I’m standing at the Newburgh ferry landing in the morning, waiting for the boat to come in. Another fellow waits nearby smoking a pipe, looking out over the water. A third commuter who has ridden his bike to the ferry is walking along the waterfront looking down at the river.
“Sign of the times,” says the guy near me. He’s wearing paint-spattered pants and boots, with a flannel shirt. A heavy ring of keys hangs from his belt.
“Oh yeah? What’s that?”
He gestures at the other guy. “Looking for cans and bottles down at the river. Things are getting tough. Yeah, I keep my eyes on things, see a lot of…sit-ua-tions…going on.” He hitches up some snot back there in the works, like he’s going to spit, but doesn’t.
“Take New York City,” he continues. “That where you’re going?”
It’s one of those conversations where you know you’re about to hear some crazy theory. The Illuminati. The Sumerians. Bigfoot. The CIA and St. John holed up together writing the Book of Revelations and the Dead Sea Scrolls with Rasputin.
“Now they’re trying to charge money to get to certain parts of Manhattan?”
“Oh, yeah, a congestion tax.”
“Sometimes I wonder if I ought to pull out to the wilderness, you know?” He laughs. “I mean, what happens when all those people down there can’t make it?”
And suddenly I’m right there with him. I get a little excited.
“You know, it’s funny — a guy I know and I were just talking about this. You see down there —” I gesture to the south, toward Storm King.
“Yeah,” he says, grinning.
“There’s a narrow place right there where they’d have to come up. We get a few people in the pass there, we can hold ’em off.”
We smile, chums, and wish each other well as we get aboard the boat.