BY JIM FLOOD
I was about two blocks away
from my apartment building on my way home from work when I came upon a film
crew dismantling a bunch of equipment in the street. There were lights and
cameras, but the action was all over. I scanned the faces of those in the
area, but saw no movie or TV stars. But in the course of my scanning, I did
notice a director’s chair that had “Dennis Franz” printed on its canvas
“Aha,” I thought,
“They’ve been filming NYPD Blue here.”
As I was walking by the
scene, I passed a table that made me stop and stare. On that table was a large
tray full of pastries. These were not your cheapo, grocery-store-bakery
pastries. They looked like they had come from an incredibly expensive and
fancy place. There were pastries of many varieties on that tray: bear claws,
turnovers, doughy puffs, oversized danishes with luscious icing dripped over
them, and many others.
I asked the guy who
happened to be closest to the table, “Hey, is anyone going to eat these?”
“Hell if I know,” he
“Do you think I could
take some?” I asked.
“I don’t give a
shit,” he said, walking away.
I looked around to see if
anyone in the area looked like they might have a problem with me taking some
pastries. They were all busy disassembling things or talking into cell phones
or to other people. So I quickly grabbed as many pastries as I could hold.
That was five. I piled them up and cupped my hands beneath them. The only way
to make sure I wouldn’t drop them was to walk with my arms outstretched in
front of me like one of the wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus.
At the end of that block
was a convenience store owned by these guys from Yemen. One of them was named
Lou. Or at least, that’s the name he went by. Lou liked to joke around with
customers. I went in there a lot to buy sundries, so he and I had a decent
When I walked by the store
with my pastries, Lou was standing out in front, talking to his
brother—whose name I never did know—and a couple of neighborhood
teenagers. One of those kids was dribbling a basketball. Lou spotted me and
said, “Hey, my friend. What have you brought me?”
I said, “Uh, I’m
bringing these home for myself, actually.”
“Where did you get
them?” he asked.
“From the set of NYPD
Blue, just over there,” I said.
“So you didn’t pay for
them,” he said.
“No,” I said, instantly
Lou grabbed a danish off
the top of the pile and said, “This one looks good.” Then the teenagers
each took one. After taking a bite of the first one, Lou took another one and
handed it to his brother. “These are delicious,” he said.
I still had one left.
Although peeved, I was not super pissed off, because the one I had left looked
like a good one—it was a raspberry danish, I think—and after all, I hadn’t
paid for them.
But then, just my luck, my
roommate Groover rode up on his bike. He was on his way to work. He was a
chef, so his hours were very different from mine. I said, “Hey man.”
“What have you got
there?” he asked.
“A pastry I stole from
NYPD Blue,” I said.
Even though there was just
the one pastry left, I was still holding it out in front of me with my hands
cupped together. I must have looked like an idiot. But anyway, that stance
made me vulnerable, and Groover jumped on the opportunity. He reached an arm
under mine and jabbed it upward, hitting my wrists hard. The pastry flew into
the air. Before I had time to react, he snatched it with his other hand, said,
“Later, sucker!” and rode off on his damn bike.
I walked back to the table
where the pastries had been. They were gone. I asked a guy, not the same guy
from before, if he knew where the pastries were. “Probably in the trash,”
he said. Then he said, “It’s over there,” and pointed at a dumpster.
I turned and walked home,
not sure whether I was more mad that I was pastryless or that some guy thought
I looked like the kind of person who’d resort to scavenging for pastries in