It’s a bright and sunny mailing day. And today was extra great. I had gotten a promotion. I waved to people as I passed them. “Hello,” I said to a few as they came and went. Only twenty-five percent of people I usually pass in a day actually recognize me. But it felt like every person I passed that acknowledged me was like a thousand waves. It’s too good. Way too good.
I slipped a box at Anthropologie and made my way down Broadway. Up ahead, there was a lonely boy down the street. He’d looked lost and despite the crowds shouldering and hitting into him, he didn’t leave his region. Where're his parents at? Is he alone? Out here of all places. New York City. “How’s it going pal, need help?” I said to a kid as I walked toward him. The kid looked scared, and when I asked him, he got a nervous look on his face and stepped back some. This kid reminded me of myself back when I was ten, so scared and fragile and innocent.
“Do you know where your parents are?” I asked him squatting down. I smiled as people passed me. That’s right, you can walk around I could’ve said. But I was having a good day. The kid gave me a tearful look then spoke. “No mister,” he mumbled shaking his head. “I’ll help you find them ok.” I told him nodding and smiling for reassurance “What do they look like, hair color, height.” I asked. He brushed his hair that was slightly blowing in his face. “Um,” he started, “They. Well, my dad is pretty short and he has shaggy dog hair. And it’s black. There is a bunch of hair on his face. And he’s skinny.” The kid explained. I digested in what he said. “Alright, do you know what he was wearing today?” I asked.
I stood and walked into the grass and the kid followed. “A black shirt. And black pants.” He finished while looking around. Really. Black, in weather like it. It had to be tipping ninety degrees. Just at the thought of it, I waved my collar. I scanned the area. Finding this kids father wouldn’t mess up today's schedule, but maybe not an easy task. “What about your mother?” I asked. He let his head hang, I regret asking. “She’s passed away.” He moaned. I felt bad. “I’m sorry, are you going to be ok?” I said to him. He nodded his head. I scanned the area some more, but there were so many people, searching like this wouldn’t get me anywhere. I’ll do it easier. “Where were you with your dad last?” Still looking around. He seemed a little unfocused and then fretted “Um, we were walking to City Hall when I fell behind in the crowd. I yelled but he couldn’t hear me.” City hall, good. That’s in my route. I pulled out my phone and checked the time, I’m good.
“Alright, come on. I’ll take you to him” I promised smiling at him. He smiled back and we walked to City Hall. At first, the kid was silent, then started to speak again. “Hey, mister. What’s your name. My names Cory?” He stated. I laughed at myself inside. This kid had more manners than I did. I just skipped the introduction and got right into things.“Ryan.” I answered. “Ryan, you look like that guy off that commercial. I can’t remember what it was called or that guys name.” He babbled. I knew exactly who he was talking about. “The guy from Wells Fargo,” I answered. Ever since people at the office seen that commercial, they’d been calling me that. I take offense to it, but they won’t stop even if I ask. “I guess” Cory shrugged. I continued to smile. “Do you like looking like him?” Cory asked. This kid, I feel like he’ll hurt my ego, but he could keep a conversation.
We walked up the busy steps of city hall. “If he’s not here, he’s at the Wall Street. Or maybe he thinks I’m still at World Trade Center Memorial” the boy went on. He was nervous and worrying too much. I scanned the area. Nothing. I looked at the building's front. Zilch.
“You think he’s here? I hope he is. What if he isn’t here?” the kid now was panicking all of a sudden. I switched to an even more determined mood. I needed to find Cory’s father and like now. I placed my hand on his jittery shoulders to calm him. We went to the doors and I heard sobbing. The kid was now crying. To him, it seemed hopeless, but I knew it wasn’t. It was too much of a good day. The people hustled out of the Hall in waves making it hard to get in. I wiped the sweat from my forehead. It would be easy to get in for me, but the kid not so much. I tried to look above. No stop in sight. The kid went over to the pillars and slumped against it and cried. I felt bad. But he gave up to fast.
“Cor! Cory is that you!” someone yelled. We both looked around. I looked and seen him. Scraggly goatee, Skinny with a black shirt and black pants on. Shaggy black hair that had loose curls. His glasses were big and noticeable. I went to point him out to Cory, but Cory seemed to notice as soon as I did. “Daddy!” Cory yelled and sprinted to his father. His father spread his arms and hugged Cory. “I almost thought you were a goner.” His father said to him. I’ll have to put that on a checklist of great things that I’ve seen today. But Cory’s father's reaction almost was a little too much. Then again, I’ve never lost a child.
“Here’s your backpack,” He said giving Cory a big violet backpack, “Go in front of the building doors, try not to run into anyone. I’m going to go back some so we can get a good picture.” he finished. Cory looked at him kind of questionable. Already leaving, even though Cory just got back. Even if it’s just for a picture. Cory’s father smiled, and it somehow reassured Cory, who responded with a cheerful “Ok!” and ran toward the doors. His father pulled out his phone and walked in the opposite direction. I guess I should go back to work, my job’s done here. I‘ll deliver the mail since I’m here. But something nagged me a little. He noticed I was there by Cory but didn’t even give me any recognition, or the fact that he went a mile and didn’t notice his son was missing. I had to ask.
I walked toward Cory's father and I had to pick up speed because he walked very fast. He walked abnormally fast, and was going quite the distance, he was right in city hall park. Was he going to climb a tree to get a picture? What the hell is he doing going that far just for a picture? He was plenty of distance away. If you ask me, or anyone, he was going too far. And he’s going off on his phone too much just to pull up the camera. Maybe I’m being too skeptical.
This time, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake like when I met Cory.“Hey! Sir. You don’t know me. Not yet. For starters, I’m Ryan.” I tried to get his attention, but it didn’t work. I reached forward and almost stumbled in the grass. Damn rock. But my stumbling got his attention. He glanced back at me and I reintroduced myself. He just looked at me for a second before he went back scrambling on his phone walking. Jeez, can’t even acknowledge me. “Oh, ok” he could utter. Really. An oh ok.
“Um, sir, I‘m the guy that returned your son, Cory. Not that that’s important. What I’m wondering how long did you walk until you realized that Cory wasn’t with you?” I asked him. He glanced back twice, but not even at me, but at City Hall. “Yeah, ok.” was all he said. He sounded urgent and picked up the pace. What’s he doing? I glanced back at the Hall, which was too far away, almost getting out of sight. “Sir, your son is back there. Alone.” I told him. Was he mentally retarded? He answered with another “ok.”Now I was getting pissed off. “What are you doing? Your son is back there waiting for you, probably scared! Why are you this far out for a picture?” I asked and grabbed his shoulder. He ripped off glaring at me. “Sorry, I have things to do.” He responded. What! Something in me just snapped. A rush of anger in me.
More important. “Excuse me!” I couldn’t hold it in, “Are you bullshitting me. You just got your son back and now your leaving because you have something to do. What in the world is more important than your son. Are you trying to leave him.” I yelled. My body was surely heating up. People were staring, but I didn’t care. He just looked at me with an uncaring look.
“Well! Are you!” I bellowed in his face. He went back to his phone uncaringly. My day just went out the window. I ripped his phone out of his hands and looked at it. At first glance, I saw codes and numbers and letters. He squeaked ripping it back then was looking at City Hall. I had a pretty good deduction now. Was he doing what I think he was going to do? I prepared myself to get ready to run. I started looking back at City Hall and then back at him. I had only one concern, Cory’s safety.
I scolded Cory’s father. Then I grabbed my bag and sprinted to City Hall. Cory was in danger, I just feel it. And I am the only one that can get to him. I was sweating badly already and my heart was pounding. I looked closely, there Cory was, twiddling in front of the door alone. Good. But I can’t risk it. I made a lot of steps in one jump. “Cory!” I yelled. I made my way shoving and knocking through people to get to Cory. When I got to him, he started to speak but I blanked everything he was saying. “Are you Ok?” I asked him. “Yeah, what are you doing?” He cried out. I let out a sigh. He was fine. I squatted and hugged him, then I heard it.
It was faint, but I could hear it. A tiny ticking noise. I looked around while Cory shoved me off. Where was it coming from? I looked back at Cory. His backpack. It hit me now that I think of it. I grabbed Cory’s backpack and unzipped it. It was stuffed with something big and black with wires sticking out. Undoubtedly a bomb. About to go off.
“Take this off! Now!” I demanded him. He was too confused to react and did what I told him. “Uh, oh” Cory stammered as we ripped the backpack off. I grabbed his arm and pulled him with me away. We needed out of here, and so did everyone else. “Move, Everybody! There's a bomb!” I yelled loudly. Most of the people listened and moved as others stood around still. What is wrong with them, do they want to die. As I ran, I could feel every breath I took and my chest expanding. We ran into the park. It’s like the world slowed. At first nothing. Then boom.
The explosion was so loud I think my eardrums broke. I pulled Cory to the ground but I felt like I was hit by a giant firecracker. I fell and my face hit the ground and everything became a blur. I can’t hear or move. It was a bomb, no dud. All those people who were still there. They were all in the blast. They should have listened to me. Damn! I looked back and seen Cory on the ground crying from pure fear. And the City hall was all wrecked. Fire blazing everywhere, on people dead or alive and across the road in the grass where Cory and I laid. There was a lot of people trying to get out of the fire, but there were people laying everywhere.
I attempted to stand, but I fell over on the fact my head hurt, probably a concussion. I finally stood and grabbed Cory. I picked him up and ran with him in my arms. I took him to the Jacob Wrey Mould fountain before the sirens started wailing. I set Cory down. He was crying so sadly it put me to tears. “Cory, listen to me. You're going to be ok. Alright. I’m here for you. Calm down,” I repeated. But my mind is racing. Cory was still sobbing but I still tried to calm him down. “Where, where’s my dad?!” He choked out through sobs and hiccups. Tears ran down his face and I tried to wipe them off.
I was aware of what his father's plans were/are. I looked back, and through all the running around and loud noises, I could see police cars and some fire trucks pulling up. I was planning to go back and help out, but I didn’t want to leave Cory. For five more minutes, or so it felt, I calmed down Cory a bit.
“let’s go,” I said standing up. We ran to the police cars pushing past people. I went over to a cop car and told Cory to get in. “Why?” he asked me. “When an officer comes, you're going to say that you were caught in the blast and that you can’t find your dad,” I told him. He looked at me with a scared face. “What about you?” he asked. I could not tell. “Remember this Cory. Unlike your father, I’ll come back for you. I promise.” I told him. He teared up. I smiled and gave him a hug. I repeated, “I promise.” And with that, I let him go and closed to door. I turned and started to run toward the direction of Cory’s lowlife father. My brain wasn't thinking. I should go to the police and tell them what I know. I should stay and comfort Cory. But that’s not what’s going to happen, I don’t know what is. But I did know one thing. I’m going after Cory’s father. There is no way in hell I’m letting this get past me.
In a full sprint, I was already where I last saw him. But I didn’t even stop nor slow. That’s not where he would be. I knew he wouldn’t be there. I knew right where. Only I knew. Only I.