Scrappy Jack and Banana Scrap (a.k.a. the Fireball Kid) went strolling with the Monster Dog up on the Upper East Side.
The day was one of those early spring days here in Rat City, glorious in the sunshine, but still winter when you walk in the shade. Hard blue sky above, hard white people below all jacking over the sidewalks and swarming the streets, dogs in sweaters twirling on short leashes bright-eyed and yapping, mad taxis blaring and swooping around the buses and gypsy cabs, Koreans and Haitians and Dominicans and Russians, Egyptians and even a few Irish right off the boat (no lie) all shouting and swearing and selling things and invoking their many gods to make up the Babel of the City or just to get through another early spring Rat City day.
The Kid walked tough through the crowd, protecting her left flank a little, but not so you'd notice if you didn't already know. Jack played Secret Service Man, just like he did in the backyard thirty-five years ago: scanning the crowd, protecting the Principal, ready to take any one of them out, but playing it super-cool.
The Monster Dog just ran on ahead. He is, after all, a Monster Dog.
They settled into a booth at the Starlite, ordered up some iced water and coffee and thumbed through the thick plastic menus.
The Monster Dog was long gone.
He'd come back or not, no sense wasting thought on the matter.
Banana ordered her usual (for today), a triple-decker egg salad, hold the middle slice of bread, onion rings on the side. Jack thought hard about breakfast and opted for the BLT.
They sat in the silence that old couples grow and let the diner drone drift over them.
Comforting, somehow, the small-talk of strangers.
Jack glanced around and saw Buddha slurping soup in the booth across the way.
An exchange of slow nods.
Mohammad was at the counter, trying to cut a deal with the Owner. Something about bringing in more tables.
Mohammad's hands illustrating his logic, the Owner staring at the floor.
Christ worked a mop over in the corner, long-haired and three days growth of beard, swirling soapy infinities one over another on the dirty diner floor.
Krishna and Arjuna strolled in off of 1st, working, but in secret.
Suddenly, a pair of young Boddhisatvas dressed in glorious rainment, first day on the Job, whooped and clapped, caught up in a private joy made hugely, beautifully public in the booth directly behind the Kid.
She took another bite of her egg salad, chewed, swallowed and asked,
"How's your BLT?"
Jack, crying for some reason, nodded and whispered,