It was springtime in New York City; however, I didn’t see as many of the beautiful flowering blooms of Azalea shrubs or the pink and white blooms of the dogwood trees as I did growing up in Charlotte, N.C. The air back home had the sweet aroma of honeysuckles and jasmines, but I still could feel that it was springtime in the air as I briskly walked down the sidewalks of lower Manhattan. The air wasn’t all that fresh above ground, but it sure beat the smell of urine in the subway station.
I stopped at a bagel shop to grab my usual breakfast of bagel with cream cheese and a coffee. I’d become such a regular that Luiz, the store clerk, who worked behind the counter already knew my order. He tapped in the amount I owed on the cash register and then handed me a bag containing my breakfast with a big grin on his face.
“How are you today, Luiz?” I asked. I should trip him up one day and order something different, I thought.
“Good, good,” he said as another customer approached, interrupting him before he got a chance to say more. I looked back to wave, but his attention was focused on helping customers that were starting to flow into the shop.
New York City was unlike any city that I’d ever been to. Tall buildings invading the sky, cars jammed in traffic with drivers honking their horns, the smell of food coming from street vendors, street hustlers trying to lure pedestrians to either play card games or to buy something that they were selling and crowded sidewalks where everyone seemed to be in a hurry to get somewhere or another. I’d moved there three years ago after my divorce from Michael.
As I sat at my desk going through my notes, preparing to go to the 23rd precinct in Harlem to interview detective Andre Moore, my boss, Ryan Blackman, poked his head inside my cubicle to see if I needed any help with the preparation to interview Detective Moore.
“Ms. Watkins, this is your first field assignment and I want to make sure that you are prepared for this interview, especially with the nature of the case. I want to make sure that you are able to handle the details,” he said as he tried to read my facial expression. “I can’t afford any fuck ups. I want to be the first to run this story and I need everything you can dig up on this one. I had to pull lots of strings to get you this interview. Don’t make me regret it,” he said firmly.