Every morning in 2010 I checked the weather for New York City. The forecast determined my attire for the diamond exchange, especially as the seasons of September seesawed between summer and autumn. The weather bureau predicted a temperature of 75 with rain later in the afternoon. I dressed in a lightweight suit. My umbrella was in the closet at work.

Morning passed into afternoon with the air growing heavy around 3. I stepped outside the exchange and studied the western sky. I tensed my fingers into a fist. None of the knuckles crackled with age, indicating a falling barometer. The air was thick with humidity. A storm was on its way and I figured it would hit around closing time.

I had to be at an art opening by 6:30 and I returned to my desk to old customers. It had been a slow day. The telephone rang at 4:30. Manny my boss was calling on his cell. My 80 year-old boss had taken off the day. His hip was bothering him.

“You be careful.” His voice was edged with urgency. He was calling from his Midtown apartment rented from his second son.

“I’m always careful.” 47th Street was plagued by thieves.

“There are reports of tornadoes.”

“Tornadoes?” I dismissed his weather report as the hysterical reaction to the fear-mongering tactics of the TV news.

“Yes, severe thunderstorms are expected and the clouds are getting dark. I can see them from my window.” Manny was from Brownsville, whose motto was “Never ran. Never will.”

“You’re not joking, are you?”

“No.” Very little scared Manny, but he was worried about his son.

“Where’s Richie Boy?”

“He’s talking to a customer.” Richie Boy was listening to a beautiful female client explain how her fiancee gave her the ring in Vietnam.

“Tell him to stay inside.”

“I don’t think there’s any problem of that.” The Ford model had long legged and girlish breasts. Richie Boy wasn’t going anywhere.

“Go outside and tell me about the sky.”

“Just a sec.” I exited the store and checked out the western horizon.

It was very dark.

“I went back into the exchange and picked up the phone.

“We’re not going anywhere until it’s over.”

“Good, because the TV is warning people to seek refuge in their cellars.”

“Just like THE WIZARD OF OZ.” Dorothy and her dog Toto had been sucked into the heavens by a Kansas twister. Their house had landed atop the Wicked Witch. The munchkin EMS had declared her dead on the scene. Manny was a life-long Democrat and I said, “Maybe if we’re lucky the exchange will fall on GOP.”

“I’m being serious.” Manny sounded like one of the extras from LA tornado scene in THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW. “A line of black clouds is approaching.”

Storm chasers describe this phenomena as the ‘bear’s cage’.

“We’ll stay inside.” Gloomy rain pelted 47th Street. Pedestrians sought shelter under the alcove of the exchange. Richie Boy’s had yet to break from the tall model. He was close enough to smell her perfume.

It was an innocent flirtation.

Richie Boy was always faithful to his wife.

Same as me to mine.

The wind whooshed through the canyon of 47th Street. The storm blew past in five minutes. I called Manny to tell him that we were all right. The old man was relieved by the news. He was heading downstairs to his local bar. The model left and Richie Boy said, “Let’s close.”

It was only 5:15. His father never shut the store before 5:30. My co-worker Ava hit the interior showcase like a Pirate of the Caribbean. We were out of there by 6.

I got home to Brooklyn at 6:30. A tree had fallen on my street. My apartment was soaked by rain. I had left the windows open. An actual tornado had struck my neighborhood. I phoned Manny. He was in the bar.

“You were right. There was a tornado.”

“I don’t joke about shit like that.”

“I know.”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes.” I was drinking a little wine and eating yellow tomatoes.

“And my son?” Manny was a father of four and only one thing mattered to men like us.

“Fine I last saw.”

I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Barring wind, sleet, rain or snow.”

I was glad to have the work. These were strange times in many more ways than the weather.

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