Learning Lines

Investigating New Territory Through The World of Writing

The Jail in the Middle of Central Park: A New York Story (part 2)

After looking at the not-so-interesting-building and deciding it was not a good image, I hesitated for a quick rest.  The building provided some shadow from the heat, so I stopped to check the camera almost touching the pealing windows with my elbows. Leaning on one leg, I cupped my hand around the screen to block the extra sunlight that made it difficult for me to see photos I had already taken.

“Sarah!”  Mark whisper-yelled from a ways up the sidewalk.

“I’m coming!” I insisted without looking up at him trying to check the building once more for stream of captivating light.  None.  I tried to find a date on the building or a name to identify it, but since it was the back side, there weren’t any markings or signs.    What was the number I was supposed to be using?  Was it +.7 for the exposure and 200 iso for the speed?  I stood there with sweat dripping down the side of my face puzzling over this complete foreign language that was camera speak.  I looked ahead to see if Mark would be able to answer a question.  He stood wide eyed in horror.  He was motioning me with his hands frenetically to “hurry up.”   Looking across the street from where I stood there weren’t really any other steps or doorways.  Mark stomped his foot in extreme frustration.  Yeeeesh!  What was he in such a hurry about?  I relented, letting out a big sigh.  Without knowing it, I think I had been holding my breath the whole time I was concentrating on the camera.  No wonder I wasn’t able to make any sense of it. There was hardly any oxygen getting to my brain.  I was probably going to pass out any minute.  Instead of turning around and continuing to walk, he stood with his arms hanging lower than usual.  His shoulders and back hunched over like a little kid sick of waiting.  His eyes still wide with shock!

Finally, I got moving again, glancing at the parking lot coming into view.  My eyebrows went quizzical. There were several police cars parked in the lot next to the building.  This must be some kind of station or security area for Central Park.

I started to apologize, “All right already.  I was trying to . . .” He interrupted, completely flipping out,

“Didn’t you hear them?” His insistent voice, such a contrast to his usual calm demeanor.

Then he used a low, tense tone I wasn’t used to hearing, “Didn’t you hear them calling at you?  They were in big orange jumpsuits!  You were just standing there right in front of them!”

“Who?  What are you talking about?” My head jerked inward on my neck in complete confusion. I hadn’t seen anyone outside of a cab since we turned the corner about twenty minutes ago.

“They were in jail!” he got really quiet on the word jail, like people who gossip do when they say words like cancer to prevent anyone from hearing.

“Jail, orange jumpsuits? I didn’t hear anyone?  I didn’t see anyone.  There wasn’t anyone back there.” I denied him.

“They were shouting at you while you stood there, like Thas righ baby.  Take that picture.  You go girl, uh huh.” He imitated the men he heard through the windows while I was completely unaware.

“You have got to be kidding me”  Shocked in total disbelief, I looked back at the open windows picturing their breath coming out and circling around my head as I looked into my viewfinder.  A stupid tourist.  Images of big men hunched on a bench waiting for the guard to come and take them outside to work on the gardens filled my mind.

“Oh my God, is that a Jail?  What is a jail doing in the middle of Central Park?” A shiver went down my back dispelling the intense heat for a second.  The shiver worked its way down the right side of my body and made me do a little dance. “Why do you think they are there?  How many of them were there?  I can’t believe I didn’t hear them!

Mark tried to come up with a reasonable explanation. “I bet that is just used for holding prisoners who are working out on good behavior or something.”

“You think?” I was still absolutely floored by my complete and utter ignorance.  I kept glancing back over my shoulder.  The building got smaller and smaller as we made our way under the last bridge.  A final hill coming out of the depths of Central Park brought us back to 5th Avenue.  The Met was still north a little ways.  Although I knew we needed to hurry and make it to the gift shop before closing, there was part of me that could not comprehend what had just really happened.  People coming home from work flooded the sidewalks heading north and south on 5th avenue.  Only one young girl, alone,  passed us making her way down the hill on 81st street heading west toward the building with the open windows.

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This entry was posted on August 11, 2010 by in Uncategorized.
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