Jaws Fanfiction: Captain Quint Shark Hunter - 7. Chapter 7 Grand Central
Chapter Seven: Grand Central
Abel stood at the top of the steps that led down to the concourse of Grand Central Station and looked about him in amazement. He had read somewhere in a magazine that New York was the city that never slept, and until now he had never really known what that meant. All night diners, neon lights, midnight picture shows, taxi cabs cruising the streets,gaudy women loitering on corners even in the shivering cold, the sounds of jazz music coming from basement clubs and bars, diners glimpsed behind the large plate glass windows of swanky restaurants. In Amity even the stop lights that swung on wires above the intersection on Franklin and Main stopped working after eleven, and by midnight it was like a ghost town. Here in New York life never stopped. It was four o’clock in the morning and the dark night pressed against the station’s huge arched windows. The interior was illuminated by a rich yellow light and echoed with the conversations of those milling about on the concourse below. Perhaps it was the time of night, or perhaps it was the vaulted cathedral-like structure that impressed upon them a sense of reverence. Whatever it was, the voices that rose and mingled in the air were hushed and subdued. Occasionally, a cry or a whoop or a holler rang out when a knot of servicemen crossed the marbled floor.
Abel’s attention was caught by the sight of a young mother crossing the concourse, wheeling an infant in a baby carriage. She halted at the foot of the steps, put down a battered suitcase, and looked about her. She was dressed all in black and Abel wondered if she was already a widow. How many widows would the coming war make? How many of those men in uniform joshing with each other would fall under enemy fire? Abel dismissed these thoughts from his head. One thing was sure. He was going to get through without a scratch.
The young mother had manoeuvred the baby carriage around and was attempting to haul it up the stairs, one step at a time. With the suitcase to carry, it was an impossible task. The infant, woken by the sudden jolt, began to cry. People walked past, absorbed in their own lives. A fat man in a thick overcoat brushed past the woman as he came down the stairs and glared at her angrily. Abel shook his head and, taking the steps three at a time, raced down the two flights.
‘Can I help you with that, ma’am?’ He grasped the bar of the carriage and relieved the woman of the burden of her suitcase in a single movement. He started backwards up the steps, pulling the baby carriage after him.
‘Oh, thank you,’ the woman said. ‘You’re so kind.’
The baby in the carriage yelled.
‘He’s got quite a pair of lungs for a little one,’ said Abel.
‘He’s a she,’ said the mother with a smile.
‘Even better,’ said Abel.
They reached the top of the stairs and stood together for a moment in an awkward silence. The woman raised her purse as if she meant to open it. Abel took a step back.
‘Thank you,’ she said.
‘Ma’am,’ Abel replied, tipping the brim of his hat.
The young woman stared at him with moist eyes. Her lower lip trembled.
‘Are you planning on joining up?’ she asked.
‘Yes, ma’am.’ Abel smiled and puffed his chest out proudly.
The woman stepped forward and touched his wrist.
‘I wish you wouldn’t,’ she said.
Her fingers tightened their grasp.
‘Don’t,’ she said. ‘Don’t.’
And then, suddenly, her eyes rolled back and she collapsed onto the floor.
Abel caught her before she fell and lowered her down.
‘Help,’ he called out. ‘Somebody help.’
Several people came running and a small crowd gathered around the prostrate woman.
‘Give her some air.’
‘Is there a doctor here?’
‘What’s the matter?’
‘This man’s wife, she just fainted.’
‘Mister, has she done this before?’
‘She’s not my wife,’ Abel said.
He backed away. The woman in black seemed to be coming round. Her eyelids fluttered open and her gaze found Abel’s.
Her mouth formed the word, Don’t.
She reached out her hand. Abel turned and ran down the stairs. He felt as if someone had just walked over his grave.