Central Park

“Oh, not this now.”

He paused to fasten the collar button of his new Barbour jacket.

“It’s snowing!” she shrieked.

“Did you like the drawings? I’m not sure you liked them!” he called chasing after her as she scampered down the museum steps.

On the sidewalk he wanted to talk about the drawings. “I thought some were magnificent, didn’t you?”

She was twirling and sticking her tongue out, intent on catching flakes.

“Don’t eat the snow,” he said.

Thank goodness no one knew he was out with this nitwit again.

“They’re strangers, bud, strangers,” Becca warned when he confessed to her over a hamburger lunch one day that he had succumbed. He’d better learn to toughen up to the plague of disappointments that come with online dating. Oh boy. She could see it was wearing him down already. And what about the whackos? There were certainly enough of them, dear Lord, “and let’s not even go into the subject of diseases, shall we?”

Becca, pal of pals, my bestest friend, do the math. He was running out of time.

Someone new and sultry had posted Istanbul on her list of favorites. Istanbul, where he had quite an experience with that one-handed cute Australian girl, wee haw! It practically catapulted him into the Bosphorus!

But in an attempt to pussyfoot out of the office early to meet her, curious and optimistic as a dog, he ran into Becca pacing back and forth in her cherry high heels along the bank of elevators.

“Don’t forget to tell her you’re not Jewish,” she said.

The last cab in the line-up drove off as she pulled from her coat pocket the sad pilled corpse of a pink knitted hat.

“Let’s walk back through the park! Oh, yeah!”

“I wouldn’t,” he said in a tone he hoped would stifle the obnoxious enthusiasm.

“Why?”

He gazed past her standing there in the ridiculous hat to almost zero visibility.

Genevieve, we’re in the midst of a blizzard. We may never emerge.”

She was married once and briefly to a David, a small potatoes kind of guy – copy-cat writer, refused to clip his toenails – who ended up leaving a goodbye note on the bed after she mooned the night before as they lay under the new duvet and imaginary stars, “Now, all we need is a child!”

He moved to Brooklyn and had twins with someone else not long after.

“You know,” she began to say as they passed the ghostly silhouettes of apparatus in an abandoned playground, “I’m not sure if this was such a good idea. The insides of my boots are wet, it’s really coming down, and I just don’t think…”

“Genevieve!” he hollered, the vapor of his breath spewing forth like a dragon, “it was you who wanted to do this! It’s too late to turn back now!”

It was only a month ago that the sun was shining after his class at the League and afterwards, on this very path, he put his hopes in the slim black coat walking ahead of him.

She hit the ground after slipping on some ice. “Ouch!” “Are you alright? he asked after rushing forth. Some snow was pressed to the back of her.

“Absolutely.”

Leaping on to the absolutely as if it were a great white steed, he suggested she regain her composure on a nearby bench.

“Deirdre? What a pretty name, Deirdre. There was a lovely Deirdre years ago up at college. Her mother was not too bad-looking either if I might add, and her father was one of those ruddy-complexioned stout mugs of beer, you know. He owned the Chevy dealership in town and gave a new one to the dean every year. Yes, Deirdre. Hmm. Whatever happened to Deirdre?”

After half an hour of this kind of encouraging chat, he persuaded her to meet him for coffee, on him of course, the next day.

Not only did she show up late, but had in tow two idiots so the four of them squeezed around the table he had chosen just for two. The sleeve of his nicest sport jacket kept bumping up against the bare tattooed arm of the man who would metamorphose into a cannibal whenever a young female of a certain type passed by. His companion didn’t mind. She kept talking in circles about someone named Grill while smashing her knife into what remained of her Klimt torte, in spite of disapproving glances from the waiters.

“I can’t stand it anymore! My feet are soaked! Find a bench! Find a bench!”

“There are no benches, Genevieve. The snow has wiped them out. We need to keep moving.”

They kept at it with his good cashmere scarf wrapped around her head as they struggled arm in arm, their bodies bent against the ferocious wailing wind.

“I can’t! The wind! I can’t breathe! I can’t take it! Stop the wind!”

He thought he might have to carry her until they came upon the frozen shelter of a foot tunnel where as soon as they entered a rat scurried away. She sat down against a wall that stunk of pee.

Reluctantly, very reluctantly, he sat down beside her. The acrid odor stung his nostrils. She leaned her body against him and he wondered in the melancholy of self-hatred how he ever got himself involved with this one.

While shivering, she began to clue him in to what it was like to grow up on Park Avenue as the only lonely child of a big shot father and his fourth wife, her mother, who was always reading newspapers rather than spend time with her. Although she managed to find time to scoot off to the south of France one winter to be in a movie with Catherine Deneuve.

Her father, a philanderer if there ever was one, wore garish expensive suits which were way too much style for such a little man.

She despised them both, these rich hillbillies, for letting her grow up hollow.

A stronger man could have pulled her out from the avalanche of their raging narcissism but that putz ex-husband of hers couldn’t.

“Was it a superiority-inferiority complex, or an inferiority-superiority complex?”

“Who your father,” he asked. “No, my husband,” she said.

Yeah, he agreed, what a putz.

By morning, a record-breaking snowfall had blanketed the city. A sanitation worked plowing a path near Seventy-Second Street found two people under a sweep of pines, entwined and frozen to death.

Denise Falcone

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