CHAPTER 1

I.

It wasn’t always an eyeball. Sometimes it was mittens. Sometimes it was loose change that got just a little too loose, or house keys that were left homeless, or the occasional chewed-up retainer that refused to be retained. But today… today was different. Today it was an eyeball.

TUESDAY. OCTOBER 9, 2007. 8:36 P.M. THEATER 4. ROW 29. SEAT 7. 68 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT. 32 OUNCE PLASTIC ZIPLOC DOUBLE-ZIPPER STORAGE BAG. NO LABEL. CONTENTS: EYEBALL. BROWN.

Elliot was always very particular when it came to labeling items in his Lost & Found. As a promising Assistant Manager of the Kings Highway Regal Cineplex, Lost & Found management was entirely under his jurisdiction. And Elliot pounced on this opportunity like a lovelorn tiger on a magician’s jugular. Three times a night, five nights a week, Elliot combed through each of six theaters and twelve restrooms, searching for needles in a popcorn and Milkdud haystack. On most nights, this cursory treasure hunt would leave him sticky-shoed and emptyhanded. But alas, this wasn’t most nights.

II.

Elliot trudged down the broken escalator, turning the bag over in his hands. With every flip, the eye disappeared into the brownish fluid, only to bob to the surface again, pressing itself against the plastic like a toddler’s face against a pet store window. Flip. Plop. Flip. Plop. It was staring at him. And to make matters worse, it didn’t look happy.

Quickening his step, he strode across the deserted lobby to the concession stand, where a massive man in a stained polo shirt was slouched over, leafing through yesterday’s Post.

“Um…Stanley?”

Stanley was the Cineplex’s petty tyrant of a night manager. Not a bright man by any measure, he nevertheless understood with perfect clarity that this crumbling theatre was the grandest kingdom someone like himself could ever hope to rule, and behaved accordingly. Sighing heavily, he looked up from a table of sports scores that were already two days old.

“What now, genius? You drop the keys in the toilet again?”

“No. I thought you should take a look at this. I found it in Theatre 4.” Elliot swept the stale popcorn off the counter with the back of his hand and laid the bag down gingerly. The eyeball disappeared. He counted in his head: one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three. Right on cue, it popped back up, unblinking. Plop. He looked up at Stanley, trying to read his stony expression.

“You found this in Theatre 4?” Stanley asked, his tiny eyes narrowing.

“Yes,” Elliot nodded. He was suddenly aware of rivers of cold sweat running down his sides.

“After the 6:45 show?”

“Y-Yes.”

Another heavy sigh passed through the night manager’s body, like a gigantic balloon deflating.

“Jesus Christ on a crutch,” he moaned, rolling his eyes to the heavens in a gesture of supreme annoyance. “Not again.”

III.

Stanley put one hand on the counter, resting his weight on it, as if he might fall over.

“Jesus Christ on a crutch,” he repeated in a whisper.

“This has happened before?” Elliot asked. “This isn’t the first time?”

“No, genius. It’s not the first time. I can’t get rid of her.”

“Get rid of her? Get rid of who?”

“That’s my mother’s eyeball,” Stanley said. “She always loved those syrupy love story type movies. It doesn’t surprise me that she showed up at the 6:45.”

Elliot was realizing that although on an average day finding an eyeball would have been the oddest thing that happened to him, this could no longer really be considered an average day.

“The eyeball,” he said, then stopped himself. “I mean, your mother’s eyeball was watching the movie?

“You know, when she died three years ago, I thought that I would finally get a break from all the interfering in my life, all the criticism. But if this KEEPS HAPPENING, I’ll never get a break.”

Stanley was now gripping the counter with both hands. His knuckles were turning white, and he was staring straight at the eyeball – making eye contact with it.

“WHY WON’T YOU LEAVE ME ALONE, MOMMY? WHY DON’T YOU GET YOUR OWN LIFE? OH RIGHT, BECAUSE YOU’RE DEAD!

He looked back up at Elliot, and said, “Now she’s watching me again. I should have known this was coming. Her lips showed up in the storeroom about three months ago, and they haven’t shut up since. They’re all ‘Why don’t you ever call me anymore, Stanley? Why did you throw out my belongings, Stanley? Why are you left-handed, Stanley?’ Here, let me show you.”

Stanley crouched down, and began rifling through one of the drawers behind the concession stand.

“Where are those lips?” he mumbled, as he searched. “They haven’t shut up for months, and now they’re keeping quiet?”

Elliot looked at the eyeball. A thin layer of skin slid over it from somewhere on its far side and then retreated. It had just winked at him.

IV.

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CHAPTER 2

V.

When the audience for the 9:25 show had settled, Elliot swept the stairs, gave the restrooms a once-over, and avoided eye contact with Stanley as he restocked the concessions.

“Alright if I take off now?” Elliot asked Stanley, when his close-up tasks were done.

“Yeah. Get out of here,” the manager grunted.

Elliot noticed that the plastic-bagged eyeball was still sitting on the concessions counter, and wondered whether it had affected candy sales with the late crowd. Shrugging off the whole event, he left without another word.

It was almost Halloween and Elliot was sure there was some rational explanation – aside from Stanley’s – for the abandoned body part. Then again, “rational” and “Stanley” were words rarely spoken together by people who knew the man.

Elliot tightened the scarf around his neck and jammed his hands down into his pockets. Before long it would be winter, good and proper. Even the five-block walk to the Applejack Diner would soon become a battle of wills.

Pushing a shoulder into the swing door, Elliot walked into the diner and slumped into a booth.

“Coffee tonight, El?” asked Anna, already pouring him a cup.

“Yeah, thank you. And some fries.”

“Fries aren’t dinner. You don’t eat. Why don’t I get you a chicken potpie? They’re fresh from this morning.”

“Okay. Yeah, sure. I’ll take a chicken pie. And the fries, okay?”

Anna winked, wrote down Elliot’s order with a flourish and returned to lean on the front counter. Elliot found it hard to take his eyes off her. Anna was so damned cute. He hated the sisterly affection she showed for him.

Anna returned with his order and a refill of coffee.

“Enjoy!” she said.

Elliot peeled off some pastry and popped it into his mouth. It was flaky and warm. “Mmmm. Good,” he said, towards Anna’s general direction.

He plunged his fork into the pie and took a bite of the filling. “Really good,” he said to himself.

Going in for another bite, Elliot froze, staring in disbelief at the eyeball speared on the tines of his fork. What the hell was going on?

VI.

It was such a cliché, right? Don’t build your town on an old Indian burial ground. Don’t put an imitation Fifties diner on top of the grave of a powerful Indian chieftain. Don’t name your mall the Old Indian Burial Ground Shoppes and Food Court, as if the Olde English spelling of “shops” was somehow meant to make the spirits feel more comfortable in their new surroundings. It was such a cliché. But more and more, Elliot was becoming convinced that there was something to it.

He drained the last bit of Cup of Coffee No. 8. Cup of Coffee No. 8 was primarily distinguished from Cup of Coffee No. 7 by the addition of three times as much sugar and one of those red swizzle stick thingies diners are always sticking in everything. No. 7, in turn, had possessed three times as much sugar as its predecessor, and so on and so forth back down the line. This was good. He felt awake. The caffeine tremors were keeping him warm.

Cups of Coffee Nos. 1-8 had come into the picture when he pronounced himself full after one bite and pushed the potpie to the other end of the table.

“You sure, El?” Anna asked, worried, as she took it away.

Elliot nodded, refusing to make eye contact.

“You want some more coffee?”

Single nod.

It was not as if he had arrived here immediately. The Indian burial ground theory had only begun to gain credence somewhere around Cup of Coffee No. 4. Before that, he had explored—in no particular order—bad luck, mental illness, divine wrath, practical jokes, and the most improbable theory of all: that it was some sort of impossibly strange, but fundamentally benign coincidence. He had entertained them all. None made sense.

But this: this made sense. This he could work with. He raised his hand to order Cup of Coffee No. 9. He needed to think.

He needed a plan.

CHAPTER 3

VII.

According to Harrison, 10pm was significant in this part of Brooklyn for three reasons:
1) 10pm is when the 49th precinct, just 4 blocks away, released everyone from the holding cell that they couldn’t pin a charge to that day.
2) 10pm meant darkness. Even on June 21, the longest day of the year, the sun would dip to Coney Island’s left at about 9:47. Ten minutes later all of the raspberry peach nectar would have drained into the ink of the horizon, and the borough would emerge from its daily cocoon. Dark is what Brooklyn was meant to be. Night is its natural state of being.
3) 10pm is when Harrison’s shift as the graveyard cook at the Applejack officially started. Though he never clocked in at 10. Every night of the week, he came in at a quarter past nine, submerged the staling fries to re-golden them, scraped the grill, and had arguably the hottest, freshest food of the day sitting in the window by 9:40. He was never asked to explain this behavior, and thus never had to reveal that 10pm really freaked him out, for reasons already mentioned in this list.

He was fixated on the kitchen-wall clock, and didn’t notice Anna setting the hardly-eaten potpie back in the window.

“Keep this warm, will you Harry…?”

“Hmmm.”

“It’s the theater guy. He’s on his 17th cup of coffee right now. Gibbering to himself, but when he snaps out of it, he might be hungry again.”

Anna turned her attention to the refilling of a ketchup squeeze bottle. She surmised out loud that the poor theater guy must be going through some sort of personal hell.

“If you’re going through hell, keep going,” Harrison sang over the hiss of the fryer.

“Who said that?” Anna turned back to him, cracking her Juicy Fruit like it was bubble wrap.

Harrison thought ‘Steve Perry’ would be a good reply, for two reasons: 1) He often took charm in the fact that Anna would mumble tunes from Journey’s greatest hits to herself during the 2am rush. And 2) He wasn’t sure she had ever heard of Winston Churchill, and neither wanted to embarrass her, nor explain it.

But before he could answer, he was fixating on the clock again. He worshipped clocks of every persuasion, analog, digital or otherwise. But this one was his favorite; the digits, Helvetica. The hands as ebony as newsprint. The second-hand, a dutiful marcher with no question of authority. He stared at it expectantly, as if the clock-face were likely to assume the lotus position, levitate above the ground, and instruct him to shave his head or vandalize a Korean grocery or some other form of zealous buffoonery.

Harrison Franklin was a man who counted minutes. He’d been this way since before his heart transplant.

VIII.

Harrison always found it funny when people referred to their hearts as tickers. Little internal clocks that just tick the years away until, for one reason or another, they stop. And time stops with them.

The thing is, no one ever expected Harrison to have lasted as many minutes as he has.

“Do you need me to stick around, Anna?”
“Nah. Doesn’t look like we’ll be slinging any 4am duck confit. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Thanks. G’nite Anna.”

Swapping his paper line-cook’s hat for a woolen replica, Harrison threw on his olive trench coat and hunched his way through the dingle-belled Applejack door.

No, Harrison certainly never thought he’d be roaming this planet for 64 years. Born with a congenital heart disease, he entered the world damaged goods and was treated as such. Untouched. Unplayed with. Unwanted. An outsider looking in, Harrison didn’t live life so much as he witnessed it. And like his namesake President who died 31 days into office, he was doing it on a shortened timetable.

“Hrrrrgh!”

Contracting his throat, Harrison tried to loosen a phlegmy barnacle that had been stubbornly clinging to his larynx all night.

As a permanent benchwarmer in the game of life, Harrison got by by staying under the radar. No real friends, no real enemies, he was a chameleon that took on the color of beige. Present yet invisible. Kirk Cameron once he ceased to be Mike Seaver. But behind the Sphynxian façade, Harrison’s mind was a Mississippi turbine, constantly spinning round. He observed and absorbed details most people never would. He watched his minutes.

Harrison dug through a pocket labyrinth of cough drops and wadded, disintegrating tissues, pulling out his house keys. After a few jiggles and a well-placed shoulder nudge, he entered the narrow, florescent-flickered lobby of The Majestic Sands- a rundown Flatbush co-op which was as far from majestic as it was from sand. But it was home. And all people need a home.

Of course, no one ever aspires to be a night-shift diner cook. It’s not exactly a career opportunity that high school guidance counselors offer. “Sally Mae has an aptitude for midnight onion ring preparation and distribution.” Harrison’s job was more like a discarded piece of chewing gum- something you accidentally step into after walking about aimlessly. But for some reason, it perfectly suited him. The way he figured, you don’t need a career with a future when you’re living on borrowed time.

As Harrison lumbered towards his ground floor studio, he noticed something resting on his straw doormat. A package. Smaller than a breadbox, larger than Gwyneth Paltrow’s head. Picking up the plain brown paper-wrapped parcel, he read the sender’s handwritten name in the upper left corner.

Kohen.

No first name. No address. Just Kohen.

Immediately, the hamsters in Harrison’s head started racing. Kohen wasn’t exactly the most exotic name in Jew-infested Brooklyn, but did he know any of ‘em? Why wasn’t there a stamp on the package? Who besides Santa and the Tooth Fairy make 4am deliveries? And of course, the $100,000 question.

What, dear fox, is in that box?

CHAPTER 4

IX.

Uncle.

With a clang, Elliot drops his unfinished cup of coffee onto the saucer and silently mouths the word “uncle” as if begging freedom from a headlock. The Applejack Diner is just about empty, as the last remaining patrons, a few drunk adolescents, carelessly grab a handful of mints from a large glass bowl near the entrance and propel themselves out the door.

Anna stacks their plates on her forearm, a disgusting stew of half-eaten burgers, straggling French fries, smeared ketchup, shredded napkins, garnished with the check and corresponding payment, and walks into the kitchen.

Elliot follows her every move even leaving his eyes on the swinging door for a few minutes until she returns to wipe down the table. Half-full ketchup bottles are turned upside down on top of other half-full ketchup bottles, tables are cleared, the old jukebox in the corner is shut down, TVs turned off and the diner takes the romantic form of a Hopper painting, this time with only one nighthawk.

“Go home, El,” Anna says as she unties her apron and plops down across from Elliot in the booth. His half-full cup sits in a puddle of coffee that covers the saucer.

“What for?” Elliot replies looking out at the 4am morning. Newspaper trucks are being loaded, alarms are about to go off, newborns are about to cry for more food, and yet 4am is still a legitimate hour for a person to call it a night.

“I’ve warned you about drinking too much coffee and now I got to close up.”

“I know. I know,” he whines like a scolded child.

She studies him for a moment as he turns his attention away from the empty street and onto her. His eyes are sad and despite the buckets of caffeine, he looks weathered. Worn out. Beaten.

“I found an eyeball today,” he says nonchalantly.

“What?”

“I found an eyeball today. It was here a minute ago,” he looks around the table, “but I don’t know where it went.”

“Elliot, go home.”

“At one point it was on my fork.”

“You watch too many movies,” Anna gives up and clears his coffee cup away.
“Why don’t you quit the theater anyway? They don’t treat you well, you’re miserable and now you’re talking about eyeballs,” she says from behind the counter.

“My boss claims it was his mother’s,” he says more to himself than to her.

“You could work here for Christ sake.”

“Says it follows him around and won’t leave him alone.”

She comes back and resumes her seat across from him.

“If it’s his mother, why is she following me?” he continues.

“Who? Who follows you?”

“The eyeball.”

“For fuck’s sake, El.”

Elliot comes out of his trance. He rubs his hands over his face and sits up in the booth.

“Go out with me?”

She smiles. “Let’s go. Closing time.”

“I’m serious. Go out with me. I mean what do you have going on?”

“I don’t have someone talking about eyeballs following him on fork, I’ll tell you that much.”

“It didn’t follow me on a fork. It just appeared on a fork. It was in a plastic bag. C’mon. Go out with me. I got nothing. You got nothing. Stop playing big sister and let’s go for a walk or a movie or something.”

“You see enough movies. And it’s fucking your mind.”

“Stop making excuses.”

“C’mon. I got to lock up.”

“And go where, Anna? Go where? You got to lock up and what, go to your empty studio apartment? Go to the bed where your husband left you? Go where?”

“Fuck you, Elliot.”

“Fuck me? Why? Because every night I come here and sit here for however many hours ordering cup after cup after cup after G-ddamn cup of coffee only to get rejected by you every night? Fuck me? Because you’re the only thing I look forward to in my horseshit of a day cleaning a movie theater? And yes, my boss’s mother’s eyeball is following me. I have no clue why but whatever, it is. And you of all people should believe me. Because you are the only person I can tell and not feel like I’m being judged for it. Whatever. Forget the whole discussion.”

Elliot stands up and throws a twenty on the table. Anna pushes it back. “I’m not taking your money.”

“Just take it.”

“It’s okay, Elliot. You can give it to me tomorrow.”

“You say that every night.”

“Well, I guess it’s our thing.”

“Right. Our thing. I come here. Pound coffee, ask you out, and ah what’s the use….”

He makes his way to the door.

She yells, “Elliot, wait.”

Anna straightens up to see the eyeball sitting on top of the table.

“Take your eyeball with you.” The eyeball gives her a slow wink.

He turns around, the door half ajar and walks back to the table. He gives her an I-told-you-so-smile as he places the eyeball in the pocket of his trench coat and heads back towards the door. “See you tomorrow.”

Anna stares at the spot on the table where the eyeball once sat. She then looks up and watches Elliot as he walks out the door of the diner. And for the first time, her eyes stay on him until he eventually walks out of sight.

X.

“AAAAARRRGGG!”

Never in her life had she felt so frustrated. Stomping down the sidewalk, Anna could not believe she was even considering the idea.

Elliot? Come on. Hadn’t she suffered enough? This was not her story. This was not the way the movie played out in her head. Her good-for-nothing, lying, cheating son-of-a-bitch husband had left her, as Elliot had so gratefully reminded her, so now fucking what?

Wasn’t it her turn for that good guy? That – you know – thinks-about-what-I-want-for-a-change guy? Heck, could this sick, twisted universe be sending her such a fucking shlub as fucking Elliot? For what, as the grand prize for all the hurt, heartbreak and humiliation she had already overcome?

No way. She kicked a tuft of grass sticking up from the sidewalk. “No fucking way. I am not this guy’s angel,” she thought. “I am not here to save his sorry ass from this grim excuse for a life.”

Dumping her coat on the green wicker chair and throwing her keys across the counter, Anna grabbed the kettle and put it on the gas stove to heat.

“I’m going to drink my tea, go to sleep and forget that this ever happened.”

She opened a book and began to read, but her tiredness was overwhelming. The words danced before her eyes, making it difficult to focus. She flipped on the TV. There was nothing but infomercials and preachers. “Stop yelling at me,” she thought.

Go out with me, Anna.

Unwelcome, there he was. Elliot’s voice was in her head; his snoopy eyes right there in front of her.

“No!” she said, to nobody. “Get away from me. I can’t do this.” She imagined a night at the diner with no Elliot. “Good,” she thought.

No, not good. Who was she kidding? She liked it when Elliot slid into that booth. She liked the way he looked at her. Who doesn’t like to be adored? But why did he have to go and break the rules. Their “thing” was supposed to be unspoken. Undefined.

Let’s go for a walk.

“Um… no! It would get messy.”

For a movie…

“AAAAARRRGGG!” she screamed again. “I don’t know if I can do this,” she whispered. And the inevitable happened. She giggled to herself.

“What, am I gonna see Elliot naked?!”

She kept giggling as she brushed her teeth and slipped beneath the covers.

“Fuck it,” she thought. “A walk. I can do a walk.”

XI.

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Anna went for a walk.

She saw birds flying in the sky.

And she was flying a kite.

It was shaped as a chair.

And it was yellow.

(Can I make it blue?)

And she has so much fun going for a walk.

And she was wearing a dress.

A green dress.

Then she saw clouds in the sky.

One big cloud.

And also she saw a boy with sooooooo much hair.

And it was like reddish brownish I think.

And he was a very pretty handsome boy.

He wasn’t like usual.

He was different from all the others.

And he was like a ghost.

‘Cause he was.

But a nice one.

But he looked bad.

(I’m drawing purple tights or leggings. They’re not part of the story.)

And the ghost said, “You be my friend, I be yours.”

And then she believed him so they were friends.

And they played together and they went on a slide and they had so much fun together.

And then Anna and the ghost said goodbye.

And then Anna went home.

And they were best friends forever.

CHAPTER 5

XII.

The hamster in Harrison’s mind, paused, itched, scratched itself and then stopped peddling. As he looked down, he saw before him a strange, very strange animal of mysterious origins. It appeared obese and may or may not have been overweight for its species, but then again Harrison had never cooked or consumed an exotic creature such as this.

When not taken from a living specimen, or skins, the artist of the ancient world depicted these creatures somewhat upon their imaginations for their facts, as is the case with this fiend or fowl of mysterious origins. Harrison would not have known, but these creatures are bred in India, and Syria, near the Euphrates, and delight much to drink the cooling and calming waters thereof. Their body is that like the body of duck, but with arms and half-developed feet, and they have a growth forth of the crown of their head, which resembles that of a rooster’s. It was once said that Alexander affirmed that this piece was very tasty and often times had his soldiers feast on this portion after a successful battle.

To much of his surprise, this exotic fowl did not scurry forth away, but sat as a human would in deep thought, on the box. Then his stomach growled.

XIII.

Like most able-minded inhabitants of the twenty-first century, Harrison had heard of the internet, but until now he had found little use for it. He got his news from newspapers. His mail came with stamps on it. And he still bought his pornography the old fashioned way, at the magazine shop where no one looked at anyone else and every purchase went straight into a brown paper bag. So it was no small life occasion that he found himself, at 4:49am on a chilly Wednesday morning, standing outside Khan’s Deli, International Calling Center, Video Rental & Internet Café.

The Khan family had been a neighborhood fixture for over thirty years, a classic American make good story. Amrit had arrived in 1975, speaking only three words of English: “hello,” “please,” and “godfather,” the latter of which he had picked up at an outdoor screening in Dhaka of the movie of the same name. It was there, watching Don Corleone’s head ripple as the sheet it was being projected on fluttered in the hot breeze, that he made up his mind. Brooklyn. He would go to Brooklyn. And so he did, first opening his namesake deli; then meeting Sadiya when she came in one day to buy vegetables; then marrying Sadiya; and finally adding to his family and his business empire at roughly the same rate: Rashed and international calling in 1980, and Masud and video rentals four years later. The internet café was a relatively new venture, but it bore the Khan signature—namely, that it was crammed into the same tiny space as everything else.

Harrison stepped inside, the door jingling. A dark complexioned guy in his mid twenties picked his head up off the counter where he had been dozing. Harrison was pretty sure it was Masud.

“Um, hi. I’d like to use the internet, please.”

The guy pointed at a row of beige computers shoehorned between an off-brand ATM and a gigantic rack of chips.

“Terminal three. Five dollars for the first half hour, one dollar for every ten minutes after that. No porn. No downloading. Okay?”

Harrison nodded his assent and sat down on the plastic folding chair in front of the screen. He caught a quick glance at terminal five on his right, where a distinguished looking Asian man was watching cartoon characters performing unnatural acts on each other and furiously masturbating under his coat. So much for the house rules. Harrison quickly turned back to his computer and squinted at the search box in front of him. The cursor flashed expectantly.

How to describe the creature that had arrived in that mysterious package? He began to type in every relevant word he could think of, picking out the letters slowly from their unfamiliar order on the keyboard. “Bird.” “Fat.” “Red rooster head.” “Duck body.” “Stubby arms and legs.” “Tame.” Harrison tried to think of others, but came up empty. He fumbled for the mouse and clicked the search button.

The computer whirred to life. The screen went blank, then slowly began to rebuild itself. Harrison’s eyes went wide as he read the first result.

Kohen.

He waited a few seconds for others to appear, but nothing else came, so he clicked back to the first page and entered the words again, this time in a different order. Click. Search.

Kohen.

It was at this moment that the gibbering monologue emanating from the occupant of terminal two began to penetrate his skull. Harrison hadn’t noticed anyone sit down.

“…Holy shit this is too weird I mean how is this possible there has to be like two hundred billion results for eyeball and every time I put it in there’s only one and who the fuck is Kohen and what the fuck does he have to do with the eyeball and fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck…”

Harrison turned to survey the monologue’s owner. Red, sunken eyes. Einstein hair. Legs twitching like crazy from all the caffeine blasting through his arteries. He recognized him—it was the kid from the diner. Anna’s kid.

“Did you just say ‘Kohen?’”

The kid’s head whipped around. Panic wafted off him like bad breath.

“What? Who? Kohen? Are you him? Are you him?

“Whoa. Take it easy. I’m not him. I’m Harrison. I’ve seen you in the Applejack. You’re Anna’s friend, right?”

Harrison could see the kid’s brain laboring, attempting to pull the pieces together through the fog of fear and adrenaline. Applejack. Anna. Anna. Applejack. Slowly, a glimmer of recognition spread across his face.

“Yes. Anna. I know Anna. I know you. You’re the kitchen guy. You make the pot pies.”

Harrison nodded. “Yeah, I cook there. What were you just saying about Kohen?”

The kid turned back to the computer screen. His fingers tapped out a nervous drumbeat on the countertop.

“So, um, this weird thing happened to me, and now I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, and everything I type in I get the same result. Kohen. Nothing else. Just Kohen, Kohen, Kohen, Kohen…”

Harrison cut him off. “I get it. Same thing happened to me. Kohen. Do you know what that means?”

The kid shook his head. “Uh uh. What should we do? Should we click on it?”

“I will if you will. On three?”

The kid nodded. Harrison positioned his finger over the mouse.

“Okay. One…two…three…”

They clicked.

And, simultaneously, an address appeared on both monitors: Chrysler Building, 78th floor.

The kid began to sputter. “So, that’s it? A fucking address? After all the fucking smoke and mirrors and…”

Harrison just stared at his screen. The kid kept getting louder and louder. Even the Asian man at terminal five took a break to crane his neck over and see what all the fuss was about.

“…And you know what? I’m tired of this. Let’s go. You and me. Chrysler Building, 78th floor. We can be there in forty-five minutes on the train. Let’s go find Kohen and ask him what the fuck he wants.”

“It’s not that easy, kid.”

“What do you mean, it’s not that easy? It’s the Chrysler Building! Second graders know where it is. What possible reason could we have for not going?”

“Well, for starters, the address says 78th floor.”

“Yeah? So?”

Harrison sighed. This had all the makings of a very long day. “So the Chrysler Building only has 77.”

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