We got lucky because we had just been looking out the window and were sitting up against the radiator, talking and trying to get warm when we heard the hooves. It’s a distinct sound that always makes us leap up and run to the window, but now we were already there.
I opened the window and leaned out, yelling down at them: I love you!
There were two horses, with a police officer each, a black one and a brown one, and they came up against a truck with the back open, double parked in front of the 711. The truck was a real truck, but not a big one, white, no name on it, and a bit beat up. On its tail lift stood a few crates with something in it, but I couldn’t see what. The rest of the truck looked empty.
The 711 was dark and closed, a person huddled in a hoodie, pushing a hand truck with a few crates, standing in front of the locked door. The two police officers clearly were unsure about what was going on.
I understood, I had been too the first time I watched the scene play out, but by now I knew it was a regular delivery and I had actually imagined, once or twice, cops coming upon the scene and things ending badly somehow. The whole thing looks so shady.
I’ve become oddly protective of that 711. Oddly, because I have never been in and have no interest in going in. I don’t like 711s and when it used to be open all night, big, big trucks would stop there one after the other for coffee and food, leaving their big, big engines roaring for 20 minutes at a time, keeping me awake for what felt like forever. But they clearly got scared after the epidemic turned into a pandemic and reached New York City and everything was in lock down, but they were still open. Often it would look like someone was in there with the lights blazing and the door locked. Then they got looted, we watched it happen, called 911, but 911 was overwhelmed that night and so was the police. Whoever was working that shift had stayed hidden in the back, the smart thing to do. A few weeks after that they had their windows smashed, and after that they closed at night. I think they’re closed now every night from 7 to 7, or something like that.
A place nearby, I can see it from my window, has the key to the 711 and every night when that funny beat-up nearly empty truck stops in front of that locked-up 711, the lone driver gets out, gets the delivery ready on the tail lift and goes to get the key. He unlocks the place, and makes the delivery, takes empty crates with him, doesn’t even turn the lights on. Then he locks up, returns the key and leaves.
Tonight the driver in his hoodie with his hand truck stops in front of the dark door and looks at the police officers. He shows them his key, indicates he wants to go in and waits. They look at each other, and then nod at him.
He goes in. The police officers wait a beat and then decide to go. Their horses have been beautifully behaved, exactly like you would expect. They maneuver back a little and reenter traffic to pass the truck. The second horse, halfway passed the truck, stops, and starts walking back. His officer lets him. Traffic behind them, already going slowly, stops entirely. This beautiful, willful horse backs up until it’s next to the tail lift. He turns as much as he can and sniffs the crates sitting there. The officer tries to get him to go forward again and he takes a few steps before he comes to a stop and completely turns around and goes back. I wonder what’s in those crates. Cookies? Carrots? Standing right in front of it, that horse was very good, did not reach for it, just waited, but once it looked like they would leave without getting anything, he thought no, this isn’t happening.
It took quite a bit of very gentle and careful cajoling and maneuvering, the other horse slowly coming back around to help convince him, the traffic giving them an ever-wider berth, but eventually, Mr. Willful gave in. He let without eating whatever was in those crates.