A wide passage, reasonably well trafficked for the time of day, crossed under a row of train tracks eventually terminating at Grand Central’s main building. “Tracks 11-42 & 101-117 – Grand Central Terminal – Elevators.” Once there had been an elevator directly from the tracks to the Waldorf Astoria, Dan had heard. He wondered where it was.
Turning right at the bottom of the staircase, he passed a bank of impeccably maintained pay phones – once a common sight in New York buildings, but now unusual enough to be of note. None were in use
He reached 47th Street and there it was, more or less where he remembered it. ... A plate glass entry, triple doors framed in heavy chrome, reflected snatches of street life. Above the door, in gold letters on a large glass panel, was written: “Grand Central Terminal.”
On the other side of the street, Bank of China occupied an older brick building adorned with marble. Two flagpoles rose above the main entrance, but no flags were flying. Could one find an ATM machine in there? Not likely.
A block later, he passed over to the east side of Madison and walked under a couple of yellow Pax banners hanging from the front of a building.
At the corner, Dan turned right on Madison, almost walking past a man in a wheelchair, holding out a blue ball cap and shaking it.
- - - -
“…it’s part sales, but it’s also part sales less expenses …”
“… put together the best version of it …”
“…like, are you kidding? It’s very hard to come up with down to the letter.”
Dan soaked it in. Real Manhattan living. Away from the tourists. Walking, talking, doing business.
While thinking those thoughts, Dan had been gazing at the Saks’ Marlboro Man display without seeing it. Now he focused on what the window contained. Manikins wearing jeans, light blue work shirts and cowboy hats; slouching, hands in pockets. “Timeless,” or just a cliché that’s easy to sell? He examined the boots the manikins were wearing. That’s probably where most of the money was made.
- - - -
Dan eased around the corner of the building, to another part of the same display.
... everyone is talking about fashion blogs at the moment, even if most of them read like stream of consciousness fashion warbles from the seventh row.
The words were printed on the window in type so small that Dan had to concentrate to read them. “Seventh row?” The moral equivalent of bleacher seats at the average runway show, he surmised.
Just before reaching the New York Health and Raquet Club, a dark blue awning extending out over the sidewalk, Dan had to alter course to clear a man – Middle Eastern by the look of him – earnestly shinning a large brass standpipe extending out from the department store building.
“Work any better when it’s polished?”
The man glanced up at Dan with a puzzled look on his face.
He headed down the steps to the intersection, Saks and Co. – better known as Saks Fifth Avenue -- across the way.
- - - -
Safely across and staring blankly at a display window featuring the Marlboro Man look, Dan’s thoughts were again caught up in the turmoil Marcy’s story always produced.