An old man is walking a dog in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill. He is round, his legs are bowed, and he has a trim of white beard. Brownie is a bowlegged bulldog with a trim of white muzzle and a hobble.
A young man rolls up the avenue in a sparkling white 1964 Oldsmobile Cutlass custom coupe and double-parks outside an apartment building. A woman runs from the building lobby, gets in the car on the passenger side, and kisses the man on the cheek. The two drive off. The old man smiles and nods approvingly to Brownie and walks him around the block.
From roughly the same spot five minutes later, the old man sees a flawless metallic blue 1966 Chevrolet Corvair convertible pull up and double-park in front of the same apartment building. A different young man is at the wheel. A different woman runs from the lobby, gets in the car on the passenger side, and kisses the man on the cheek. The two drive off.
The old man nods his head and winks to the dog. He taps the side of his nose and asks his old friend if he thinks someone is shooting a movie. Nowadays this appears to require a lot more people and equipment than it used to take. Maybe this is because film crews are union. Movie people tend to be younger and more self-important than boys down at the union hall. But there is no sign of a film crew. Maybe film students are shooting from inside a building. Brownie agrees with his customary grimace. The old man shrugs his shoulders. It is just another quiet morning in Boerum Hill.
And anyway, if they were shooting a movie, some self-important type in a florescent yellow vest with a walkie-talkie and clipboard would have shooed them away by now. It had happened before. The weather is nice and there is no one around. The old man shrugs his shoulders and nods his head forward in response to Brownie’s unspoken question at his pause, and the two take another turn around the block.
Their third trip is not the charm. The old man can picture a classic Ford Galaxie or a Rambler roll up to the building, but he sees nothing besides single-parked, late model Japanese cars and their German and American cousins. He hesitates a moment before ambling down the block. The morning show appears to be over.
“A man, a car, a woman,” come words from a stoop.
The speaker is wearing a dark blue polyester New York Yankees warm-up jacket purpling in the worn areas and grey sweatpants. He directs his comments toward the old man without looking at him. “That’s all them Frenchies say it takes to make an American movie.”
The old man pushes air between his lips and arches his eyebrows and shoulders.
The speaker is heavy-set, with a lazy manner of speaking and a wall eye which makes it unclear to the old man whether the speaker is talking to him.
“A man, a car, a woman,” he repeats. “Them Frenchies think that’s all you have to have to make an American movie. I seen them talk about it on the movie channel.”
The old man again pushes air between his lips, arching his eyebrows and shoulders. He continues down the street. Brownie looks up smiling when the old man pauses after rounding the corner.
“Peut-être bien qu’oui, peut-être bien que non,” the old man says, exaggerating a frown and arching his eyebrows and shoulders at the dog. And then he winks and taps his nose and shares a smile with the bulldog, and they circle back to the neighborhood bodega where the old man picks up a newspaper and coffee to go and walks Brownie home to do the crossword.
—From the author’s in-progress collection of stories set in New York
is a writer based in Baltimore, Maryland. He is an award-winning journalist who has covered court proceedings and written feature stories for local, national, and international publications. He has a degree in Russian, has traveled extensively, reads up a storm, learns languages for fun, and reviews films for Moom pitchers not to miss. He has one short story published in Horla in London.