I was in a bookstore one day, and I bought a book called “Down the Highway.” It was the one that chronicled the sixties in New York and how all the carpets rolled themselves outwards. So I grabbed the greyhound at 6am the following day in Montreal, and arrived in New York about 9 hours later because at the border I was stalled. It was Christmas 2002.
And the next day I found myself in a Korean restaurant, on the corner of Broadway and 49th, and the man across the table from me was a man from Northern India whose hometown was 50 miles from the border with Nepal.
And he was going on and about this song called “Visions of Johanna” and I said I’d heard about it, but I hadn’t heard it. So I went on to tell him, I said tomorrow I’m gonna check out Time Square. And with a cock of his chopsticks and a flick of his eyelids, he told me to beware.
So the next day I moved out of the subway station, and I moved into the crowd, and all around me was electronic warfare. There were tourists dressed up in paparazzi uniforms and policeman dressed up In arms, and I thought to myself that any minute now, one of these dumpsters just might explode…and that the fear in this place needs a haircut, but the barbershop is closed.
And I saw a young boy standing beside a blue box encapsulating the headlines of the New York Times and he looks up into his mother’s face because he sees those storm clouds up above and he says “Mom, I think it’s about to rain.”
And she looks down at him with a smile, and a feathered brow, and she bends her knees ever so slightly, and she brings her mouth very close to his ear, and whispers…
~ Mark Berube