Chapter Thirty Three

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Dear Diary,

I woke up this morning in my little New York hotel room with a great big knot in my stomach. It stayed right up until I brushed my teeth in front of the rusty mirror in the bathroom. I say bathroom but it’s more like a toilet wedged next to a shower with hardly any space to stand up. Today was the day Farley would meet Leo.

It was all arranged. Central Park, near the subway station. Leo hardly mentioned a thing about it. I told him just after we landed here - that Farley wanted to see the band play and that he was coming to see the gig. When I first said it his head spun round and I thought he might have a temper fit. But no, it was like he fought to hold it back and just nodded his head slowly instead.

I wish he had got angry. We could have shouted it all out, had a big fight right there in JFK airport. At least I would have a better clue what he’s feeling. All this quietness, it gives me the creeps. But I didn’t prod him much – at least he had agreed to meet him.

So this morning I knocked on Leo’s hotel room door, one down from mine. It was so dark in the cramped hallway, even though I had just seen blazing sunlight through my porthole of a window. I heard him scrambling around inside and eventually he opened the door.

‘Hey,’ he said, pulling a grey t-shirt over his newly showered head.

‘Morning,’ I said.

‘What you up to?’ he said, avoiding my eyes.

‘I’m calling on you… We’ve got somewhere to be today,’ I said.

‘Yeah, yeah, I know that. I haven’t forgot. Aren’t we doing that later though?’ he said.

‘Well, yeah, but I wondered if you wanted to hang out before? Maybe get one of those “bagel” things that everyone keeps going on about. This guy yesterday said I should go to this place a few blocks from here as they give you these bagels with anything you can think of like cream cheese, fish and all sorts of stuff,’ I said.

‘Ew, fish,’ he said, screwing up his face.

‘Aw come on, bro,’ I said, punching him lightly on the arm.

For a moment I saw the old Leo poking through, as though he wasn’t sure if it was safe for him to come out.

‘I’ve already promised Marilyn we’d do stuff today,’ he said.

‘Hmmm,’ I said, barging through the door and into the room.

‘What are you going to do?’ I said.

‘Uh well, she wants to go shopping, you know, on Fifth Avenue,’ he said.

I laughed. The thought of Leo traipsing around all those big shops.

‘Well… If I come with you guys we can all meet Farley at the subway near Central Park,’ I said.

‘Uh… Um,’ he said.

‘What?’ I said.

‘Is that the right place?’ he said.

‘Do you not know where Central Park is?’ I said, tutting and shaking my head.

‘New York is about as big as England, how am I supposed to know?’

‘Use the guidebook,’ I said. ‘I’ve practically memorized every section of Manhattan already.’

‘Great for you,’ he said.

‘Anyway, that’s it solved then. I will come with you today,’ I said, carrying myself back out the room.

‘I’ll wait for you in the lobby.’

‘K,’ he said.

I waited for him, watching the people going back and forth. I'm amazed by all the different shapes and size of the people. In Ellwood everyone’s pretty much pale skinned and they all wear things like cardigans and jeans. Here I’ve seen a black man in a mini skirt. It’s like, wow.

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