Crime scene in New York City
Reflecting on the scene where two young children were found stabbed to death in New York last night, Barry McKinley was asked about his own children back home in Ireland. “My kids are ﬁne,” I say. “They’re ﬁne. Fine.”
The two dead children are brought out onto Columbus Avenue into panic and confusion.
The driver from St. Luke’s almost reverses into the Lennox hill ambulance and a man in a pork pie hat, maybe a cop, sprints across the scene, looking like Gene Hackman in the French Connection.
This used to be my old neighbourhood. The Upper West Side. A repository of all the best memories; it’s clean and neat and nothing bad ever happens here, but now a young boy with a skateboarder’s helmet ﬁlms the chaos on an iPhone and the overhead news helicopters joust around, skidding through the air in search of the perfect angle.
“What happened?” People mouth at each other, but nobody knows for sure.
“Dead kids,” somebody says, and it gets repeated and passed around.
A woman carrying an infant is shocked into that state that causes one to walk in small confused circles. A cop at the entrance to the La Rochelle building tries to calm her. She cannot be calmed.
“Is that the mother?”
“I reckon it’s a neighbour. A close neighbour.”
People are making absurd assumptions. The man with the pork pie hat moves through the scene, rubbing shoulders with the uniformed cops, yet nobody acknowledges him, and he doesn’t carry a badge. Maybe he’s a retired ofﬁcer, drawn to the scene by the noise and the ﬂashing lights. Now I’m the one making absurd assumptions.
“Stabbed kids.” The words go around and come back like a dreadful echo. “Stabbed kids.”
“Little kids,” somebody else says.
A wounded adult is loaded into the orange vehicle. Doors close. Lights ﬂash. Cops clear the way for the departing ambulances.
I go to the nearby diner, on Broadway and 75th, sit at the counter and order a coffee. The owner recognises me from the old days. He remembers my three-year-old twin sons, now back in Ireland, running up and down between the booths, dodging around the waiter’s legs.
“How are your kids?” he asks.
On the TV behind the counter, Channel 7, a tilted view of the neighbourhood taken from a helicopter. A breaking headline that speaks of a nanny who stabbed to death a one-year-old and a six-year-old. Somehow, it seems wrong to answer the question, but the owner hasn’t seen the TV screen and he’s waiting for a reply.
“My kids are ﬁne,” I say. “They’re ﬁne. Fine.”
Barry McKinley is a playwright and construction worker who left his family in Ireland to travel to New York to find work earlier this year. His Generation Emigration article Off to New York with the iPaddies is the most read in the whole series. Read more of his work barrymckinley.com.