It was dark, rainy and cold here in New York City. I hated it. I had been living in Honolulu for the last 8 years and gotten used to the beautiful weather there. I also objected to the fact that I was sitting in the back seat of a dirty taxi making my way from Kennedy Airport to a hotel in midtown.
But what the hell it was only for two weeks and then I could return to paradise. I could put up with almost anything for two weeks. I was ordered by my publisher to attend the awards ceremony and receive my acclaim.
You see I am a 58 year old writer and my third book made the top of the best seller list for the year. It sold an obscenely large number of copies, and was made into a movie. Also the movie won an Academy Award.
As the old saying goes, "My shit didn't stink." I was signed to a five book deal for an advance of about $3,000,000 with the movie rights selling for even more, including a percentage of the box office.
I was rolling in clover. Yep, I was a happy camper. And in pretty good shape plus I hadn't broke any mirrors lately. I always said looks weren't everything but it didn't hurt to be widely acclaimed as ruggedly handsome and 6'2". So said my P.R. lady anyway.
My agent and my publisher wanted me to attend the awards shindig, do a few book signings, and make the rounds of the morning television shows. The publicity would do a lot to boost book sales. I got a piece of those sales and even better, my publisher footed the bill for all my expenses.
All it would cost me was a few weeks spent in this terrible weather. It was March, and everyone knows that March was not the best time to visit NYC.
For the records I write under the name Mendon Fishers but my real name is Jack Harris.
I was lost deep in thought about my next book, when the cab slammed on the brakes. Anyone who has taken a cab in NYC has come to expect being bounced across the seat as your driver and another cab tried to occupy the same space at the same time.
This time there was a thump and my driver started yelling. I assumed he was swearing in his native Middle Eastern language.
My driver hopped out of the cab while I was still trying to get back upright on the seat. I looked around for the other cab. There wasn't one.
I found my driver huddled over a shape lying in a puddle of rain and slush by the curb. He had hit a pedestrian. A cop was hurrying across the street talking into his portable radio.
I got out of the cab and walked to the front where I saw the inevitable shopping cart crushed under the front wheel. The pedestrian was a homeless person, one of NYC many faceless people.
The cop was administrating first aid until the ambulance arrived.
The driver kept yelling, "Who pay my cab?' There was nothing for me to do to help. I noticed that the vagrant's processions were scattered on the pavement having fallen from the overturned shopping cart.
Maybe it was the nice guy in me or maybe it was just to keep warm, but either way, I bent over and started picking up the stuff scattered in front of the cab.
One of the first responders walked over toward me. I assumed he was going to help. But this was NYC, all he did was hand me a pair of rubber gloves and tell me not to cut myself. "AIDS, you know."
One of the plastic garbage bags had torn open. I was trying to close it when a framed picture in it caught my attention. I recognized the photograph. It was taken about 10 years ago. There I was smiling at the camera with my arm around my now ex-wife.
I couldn't see the face of the homeless person, but it was a female body and under the filth she looked Caucasian.
"Shit," I thought.
The ambulance arrived and quickly departed with her. The cops started picking up the homeless person's belongs and tossing them to the curb. One was complaining about needing to go through her shit to find any identification.
"I think I know her," I offered. "I think she might be my ex."
The cop and I adjourned to the back seat of the police car and started filling out all the paperwork.
"We were divorced about 10 years ago; the last I saw her was in Rochester, NY. She was leaving the court house after our divorce was granted. She had requested the divorce. No she wasn't cheating but she was an acknowledged alcoholic who wouldn't change." And so on and on the questioning went for almost thirty minutes.
When I finished with the police, I found the cab gone and a limo waiting in its place. I guess someone discovered who I was and riding in a cab was not befitting my status as a famous author. I'll bet someone called my publisher.
"Shit, I wanted to sneak into town anonymously without all the reporters and TV news crews vying for the best picture or question," I thought.
In the beginning when I had my first best seller, the fame was a real ego boost. By the third book, I was a recluse. The constant violation of my privacy got old very, very quickly.
I pissed off the limo driver when I ordered him to pick up the vagrant's things and put them in the trunk, because we were going to the hospital to check on her condition.
Now limo drivers are the upper echelon of the NYC driver world. He looked as if he was going to tell me where to stick my request, but the two $100 bills in my hand changed his mind.
Bribery always works in the City.
Between the two of us we made quick work of the clean up. But the limo driver warned me that I would be charged extra to clean his trunk after all this crap was removed, typical of NY City.
On the ride to the hospital I sat back in my seat and thought back in time. It had been ten years since my divorce. The Cliff Notes version is simply, "She was up to a quart of vodka a day, I said 'Quit drinking and get help or else', she choose the 'or else' option".
The lawyers made quick work of our joint bank accounts.
It was the second marriage for both of us. We both had adult children from our previous marriages. She had two married daughters. Her older daughter and husband I could not stand. They were both pretentious snobs. Her other daughter, Jackie, was the victim of hard luck.
Their natural father favored the older sister and treated the #2 daughter as an afterthought. #2 (Jackie) was a good kid, but ignored by both her parents. When I married her mother, Jackie and I hit it off. I was the first adult in her family to actually treat her like a person, not as an afterthought. We became buds.
Over my objections, Jackie married right out of high school and soon had three kids. I was never sure who caused the fights but Jackie started looked like a punching bag once or twice a month. She kept saying," I fell down", or "I slipped on the ice" or "I walked into a door." You know, she had all the excuses. He mother would not let me become involved as badly as I wanted to.
Jackie also started to drink.
Well one thing led to another and soon Jackie was divorced and in a treatment facility for her drinking. It took a couple of stays in the treatment centers and about two years of AA meetings but she finally beat her drinking problem.
I paid a few of my old friends some money. They paid Jackie's ex husband a visit. I understand he'll never walk again.
Jackie met her second husband while attending her AA meetings. They were married a few years later. He was a really nice guy. Two weeks before their first anniversary, he had a massive heart attack. He was dead before he reached the hospital.
Now you see what I mean when I said Jackie had some very hard luck.
Anyway I digress; my ex's older daughter and her husband supported my ex-wife in her divorce action. They hired a very expensive, high profile divorce lawyer. Their lawyer struck first and filled all sorts of motions.
I hired a shark that was a really nasty son-of-a-bitch.
Too make a long story short, my side offered my soon to be ex, a 50/50 split. They refused and demanded 70/30. My lawyer smiled and said to them, "You don't have grounds for a divorce. We won't grant one. Let's go to trial."
I almost shit! If I lost, a judge would decide the split, if I won, I got to keep my wife. Talk about a lose/ lose situation.
Anyway you'll love this next part.
We were in court to give our statements under oath. Before the second day of testimony, my lawyer dropped a thick legal petition on their table. He announced to her lawyer that as soon as he won (tomorrow) he was going to file this motion and that was their copy. I could see my wife read the title, "Motion for Involuntary Commitment of an Adult."
I had threatened to have her committed for her drinking problems in an earlier argument. As she read the title, a very scared look came across her face.
They settled that afternoon for a 30/70 split, in my favor that time.
The judge granted the divorce and that was the last time I saw my wife until now.
I was brought back to the present by my driver opening the door of the limo. I heard a security guard yelling at my driver, "Sir you can't park there."
Typical of NYC, the driver paid no attention to the security guard as he helped me out of the back seat. The security guard got in the driver's face yelling about towing and having the driver fired.
My driver asked the guard, "Do you carry a gun? Well I do, so back off before I beat you with it."
The guard retreated back into the hospital. I guess my original $200 tip was paying dividends.
.... There is more of this story ...