One of those could be the opening of “Rope,” my working title. A “rope,” spelled ROP, is newspaper lingo for “run  of paper.” A ROP photograph isn’t linked to a particular story; it’s placed wherever the news editor needs something—as an editor I worked with at the New York Daily News used to say—”to keep the ads from falling out.”

The redheaded woman has come to the paper because of a ROP photograph published that morning of a Manhattan street scene: a food cart with customers alongside, a bicycle messenger, the blur of taxi, two men with interestingly similar combed-back hair, dressed interestingly alike in suits and ties and long coats that in another era were called top coats, standing interestingly alike against an office building, each with his left leg straight and braced, right leg bent at the knee, right foot propped against the building wall, each holding a mobile phone in both hands, reading or texting.

The redheaded woman wants to talk to the photographer who made the picture. When she eventually manages to get past security, the photographer, a woman, says her assignment was to take a picture that made a point about the first clement day after a string of cold, rainy days. Other than where she made the picture, she can’t say anything about anyone in it, certainly not about the individual the redhead is interested it—a tall thin young man among the customers at the food cart: backpack, puffy down coat, knit wool beanie failing to contain a mop of curls. Red curls.

“What’s he to you?” the photographer says.

“Oh nothing. He’s just my son.”

“Your son?”

“Look at his hair. Look at mine.”

The point of all this is that while I’m relying on my existing notebook, I guess my mistake has begun.


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