Friday, April 02, 2010


I got off the Q train at Avenue U for reasons not really understood. The goal had been Brighton Beach when I got aboard at Dekalb Avenue, but I'd already - ah the MetroCard all day thing - hopped off and back on at Prospect Park, Beverly Road, and Newkirk Avenue. Well, at Newkirk I retraced old steps and walked through Midwood Park, down East 17th Street, crossing under the tracks at Avenue H, and then across the old footbridge on 15th Street and down to Avenue J for great if incredibly overpriced pizza. But that's one of my "old neighborhoods." And when I'd gotten back on at the Avenue J station, I'd planned to next get off at the ocean.

But hitting the sidewalk at Avenue U was confusing. I either didn't remember this at all, or maybe it had all changed. Was this a Chinese community twenty years ago? Is this Chinese? I mean, is it "mainland" Chinese or the more traditional Taiwanese Chinese? Or am I confusing Asian cultures. I wondered if I should know better.

The doughnut shop sign was in English so I went in. There was something "once Greek" about the faded colors of the interior but the staff was not from there at this moment. The coffee was overcooked sludge, the doughnuts themselves lacked, hmmm, whatever makes doughnuts great. A Daily News, left on the counter, offered a few minutes of entertainment.

And then I knew that there was a bank on the corner on the other side of the tracks. What bank it had been "back then" escaped me, but I remembered the chase from the cash machine mugging that had interrupted something else, something "far more important," I'm sure. And I remembered the violence. And I remembered how young he was, how there'd been a smear of chocolate on his hands, that rapidly got covered in his own blood.

So I got up, wiped off my own hands, left a small tip, went outside, got back on the train. And then I was at the beach, and the salt air blew across my face.

(c) 2010 by Ira David Socol

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