Chapter 10: New York New York
Honey, you are a rock
Upon which I stand
And I come here to talk
I hope you understand
The green eyes
Yeah, the spotlight shines upon you
And how could
Anybody deny you?
I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter now I've met you
An' honey you should know
That I could never go on without you
We arrived at JFK just before 3pm, both of us were refreshed after being able to relax in business class and sleep for a couple of hours.
We walked out of the terminal straight into an oven, New York was scorching hot, I flagged a taxi, not a driverless e-Mercedes but an old-fashioned yellow cab, I had done the journey before it would take roughly 45 minutes to reach Manhatten.
I told the cab driver we were booked into the Wellington Hotel on the corner of 7th Avenue and 55th Street.
As we approached Robert f Kennedy bridge Maggie glimpsed the Manhattan skyline for the first time.
"Oh boy, would you look at that," she said excitedly.
"I know, it's simply amazing, it's even better in the evening."
"It takes my breath away," said Maggie.
We crossed East River into East Harlem and onto 5th Avenue along Central Park and onto the hotel, I paid the cabby and thanked him for the trip.
Maggie stood on the pavement looking down 7th Avenue.
"It's a little different to Amsterdam Maggie."
A doorman in a grey uniform opened the double glass and brass doors to the foyer and we entered the reception area, the decor was brass and grey marble with a huge crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling
We checked in, Maggie's publisher had booked us into a deluxe double-double room, a suite with two double beds, obviously I had to respect Maggies no sex before marriage wish but at least get a good night's sleep, the room had a window overlooking Central Park, there was also airconditioning much to our delight. We both lay together on our beds, exhausted after the 8 and a half hour flight and the taxi trip to the hotel. Within seconds we had fallen asleep.
"COOPER! COOPER! wake up, we have slept in."
I opened my eyes to see Maggie shaking me awake, "what's going on," I asked still sleepy.
"It's almost 7 o'clock and we have to meet my publisher and his wife in the lobby at 8 pm," Maggie said in a panic.
"You jump in the shower and I'll sort my clothes out," I shouted giggling.
"The man is falling over himself to give you of money, he will wait."
"I don't want to be late, it's rude," shouted Maggie.
We entered the lobby at 8 pm sharp, Maggie wore a red flower print dress and red heels looking absolutely stunning, I wore a dark blue suit and white shirt.
A well-dressed man shouted, "Maggie, my dear," and walked across to us with his equally well-dressed wife hanging on his arm.
He embraced Maggie and said how good it was to see her.
The man in his late 50's introduced us to his wife, Victoria also in her late 50's, Maggie introduced me to both of them and said to me this is Mr and Mrs Allan Williams, we shook hands and Mr Williams led us into the hotel restaurant, he had reserved a table for four.
Mr Williams asked us all what we wanted to drink, I was going to ask for a cold beer until I heard Mrs Williams order a magnum of Dom Perignon, "tonight we will celebrate Maggie's success," she said!
"Tonight is all about Maggie," said Mr Williams.
Maggie smiled and said," thank you.
"That is very kind of you Mrs Williams," I said.
"Oh please call me Victoria," she said.
The waiter poured the champagne and Mr Williams stood up with his glass of bubbly.
"To Maggie and her wonderful literary career, cheers to you my dear," he said.
"To Maggie," we all said, raising our glasses, people on the other tables were now watching us, which made Maggie feel a little awkward.
"And I hear you are both to be married, congratulations, what a talented couple you will make," said Victoria.
"We have been following your blog very closely too, Cooper," said Allan.
"Thank you, Allan, with all the terrible events around the world recently it makes my job very easy," I said sadly.
"Yes, I know, it's a terrible thing," he said.
"Maybe you will consider our company when you get round to writing your book," he smiled.
"Oh yes, for sure," I said thinking about that fat advance for Maggie.
The conversation flowed just as freely as the Champagne, Mr Williams ordered another bottle of Dom Perignon and two bottles of Chateau Margaux 1996 at around 400$ a bottle and the food was even better than the wine.
As we finished the meal Mr Williams made another speech...
"On behalf of The Williams Publishing Group who hold Maggie in such high esteem, I would like to present to you this cheque for a 100,000 dollars as an advance on the release of your wonderful work, thank you, Maggie," he said.
We all clapped for Maggie.
We thanked Williams's for a wonderful evening and walked then to the reception area. We thanked them one more time and took the lift up to our room, I pulled Maggie toward me in the lift and whispered well done, she smiled and kissed me.
Maggie kicked off her heels and dived onto the bed, I took off my jacket and opened the mini bar, "fancy some more champagne," I asked?
I popped the bottle and poured two glasses, I opened the hotel window and we both sat on the bed watching New Yorkers doing their thing, just as we would have done back home on the balcony.
Maggie looked into my eyes and said softly, "hey honey, we just have to wait another three and a half months and then we can sleep together, can you do that for me," she whispered?
I looked into her eyes and said, "you can read my mind now can you." I said laughing?
We both got up early the next morning with surprisingly clear heads considering what we had drunk, Maggie made coffee from the mini bar and switched on the news.
The Iran Israel conflict had blown up again, Syrian witnesses claimed that warplanes flying from Lebanese airspace conducted a strike near an airport in Homs in Syria, following earlier reports of Israeli aircraft being seen above Lebanon. According to the Syrian Al-Marsad organization for human rights, the attack was aimed at a Hezbollah base. Twenty-one people were reportedly killed in the strike, including nine Iranians.
"This ain't going away anytime fast," said Maggie.
The report continued, "Syria, was supplying Hizbullah with Russian weapons. Israeli forces had found evidence of the Russian-made rocket systems in Hizbullah's possession in southern Lebanon. The Russian's responded to the accusations of supplying terrorist groups with weapons was an act of aggression toward the Russian people by Israel and would not be tolerated.
Meanwhile, Officials confirmed Popocatepetl volcano belched into life again in the early hours of Monday. The 9,556km-high stratovolcano dominates the landscape in Central Mexico, lying about 69 kilometres (43 miles) from Mexico City. The volcano has a population of about 30 million people living within a 70km radius of its summit. Volcanic debris was pelted 400 metres skywards, while a column of ash and smoke could be seen rising two kilometres high. Mexico's civil defence chief tweeted: "As a result of the Popocatepetl activity recorded this morning, we have reports of an ash fall in Amecameca, Acuautla, Ecatzingo, Ozumba and Tepetlixpa." Residents were urged to remain out of a 12km exclusion zone put into operation around the mountainside.
Maggie said, "come on let's get out of here and do some sight-seeing."
"Just a minute," I pleaded.
"Another jellyfish story," I reasoned.
A small and stinging species of jellyfish has been found on Sweden's West coast, the Swedish Television SVT reported on Monday. The species is known as the clinging jellyfish, and it was last seen in Sweden 88 years ago. It originates from the Pacific Ocean and was last seen in Sweden in 1930. It has also been found in Norway and Denmark, but never before has it managed to breed in Sweden," marine biologist Bjorn Magnuson told SVT. The clinging jellyfish occasionally appears also on the American East Coast and usually, the coastguards warn about it at the seaside resorts.
Maggie started pulling my arm.
"Ok, ok I'm coming," I shouted at Maggie, laughing.
We walked out of the foyer and turned left onto 7th Ave, it was already a hot one but the high buildings offered lots of shade. We headed southwards, the further south we headed, the taller the buildings became. We walked from 7th Ave directly onto Broadway and marvelled at all the banners advertising the Broadway shows. From Broadway, we continued south and took in Times Square, from Times Square we went to the top of the Empire State Building, which Maggie found utterly exciting. After the Empire State Building, we flagged a taxi and drove down into Greenwich Village where we stopped off at a small red and white checked tablecloth bistro for lunch, after lunch we walked a while, we then jumped in another taxi which took us to One World Trade Centre, and went by lift onto the observatory floor 101 floors into the sky, I was lucky enough to have seen the same view I had as a kid from the then twin towers, which were sadly bombed on 9/11/201. From here we walked south to Battery Park and caught the ferry to the Statue of Liberty Island. From there we caught the ferry back to Manhatten and haled a cab which took us back to the hotel. It's impossible to do New York in a week never mind a day but it's the best we could do, we had to fly home tomorrow and tonight Maggie wanted to see a show on Broadway.
We arrived back at the hotel not too late, after the Broadway Show, a stage production of Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird," Maggie's choice, it was also a favourite book of mine.
There was a bar in the hotel, we both decided to have a drink on our last night in New York. We sat at the end of a long bar, behind the bar a large wall monitor which was showing a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, Maggie ordered two cold beers. The bar was pretty full and the atmosphere was good.
Maggie said, "this is a real American bar, it's just like the one in Cheer's, the old TV show, can you remember"?
"Yeah, it is," I said.
A Yankees player smashed the ball into the crowd for a home run and most of the people in the bar stood up and started cheering, jumping and clapping, just like the football fans back home. Maggie had a look of bemusement on her face and she asked me what was going on, I explained the guy on the tv just scored a home run for the New Yorkers.
"Oh," she said, "you mean like in rounders."
I laughed out loud and said, " yeah, just like rounders, we both started laughing.
Suddenly the ball game was interrupted, a woman appeared on the screen and said, "we interrupt this game with some breaking news."
In the bar, you could hear a pin drop.
She went on, "the USS coastal patrol ship, Torpedo, has been sunk in the Strait Of Hormuz just off the coast of Iran this evening."
"It is thought a group seven fast-attack craft harrassed the US Navy ship by surrounding it and following the patrol ship," she said.
"This kind of provocative behaviour by Iran's military has been ongoing against US vessels in this part of the world, however, this time it has escalated, two of the fast-attack craft peeled away from the others and pulled up alongside the USS Torpedo and detonated what was described as a two massive suicide bombs which blew two huge holes in the side of the patrol ship which sank in minutes," she said.
The bar was silent.
Maggie grabbed my hand.
"It is not known at this moment what has become of the crew of thirty-two," she said.
She went on, "the White House has not issued a statement as of now, we will be keeping you updated with any updates."
The ball game came back onto the screen in the bar the noise level increased immediately as people began talking again.
"Iran has just dragged the US into this," said Maggie.
"This might be a terrorist attack," I said.
A local heard me and barked back at me in a broad New York dialect, "we should send our boys back over there to kick their butts, this isn't a terrorist attack, Iran did this and we will make them pay!"
On the screen, the Yankees scored another home-run but this time no one noticed.
Maggie checked her phone for updates but there was none.
The atmosphere in the bar was becoming increasingly ugly so I took Maggie by the hand and left, we went to our room.
In our room, I switched on the tv, of course, all the news stations were running with the boat attack but with no extra information than we already knew.
I switched off the tv.
Maggie poured us both a glass of red wine.
"Thanks," I said.
Maggie looked at me concerned and asked, "will this lead to war?"
"I think the US will see this as an act of war for sure," I replied.
"If the crew are dead well, that does make the situation more serious of course," I added.
"Could this be the build-up or, the beginning of WWIII," Maggie asked?
"You would be better at answering that question than me, what does the Bible say, how would WWIII begin," I asked.
"Well according to a Revelation to John, The war of Armageddon will begin when world leaders are manipulated by Satan to attack Israel and everyone who worships Jehovah," Maggie explained.
"The scale of the attack will be global."
She went on, "actually the war of Armageddon is a prophecy in which God promises to save the lives of millions of people, the book of Revelation talks of a great crowd who will survive the war while God promises to destroy all the people who are destroying the world and the wicked."
"God also promises to end all wars, death and pain after Armageddon," said Maggie.
"So as believers we should be hoping for war," I said.
"Well yes, I guess so, but Jehovah expects people who worship him to be peaceable and to love our neighbours, so hoping for war which would kill millions of people is not how a true Christian should be thinking," said Maggie.
"No," I agreed.
"In second Timothy 3:1, Timothy warns us when he said, but know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here," Maggie said.
"So true, and wars and rumours of wars," I said.
"Almost everyone is reeling from financial crises, family breakdown, war, deadly disease outbreaks, and natural or man-made disasters, along with a variety of personal worries, it is so hard for people these days," I added.
"Don't forget, Jesus Christ warned us that‘nation would rise against nation’ and food shortages and pestilences would sweep through the earth in Mattew 24," said Maggie.
We awoke early the next morning, we had to be at JFK no later than 1 pm.
Maggie was already in the shower, I made coffee and turned on the tv. Iran was denying any knowledge of the attack on the American coastal patroller.
The 32 crew members of the sunken USS Torpedo had been presumed dead, lost at sea, a video had emerged showing the survivors being shot dead in the water. ISIS had claimed responsibility but they claim responsibility for everything recently.
Maggie came into the room and kissed me, "Hi darling, what's happening," she asked?
"ISIS has claimed responsibility," I said.
The White House claimed it was making its own inquiries into the attack and had warned Iran if any evidence of their involvement in the deaths of the 32 crew members the White House would consider it an act of war.
"Could ISIS pull off something like this," Maggie asked?
"I suppose they could although they had been relatively quiet recently, maybe they are having a resurgence," I added.
The news moved on to the northern hemisphere heat wave, 128 people were dead and more than 20,000 others had been treated in hospital after South Korea's all-time heat record was smashed this week.
Spain and Portugal were both expected to smash their hottest temperature ever recorded with temperatures set to approach 50 deg C (120 deg F) in some parts of Southern Spain and Portugal this weekend. The current European record is 48C (118.4F) set in Athens in July 1977 but that temperature is in danger of being surpassed as a surge of hot air was sweeping in from Africa.
According to the BBC, Portugal's national record is 47.4C (117.3F), set in 2003 would be broken. Spain's peak of 47.3C (117.1F) was only set in July 2024. Europe's weather warning group, Meteoalarm, had already issued red warnings - categorised as very dangerous and pose a risk to life - for much of southern Portugal and for the Badajoz province in Spain.
Parts of North Western Europe had been gripped by a heatwave since the end of May with droughts hitting farmers in Sweden, the UK and Ireland, Holland, Belgium and Germany.
Many of the above countries have not had any significant rain since the beginning of May.
"Honey we have to move," said Maggie.
"You betcha," I said in my best American accent. We checked out of the Wellington and asked them to call a cab to take us to JFK.
How Soon Is Now? earlier chapters
How Soon Is Now? earlier chapters