July in New York can be hot. And this day was no exception.
My friend Dave and I were making our way on foot, from Manhattan, to Grimaldi's, Brooklyn, the celebrated Pizza Parlour. At a guess, I would say the temperatures were in the upper nineties as we walked in downtown Manhattan; and though we were dressed appropriately (I wore light linen trousers and an even lighter cheesecloth shirt, and Dave was in shorts and tee-shirt) our discomfort showed in our red, sweaty faces, as we puzzled - how to get to the pedestrian walkway? We could see the bridge (it's difficult to miss) but we didn't have the vantage point to discern roads and pathways leading to it.
We guessed, if we walked back in towards the built-up area we would catch sight of the road leading to the bridge, and logically, this should be parallel to the 'footbridge'. So off we went, up a slight incline; the towering concrete of the city looming over of us.
A little way ahead, a man, short and slightly built, carried a bottle of water. He strode, unhurried up the incline. Dave called out, "Excuse me, sir. Do you know how we can get onto the bridge?". He stopped and turned. Steady eyes appraised us, and he replied with the question, "You're from England aren't you?".
Although the water he carried testified somewhat to his awareness of the heat, he otherwise appeared unperturbed. Underneath the intense mid-afternoon sun, he was relaxed and amicable, as he spoke of the UK with knowledge and affection. A charming fellow for sure, taking time out on the most sultry of summer days, to talk to strangers from Europe.
We passed the time listening to him demonstrate a remarkable knowledge of association football, and England in general; and as he adjusted his standing position his jacket fell open. I caught a glimpse of what looked like a polished wooden gun-handle; and as a Brit, unused to such things, I almost did a double-take. I couldn't resist asking, "Can I ask you a personal question?"
"Sure" came the reply".
"Is that a gun you're carrying there?".
Relaxed, as if it was the most natural question in the world, he answered, "Yep. I'm a cop, and this is where I work". With a slight movement of his head he indicated the building we were adjacent to.
We said our goodbyes and watched as he walked, or rather, flowed across the pavement with spectral serenity, into the doorway, and out of sight.
Probably the coolest bloke I've ever met.
Dave and I paused, momentarily computing the encounter; then, with what seemed like a shrug, we stepped in unison, away from the precinct, to find the walkway.