“Does anyone want coffee? Or an apple? I’m going down to the market for coffee and apples,” my coworker cheerfully announced as she wrapped her thick knitted scarf around her neck.
“I’ll take an apple,” one of the guys cried out. “Me too,” said another.
“I once accepted an apple a woman offered me,” said my boss. “I realize now it may have been a mistake.”
His clever remark sent a chuckle around the office.
It was a little before four and it was quiet in the office, save for the hum of the computers and occasional street sounds flowing in through the open window. Car horns, brake squeals, children playing. The farmers market was in full effect. NYU students leaning against the wall smoking cigarettes. Homeless men begging for change. Promoters pressing fliers into tourists’ hands. Just another day in Union Square.
“Is she back with the coffee yet?” someone murmured a half hour later.
“I don’t think so,” someone else replied. We continued working.
Finally, she appeared.
Crying, shaking, clutching a cup of coffee in her hands she walked into my office and up to my window. The other girls gathered around her.
“There was a fight in the market. A big gang fight. A kid got stabbed,” the words tumbled out nervously. We all rushed up to the window to look at the crowd gathered right outside our office. Police lights swirled and cops had swarmed the area. She explained how it broke out suddenly. How the kids rushed in from out of nowhere. How she was pushed and had to hide until it died down.
We watched for awhile before drifting back to our desks. Nobody said anything. The typing resumed.
A few hours later I walked across the square where the fight had been. There was an NBC news truck parked on the corner and yellow police tape cordoned off a portion of the area. A few police officers still milled about. My usual subway entrance was blocked off so I crossed through to the entrance on the north side of the park and made my way home.
This morning there was an article in the New York Post about the stabbing. “Union Sq. Horror” it read, in typical Post style. It described the scene where nearly 50 teenagers charged the market. There was a high school basketball rivalry and two boys were stabbed. One, a 17-year-old high school basketball star, died last night from the injuries. The second is in stable condition. A third was bashed in the head with a brick.
Last night, a 17-year-old boy was killed a few steps from my office. Today, things have gone back to normal. Students smoke cigarettes. Homeless men beg for change. Promoters press fliers into tourists’ hands. Just another day in Union Square.
Last night, a boy was killed. Today, life has resumed. Life has resumed, minus one 17-year-old boy.