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Two Left Fate

 

New York Aberrant, March 14, 2009

 

While some may disdain the increase in public security cameras (and let’s not even get into the worldwide amateur film festival that has resulted from all the cell phones out there), what society at large has lost from the sense of constant scrutiny has been a gain for us here at the Aberrant in as much as we are now sometimes able to back up our stories of hiccupping reality with actual video evidence. [And I can already hear the Underwoods being fired up for letters in defense of the purely anecdotal. -Ed.]

            Case in point: the whimsical near-fate of baked goods deliveryman Victor Dueñas. A native New Yorker, Dueñas has been schlepping bread and assorted pastries for Brooklyn’s Dough Remy Bakery for decades. He feels completely at home behind the wheel of his truck and is made to feel likewise in the various stops around his route. It’s the in-between that preyed on his mind. Or rather two very specific parts of the in-between: fire escape ladders and metal basement doors in the sidewalk.

            “It’s kinda dumb, and I wish I could say it comes from something in my childhood or something, but the truth is I don’t really know when these fears started. I vaguely remember that the fire escape thing kinda started as a notion – you know, something that just occurred to me – that just stuck, and then I couldn’t be close to one without thinking about it.”

            Dueñas, 46, is a thin-haired man with a small pencil mustache. Physically, he’s of fair size, much of it muscle, but even those well-equipped to deal with the city’s human dangers are still prone to certain universal factors, such as gravity. And along the way, Dueñas found that he couldn’t pass underneath a fire escape ladder without worrying that it was going to fall suddenly and crack open his skull. Similarly, he found that passing over a metal basement door in the sidewalk also suffused him with the fear that it was going to open up beneath him, sending him plunging down metal steps or onto a concrete floor covered in the kind of grime that makes the sidewalks seem positively lickable, not that he’d care since his neck would be broken.

            “It can be embarrassing,” he continues. “I mean, it’s not usually that difficult to avoid walking over one or under the other, but it does happen that it becomes unavoidable – these streets can get crowded, y’know – and if someone sees you making special pains to walk around them, well, it can lead to uncomfortable questions. Especially since I knew – or thought I knew – that it was largely irrational.”

            So uncomfortable did it make him that he vowed to overcome both fears, and with a little personal strength (and a little therapy) he was successful. Which makes what happened this past Tuesday all the more ironic.

            “I’m in Murray Hill, making a delivery at one of my regular stops, a Korean deli. I’ve dropped off the shipment and I’m walking out just as these two young ladies are about to walk in. So I step to the side to get outta their way. Suddenly I hear a, I don’t know, a kind of a cracking sound above me. I look up. The goddamn ladder- ‘scuse me, the ladder from the fire escape is falling right towards my head. Now everything seems to be in slow motion, although it actually happened so fast, I didn’t even have a chance to react. My brain is screaming run, but before I can even move, I realize that the ladder is falling, but it’s not getting any closer. And that’s when I notice the strange feeling beneath my feet, which, it turns out, is because there ain’t nothing there!”

            Yes, indeed, both of Mr. Dueñas’s bygone fears came true at once. The ladder above him fell and the door to the basement of the deli, upon which he had unwittingly stepped, opened, simultaneously. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, since the fall into the basement, where he landed on some soft bags of garbage, prevented the ladder from cleaving his brainbox in twain. He emerged from the basement somewhat slimy, but unhurt.

            “My ma, God bless her, thinks it’s a miracle. The funny thing is, having successfully put those fears behind me in the past, I’m disinclined to think of it as anything more than wild coincidence and dumb luck.”

            And in other dumb luck news, one of the security cameras inside the deli managed to capture the entire incident through the window, lending credence to what might otherwise be dismissed as shag of the dog. Aside from Mr. Dueñas’s disappearing act, additional entertainment can be had in the reaction of the two girls for whom he stepped aside, as the startled reaction of one sends the other careening through the door and into a stand of individual-sized snack packets. Footage available exclusively at the Aberrant website for those in search of a glorious example of random order or just a good cheap laugh.

 



Note: The Aberrant is, for the nonce, a fictional newspaper. No such publication exists. Yet.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
flexibleflyer
Mar. 20th, 2009 01:54 pm (UTC)
A letter to the Editor:

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.

But I'm damned if New York, New York can't come up with something even weirder.

You humans have got to get your collective act together.

R. Baty, Tucson, AZ
marxo_grouch
Mar. 21st, 2009 10:13 pm (UTC)
Dear R.,

We wouldn't have suggested, after your last letter, that you keep watching the skies if we had known that it would only make you homesick.

By the way, the check for your personal ad bounced.
flexibleflyer
Mar. 21st, 2009 11:23 pm (UTC)
Sirs,

After numerous unsatisfactory relationship outcomes with individuals met on your personals page (none, to my knowledge, has ever lasted for more than four years) I emptied the remainder of my bank account and have invested in an electric sheep.

R.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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