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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Excerpt from 'The Sugar Ticket' by Susan Jean Ricci

I Hear a Symphony…
            Chapter One:  Marital Bliss or Blare?
“Here you go, Squeaky,” the bartender said to Jay as he handed over our tab.
It was just after midnight in Manhattan and the lounge where we were having our nightcap was nearly empty, excepting the wait staff and a tipsy bar floozy. 
Jay must’ve thought he could manage a left cheek sneak without drawing attention to himself, but he failed.  Instead he blared his signature toot that resembles a sharp trumpet note.
I thought it best not to ask if he needed to wipe.  Since we were essentially newlyweds, we were still cultivating politeness as an art form.
Penn Station is only about four blocks away, so we decide to walk.  Although the rain dissipated hours earlier, the night air is chilly.  We feel no need to rush, as there are still half a dozen trains scheduled that evening returning to Jersey, but we walk briskly to keep warm.
We trot across 33rd Street and when we’re about fifty feet away from the entrance to the station, I put my left arm around Jay and smile up at him…
As Jay leans down to kiss me, my right arm is yanked and twisted into an unnatural angle behind me.  I scream as the tendons in my shoulder object to the sudden torture.  
Then, the painful pressure disappears, and so does my purse.
“Hey, stop that guy,” yells Jay as the hooded thief runs through the doors of Penn Station. 
A nearby policeman has begun giving chase as the young robber pushes people out of his way so he can run down the escalator unimpeded.  We run inside, too, and watch in horrified fascination as the cop begins to gain ground.
The crook swings my purse at the cop with all his might and slams him right in the head.  The thief quickly performs one of those sideways leaping maneuvers you see in the movies, and alley oops over to the next escalator.  He lands smack on an elderly man riding it up to the exit and the street.
The robber is agile, I’ll give him that, and he takes the steps three at a time until he reaches the doors to 33rd Street and disappears into the crowd.  The policeman double times up the stationary stairs along side the escalator and bends over the poor old man lying on the floor at the top of the escalator. 
We can’t hear what he says to the old man, but we do hear sirens coming closer.
Two other policemen trot over to us, where we’re surrounded by spectators gathering to see what the hubbub’s about.  As the policeman helps the old gent to his feet, the crowd cheers and one of the newly arrived cops shouts, “Go on now, mind your business and move along, folks.  The drama’s over.”
Not for me, it isn’t.  My shoulder is on fire, and I’m very close to a meltdown.  A female police officer has joined the trio and asks, “Do you need to go to the hospital?”
“No, I don’t think so,” I whisper, even though I’m crying.
She escorts Jay and me to a nearby bench, which had been recently vacated by a street bum who skedaddled in view of all this law enforcement milling about.  “I’ll go see what’s going on with your purse,” she says kindly.  “Are you sure you don’t want to go to the hospital?”
I wipe my eyes with the back of my hand so I’m able to read her nametag.  It’s time for me to buck up anyway.  “No, thanks anyway, Officer Martin.  I’ll just wait here until I get my purse back.”
“Love, are you sure you’re okay?” Jay asks as he rubs my back gently.    
“No, I’m not, but going to the ER isn’t going to help.  I’m more emotionally drained than in any physical pain.  My shoulder will heal.”  I avert my eyes.  “I’m not sure I’ll ever want to come back to New York City again, though.”
One of the male policemen walks over to us, holding my purse.  I recognize him as the one who chased the mugger and I stand as he approaches. 
He hands me the purse, a wry grin on his face. “This thing feels like it weighs a ton, especially when you get coldcocked on the ear with it.  I’m sorry the perp got away, but at least nobody was hurt and we were able to recover your purse.”
“Thank you so much, Officer,” I say.  “But you’re right, everyone’s fine, and that’s really what matters.”
“You might want to check and make sure everything is still inside it.  I’ll also need you to come to the precinct inside Penn Station, where I’m posted, to fill out a police report.” 
Something amiss must show in my expression, (like, shit, do we really have to do this?), because he looks at his watch and says, “I won’t keep you long, but I do have to fill out the necessary paperwork, which includes filling out a police report and taking your statements.”
My OCD is kicking up a notch, and I’m getting twitchy, because I don’t know where the thief’s hands were before he touched my purse.  I open it to get a wet-wipe to clean off the handle…
Oh, no!
I frantically rummage around, and the policeman realizes something’s wrong because he steps behind me and shines his flashlight inside it.
I’m absolutely furious.  “Jay, my wallet’s gone.” 
My entire life is in that wallet.  My driver’s license with our address, photos of Jay and my grandkids, even business cards from contacts I’ve acquired over the years.  Everything a person could possibly imagine that can reveal the history of someone’s existence, all in one convenient parcel. 
I also realize we’re going to have to call all the credit card companies so I can close my accounts, before that freaking thief decides to buy himself a new car.
“You still have your cell phone, don’t you?” Jay asks before I can even give voice to my thoughts.  “We’ll start making calls while the policeman fills out the paperwork, and whatever we don’t get done in the station, we’ll do when we get on the train, okay?”
I nod mutely as Jay takes my hand.  A scene from Ghost flashes through my mind, when that creepy mugger shoots Sam Wheat.  My body shakes with gratitude our mugger didn’t hurt us.
Credit cards, wallets, and cash are easily replaceable, but not your beloved spouse…
I kiss Jay’s hand as we follow the policeman to his precinct in the bowels of Penn Station.  A little prayer of thanks is in order to my ever-present Lenape spirits, who had certainly been watching over us this night.
 I have to chuckle.  Leave it to me to get ahead of myself.  Naturally, many sequences of events need to play themselves out, long before Jay and I jump aboard the marriage train.
There’s always more to relationships, between the starting gate of your dreams and the finish line of happiness.
So much more…
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1 comment:

  1. Susan Ricci, here: Wow, I was sick during the week and forgot to check out the site for my chapter, please forgive my rudeness in not posting or sharing at that time - I'm catching up now. Thank you so much for having me here!