A Man Named Clack
It’s been two weeks since my lady friend(LF) and I along with the pizza and Chinese delivery guys(aka num and nuts) saw the “Angel of New York” in Central Park. We’ve gone back to the exact spot more times than I care to admit. Plus we’ve scoured the park from 110th Street to 59th–
My LF is digging her nails into my neck as I type this, and she thinks she’s hurting me but it feels guuuud!!!
–and no matter how much we want to say we saw or even felt something out of the ordinary since then, we can’t. I speak for everyone when I say–
–We’ve seen nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing! Nada!
Everything has been pretty normal. So that’s it. That’s all I have to say. End of post.
Good night. Good luck.
I’m laughing, loud, too. Geeze, I do everything loud. The three of them are standing over my shoulder. If I was to turn and look at num and nuts–especially since my LF is still digging her nails into my neck–I would see two faces that look like they’re out of a 1950’s sci-fi movie; when an apocalypse didn’t seem as complicated. Those are my favorite sci-fi movies.
Mf LF wants me to tell you about this guy we met the other evening. We went to Murph’s. It’s the bar I told you about inside the South Street Seaport Mall.
We were seated on an outside bench with a view to where the East River meets NY Harbor. When you’re there you can’t help but daydream about the countless ships of all shapes and sizes that have passed through since even before Henry Hudson. Sometimes I swear I can see a ghostly vessel. We’ll chat about that another time.
So this guy overheard me and my LF talking about Grace, the Angel of NY. My LF is good at modulation. I’m not, and it’s not my fault that I’m loud. It’s my lungs. Pretty sure ’bout that. Pretty sure.
Oh—num and nuts were there, and if they spoke, I can’t remember. I grew up with people yelling at me, in school and at home, so I’m exceptional at tuning crap out.
We never mentioned Grace by name or anything, so I have no idea what he picked up on. My LF just reminded me that the guy lives in the San Remo. At Murph’s we had mentioned the San Remo. We had been across the street from the building when we had seen Grace in Central Park. But I still have no idea how he connected the dots.
He was silver-haired, tanned, a middle-aged gentleman–with a nice white smile and an interesting manner of speaking. Maybe he was in his mid-50s, but he talked like an old black-and-white movie actor. In a nutshell, he was the kind of guy who dazzles the old ladies.
So he leans over and says, “You know Grace?” He had the happy-diamond-gleam in his eye of a wealthy man.
The first thing I did was raise my hand before my LF could speak. She was all set to tell our complete history, vols. 1-99, probably more because she was on her second bay breeze. I took the guy back down to square zero with a brash, “What’s going on guy?”
“I overhead your conversation about Grace,” his voice lowered as he spoke with an air of respect, “the Angel of New York.”
I was expressionless–about to give this guy the send-off, but my LF nods. Now I couldn’t stop her from nodding, though I wanted to smack num and nuts. Because once she started, they were like bobbleheads. Those two live to mimic her every emotion and gesture. Lord help me. Plus they would have thrown me off the mall’s third story deck and into the filthy East River if she said so. (Someone is nodding behind me.)
I squinted and puckered and looked this guy straight in the eye. I asked his name. He said it was Theodore Clack. Then we all intro’d ourselves. I winced when num and nuts did, because when they talk, I always feel like they’re two big birds chirping and flapping their wings.
“Grace is very ephemeral,” Mr. Clack said, “most people are lucky to get one good look like you guys did.”
“How did she get the moniker, Angel of NY?” my LF asked, who has a nice way of doing and saying things and who everyone really likes.
Clack raised his brows. “She’s been part of NYC for a long time,” he said and then cut me off as I began to speak. He said the next round was on him.
I stood up and the two of us went to the Vino Bar. It was closer to where we were sitting than Murphs, plus Mr. Clack wanted wine. I walked back with our bevos, and when Clack returned, he had a 16oz cup of wine sans ice.
It was then I noticed my LF was surprisingly reticent. She’s way more into supernatural stuff than I am. I basically want to get away from it. She’s the opposite. She had noticed something very bad about Mr. Clack.
I joked about how we saw Grace, the supposed Angel of NY. I said she was scurrying around in the bushes inside Central Park. “Don’t you think if there was really such an angel, she’d be sitting pretty on the top of some skyscraper, just watching, taking it all in, waiting to do whatever angels do.”
“Grace is here for the dead,” Mr. Clack said with a hint of zeal. “Lore has it that she leads them over a refulgent white marble bridge to the world of the dead. I’ve also heard her called a pathmaker. Though I can’t say exactly what that is.”
“Everything has to be neat and simple for him,” my LF said about muah, you know num and nuts nodded.
I laughed yet could tell something still wasn’t right with her, but I kept yacking. “At best,” I said, lifting my gaze to a helicopter, which pass in greater numbers than boats do on the East River. “I saw a blurry figure, maybe it was a ghost. Now you want me to believe that she’s an angel who leads the dead over the River Styx.”
“She seemed to have had matronly garb on,” my LF said.
“Too dark for me to see clothes,” I said.
“I have this feeling her origins were in the New Netherlands,” my LF said.
Clack nodded, his eyes very tight on my LF. It was at this time that I sensed a little tension between him and my LF.
“Lore says Grace has been around since the Dutch settled on Manhattan, maybe earlier,” Clack said. “While I’ve heard she was born through Anneke Bogardus, an early Dutch settler.”
“Have you heard of Max Beckley?” my LF asked, while sipping on her second bay breeze of the evening. She was getting a little tipsy and seemed to relax a little.
“You know about Grace, you gotta know about Max?” I added and took a perfect sip of my beer, one that left a nice beer mustache. It’s great being a guy.
Mr. Clack paled just a bit. “She can’t help him–he’s not really dead,” he said.
“How do you know all this?” my LF asked.
“An old sage told me,” Clack said.
“Benny, ‘the cigar store Indian!’” I blurted. “That’s who you mean.”
Clack laughed as a really nice family took up next to us. They all leaned against the railing. From there our conversation turned very tame. Though Clack did tell us that he lives in the San Remo apartment, and that he was certain we’d meet again.
Overall Clack was super-duper to talk to. The only chip in his armor was that it seemed by the amount of wine he had, two 16oz cups, that he was trying to escape something . . .
My LF is whispering into my ear. She just walked away. So did num and nuts. She just told me he had the mark of the devil in his eye.
(*Photos by Bald Punk)
* I included three pics from Central Park that I took when we were searching for Grace.
Here are all the posts in this series: Episode Sixteen – September 2009