Tonight after work I had some time to kill in the West Village. I needed dinner, so I found a pizza place on Eighth Avenue and bought a slice of cheese and a slice of mushroom, and took them across the street to Jackson Square. It was a nice evening so I thought I'd sit out.
Jackson Square is not a square; in fact, it's a triangle. There's a fountain in the center, surrounded by concrete. Planters and some shady trees turn it into "green space." I sat on a park bench under the branches, in the shadow of the big brick apartment buildings on Horatio Street.
I was about halfway through my first slice when a weathered-looking guy approached me. He had a scar over his right eye. He'd been hanging out on a nearby bench with a buddy.
"'Scuse me, sir," he said. "How do you spell 'awaits'?"
"Awaits?" I wanted to make sure I'd heard him right. (Seemed like an odd request.) He turned to his buddy, who nodded.
I spelled it for him, still not sure I was spelling the right word. He tried to repeat it, but kept getting the letters mixed up. Finally he pulled out a Sharpie indelible marker and wrote it slowly on his palm as I spelled.
I looked at his hand to make sure he had it right. He did. He thanked me and went back to his friend.
I sat there for another 20 minutes or so, eating my pizza, and the whole time those two guys discussed the word "awaits." I couldn't hear all they were saying, but I heard the word over and over again, and my scarred friend kept looking down at his hand.