I thought what a strange thing to toss out onto the street. So I opened it and saw a young woman staring up at me. Clarice (not her real name). Blond hair, blue eyes, five foot seven inches--- according to her driver's license. A Brooklyn girl. Opened up another compartment and found credit cards, Master Card, Visa. Found business cards. She goes to my vet. No money, just some change. Impossible that Clarice had just tossed this out. More likely Clarice had been robbed.
I took it home and emptied out its contents. I was hoping to find a phone number. I imagined how relieved she'd be when I said, I have your wallet! I didn't find her number, but I began to construct her life with the clues provided; she had to live or work close to Park Slope because she had a business card from a coffee shop. Ten visits and she gets a free cup. Five holes had been punched out.
I found recent bank receipts that showed a balance hovering around three or four hundred dollars, so she wasn't rich. A card from a visiting nurse--- perhaps she had a sick mother. A card from a gallery on Atlantic Avenue. She had an Amazon.com credit card, so obviously she liked to read. I began to imagine her as a younger version of myself. Struggling, but educated. Good looking. A coffee drinker. Maybe out on the town, lost her purse. In that moment, I couldn't help but remember all the times I've stumbled home, late at night, often drunk or stoned. Often obvlious to how dangerous NYC can be.
Then I found a phone number tucked away inside a pocket. A man's name; James (not his real name). What the hell, I thought, maybe he knows who she is. So I called. It was ten in the morning, and James answered. I said, "Hello, you don't know me, but I found your name inside of a wallet. I thought perhaps you know this woman." I was careful to only give her name, no other information. He told me that yes he had a met her last night at a party.
He accurately described the piece of paper I was holding. He didn't speak to her very long--- she was leaving to go to another party, Jewish. And since he wasn't Jewish, he wasn't going. This was at Church Street. After he spoke to her and gave her his number, he spoke to a "Muslim gentleman." Why was he so talkative? To a stranger? Then he went on and on about how he had met another woman on Court Street, but she was only like four feet eleven inches. This was definitely getting weird. I told James good bye and called the police. Which of course is what I should've done in the first place.
They were at my apartment in 15 minutes. They were bored. Two cops; one fat, one slim. Molly was yapping and jumping all over them. They took the wallet and left. Wherever you are Clarice, I hope you got home safe and sound. I hope you have the same kind of dumb luck that protected me all the years when I was young and foolish. I hope you are happy to get your wallet back. Call me. We'll have coffee.