Title: A Change of Grace
Chapter: 2 of 41
It was awfully dark, some of the lights apparently having been dimmed, and he began to fear that being hollered at for wrecking a shot was going to be unavoidable. He could barely see where he was going.
Finally, blessed relief surging in him, he spotted the gate, and sped up a little. “Just another fifty feet and I’ll be home… I made it…”
His feet hit the sidewalk, and he glanced sideways, the city dwellers automatic traffic check, and froze in his tracks. There was no traffic. Early on a summers evening, Central Park West should have been humming with as much traffic as at midday, and yet… it was quiet.
Isaac stood, staring, open mouthed, wide eyed, at the spot his brother had occupied a moment ago. Coherent thought a little beyond him, he goggled in stupefied wonder. Had he just seen his brother vanish? He couldn’t have. It wasn’t possible.
The wind stirred the grass, flattened by the weight of a sleeping body, standing some of it up again, the motion drawing his shocked gaze. The grass. The grass was flat. He’d been there… and now he was gone… Shaking himself out of it, he reached up and gave his cheek a vicious pinch, eyes watering with pain. “Not dreaming… where in HELL?! He can’t have just vanished!” Impossible or not though, there was no getting around it.
Taylor was gone, simply gone. He hadn’t run around to hide behind the tree, he hadn’t walked away. One second he had been there, the next he had gone. “No, that did not happen. He wasn’t there, it was an optical illusion. It had to have been. I just thought he was there.”
He approached the tree slowly, feeling the hairs on his arm and neck start to prickle. Electricity? Or fear? He couldn’t tell. Reaching out to touch it, he felt the tingle of static and watched as all of the hairs on his hand stood up. “There’s a charge here… what the hell?” The tree bark felt warm, warmer than normal though? He couldn’t tell. It was high summer in the city. Everything was hot. He looked around the back of the tree, calling his brother’s name. No Taylor, no answer, though he hadn’t expected there would be. He slowly turned in a circle, scanning. He knew he’d seen him. He had. He’d seen him open his eyes. There was only one way out of the grotto and he was blocking it. But there was no blond brother in sight. He shook his head again, wrinkling his nose at the strange odor the still air seemed to hold. “What is that smell? Ozone? Did lightening hit him or something?” He glanced up at the blameless NY sky. “No, it’s gotta be smog, that’s all it is. Oh where IS he?!?!” Aware that he was talking to himself, not caring an iota, he turned out of the clearing, thinking about what he’d seen.
“No, I couldn’t have seen him just disappear. That does not happen.” He gave himself another pinch, and winced. “Okay, okay I’m awake, I’m here. He’s around here somewhere, too. He has to be. All this smog finally got to me, that’s it.” Unaware that he was doing it, he’d started to twist his hair, his won’t when extremely stressed. “I have to find him. I…” Word, thought, failed him. Determinedly, he set out to find his brother.
Isaac took in the lengthening shadows, the purple blue tint to the air. “Well, ok, I have to go back. Mom’s gonna kill me.” He glanced at his watch, groaning. “8? How’d it get to be 8 PM so fast?” Isaac was hustling back towards the hotel. He’d searched Central Park from one end to the other, back and forth. He’d been to the Dakota twice, George the doorman had denied seeing Taylor at all that day. He’d gone to the coffee shops that Taylor frequented. All the stores he loved to browse through. The arcades. No Taylor, and nobody had seen him all day. The closest he’d come was a little boy, who’d run up to him babbling delightedly about seeing him in a wallet. He’d asked the child, somewhat distractedly, what he was talking about, and found himself face to face with the kid’s mother. From here he’d learned that Taylor, or someone who looked like Taylor, had helped them when the little boy had gotten lost, earlier. Unfortunately for Ike, they had no idea where Taylor had gone. Nobody did. Sighing defeatedly, he decided he’d have to ask the girls at the hotel. They’d at least have seen him if he’d gone back in. God, he hated to ask them for help. Bracing, he approached the gaggle of young and not so young girls, pasting on a relaxed smile. The last thing he needed to do was rile them up.
“Has Taylor gone by here?” He determinedly detached them from his hip, brushing his hair back and striving to look unconcerned. Various responses greeted his inquiry, most having nothing to do with what he’d asked. Smiling, nodding, he peeled his way out of them and started across the street. “Hey wait…” He turned to see an unfamiliar face calling him back. “We haven’t seen him since this afternoon. He went into the park alone. Did you lose him?” Isaac laughed, and shrugged. “No, not really, I just wondered if he’d beaten me back here.” The girl nodded, glancing at her giggling friends. “Nope. You win. If we see him, we won’t tell him you got here first…” Isaac smiled, thanked them, and bit back the rude comment that threatened to surface. For once, they might be of some use, hovering out here like clouds. He headed across the street, narrowly missing being run over by a cab. “God I gotta pay attention. First Taylor disappears, and then I get run over? That’d make her day.” He took the stairs slowly, a prayer forming in his mind. “Let me have been hallucinating. Let him be back… please let him be back…” He opened the door, the doorman nodding politely, and stopped in his tracks. “Hey, did you see my brother come by here?” The man nodded. “He went out earlier today, yes sir.” “Did he come back yet?” The man shook his head. “No, not that I’ve seen, but he may have while I was at lunch.” Isaac nodded, muttering to himself. “Mom will kill me if he’s not back. Thanks again, Tay…
“Mom, honest to God, I searched the entire park, and half the city for him.” Isaac sighed, while Diana paced. There was no way he was telling her what he thought he’d seen. Why even bother with the obviously impossible?
“Well where did you go, Ike?” “I went everywhere! I went and found all the people he knows in all the places he goes, I even went down the the Village. He wasn’t anyplace.”
“Did you go to that apartment building he likes?” “First place I went.” Isaac’s thumb was pressed into the flesh above his eye, the start of a headache forming there. “They said they hadn’t seen him all day.”
Diana paced, talking to herself more than Isaac. “Ok, he stormed out of here, after you guys argued. I wish you had found him. Did you go right out after him? I wish you hadn’t fought with him, Ike, you know how he is…” Diana looked out the window, at the park, knowing there was no way she was going to see her errant son. If Isaac had upset him enough, who knew how long it would be before he came back? Taylor was sensitive, his feelings easily hurt. “Ike, what did you say to him? What made him run off?” Isaac’s mouth opened, no words coming out. How could he tell her he’d wished him dead? “Mom, don’t be blaming Ike for Tay going missing.” Zac’s voice piped up, firm and determined. “The moron took off outta here, in a snit. It’s not Ike’s fault that Tay’s an airhead.”
“Well Zac, you know how he is…” Zac nodded. “Yep. He’s spoiled, that’s how he is. Tay’s been acting like an ass for a while now, we’ve all seen it. Ike’s the only one with enough guts to say it to him. If Tay would have listened like a normal person he’d be here right now, but no, he had to be a freak and take off. It’s not like it’s Ike’s fault. And he went right after him. As soon as he heard the door shut he was right behind him.” Diana wavered between wanting to agree with Zac, and wanting to smack him for his smart mouth. Sighing, she thought about it for a minute, reluctantly coming to the conclusion that she agreed. Turning to Isaac, she slipped an arm around his shoulders. “I know, Ike, I apologize. It’s not fair of me to expect you to keep a leash on a 15 year old with attitude.” She smiled a little at their shocked faces. “What, you think I don’t know he has attitude? Trust me… I know.” She hugged him tighter, trying to be reassuring. “You’re his brother, not his keeper. I’m sorry.”
He hugged her back, relieved beyond measure that, at least this time, he wasn’t going to be blamed. “Mom, I searched everywhere, I really did. Everywhere…” She nodded, sighing. “I believe you. Well… we’ll give him a little while longer to cool off and come back… I’m sure he’ll be back before dark.” Zac’s eyes were trained out the window again. “Hey mom, I got an idea. Let’s get the bloodhounds out front in on it. They’ll sniff him out, and before anybody else too.” Diana and Isaac burst into laughter, Diana cuffing her son mildly on the back of the head. “Zac, that’s rude. You know you’re probably right, but it’s still rude,” she grinned, and he shrugged, turning back to the window. “Well, you know, it’s an option…” Isaac sank onto the couch, weary beyond belief. “Zac, lets not resort to drastic measures yet, okay? I swear to God I’m gonna kill him when he gets back here…” His eyes closed as he spoke, and he never saw Zac turn to stare at him, face serious and darkly thoughtful.
The freshening breeze blew across his face, making him shiver slightly. “Wow…” The thought was sleepy, disoriented. “Cooling off, gotta shut off the AC…” Taylor turned over a little, wincing as the bark of the tree scratched against his face, blinking awake in confusion. Where was he? He reached up, hooked the hair out of his face, grimacing as the static charged air drew it right back over his mouth and nose. Spitting it out, he grumbled to himself as he sat up. “One of these days, my hair will choke me to death…” He yawned, grabbing frantically for something to hold on to, as dizziness assailed him. “Whoa…” His hand tangled in long grass, and he groaned. “Oh God, I fell asleep in the park. I’m lucky nobody kidnapped me.” He took in the twilight, and groaned again. “I am in so much trouble…” A glance at his watch increased his frustration. It appeared to have stopped, the numbers blinking random patterns. “Damn thing…” He climbed to his feet, hanging on the tree as his legs threatened to collapse. The dizziness had increased to the point of nausea, and the top of his head felt a lot like it was going to float away. Knowing that falling was unavoidable, he sank back down, shutting his eyes, hanging onto the ground with both hands. He wasn’t sure how long he stayed that way, only that when he opened his eyes, it was nearing full dark.
Moving was not an option, his legs felt like they belonged to someone else. “Deep breaths, that’s what I need, some air will clear my head,” he thought. A few lungfuls later, the dizziness was worse, however. Putting his head down, as his mom had always said to do if you felt faint, only made it worse. “This sucks, why am I so dizzy?” kept crossing his mind, as he tentatively moved, once again, to stand. Grabbing onto a tree was all that stopped him from falling over. “Ok, I have to open my eyes, even if hugging a tree is what keeps me on my feet.”
He straightened cautiously, looking around, getting his bearings. In this light, nothing looked right, and he quickly found himself becoming disoriented. “Omigod! What happened to the trees???” He shook his head, immediately regretting it, for the scene didn’t change, and it only increased the swimming sensation. From his vantage point, in this light, the trees looked shorter, the top stories of the Dakota clearly visible. “Wind must be moving them… God that’s weird… Oh I am just too dizzy to stand.” Sitting down again, he looked around, taking deep breaths of air that smelled astoundingly fresh, and clean. It actually tasted good, this evening air, redolent with the scent of growing things, and water. “The park smells good at night, we should camp out or something…” He laughed a little, knowing how ridiculous that was. A campout in Central Park? Might as well erect a billboard. “Mug me please! Right here! Right now!” Sighing, he hauled himself up again. “I gotta get back, I gotta lie down… God I hope I’m not getting sick, that would suck.” He held onto the tree for a moment, got his balance, and made his way, hanging onto branch and bench back, to the road he’d taken in. He found himself wishing he’d picked a paved path, his footing was unsteady enough without trying to hike over dirt, but wouldn’t you know… dirt it was.
His head, still unclear and foggy, was not co-operating with his desire to see things clearly. Everything looked smaller to him, the bushes thicker, the grass longer, the benches, gleaming under the old fashioned hooded lamps positively sparkled. “Boy it looks nice here at night… I’m gonna get so mugged… God, I’m pretty sure this is what drunk feels like.” He walked carefully, staggering from handhold to handhold, breathing deeply. Weird, the more he air he took in, the dizzier he felt. “Ok, I can do this. I’ll go back to the hotel and lie down, I’ll make it fine.” Slowly he made his way through the park, marveling at the “movie set” feel. Everything seemed too clean, too shiny, too peaceful. The few people he saw appeared oddly dressed. Well it wasn’t like they didn’t shut whole streets to photograph and film all the time, around here. It just figured he’d woken up in the middle of it. Keeping to the edges, hoping to stay out of the way of any cameramen, and avoid being screamed at, he made his way to the gate. It was awfully dark, some of the lights apparently having been dimmed, and he began to fear that being hollered at for wrecking a shot was going to be unavoidable. He could barely see where he was going. Finally, blessed relief surging in him, he spotted the gate, and sped up a little. “Just another fifty feet and I’ll be home… I made it…” His feet hit the sidewalk, and he glanced sideways, the city dwellers automatic traffic check, and froze in his tracks. There was no traffic. Early on a summers evening, Central Park West should have been humming with as much traffic as at midday, and yet… it was quiet. “Closed the street. They closed the street, God… I’m going to ruin some really expensive shot and get sued… wonderful.” Shaking his head, he stepped into the road, looked up, and felt the mental equivalent of a kick in the gut, mixed with a good helping of panic. “Oh God where am I?!” He looked around frantically, sure he must have come out on the wrong side of the park… but no. No, there was Broadway. There was 7th avenue. Right over there was the main entrance to the park. He was where he belonged. But… He looked across the street again, holding onto the lamppost. If that was Broadway. And this was Central Park W., then where… where in God’s name was the Trump?