Manhattan gleamed through the ferry windows. He liked the sounds of casting off and the slapping of the waves on the hull. Sometimes he went to the front of the boat to feel the wind and watch Staten Island approaching.
“Yo, how’s it going? Is this cool or what?” It was C, one of the guys he worked with.
They stood at the railing.
“That band you did the display for will be playing on the main deck soon.”
They discussed which of their friends they’d seen. There were many people on board, and they were sure others had said they were coming that neither had run into yet.
Live music drifted out past them and over the dark waves as the city slid by in the distance.
Familiar faces. Sometimes he rode the ferry with strangers.
Someone else from the art department arrived, but left soon with the someone she’d brought.
He moved onto the ferry, curious more than excited.
Guitars in stands. Rows of benches. Twilight.
He went into the deli first and bought a cup of tea.
Back outside, he started down the metal steps, careful not to hit his head on the overhang or catch the strap of his guitar case on the railing.
He noticed the smell of the first drops of rain hitting the concrete, the small splashes disappearing from view as he descended.
He pressed the button and heard the familiar, quiet buzz through the door.
It began to rain harder, the drops spreading and connecting on the bag he carried his equipment in.
The record company rep walked into the art loft with the news that there was going to be a cruise around Manhattan on a ferry with bands playing and an open bar. Working in a record store brought benefits: they were all invited. The rep went on with details, others asking things.
Half-listening, he stared out the row of windows toward the roof of the record store. His boss had told of rock stars giving parties there. Only some chairs and umbrellas were visible.
Everything’s changing, he thought, and some things should remain the same.
A fellow artist started the communal music player. Music filled the room, surrounding shelves of paint and stacks of foam core.
He stared out the hotel window at the huge black building twenty streets away, rising like an onyx tombstone above its older, smaller companions. Many floors below, a stream of Yellow Cabs jostled past the hotel’s entrance as they did most hours of the day. He was so used to their noise he didn’t look down.
Who’s in that building, he wondered? Who designed it? And how long before more of its kind rise on the intervening blocks and ruin his view of it?
The radiator clanked, and he brought his attention back to the room.