"Big Apple: Rotten to the
Times was right for once, thought Wayne Newton, a tall man of
Middle Eastern descent with eyes that had seen the world from
every angle. He grabbed his coffee and tossed the newspaper in
an over-stuffed garbage can that bore the anachronistic Excelsior
logo of old New York. Newton studied the image; some vagrant had
transformed the goddesses Liberty and Justice into busty working
girls. As if they needed any help, Newton muttered
as he slipped a backpack over his shoulders.
construction worker clad in typical paint-spattered jeans and
plaid button-up took a step closer in the turnstiles. As Newton
tossed a coin into a box that proceeded to slide forward, the
worker quickly slipped through the gate behind him, bumping into
Newtons side to avoid the steel bars from slicing him. Two
for the price of one, hey pal? the worker joked.
me? Newton said.
worker patted him on the back with a plaster-covered hand. The
gate. I go through four times a day to work for the damn city.
Cant afford it. They stepped to the platform and awaited
the sky-train that was slowly hovering forward.
ya do? the worker asked.
job, youve got one dont ya? the worker said
said Newton, checking his wristwatch while attempting to mentally
will the train forward a few yards.
what is it? griped the worker.
sell shoes, said Newton as the train pulled up.
standard subway car had been remodeled after the war, now a hollow
shell with a force field-like beam that acted as the door. They
stepped onto the train and leaned against the wall, grabbing support
straps that hung from the roof. As the last passenger made their
way onto the train, the beam tightened again and buzzed before
the train shot off on a whim, sailing out amidst the burned out
skyscrapers and gnarled remains that were once the pristine skyline.
a shame, hey pal? said the worker as he looked out at a
collapsed Empire State Building in the distance.
rolled his eyes and turned back toward the man who was now eating
a ham sandwich that he had clearly pulled from his shirt pocket
moments earlier. Why is it a shame? he said.
worker choked down a large bite as he opened his mouth to speak.
Whats happened to this city, hey? Used to be such
a special place, greatest city in the world.
glanced out the window, picturing the city the way it once was,
realizing the harsh reality that had taken control.
shoes, do ya? asked the worker.
smiled and stared down at the new shoes the worker was wearing,
feeling they were slightly out of place given his other attire.
My father owned a shop, said Newton.
kiddin? Ya I was never one for shoe shoppin. Not much need
for anything new in my line of work, said the worker.
glanced at the polished, white sneakers, the plastic tag still
attached on one side. What do you do, sir? Newton
cant ya tell? And ya dont gotta call me sir, I aint
your old man, pal, he said as he wolfed down the last bite.
Whats your name, anyways? the worker asked.
worker laughed hysterically and said, What like the apple
or the singer?
looked at him with a blank expression. The singer, actually.
My father adored him, or the concept of everything American, I
your name is Wayne Newton? asked the worker.
Newton responded, staring out the window at a disfigured Statue
of Liberty, half restored from the head down.
worker burst out laughing as the other passengers looked increasingly
uncomfortable in his presence. Thats funny, pal. Why
dont ya bring him out sometime? They just reopened her halfway.
Were still workin on the renovations up top, but you
can go on up and have a look, said the worker as he pointed
to the statue.
passed away now. Just last week, said Newton softly, staring
out at Liberty with a disheartened look on his face.
to hear that pal, said the worker as the intercom buzzed
and the Liberty Island stop was announced.
adjusted his backpack and waited for the beam to open.
gonna be one beautiful welcome sign when we're finished, dont
worry. Thats what this countrys all about, pal. Lettin
people of all sorts come in and have their way, right?
turned back and stared into the workers eyes curiously before
the beam parted and they stepped out beneath the Statue.
the elevator doors opened, Newton slid his backpack from his shoulders
and stared out at the expansive view before him. Tears filled
his eyes as he stepped to the edge of the makeshift-viewing gallery
and unzipped his backpack. He shakily reached inside and pulled
out an urn. He held it up and opened the top, reaching out into
the cool October sky and emptying its contents into the waters
not far below. He glanced down below where he could see the worker
frantically sprinting away from the base of the statue in his
new running shoes. Newton frowned and stared down at the top of
his backpack where a small black device was flashing a tiny red
light. The plastered hand tapping his shoulder ran through his
mind as the bag exploded, sending flames straight up through the
statue and bringing down the last remaining landmark before the
second civil war had broken out.