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The Last Real New Yorker in the World

by

James D. Macdonald & Debra Doyle

The supercharged Dusenberg landed in front of the house just as Jimmy Moskovitz was on his way to work. Dutch Schultz and Mad Dog Coll stepped out.

"Get in the car, Jimmy," the Dutchman said. "You're going for a ride."

Coll held open the Doozie's front door. Jimmy Moskovitz slid inside and glanced to his left. The man behind the wheel was Killer Burke.

Coll and Schultz got into the back seat, and Burke put the car in motion.

"I've been expecting something like this for quite a while," said Moskovitz. "But aren't you guys mixing up your periods a little? Fred Burke came before Vincent Coll and Arthur Fleigenheimer had their feud."

"This is the way the boss likes it, and I like what the boss likes, so shut up," Dutch explained.

"Come on, Schultz," Jimmy said. "The real Dutchman never had a boss. He's turning over in his grave to hear you talk like that."

Silence was the only reply from the back of the car. The driver turned south onto the Detroit/Indianapolis flyway and picked up speed to join the pattern.

The flyway bent east to circle the Chicago Crater. "This has something to do with New York, doesn't it?" Moskovitz said.

"That's NewYorkLand ™ to you, scum," Killer said. "You'd better talk right."

"'Land,' maybe. But not 'New York.' I still say it."

"That's what the boss wants to talk to you about," Coll said. "You've been responsible for a dip in attendance all by yourself."

"So they send the clowns to get me," Moskovitz said. He looked up to heaven and raised his hands in a 'why me' gesture. "Sometimes I think I lived too long."

"I can fix that," said Burke.

"Shut up," Schultz said.

They dropped out of the main flight path at the Ossining interchange, and took local control from the NewYorkLand grid from there on in. They flew down the broad expanse of the Hudson at low altitude and slow speed: all the traffic in this branch was coming to and from the tourist landing areas. As they turned, the NewYorkLand skyline was visible to the right of the river. The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building rose above all the other skyscrapers.

The Doozie landed in the Battery Area Parking Zone, and the three hoods escorted Jimmy Moskovitz onto the private People Mover that led to the parts of NewYorkLand that tourists never got to see. The underground slidewalk carried them through a waiting room where three Fiorello La Guardias were eating hotdogs, and on past side tunnels marked by white-on-green signs: "Apollo Theatre"; "Grand Central"; "East Village."

A young woman in burn makeup was coming out of the tunnel marked "Triangle Shirtwaist."

"Hey, what are you doing here?" Mad Dog shouted at her. "Don't you have somewhere to be?"

"The first show just finished," she said. "I'm not on again until twelve o'clock."

"Goddam enforcers," she added under her breath, as the slidewalk carried Moskovitz and the others away.

Burke laughed. "You're still on Central Time, Vinnie," he told Coll. "I used to make the same mistake all the time when I was riding the Century Limited, coming back from doing a job for Scarface."

"You guys can drop the act," Jimmy said. "I know who you aren't."

"You don't understand," the Dutchman said. "We stay in character all the time. It's what makes NewYorkLand ™ so authentic."

Jimmy snorted. "If it's so authentic, why is the Empire State Building only a third the size?"

"It's made of the original stone," the Dutchman told him. "So what's your problem? And the Empire State Buildings in NewYorkLand Europe ™ and NewYorkLand Asia ™ are just as real. All built from the original stone." The slidewalk stopped at a heavy wooden door. "We're almost at the boss's office. Be respectful."

The hoods escorted Jimmy down a long hallway past more wooden doors. At the last door, a nice young man in a bellhop's uniform sat behind a desk.

"The boss will be with you in a minute," he said. "Working on a complaint."

"Anything I should know about?" Schultz asked.

"Some guy and his wife come here from Des Moines," said the bellhop. "They spend the whole day, and don't get mugged. Now he wants his money back."

Mad Dog Coll scowled. "If those jerks in the Mugging Division are screwing up, this whole place is out of control."

"Budget cuts," the Dutchman said. "Based on loss of trade. And Jimmy, here, is the guy responsible."

"Ought to put him in charge of muggings," said Coll. "See how he likes it when NewYorkLand ™ can't deliver one of its specialties, and it's all his fault."

The buzzer on the desk sounded. "Ready for you," the bellhop said.

The door opened, and Moskovitz stepped through into the huge office on the other side. Mad Dog Coll walked beside him on his right, and Killer Burke walked beside him on his left. Dutch Schultz followed close behind. The door swung shut after them.

Jimmy looked around. The windows on the four walls showed the view from the top of the World Trade Center. Far below, in the harbor, the Staten Island Ferry was a spot of gaudy orange among the drab merchant ships and the tiny white pleasure boats.

"Holovid, taken before we demolished the original," said a voice from the high-backed vinyl chair. The chair swiveled around. The woman in the chair was wearing a tee-shirt that said: My Parents Visited NewYorkLand™ And All I Got Was This Lousy Shirt.

"The show only runs three days, then it loops," she continued. "If I had it to do over again, I'd get a week."

Jimmy stared for a minute. "You're running New York?"

"You were expecting Boss Tweed?"

"I was expecting something different. A guy with a cigar, maybe."

"Cliches," said the woman. "I'm doing cliches all the time. Tourists love 'em. Then along comes this guy, calls himself 'the last real New Yorker in the world,' and what's he expecting? Another cliche." She leaned back in the vinyl chair. "So the reason I asked you to come here was to ask you to just shut up."

Jimmy nodded approvingly. "You said that very well. You almost got the accent."

"I got a good language school here," she told him. "Nobody gets to meet the guests until they learn to speak like New Yorkers. It's more than just talking too fast and being rude, believe me."

"Is this where I'm supposed to be impressed?" asked Jimmy. "When you've got Vinnie Coll and the Dutchman acting like best buddies, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory burning down on the same afternoon you're celebrating V-E Day in Times Square, and a souvenir shop where the Port Authority Bus Terminal ought to be? I'm supposed to smile, and tell you that this is good?"

The woman gave a faint, exasperated sigh. "You don't have to say that it's good. Just stop telling everyone how bad NewYorkLand ™ is, and quit driving away business."

"I can't change the facts," said Jimmy. "And the fact is, this isn't New York. It isn't even where New York was. This is Passaic, New Jersey. And nobody lives here. What's New York with nobody living there?"

"A lot better than some cities. Take Chicago."

Jimmy shook his head obstinately. "At least Chicago isn't a bunch of actors running around pretending."

"Look," said the woman. "We're getting nowhere. This is your last chance. No more books, no more interviews, no more holovid documentaries running down our operation. Just a fat check every month, and your name on our letterhead as a Special Historical Consultant. Either take the deal, or don't."

***

"Gee, that was exciting!" Billy exclaimed. "A guy getting rubbed out in a barber chair!"

His mother frowned slightly. "I didn't read anything about that in the guidebook."

"One of the 'Special Shows, Scheduled from Time to Time,'" Billy's father said in a knowing tone. "Let's ask the hot dog vendor what it was all about."

The hot dog vendor was glad to oblige. "You've just witnessed a re-creation of the killing of Albert Anastasio by Murder Inc."

"Did you have to use so much blood?" Billy's mother asked.

"We pride ourselves on authenticity, here at NewYorkLand ™," the vendor replied. "You guys want kraut on your Coney Island ® dogs?"

THE END

[NewerYork]

"The Last Real New Yorker in the World" copyright © 1991 by James D. Macdonald and Debra Doyle. This story originally appeared in Newer York, Lawrence Watt-Evans, ed., Roc Books, 1991. ISBN 0-451-45045-0, cover price $4.50, and is reprinted here by permission of the authors, namely, us.


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