New York City, the Big Apple, the city that never sleeps – a moniker that was true no matter how hard you tried to hide the fact. Lights were always on, sirens always blared. I had memories of mountains, but I couldn’t recall when or how I had ever seen them. But I had once in my life and it didn’t matter now, I wasn’t sure I would even know what to do when out of a city.
Even with no memory of who I was before I woke up on that park bench by the officer, I knew how to survive here. They weren’t memories, more like instinct, but they were there. And a few hours after wandering the city at night I found myself standing in front of an old brown stone building in Harlem. The buildings were all owned by someone I had once known – I think. I didn’t remember but I still walked in, in the middle of the night. The front door was unlocked and there was an old blind man sitting on the stairs watching me even as I walked in.
He’d heard me open the door despite the lack of the classic bell jingling. It was an apartment complex after all, but still. The man muttered, “Damn, smells good around here.” He clears his throat, I assume he hadn’t meant to say that out loud for me to hear then he asked, “Can I help you?”
I gave him a slight nod and smiled brightly at him, “I need a place to stay. I don’t have any money on me.” I patted down my pockets and only had my wallet with no ID, or money or anything. I didn’t think I had been robbed, but I wondered how I could have lived without one. “I woke up in Central Park and I don’t remember anything.”
The old man gave me a toothy grin and sniffed at the air strangely. “Lies have their own smell and I believe you,” he said. “Until you get on your feet you can stay with a friend of mine. And then there will be a place for you here as well.”
I smiled. “Thank you.”
He stood up and guided me to an upstairs apartment. For being blind he got around rather well. His hand never touched the wall, his feet never dragged. He dodged the child rolling across the floor on his bike. “Don’t you belong in bed Carlos?”
“Mama has a man friend over, Mr. Armande,” the child replied looking up at the old blind man.
He didn’t knock on the door just turned the knob and pushed it open. “Abby, I have a roommate for you.”
A small woman walked out of the bathroom drying her hands on a towel. There was a strange sense of deja vu as I looked at her big amber colored eyes. Her smile brightened the room, “Armande, why do you keep bring in strays who won’t pay?”
The old man laughed, “He will pay when he remembers who he is.” Armande looked at me with a tooth grin, “I have a feeling about him. It will be good.” He pointed to the couch, “It pulls out into a bed, Abby is used to guests.”
Abby laughed, “I live here free of charge since I was run out of my old home by my ex-boyfriend. I can’t afford a place on my own. Armande allows me to stay here as long as I put up with his entering and exiting, and his incessant need to house strays with me.”
I grinned at her, “I appreciate the offer but I don’t want to be a burden.”
She shook her head and marched over to me and put her finger in my face, “You will not leave this apartment until you have a job and a place to stay.” She backed off with a shy smile, “Except of course to go look for said job. There are plenty of places you can pay to stay here once you have that. Armande will keep one warm for you.”
Armande chuckled, “Of course Abby. Tell Will when you see him again, he might find your new roommate useful in filling that position.” And with a quick turn of his heel he was out the door, I went to follow to thank him but when I reached the hall he was gone. What?
Abby was snickering as I walked back inside the room frowning. “He does that sometimes. You’ll get used to it.”
Later that night I met Will. Abby took me out for a cup of coffee – on her she said. I had no money. Hell I didn’t have anything but the clothes on my back.
We went all the way across town to a brand new coffee shop that had opened. Abby raved about it, “A good friend of a friend opened the place so he wouldn’t have to walk far for a great cup of coffee.” She chuckled, “He lives upstairs.”
“That’s cool. And the bar by the same name?” I asked.
She laughed, “I don’t remember exactly why he opened a beer bar when he doesn’t drink beer. There was a reason but I’ve forgotten it. He’s not very open about it I might not have ever known.”
“The beer any good?” I asked.
“Oh it’s excellent. Best IPs and home made brews I’ve ever had. Probably from all those years learning about that sort of thing.” Abby said.
“I thought you said he didn’t like beer.”
“Oh, he doesn’t, but the friend I was talking about he helps with the brews. Ryan is sort of a chemist I think. Silly sweet boy who is way older than he looks.”
We sat down at a table in the corner of the coffee shop and Will I presumed came over and took my order, “What will you have?”
“Just a black coffee.”
“You can order anything, it’s alright.” Abby said.
“I only want a black coffee, as big as you can but just black please. I don’t do all the other stuff in it.”
Will left and Abby was laughing at me as she turned back from watching the man walk away gracefully. “You remember you don’t like sugary sweet milky things, but not who you are.”
I laughed. “I remember things as they come to me. Like my name. I know it’s Nox. I don’t know my last name. I don’t know where I was born, though I think it was out west somewhere, small childhood memories of the mountains and all that. I don’t know where I went to school, or what I’m good at. I don’t know if anyone will miss me, or if there was anyone at all to begin with.”
Abby frowned, “Well now you got me and Will.”
Will came over and set my black coffee in a very large mug on the table, “The biggest we got. Abby tells me you need a job. What hours can you work?”
“Whenever you want, but I don’t know if I can make coffee.” I grinned, “I could be a clutz or something.”
Abby chuckled, “Armande has a good feeling about him.”
“A good feeling, eh?” Will nodded, “Come in tomorrow morning, I’ll set up an interview with my boss. Abby will throw in a good word with Rider.” He was looking at Abby with a bright grin begging for an yes, “And I’ll let him decide if Armande’s feeling is right.”
“Does Armande have these feelings often?”
Will chuckled, “Every so often. They don’t always pan out, but we haven’t had a complaint yet.” Abby and Will were both grinning madly.
“He set you up didn’t he?”
Will laughed, “I was one of his strays a few months back, he set me up as Abby’s roommate. He had a good feeling about me.”
I laughed, “I see.”
And that was how I pretty much got a job and an apartment all in one night of not knowing who I was. And now it’s eleven weeks later, and I have my own studio apartment in what the residents collectively call Safe Harbor. Armande still has a good feeling about me even though I don’t really know what that means.