I took in a deep breath of the wonderful smell of…
Typical New York. Smelling of homeless people’s pee, garbage littering the floor. But it was my home. I couldn’t help but grin as I passed by the Chip-Hop frozen-yogurt store. Memories rushed back to me.
It was her giggle that made me giggle.
“How ‘bout a challenge?” She’d grinned wickedly. “Let’s see who can get the best flavor combination ever!” Being a competitive person, I smiled back.
“Oh, your on!” I rushed to the chocolate frozen-yogurt bar dispenser and squirted it a quarter full. Then, I sprinkled some chocolate chips before adding another quarter of vanilla frozen-yogurt. For my third step, I added in a quarter for strawberry and finally, added in coffee for the top, sprinkling toppings now and then.
“Done!” I exclaimed just as she finished. She looked like she added all the flavors and every single topping was stuffed in there.
“Let’s get the taste testers!” She marched over to our parents, who were blabbering about scores.
“Hi sweetie,” her mom gave that sweet smile. “Need something?”
“Yes, mommy. Tucker and I were having a competition to see who could make the best hybrid frozen yogurt.”
“Is that so, Gwen?”
“Yes! And you're going to be the taste testers.” Gwen finished, handing her mom her cup. “Try mine first.” I handed mine to my mom, who then passed it to Gwen’s mom for a try. Then, I tried Gwen’s and she tried mine.
“Mmm, I gotta say, both were delicious.” Mom complimented.
“I think we both know who won.” Gwen’s mom smiled. The moms glanced at each other knowingly and spoke at the exact same time.
“Both of yours!” Gwen frowned.
“Mommy, be truthful. I don’t care if you say Tucker won, I just want to know.” Gwen’s Mom glanced sheepishly at my mom.
“No, hun you both real-”
“Please, mom.” Gwen begged. Her mom sighed, looking at my mom for help.
“I liked Tucker’s bu-”
“I knew it!” Gwen laughed. “Haha! What’d you put in yours, Tucker?” Being the older and mature one, I figured I’d win.
“Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and coffee with chocolate chips and sprinkles.” I felt like a teacher saying that. Gwen nodded her approval.
“I added everything.” Gwen concluded simply. And we all laughed as if on cue.
“Dweller! Get outta m’way!” A loud gruff voice jolted me from my thoughts. I pulled my trench coat together, and dipped my hat down.
“Sorry, Mister.” I replied politely before hurrying off, not wanting to get scolded again.
I made a turn on Mulberry ST, and arrived at a court-yard and smack dab in the middle was a fountain. I walked over and touched the fountain. Immediately memories hit me so hard I nearly stumbled.
“Twerp!” The booming voice shook the world. “Hey, dudes, come look at this nerd!” the booming voice was a big burly man with shaggy hair. Two more of the same exact booming voice lumbered over. Given their large size I doubted I had 2 minutes before I was dead.
“Hand over ‘em bucks, kid.” The second large man growled.
“Or yer get it,” the third added, all three of them cracking their knuckles in perfect sync. I would’ve been laughing my head off if I weren’t about to die.
“I-I...I don’t h-have money on m-me…” i stammered, my voice equvilent to a mouse’s squeak. The first one sniffed, showing off his hairy nostrils.
“I smell yer fear, kid. I know yer have some money on ya.” The first one glared at me. My hand floated near my pocket, as if it could protect the money in there.
“Hehe, I guess he wants to have a black eye.” The second grinned, showing me his teeth, which wasn’t a complete and pleasnt thing to see. Before he could lung forward, a big black shape shot forward, knocking the second man to the ground.
I was half tempted to scream, “Man down!” But it wasn’t the mood for that, since I was going to have a black eye.
“Geroffme!” The second man shouted, fighting at the ball of fur, exepct it was much faster. I realized the ball of fur was a dog. “Call yer dog off! We’ll leave!”
“Uh-I...Inky! Inky, c’mere, boy!” I squeaked. And that black dog came boundin’ towards me. I gingerly petted me. “Good boy.”
“I never want to see yer face or that dog’s face again!” The second spat.
I sadly glanced down at my left-side, half expecting Inky to appear there. But no, he was gone. Ran over by a car. I stifled a sniff and wiped my eye.
I straightened my suit and walked away from the fountain. No time to act sad. I had a meeting to get to.
As I walked, I dropped my suitcase. It cracked open to reveal papers flying out, and a few dollars.
“Here, allow me to help.” A young woman said, bustling her way through crowds of people. She bent down and delicately picked the papers up as if they were gold. Neatly, she stuffed them inside.
“I-thank you.” I appreciated her act. In fact, I gave her the few dollars that was in my suitcase. The young woman smiled, and was gone in a flash of blonde hair.
Some people in New York were kind.
I glanced over in the dark alley, full of unknown things.
Others...Not so much.
I continued my small expedition towards my destination, greeting occasional waves from people.
The honk of the taxies, beeping of a car, people talking-all that calmed me. All that noise faded into the background. Just a soft, soothing sound that I loved to enjoy. I took a deep whiff of the air, catching the small of hamburgers. It made me hungry, but I just had a cup of coffee with donuts on the side.
No need to foolishly spend money.
I walked forward, pressing the pedestrian button on the way, waiting for the crosswalk sign to turn to a person.
Smoke suddenly filled the air like darkness taking over light. It blocked out the wonderful smell of hamburgers. I glanced next to me to see a man with a shaggy beard, smoking from a cigarette.
“Why are you smoking?” I politely asked.
“‘Cos it’s good.” The man replied, clearly not wanting to talk and wanting to smoke. Less talking, more smoking would be his motto.
“Smoking is bad for the envi-”
“Shut up, I don’t care.” The man grunted, hurrying off. The smell of smoke hung heavily in the air, stubbornly staying. No more smell of hamburger.
A taxi honking and the distant chatter of people. The neon signs that glowed brightly-each having their own design. Times Square full of laughter ringing across buildings. Restaurants wide open to allow aromas leak out, attracting bypassers. The clicking of shoes and juicy gossip you could pick up on. The ringing of a store-bell as someone walked into one. The tires squeaking on the road…
That was New York.
Even with all the pee smell gone, it was New York.
And New York was my home.
New York was my home.