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Big Apple: Rotten to the Core


Liam Brennan

The Times was right for once thought Wayne Newton, a tall, Middle Eastern man. He tossed the newspaper in a garbage can with the anachronistic “Excelsior” logo of old New York on it. A vagrant had transformed the goddesses Liberty and Justice into busty working girls.

“As if they needed any help,” Newton muttered, slipping a backpack on.

A construction worker in typical ripped jeans and plaid shirt took a step closer in the turnstiles. Newton tossed a coin into the slot, the worker slipped through the gate behind him, bumping into Newton’s side to avoid the steel bars.

“Two for the price of one, hey pal?” the worker joked.

“Excuse me?” Newton replied.

The worker patted him on the back with a plaster-covered hand, “The gate. Go through four times a day to work for the damn city.” They stepped to the platform and awaited the sky-train that was slowly hovering forward.

“Whatta ya do?” the worker asked. “What?” said Newton. “Your job, you’ve got one don’t ya?” the worker said sarcastically.

“Yes,” said Newton, attempting to will the train forward while checking his watch.

“Well what is it?” griped the worker.

“I sell shoes,” said Newton as the train arrived.

Before the war, the train cars were remodeled into hollow shells with a force field beams for doors. They entered and leaned against the wall, grabbing support straps that hung from the roof. The beam closed and the train shot off on a whim, sailing out amidst the burned out skyscrapers that were once a pristine skyline.

“It’s a shame, hey pal?” said the worker, studying the collapsed Empire State Building in the distance.

“What?” Newton said.

The worker choked down a sandwich as he opened his mouth to speak, “What’s happened to this city. Used to be such a special place, greatest city in the world they said.”

Newton glanced out the window, picturing the city in its former glory, realizing the harsh reality that had taken control.

“Sell shoes do ya?” inquired the worker.

“My father and I owned a store,” he said.

“I was never one for shoe shoppin’. No need for anything new in my line of work,” said the worker.

Newton stared down at the worker’s new running shoes, recalling selling them to him a few days earlier as he discussed the funeral arrangements with a co-worker. “What do you do sir?” Newton asked.

“Construction, can’t ya tell? Don’t gotta call me sir, I ain’t your old man,” he said as he wolfed down the last bite. “What’s your name anyways?” the worker asked.

“Newton,” he replied. The worker laughed, “What like the apple or the singer?” Newton looked at him with a blank expression, “The singer actually. My father adored him, or Americana I suppose.”

“So you’re Wayne Newton?” asked the worker. “Unfortunately,” Newton responded, staring at a disfigured Statue of Liberty, half restored from the head down.

The worker burst out laughing as the other passengers looked increasingly uncomfortable in his presence. “That’s funny pal. Bring him out sometime. We just reopened her halfway. Still workin’ on the reno’s up top. Guess I shouldn’t complain, it puts money in the bank,” said the worker.

“He passed. Last week,” said Newton softly.

“Sorry to hear that pal,” said the worker as the Liberty Island stop was announced. Newton adjusted his backpack and waited for the beam to open. “She’s gonna be a good welcome sign when I’m done don’t worry. That’s what this country’s all about right? Lettin’ people of all sorts come in and have their way.” Newton turned back and stared into the worker’s eyes suspiciously before they stepped out beneath the Statue.

Moments later, the elevator doors opened and Newton slid the backpack from his shoulders. Tears filled his eyes as he stepped to the edge of the makeshift-viewing gallery and shakily reached inside. Pulling out an urn, he held it out into the cool October sky and emptied its contents into the waters. He glanced down below to see the worker sprinting away from the base of the statue in his new shoes. Newton frowned and stared down at backpack where a small device with a flashing red light. The plastered hand tapping his shoulder ran through his mind as the bag exploded, sending flames up through the statue and bringing down the last remaining landmark since the second civil war had broken out.

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