My experiences in Boston are limited. I caught a game in Fenway in the nineties–the Red Sox, then the underdogs, lost. And my family took a tour of historical sites when I was about 8 or 9 years old. But in 2010, I shipped my bike to Boston and rode to New York City over the next week.
I remember meeting my friends for lunch more than I remember the city itself, and my memories of Rhode Island and Massachusetts are far more vivid than those of the day I spend escaping the city. This morning, I woke up and then made the mistake of looking at the news. Boston is a mess now, closed down for a manhunt. I left my house to be around other people, and this restaurant is now empty. It’s time to pay and move along.
I’m in OQ Coffee now. (The cashier at Schwarma Express charged me $2 too little, and insisted that I not worry about it.) I’m sitting at a large, rough-hewn wooden table, enough to seat six to eight for a close dinner.
There’s a guy across the table from me, typing furiously. He has a pound of coffee beans next to his Macbook, and is concentrating on what he’s typing, earbuds shutting out the world.
But the coffee grinders are quiet, and there’s no hum of conversation. The baristas outnumber the customers now.
Despite all warnings to the contrary, the Boston drivers were considerate and friendly when I drove away from the Amtrak station. I leaned my bike, laden with camping gear, against the side of a bench in Jamaica Pond Park, and had some water and astronaut ice cream. I made my way to my host’s home, and escaped Boston the next day.
While our experiences in the USA are fairly mild compared to those in Israel or Iraq or Afghanistan, bombings are chilling no matter the body count. In a strange way, I wish I had lingered in Boston a little longer.
Typing Man is packing his laptop away. A couple more customers have arrived. A barista starts up the espresso machine. My wife and I are having company tonight; I’m going to wrap this up and go food shopping.
Thanks to Julie Goldberg for assistance with proofreading and editing.
Neil Fein is a freelance editor who specializes in novels. If you’ve written a manuscript or are getting close to finishing, you can get in touch with him here. He rides his bicycle as much as he can, and he paints when he damn well feels like it. He’s also a musician who plays in a Celtic fusion band.