Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Grand Central Station Conversation: A thoughtful 2009 story…by Robert M. Katzman

© May 2009 by Robert M. Katzman

This true story was first published between May 21 to September 17, 2009, in 7 parts, posted periodically. I was advised that people didn’t want to read long stories, only short pieces of them, as was the internet custom. So, I went with it. Now, I no longer believe that. A good story is a good story and people will stick with it if it honestly captures their minds and hearts. This one will do that, if you all will give it another chance. 

I wrote it three months before my twenty-year-old Chicago-area collectible store was about to die in the terrible, small business killing Recession. It is a story about love, loss, tears, identity, witches, cops, coffee, aging, acceptance  and hope.  

And one truly mysterious and confounding Catholic Priest in a New Jersey airport.

So, find a comfortable chair, and come with me to New York City.  Some very strange things happened there, once upon a time. 

Part 1: Ethnic Bait, Offered and Taken

Twenty-two hours.

I had twenty-two hours to be in New York City, without a hotel room, to attend an annual poster convention and to visit an old pleasure I’d thought was gone forever.

All I took with me was a kind of narrow, over-the-shoulder, sling-like duffel I’d designed to hold jackets, sweaters, gloves and scarves when I went through the periodic agony of America’s airports so my hands remained free.  It was May, but NYC is by the ocean, so the weather could vary significantly in a day.

My silent Korean tailor, Ki Sook, was used to my eccentricities, but never failed to smile when I told her what I wanted her to do for me. And she always turned over a first-class result about a week later.

I also took another customized travel bag made of durable denim material that was light-weight with not too many pockets, but had a large central space to carry anything from a walking lunch (crusty Italian bread, grapes, cheddar cheese, and a brownie with some personality to it) to convention catalogs. It had good zippers, too.

A good strong zipper can keep things that seem to want to be elsewhere, from going there. A bad zipper can get you into all kinds of trouble.  I’m talking about travel here, no matter what you may be imagining.

(Read on …)