Sitting in the last country watering hole in Park Slope. Hank Williams on the jukebox, and the champagne of beers to ease me back to ‘murica.
I returned to Gotham amid Rocinante, past a giant three-armed steel windmill giant in Jersey. I arrived back in to Crown Heights, back to the West Indies. Sancho Harranza pulled up outside as I walked down the block. As par for the knight errant course, the sidekick didn’t know where to park his white donkey, when all he had to do was stay put.
Lucky Toni had two Rockowers for the price of one. Lucky her. We dropped our stuff, and toasted some Russian Standard vodka to the miles passed.
We headed up through the Jamaican night of Crown Heights, to get some jerk chicken. We stood in line at the emblematic hole-in-the-wall that filled with the roasting chicken smoke. After a bit of a wait, we got our plate of jerk chicken with rice and peas covered in gravy. We sat on the bench outside, eating the cleaved chicken and sipping alternately ginger beer and kola champagne. A long week got the best of us, and we were done early.
Saturday came, and with it the Yemenite deli. Egg and cheese on a roll for cheap—a New York special. We hopped the subway up to the end of Brooklyn. As I was reminded of Sancho Harranza’s sense of direction: always sure; seldom right.
The sky was steel grey as we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. Manhattan was encased in carbonite. From afar, the Statute of Liberty was framed in saluting cranes. A helicopter crossed her 1984 path, and it seemed too cliché and apt at the same time.
We crossed the expanse, and stopped for Belgian waffles on the other side. My Brussels waffle came slathered in speculoos—the gingerbread nutella-esque spread. Harry’s came with Dulce de Leche. We sat in the park, eating the gooey Belgique treat and sipping coffee.
We hopped the train up to the High Line. Harranza checked his gyroscope and sent us north to 23rd. Walking down the boulevard, Harry ran into one of the half-a-dozen people he knows in Gotham, a friend from Cougarville named Hannah. Uncanny, given the odds.
We continued on, stopping to peer into a Quixote bar, which we made plans to revisit.
We got to the High Line, and wandered the elevated track-turned-garden down and back up. Needing sensory connection, I ran my hands through the tall plants that flanked the garden path.
We walked down to what Harranza termed “The Theater of Humanity.” It was a viewing deck above New York traffic. We watched Nordics hang like moneys, and I had a vision of the America that keeps me here. We sat out in the sun, taking Rhea selfies.
We walked up and down the High Line, and then descended to the Quixote bar. El Quixote, with visions of windmills dancing through the place. We sat drinking sangria and spooning flan as the Knight-Errant looked down from on high at the bar.
We headed south, down to Chinatown for some Chinese footmassages. We stopped in, but there was a lil wait. We ventured off for some proper bubble tea. How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss? Well, I didn’t and I hit Keyzer Harranza in the back of the neck with a gelatinous tapioca snot rocket. He later made the mistake of handing his own drink/weapon over to me, and got lit up once more.
We made our way into a Buddhist temple that was more Thai than reflecting the Indian origin of Siddhartha. So it goes.
We returned for a proper foot massage. 1 hour, $22. My usual masseuse Helen was happy to see me, and we chatted in Chinese until my Mandarin failed me. The stresses and strains were kneaded out of my body via the nerve endings of my feet.
We stopped into a Chinese herbal medicine store, and Harranza tried to turn a gecko into a princess. Then he ate a dragon's heart.
We code-switched into Italian, and passed through the San Geramo Festival in Little Italy, and up to the Village.
We stopped for dinner at the famous Mamoun’s, with the best, cheapest falafel in the city ($3). We ate the stuffed pita, covered in tahini and the spicy, lip-burning harisa outside the hole.
We made our way to Small’s, the quintessential jazz club, and spent the night drinking Old Crow and PBRs (the Smalls Special for $7), and chatting with frauleins and mademoiselles as jazz filled the cavernous basement.
A Pisco Sour to end the night, and the long trek back to Brooklyn ended the emblematic New York day.
Sunday was less kind, but bagels and cream cheese with tomatoes and red onions helped smooth it out. We camped out in Prospect Park, then meandered our way back down Empire. Harranza pulled off on his donkey, and I caught up with Breaking Bad to end the weekend.
Welcome back to New York.