(From the unpublished novel, Copyright 2010 Donald Riggio)
...Janet’s first look at the Manhattan skyline left her in awe of the place she would soon call home. They approached the city on a Greyhound bus through the neighboring state of New Jersey. She could see the towering skyscrapers that formed the tip of Manhattan Island. To her it looked like the bow of a mighty ocean liner cutting a path through the two rivers that flanked the island, the East River on one side, the Hudson on the other.
The closer they got to the city the taller the buildings seemed to become. They appeared so tightly packed together that surely there was no room between them for people to walk or traffic to flow. The bus turned off the New Jersey Turnpike to the portal of the Lincoln Tunnel. The next mile took them ninety-seven feet beneath the surface of the Hudson River, re-emerging on Manhattan’s west side. There, the perspective changed dramatically. Now, the tops of the surrounding buildings were obscured from view and the bus moved among the mass of traffic and the humanity of a workday lunch hour.
Janet thought to herself that the crowds of pedestrians crossing toward each other at every intersection resembled opposing medieval armies charging their enemies in battle on some European plain. She was happy to think that New York was a place with towering stone castles and battling armies of knights.
The bus left them at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street, where they freshened up in public rest rooms. Janet changed into the nicest thing she owned, a loose fitting dark dress purchased for Danny’s funeral. She combed her hair, deciding against wearing any make-up. Joseph donned his dress uniform for what he vowed would be the last time. They walked to the nearest subway station for the ride uptown.
Janet carried Joseph’s duffel bag and one suitcase of her own. Joseph struggled with two other pieces of luggage with the rest of her belongings. Their journey through the underground corridors was made difficult by dozens of New Yorkers who raced around them as though they were human roadblocks.
“Where’s everybody rushing to?” Janet asked, bothered by the near frantic pace.
“This is New York, Sweetheart. This is how things are.”
The subway platform was stifling hot and foul smelling. It got worse after they boarded the crowded train. There were no empty seats in the subway car. Janet needed to grip her knees together to balance the baggage on the floor between her feet. She reached up, to take hold of a strap designed to keep passengers from falling over on one another as the train sped noisily through the darkened tunnels.
Janet was relieved when they got off at their appointed stop and climbed the steep staircase that brought them back to street level and the light of day. She felt like a washed out dishrag, certain that her efforts to look nice and make a good impression would all go for naught.
They walked several blocks to West 87th Street and the apartment building Joseph called home. Their footsteps echoed on the polished floor inside the lobby. An elevator took them sixteen stories upward. Secretly, this idea of vertical living frightened Janet.
The entire, exasperating experience proved worthwhile when the door to the Rabinowitz apartment opened and Joseph’s mother laid eyes on her son . She clapped her hands together and smothered him in a hug and kisses that embarrassed him.
“Oh, it’s so good to have you home again.” She practically dragged him into the apartment with Janet following behind. She stood quietly as the heavy door closed behind them.
Solomon remained in the background, determined not to show much emotion. Now, with Joseph there, in the uniform of his country, Solomon couldn't conceal his pride proud. Once Myra allowed Joseph to breathe again, father and son shook hands and embraced.
“Welcome home, son,” Solomon said.
Finally, Joseph brought Janet forward.
“Mama, Papa, this is Janet Cavelli.”
Janet smiled. Myra put her hand on Janet’s shoulder emitting a smile of her own. “So very nice to meet you, my dear.”
Solomon stepped forward to take her hand in greeting the way any elegant European gentleman would have done. “How do you do young lady?”
Janet gushed. “I’m so happy to meet you both. Joseph’s told me so much about you.”
“And there’s so much we want to hear about you, too.” Myra spoke in the soft voice of a perfect hostess. “But you both must be exhausted after your long trip. Solomon, why don’t you and Joseph show Janet to her room?” She leaned closer to younger girl. “You can start getting settled in while my husband and I fuss over our son some more.”
“I’d like that,” she said, “I want to thank you both for letting me to stay here.”
“It’s our pleasure, dear,” Myra told her sincerely.
The men picked up her luggage and led the way. Janet made note of the old world styling and furnishings of the Rabinowitz home. Hardwood floors covered with plush area rugs elegantly colored in reds and blues. The sofa, chairs, tables and lamps were of superb craftsmanship. The place had a warm, homey atmosphere.
The room where she would be staying was small. It contained a single bed, a bureau for clothing and a dressing table with a mirror and chair. After she unpacked, she thought about how she might miss her house in Cleveland with a porch and a big spacious backyard. Janet walked to the window and glanced outside. She looked out over the splendor of Central Park, a sprawling, pastoral landscape for as far as the eye could see. Janet had the biggest backyard anyone could ever imagine.
Rock and Roll Quote of the day: "When you walked out on me, in walked old misery. And he's be here since then." From - Since I Don't Have You, By: The Skyliners