“DATELESS NIGHT”

41stAveFlushing

photo by Nmilbrodt, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

by Anthony Huang

 

The New Year nox was the inkiest I’d seen in my life. It was cloudless; the moon refused to be seen, and Selene’s dotted companions slept in the cover of light pollution. My father’s Mercedes parked parallel to the sidewalk and idled for a bit before clicking open its chrome casement. A few quarters clinked into the meter, marking the beginning of our walk.

The clack of my shoes was surprisingly audible in the calm chaos of Flushing, New York. It played a staccato beat against the occasional car horn and subway crawl. I walked—eventually reaching a hole-rest. I took a quick side glance at the pitch but paid little attention to its peculiarity as I entered the measure beside it: a restaurant—adorned with a neon fish.

With a rapacious appetite and sluggish slide, I seated myself close to the wall while observing and chatting the folk. My suave indifference was ignored until my dad broke my conversational silence by asking me to fetch Grandpa, who was wandering around outside. For some reason dad always seemed to believe that I would develop deep relations with the old guy if I was forced to speak with him more often. I shrugged and headed out (after pulling an unnecessary, extended bathroom break), pushing open the door, waiting for the hydraulic pump’s final hiss before working my way to Grandpa.

Being rather tiny at the time, I managed to play the sidewalk-crack game for about two meters before I noticed Grandpa pacing around the black lot. He was needlessly filming with his Panasonic camera and stumbling along with a flashlight in hand.

“Grandfather!” I shouted in Mandarin, “My Father requests your presence in the commercial dining room!”

“Patience, my Grandchild,” he replied, “I will make my entrance in a more convenient time.”

Admittedly we were never eloquent in our speech, especially not me, but I often imagined we sounded aristocratic.

I stepped forward a slight to check his latest film subject: a granite slab, shaped like a cross. Now that I’m older all I can think about is why a restaurant would open so close to a cemetery, but back then, I just jumped backward. I was already relatively afraid of the dark, and graveyards didn’t really help my phobia. I dashed back into the restaurant and let Grandpa fend off the imaginary zombies by himself.

I don’t really remember what else happened that night. Obviously we had dinner (and drank copious amounts of tea), but I don’t recall anything from memory beyond what I can assume. For some reason this bizarre selection from my childhood is one of the clearest memories I have, and not for any particular reason either. It wasn’t a significant memory nor was it particularly memorable in any respect: it was neither unbelievably funny nor heartbreakingly dramatic. For better or worse, this is the first thing I recall when the night falls and the first thing I recalled at my grandfather’s funeral.

 

Anthony Huang is a University of Arizona student from a Chinese immigrant family. He is a former resident of New York and still visits to see family and, occasionally, the Metropolitan Museum.