I am at the corner of Bowery and the Manhattan Bridge. I’ve walked from my office in SoHo to this point with the intent of getting a taxi over the bridge and back home. I didn’t take the subway because I was scared.
Along the way, Canal Street. 90 degree heat. Tourists and the residents of Chinatown making mincemeat of the sidewalk. The honking of cars, trucks, buses. The smell of diesel fumes and fish mongers, fruit rotting in the sun, the subway lurching beneath. I need water, but I’m not certain I can hold it down. I walk into a Chinese pharmacy that is an actual pharmacy and not an imitation RiteAid. I am disappointed.
On the corner of Bowery and the Manhattan Bridge, I smoke a cigarette in the shade. I consider my options. On the one hand, I can take a taxi. On the other hand, I might need to vomit again, which would be bad in a taxi. I am conflicted. I start walking over the bridge, and when I am forced to stop and dry heave for five minutes, kicking up bile and the last drops of water in my system, I am glad that I haven’t gotten a taxi.
When I start to feel sick at work I go to the bathroom and splash water onto my face. Steve is just getting off the shitter. Steve is new and he’s in a management role of some sort. I don’t know if I should be deferential to him, but I haven’t been yet because he doesn’t yet know what the hell he’s talking about. I tell him I don’t feel well and he tells me that I look sunburned. See what I mean? Doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about.
The elevator is going to take too long, so I take the stairs. In retrospect, this probably wasn’t the best idea, as the jostling inside me as I jog down six flights of stairs can’t be helping my nausea, a fact that is confirmed when I get outside and Valencia, coming back from lunch, says, “Bye, Tom,” and I choke back vomit, hustle over to a bin without a plastic liner, and spew.
A man walking past stops to ask me if I’m okay. I fail to muster, “I’m pretty fucking far from okay,” but I do manage to tell him, “No,” before keeling back over into the bin. He tells me to nestle my stomach and I spit snot into the bin. He walks on. I wipe the sweat off my face with my arm, look back at Larry, who operates the freight elevator on this side of the building, and suddenly feel guilty knowing that someone will have to clean up my vomit off of the empty Pepsi bottles. The men unloading the truck that’s keeping Larry so busy look at me with something between pity and glee, and I want to shout at them to stop fucking staring you assholes haven’t you ever seen anyone get food poisoning before. Of course, it’s New York, so everyone is looking and no one is looking. I just walk away.
Later, when I puke into a sewer grate (which move, I should add, I’m pretty proud of given that there were no trash bins nearby to puke in), I don’t really care if people are gawking at me from their benches or beats, bus seats or taxi cabs. I just care about it being over.
I walk for two hours, out of SoHo, over the Manhattan Bridge, through downtown Brooklyn to the middle of Fort Greene Park. I stop briefly to rest my feet. Then I keep going.