I’ve thrown my coat over it, but already I can feel the lips of the stab wound on my upper arm speak red down to my fingertips.
Here’s to hoping that the night will hide the color of my bleeding from the people passing me on the Bowery as I walk south.
Running east from the Corlear’s Hook, I think that I lost them over a wall on Stanton Street. I crashed down into the communal dump of the back tenements.
I will get to the river if it kills me. It might.
Running has gotten harder between my shaking legs and lost blood and I tell myself for the thirteenth time that night since they caught me in that alley:
You should have just done that job for The Boyle.
The water is beautiful when I finally reach it, black ink on burned-soot paper and it smells of rot, dead men and far away freedoms.
On the bank, seated in his rowboat, is an old man smoking a pipe and staring at the moon.
“I need to reach the other side.” I tell him and look over my shoulder to make sure they haven’t caught me yet.
“It’s good to have needs,” He answers, “Did you bring a broken pocket watch, a trio of black pearls or some decent bourbon?”
I show him a handful of silver dollars and my knife. It once belonged to a fat butcher with fast hands and is now coated in the blood of a man who I hope is dead.
“Good enough.” He says and gestures for me to get in the boat.
Halfway to New Jersey I look up. Some clouds are following and I wonder if I’m bringing the bad weather with me.
We land on the bank of the other side, it looks like a pasture and I can see horses in the distance. I try to hand him the silver dollars and the knife.
“Just the knife. You’ll need those coins I expect.” He says.
He takes it and I expect him to wipe off the blade but he puts it in his pocket, dead man’s blood and all.
Boot heels in fresh horseshit, I watch him row away and then I turn, walking to where I think a road might be, leaving the lights of the city far behind me.
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