Monday, December 14, 2009

The story of the blue wallet

Out walking Molly this morning, the temperature hovering around 40.  Warm enough for a nice stroll through Cobble Hill.  Streets were quiet, sky was the color of milk, rain was coming.  I had a coffee, a green scarf looped around my neck.  I turned left on Baltic, found a pile of trash outside an apartment building, the East River and the BQE close by.  I stopped to look at the books since I'm such a fiend, saw a few I had read already, and a wallet. Powder blue leather with a red rose stamped on the front.  Really nice. 

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 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.


  1. Cute story. Reminds me of the time I found a cell phone in a cab a few years ago during Christmas time and called "Mom." She told me she lived in Cleveland and it was her son's phone. I gave her my number and email and the son contacted me the next day and came to my apartment to pick up the phone with $40 in hand for me. I was shocked, but took the money. I'm probably about as wealthy as "Clarice"

  2. Right, maybe if instead there had been a Black AmEx card the story would've ended differently, kidding. LOL

  3. It's a compelling story. I do that, too, I construct stories around people I see or happen across. It's a little chilling, too, I think and really hope you might hear from her.

    I think I watched too much Law & Order back in the old days when there was nothing to do but sit and watch reruns at midnight when I nursed the leeches.

  4. I definitely watch too much Law and Order---