Part 1

People are crowded around the entrance as if a marathon race is about to begin and each individual thinks he can win. The lobby seems endless, is dimly lit with a yellow hue and entrances to dark, downward stairways are on both sides of the arched room. The sound is constant; magnified muffled voices and squeaks and squishes of scuffling shoes as potential passengers and lost visitors move about, trying to not run into one another but conceited enough to not care very much if they do.

A small rope marks off the entrance and, like a dog obeys a baby gate, all of the passengers are behind it. Everyone is edging for an advantage, turning slightly, bending their knees, stretching and twisting their backs in hope for one step closer until the attendant pulls the rope back and allows everyone to enter. A 30-something businessman notices a woman through the crowd, her legs crossed at the feet, leaning to the left as she squints to read something on her cell phone. She was far more concerned with her phone than bumping and pushing her way to the front of the mob and her carefree persona intrigued him.

He checked himself — khaki pants, Thom Browne loafers, argyle socks, Brooks Brothers slim fit, pinpoint, windowpane, button-down dress shirt — and because he had worked out at lunch his chest and arms were popping, at least in his own mind. She was wearing cheap riding boots on top of what looked like pajama jeans, a tattered t-shirt that he was almost positive said “Frankie say relax” on it, and a librarian sweater that was long enough to cover her pear shaped hips. The one-inch heel on her boots made her at least 6-1 and her tossed and tangled golden brown short hair completed her look, which was nearly opposite of the look he attempted to wear.

He decided it was worth the muscle required to fight his way through the crowd and strike up a conversation with the woman. I look good, she looks interesting, why not he asked himself. Two shoulder bumps, one near bear crawl and four steps later, he stood before her, checking himself to be certain the slim fit shirt was slim fitting.

“Hi,” he leaned in and said to her, looking up to make eye contact.

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