A novel by Wayne Edward Boyd
Visit the author's website.
Publication date: October 2010
New York. June 10, 2027.
“Very hot, man, no?” Joel asked rhetorically.
Joel Tobin was born in Jamaica and had migrated to New
York six years
before. Joel made his living selling watches and cheap jewelry from a
table on the corner of Schermerhorn and Bond Streets. One afternoon
he was trying to sell a GPS Timex to Jonathan Summerset, an
African-American who had stopped by to check out his wares. The
Freedom Tower, standing where the World Trade Center had once been,
was clearly visible over the top of the buildings on the other side
of Brooklyn Bridge Boulevard. The building had opened twelve years
after the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorist attacks.
“Yeah, real hot,” Summerset replied, wondering if he was
referring to the weather or the watch. Summerset worked as a car-park
attendant in the lot across the street from the Hare Krishna temple
further down Schermerhorn. “How much?”
“That be a good watch, man. Sets it's time from the
positioning satellites.” Joel assured him with his thick Jamaican
accent. “Only fifty-three units.”
“There's no way that's worth that much.”
“It's got Indiglo.”
“All Timex watches have Indiglo. They've had Indiglo
twentieth century. This watch doesn't even have 3D time.”
“This watch is worth more than seventy-five
Fifty-three is a good price.”
Filling the air was a cacophony of sounds: hydrogen
powered cars and
trucks rumbling by, some of them with horns honking angrily; ghetto
blasters blaring heavy metal, punk, and rap; people talking, laughing
and shouting, and feet drumming on the sidewalk.
Joel was distracted by a beautiful golden Rolls-Royce
Phantom V which
pulled to the curb. You didn't often see a gas-powered Rolls-Royce on
Schermerhorn Street. Even the hubcaps were gold and the treads on the
white wall tires deep and clean. The dark, tinted windows concealed
the occupants. A popular Atlantic City Casino logo was painted on the
car door and it had New Jersey license plates.
The chauffeur, if indeed you could call him that,
stepped from the
vehicle. He was a smooth-looking man with the sophisticated manners
of the privileged business class. His face was slightly chubby,
robust and cunning. His hair was gray, complexion ruddy and eyes
sharp and calculating. He wore an expensive, exquisitely tailored
charcoal-gray suit with a subdued blue tie and matching handkerchief
protruding from his jacket pocket. An Oyster-Perpetual Rolex watch
crafted in 18 karat gold decorated his wrist, shaming any timepiece
Joel had to sell. The man had an air of authority and seductiveness
about him, charismatic yet dangerous. As his glance passed over Joel
and Jonathan Summerset, both of them felt strangely affected.
“Who is that guy?” Summerset half-whispered.
“Never seen him before,” Joel replied.
Then, a thin man with a stern, swarthy-looking face and
emerged from the passenger side and onto the sidewalk. His hair was
unnaturally red. His nose was as curved and sharp as a scimitar, and
he moved in a trained, predatory manner that anyone could recognize
as dangerous. In contrast to the driver, he wore a red suede jacket,
red pinstriped pants, and black, metal tipped shoes with white tops.
“Sick and tired of doing this over and over again,” he said as he
flung the door shut so violently that the whole vehicle rocked.
As if anger were a switch that could be turned on and
off with the
flick of a finger, he politely opened the rear door of the car. Joel
and Jonathan understood this man's angry behavior was unpredictable
A strikingly beautiful woman with an hour-glass figure
the rear seat. She wore a tight red dress, that accentuated her full
breasts, shapely hips and thin waist and which was both low-cut and
short, highlighting her long graceful legs and bright red high heels.
Her long, shiny blonde hair cascaded in loose curls down her bare
back. Her oval face was extraordinarily enchanting, her nose
perfectly shaped, and thick long eyelashes decorated with mascara
framed her large, restless blue eyes. Her moist lips, bright red with
lipstick, and perfectly manicured fingernails painted to match,
glittered in the sun. Several diamond rings adorned her fingers,
though none adorned the fourth finger of her left hand. A priceless
golden necklace set with large diamonds dangled enticingly around her
neck. A subtle scent of jasmine mixed with roses pervaded the air in
her vicinity and her complexion was soft and white. The woman had an
aura of innocent sensuality about her that captured the mind, yet one
also sensed she was experienced in the world of pleasure.
“Mother of Jesus,” Joel whispered, seeing the incredibly
beautiful woman. She cast a quick sidelong glance at him and he felt
“Watch out for her,” Summerset cautioned. “Is she
For hundreds of feet around, people stopped whatever
they were doing
to watch her. Across the street a deliveryman for UPS, who was
unloading boxes from his hydrogen powered truck, simply froze.
Several of the boxes tumbled to the ground as he stared, slack-jawed.
In effect, the woman brought the entire area to a
As she stood by the side of the thin man with red hair,
came around to join them. All three carefully watched the far
sidewalk further down the block.
Soon they spotted a Hare Krishna monk who, in his
could easily be seen within the crowd as he approached.
“That's him,” the man with red hair snorted.
As they watched, the Hare Krishna devotee passed by. His
freely in the breeze. He wore simple rubber flip-flops on his feet. A
tuft of hair flowed from the back of his shaven head. His right hand
was inserted into the opening of a small cloth bag, with his index
finger protruding from a smaller opening on the other side. Within
the bag he rolled a set of japa meditation beads, similar to a
rosary, which he held with his thumb and middle finger. He could be
heard murmuring a mantra softly as he walked along. He quietly
disappeared down the stairs of the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station.
“I'd still like to get that guy in bed,” said
The man with red hair shot her an annoyed glare, and
then turned back
toward the subway. “Let's follow him and do it right this time.”
* * *
Manhattan. July 11, 1966.
Wendy and Mary were sitting on the side of the bed,
passing a joint
back and forth while Mary's black and white television played Another
World on NBC. Mary liked the show because it focused on exotic
melodrama between families of different classes and philosophies.
Even abortion, usually taboo on television, was frequently discussed.
The apartment walls were plastered with posters, from
wall to ceiling
- some psychedelic, some of teddy bears, some of baseball heroes.
“I can't believe you actually broke up with Peter,”
“You two seemed happy together.”
“Should have done it weeks ago.”
“I mean, I think he's hot,” Wendy Murphy admitted as she
the smoke. Wendy was an attractive short haired blonde who lived two
floors above in the same building. She wore a pale yellow blouse and
jeans. The two women had known each other since their days at NYU
when both had studied sociology. Now, whenever Wendy could escape,
she rock climbed in the Tetons.
Mary Pierce nodded in agreement, her shiny brunette hair
half way down her back. She wore a red sleeveless t-shirt and a knee
length skirt. “You know, he can be one of the most charming and
flattering guys around.” She passed the smoldering joint back to
Wendy. “But if I even looked at another guy he would go nuts. He
was constantly accusing me of cheating on him. A regular psychopath.”
“You guys played guitar and sang well together,” Wendy
out. “People were actually paying you to come and sing in
“He's too paranoid to make a good boyfriend for anyone.
don't like the Vietnam War anymore than you, but let's be honest. As
long as Peter's a draft dodger he'll never be able to make an honest
“That's the problem with having a rich father,” Wendy
“You don't need to work and you don't need a boyfriend or husband
to support you. You're spoiled.”
“My dad's not rich,” Mary insisted. “But he makes enough
support me until I find something I want to do with my life.”
“I'm not the one who inherited a quarter of a million
your grandfather died.”
“Guess we're both lucky,” Wendy conceded.
“And rock climbing is your sport! You once told me you
probably climb a skyscraper.”
“Thought about it. Never tried.”
There was a loud, insistent knock on the door. Both
“You expecting someone?” Wendy asked, suddenly nervous.
“No,” Mary replied. “Put that thing out.”
“Cops?” Wendy asked as she snuffed out the marijuana and
picked up the aerosol fragrance. The room reeked of pot smoke. This
is just what they didn't want to happen: a drug bust.
Mary quietly crept to the door and peered through the
“Who is it?”
“What do you want?”
She saw a man in brown coveralls standing in the
hallway. He wore a
utility belt holding wire cutters, a hammer, screwdrivers, a small
role of coiled wire and other tools.
“Ma'am, we have a man testing lines inside a manhole on
Square West. You might be able to see the workers if you look out
your window. We're updating the lines and we need to check your
The man looked legitimate enough. “You got any
The man held up an ID card that clearly indicated he was
the telephone company.
“He's not a cop, Wendy.” Mary unbolted the door and
allowing a cloud of marijuana smoke to drift into the hallway.
The man stepped inside. “Whew. Your girls doing a little
“Why? You want some?” Mary asked.
“Don't smoke weed myself, Ma'am, but my son does. Where
The man went over and picked up the receiver while Mary
watched. He clicked the button on top a few times, then flipped the
phone over and using a screwdriver from his utility belt, removed the
metal plate on the bottom. He attached some wires hooked to a
hand-held meter. “Woah.”
“Ma'am. Worse than I thought. These old tenement
know. In this part of Manhattan all of the lines run underground and
the insulation on the cables under the street are starting to crack.
They haven't been updated in years.”
“What does that mean for me?”
“Nothing, Ma'am. I'll just place this small device in
this, attach it here, like that. There. All done.” He replaced the
bottom of the phone and screwed in the plate.
“What will that do?”
“Simple signal booster. Your phone was one of the worst
in weeks. Sorry to bother you.”