Come and people watch with me at a Manhattan crosswalk. The Crosswalk of Decisions.
Little Timmy held his father's hand at the crosswalk. “Dad where are all those people going?”the youngster asked, pointing at an assemblage of people clad in predominantly black entering an old, stately cathedral.
“Well, son, those people are going to a funeral of someone they loved or knew who has passed on. In twenty minutes or so, they will come out. What do you want people who love you to say when it is your turn someday? What do you want them to say about you in the twenty minutes that summarize an entire life?” The light changed. Timmy and his father took the walk with dozens of others.
About halfway across, Timmy looked up at his father. “Dad, I want them to say that I wrote a whole bunch of good stories.” His father smiled as the words from this angel of a little boy broke into his thoughts.
“What about you, Dad? What do you hope they say about you?”
“Oh, I don't know, Tim. I hope some say that I was a good man who tried his best most of the time.”
“Dad, you don't have to worry. I will be there. I will say it real loud.”
The father looked away to hide his suddenly watery eyes. By the time they hopped up on the curb together, he had decided. He was moving Timmy and his entire family out of this city. He had dreamed of such a thing for many years. Now he knew it was time to make it come true. This city would not have the opportunity to destroy Timmy's innocence.
Superior Court Judge Raymond L. Pierce and his wife Julia were marching the six blocks toward their Manhattan apartment after the charity luncheon in their usual formation. The towering, elegantly garbed Pierce was a full stride ahead of an always hustling, petite Julia. He never looked back at his wife of twenty-seven years, his only acknowledgment a quick snap, snap of his fingers every half-block or so, the impatient signal for her to keep up.
The performance from the luncheon had ended with his final public smile as he helped put on her coat. He had held his Julia's hand, majestically opened the doors for her, and pulled out her chair in such a patient, gallant way. He had introduced her dozens of times as his, “Lovely wife.” From a distance, his smile seemed genuine and his phony fawning admired by all witnessing his classic public performance; especially the other women who secretly fantasied being the wife of such a powerful, intelligent and handsome man.
But Julia saw the familiar pursing of the lips as the counterfeit smile dissolved and knew she had once again disappointed the Judge somehow, someway. She had counted his drinks-four glasses of red wine and three martinis. That amount of alcohol usually portended a verbal explosion at the minimum, and probably a firm slap or two across the cheeks to emphasize the points. It had not always been this way.
Julia's teaching career had put country kid Raymond through law school. Her efforts had given them the foundation for acquiring wealth after he was accepted into the respected law firm of Walker, Daniels and Larson and then voted in as the youngest judge in New York state history. He had been remote but kind, civil, respectful and at times, quite loving, in the early years.
That all ended when she received her first “correction” from the man when she was six months pregnant. This correction had left her with a swollen throat, an arm in a sling, and a bulging black eye that no amount of make-up could fully conceal. She would never forget the contempt that showed in his piercing blue eyes that one early morning. The day when she showed him his new daughter for the first time. Luckily, she had given him a son the next time. He then demanded she “go get herself fixed” as two kids were enough.
The most severe of the corrections came when Julia suggested that she would like to return to teaching after the two children were both in school. He slugged her repeatedly with full force and kicked her when she fell down. He forbade her from seeking any medical treatment and demanded she tell the story of falling down the stairs as an explanation for the bruises and the other injuries. It took her a full month to recover.
He never beat her that severely again but the message had been sent. She had seen in his eyes that he was capable of killing her. Thus, the pretend game began. The public displays of fake affection, the isolation he demanded of her which included no real women friendships, a no-visitor policy, the barked orders and daily demands and the savage, impersonal sex. Any thoughts of leaving had long ago moved into the deep subconscious as the rearing of her children took precedence over her own needs. The kids had fled to the west coast. Now, she was alone with this man.
The two actors came to a stop at a busy crosswalk and Julia decided to take a chance. “Oh, look Raymond! The renovation of the museum is almost done. My what a marvelous building that is!”
Pierce grabbed and twisted his two-hundred dollar silk tie as he spun to face her. His fist was still clenched on his tie as he gave his answer. “Did I ask you anything you stupid bitch? What the hell do you know about architecture? That building is an eyesore and a waste of taxpayer money.”
“Hey, you should watch your mouth, you jackass,” yelled a voice from an elderly woman with her gray hair in a bun. “Honey, I agree with you. That is going to be a masterpiece when they finish it.”
The crosswalk light changed and the mass of people started moving at various speeds. The little gray-haired defender huffed off across the street her slim form swallowed by the crowd of people on the street. Pierce took off without looking back and was half-way across before a stunned Julia had even stepped off the curb. She glared at the back of the judge's head and years of hate started bubbling up. By the time she finished the crosswalk stroll and hopped up on the sidewalk, she had decided.
She would leave him. She knew it would require planning and some time, but she was going to be done with this sick game. She slowed down in defiance when the snap, snap signal was given a full half-block ahead. Yes, she would most definitely leave him...
At the crosswalk, Sherrie looked over at her friend James who had always been there for her as he was once again. If there had ever been a real-life knight in shining armor, then James was it. He had rescued her from trials, trauma, childish fears, teenage confusion and a time or two of physical danger. They had grown up in the same neighborhood and had been friends since kindergarten. He was the shoulder she had always leaned on this athletic, soft-spoken man. He always listened and offered only encouragement. He was only a phone call away as he had been last night. He got her away from yet another abusive male, the kind that reminded her of her alcoholic father, and the kind that she always picked to help. She was still wearing James's coat that he had placed so tenderly over her shoulders as he had hustled her into the waiting cab last night. The light changed, and the two took off as one.
Sherrie looked up at him. The light glowed off his handsome features and illuminated his blue eyes that were focused on something in the distance. She stopped and grasped his hand as the people took a detour around them. “James, do you think you could ever learn to love me?”
He squeezed her hand as they moved forward in complete silence. As they approached the curb, he answered,“I have always loved you, Sherrie.” Their first kiss took place in a busy crosswalk which they had entered as friends. They exited as a couple at this crosswalk of decisions.
From the Crosswalk of Decisions...
This is my latest flip-book that I am going to create this month. Do any of you want to write one to include? I will give you full credit and it will be read by several hundred people. Contact me, if you would like to write one. It would be fun.
The first story is taken from Tim Russert in his Big Russ book. I embellished the tale. The second one is from a video I found that is incredible and worth watching. I fictionalized the story and expanded it.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1xBjIHEhtg
The last is mine.