John Sunderland

The curated works of the author & artist

Real Life Alarm [Part 1]

One of the worst things that can happen to a restaurant/bar owner is when the phone rings in the deepest and darkest part of the night. It usually happens when you’re so asleep you could have your legs amputated and not know till you fall out of bed the next morning.

For me that time is around 4:30 am, just the time that the phone rang last night.

My wife and I live in Bushwick, a part of Brooklyn just a mile or so from our newest Life Café 983 but a 15 minute high speed drive into Manhattans’ East Village where our other and older place is.

When the phone rang last night, it was my wife (we co-own the place) who was first out of bed. My eyes and mouth both open with a “Oh f***” knowing what the call is likely to be about. Then she’s back into the bedroom from the office where she took the call, and pulling on her clothes. I follow, and ask her what’s the report?

As I guessed it’s from the alarm company who told her the alarm has been set off and it’s “Zone 4′. That sends a chill through both of us, as it’s the back entrance, a cause for worry!

It’s 4:45am on Saturday morning. We’re both now in our old Volvo estate car, and shooting down the road, at speed. My wife is the best driver in New York, so I have to believe.

When I first came to live with her in the city I was so scared by her New York driving that I believed the romance was doomed, either metaphorically or physically. (I’m an emigre Yorkshireman and the last place I lived in England was populated by sheep and occasional tractors.)

When we race in for an alarm call, she doesn’t stop for red-lights. When I point out that this is just the time of night that late revellers are going home, drunk and driving- and we’re shooting the lights, she says she’ll tell the police we are on our way to an alarm call.

I’m not thinking of them, I’m thinking of the legitamate complaints from drivers who have just slammed into us and killed us! Besides that chance of violent death we’re speeding our way to confront thieves who have possibly broken into our place and are now, as we drive, looting our liquor cellar and checking their weapons!

Minutes earlier,  as we cross the Williamsburgh Bridge from Brooklyn over the East River, the alarm people told her that they’ve notified the police. But that’s no comfort to us as we have no expectation that they will be there when we arrive. Sure enough, when the old Volvo containing us two old people arrive there are no police to be seen.

Once again it’s just adrenalin pumped Kath and me, 58 year olds, with no idea when we pull up the roller shutters and open the door to the dark interior, what we are going to find inside!

to be continued . . .

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