15 East 7th Street Manhattan
He wrote for the New Yorker back in the day when men dressed like men and smoked about it
He wrote about McSorley’s. A pub on 15 East 7th Street Manhattan. I fell in love with him then.
If I had a bucket list, visiting Mcsorley’s would be on it.
Until then my imagination visits it.
Come visit McSorleys with me…
The Reedsy prompt for 15 East 7th Street Manhattan was ‘set your story in New York where someone has been waiting for your character.
There he sat, back to the black-bellied stove that once burned coal a little too hot. A cup filled with coffee rested on the wooden table beside a notepad. There he sat. There he wrote.
It was a time before the time of computers and laptops and cell phones. An age when the tip of a pen met paper and the mind was squeezed out in ink. Thought flowed with the sweep of the hand, pushed into tails and curls, and its sentence finished in a puddle of blue. An ink dot. The stop of the thought. The start of another.
He sat doing this, lifting his pen now and again, resting his eyes on the window pane where accents walked by. Thick accents that announced their beginnings. The Scottish ‘aye’. The Irish ‘naw’. The German ‘jawohl’. All of them woven slowly through the years netting themselves deeply into the Bowery bones. Lower East Village Manhattan, where the bricklayer tips back his pint after a day of building the walls of wall street and the Ukrainian waitress lights a candle for her mother in the church across the street. A hundred and a half years of feet walked past this window. Ordinary feet living ordinary lives on an ordinary street.
He was writing a letter. “I miss you.” was the second to last line followed by “I will love you always, your Patrick. His was an Irish accent.
He put the pen down, and picked up the coffee mug, swallowed the last swallow before he folded the letter and hid it inside his jacket pocket. He stood slowly, allowing his knees to yawn before stepping away from the table.
“Ya off now Patrick?” Matty asked, wiping the bar top with a white rag.
“Aye,” Patrick responded. “I have a letter to post.”
Matty smiled and gave Patrick a wink. “I’ll be seeing you when yer done then.”
Fear stood in an aqua Clair McCardell one piece with black piping trying to catch her breath. The wooden platform was slippery beneath her feet and a pebble was grinding itself between her pinky and fourth toe.
Her friends had talked her into an afternoon at Lions Head in Howth. Right this moment she was wondering why she ever said yes. She would have done better, she thought, to have spent the afternoon in Dublin going to the shops or meeting Lily for tea. Instead, she was peering over a diving platform into churning waves below. She gulped in the sea air. An attempt to calm her nerves? An attempt to hyperventilate herself to pass out? Neither worked. She had two options, she could turn around and go back the way she came or she could step forward and allow herself to drop into the sea.
Cheers came from behind her. Encouragement in sentences from bodies that had slipped out of their saddle shoes for a day on the rock hollered, “You’ve got this!” “There is no other gal than our Sal!” and “Don’t think about it, just jump!” It was the last one that seemed helpful. “Don’t think, just do it.”
She moved to the edge. Eyes forward. One deep breath and …
It was exhilarating.
Time stood still and moved forward simultaneously. Air danced on the soles of her feet then pulled itself around her, wrapping her, protecting her as she dropped. Strangely she felt no fear and she counted the seconds in her mind. How many till her body sheered through the surf? Would it hurt? Would she feel it? “ah, let’s not think about that, this part feels too amazing to worry about that part.” She closed her eyes and enjoyed the rest of the drop.
He saw her smile the split second before her feet entered the sea.
That was the moment he felt his heart fall in love.
He stood in front of the double glass doors of 15 East 7th Street Manhattan gazing up at the windows, his two sons strapped to their suitcases, one on his left, the other on his right.
“Is this the place, Da?” the elder boy asked.
“Aye.” Patrick confirmed. “Your Uncle Matty says our rooms are up there.” His right index finger pointed up at a bank of black-trimmed windows set in red brick. “It’s a good change, we’ll be good here.” Patrick spoke out loud, not so much to convince the boys, but to convince himself.
The last year had been a tumble of sorrow in fog. The ten years before had been a whirlwind of love. It was hard to let go of the one while trying to climb out of the other.
Then came the invitation from Matty. “Come to America, I have a place for you to stay, and a job at the pub. The change might help.”
The three of them walked through the doors into their new life.
Patrick pulled his feet along the old wood floor and opened the door to East 7th. The smell of the city hugged his soul. Another Irish accent walked by and nodded in his direction.
” Hello, Patrick.”
“Hello, John. How yer doing today?
“Above this side of the dirt still Patrick, I say it’s a fine day.” John offered a wink. “Where you off to?”
“Just to the post, to drop a letter.”
“Ah, for Bob? He’s still in University? or Mike? How is that lovely wife of his? You raised two fine sons my friend.”
Patrick smiled and nodded “Aye, they turned out well those boys, take after their mother. But the letter isn’t for them.”
“I’ll walk you then? If you don’t mind a bit of company?”
Patrick nodded and the two elderly men chatted, catching up on the neighborhood news as they strolled down the sidewalk. John turned left onto 3rd St. Patrick continued ahead to Copper Square.
When Patrick reached the post he pulled the letter from his pocket, opened the handle, and slid it in. He knew it would never get to where it should be yet he posted it as he had posted all the letters before it. He’d been doing this for thirty-five years.
It was easier for him to think she was away visiting her sister than to remember she was gone forever and so he did that. On her birthday he mailed her a letter. At Christmas, he mailed her a letter. On their wedding anniversary, he mailed her a letter. On the birthdates of their sons, he mailed her a letter. And today, the day his heart fell in love with her, the day she smiled in the sea, he mailed her a letter.
He thought of that day as he walked back to 15 East 7 street. How he watched her on the platform deciding what she was going to do. Then to watch her overcome her inner fear and enjoy it. The smile, he would never forget how she beamed. He never knew if it came from the thrill of the drop or the thrill of overcoming her terror, either way, she glowed.
He could never bring himself to jump. Perhaps that’s a bit of why he fell in love with her. She was brave.
He turned into 15 East 7 street, walked behind the old wood bar, tied his white apron on, and started pouring pints for the tired accents who had finished work.
It wasn’t long before the memory was replaced by the lives of others. Davy was having problems with his mother-in-law, Jimmy got told off by his boss, and Terry got that promotion he’d been hoping for. Jenny was waiting for her brother to take her to the pictures. Ordinary people, living ordinary lives, drinking an ordinary pint in an ordinary pub.
The shift was long and by the time the ordinary people had finished telling him of their ordinary day his head was throbbing.
Patrick locked the door on the night and sank into the chair by the black-bellied stove that once burned coal a little too hot, easing his toes out of their servitude. He closed his eyes.
The wooden platform was smooth beneath his feet, a little slippery and a little cold. Patrick opened his eyes and saw the Irish sea before him. The salt air kissed his cheek.
He heard his name being called, carried on the breeze, braiding itself around his soul.
He looked down.
Waving from the waves, that smile on her face in jubilant joy.
“Patrick.” Her voice called.
His heart leaped to his throat. It was her. My God, it was her!
“Don’t think about it, just do it.”
He moved to the edge. Eyes forward. One deep breath and …
It was exhilarating.
Time stood still and moved forward simultaneously. Air danced on the soles of his feet then pulled itself around him, wrapping him, protecting him as he dropped.
His breath was taken away only for a moment and when he surfaced she was there.
“My Patrick…” her eyes danced as her arms reached for him. “I’ve been waiting for you for such a long time.”
The wake was held at 15 East 7th Street Manhattan.
They said it was a stroke but anyone who loved Patrick Doyle knew it was his heart.
*This story was inspired by Reedsy prompt
“Set your story in New York, where someone’s been waiting for your character.”