Locust Horde

by

12/31/2006

7th Ave and 6th St., Brooklyn, NY 11215

Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Park Slope

“Those Goddamn kids! I swear to God I can’t take it anymore. I can’t even get coffee without running into a giant mass of those little bastards at the Starbucks. It’s like a fucking daycare center in there during the mornings.”

I looked up from the book I was reading at my brother, who had just returned to his apartment from his morning caffeine run and who was, to say the least, visibly annoyed.

I asked, “What are you talking about?”

He threw his keys down on the living room table with a loud clatter and looked at me like that was the dumbest question in the world.

“The kids! They’re literally everywhere. You can’t walk down the sidewalk without running into, like, 50 of them. It’s out of control.”

Now, I am not a native New Yorker. In all actuality, I’m not even a part time New Yorker. I have spent the last 4 of my 22 years in Los Angeles, where almost every aspect of my life is geared around 364 days of sunshine, school, living within driving distance of the beach, and doing my best to avoid the occasional drive-by shooting. I turned to look up at him as he sat down at his laptop and began to type, still cursing softly under his breath.

“Dude I have absolutely no idea what the hell you are talking about right now,” I said. I’m sure it can’t be THAT bad. They’re just kids after all.”

He shook his head vehemently as he took a sip of his coffee.

“You don’t understand, man. It’s not like in California. Things are different out here, you know? They’re just different. You’ll see for yourself soon enough when we go out.”

Needless to say, I was a little amused by my brother’s rant. He has always been a relatively calm and relaxed person, not prone to random outbursts of anger and profanity. That’s usually my forte. Maybe living in Brooklyn’s Park Slope for the past 9 months had blown his mind in some fantastical way that I was only beginning to see.

“Anyways, get your shit together I’m starving,” I told him. “I need food.” The idea of eating seemed to calm him down a bit, and we put on our coats and proceeded to leave the apartment. We walked down a flight of stairs and flung open the door to the outside world.

There really is nothing like New York, Brooklyn especially. I was there for a week to visit my brother, and every time I stepped outside, I needed a second or two to take everything in. Everyone in the city seems to move with a purpose. On a high priority mission. Head down, feet constantly moving towards their final destination, it’s as if the various parts of the metropolis were all organs of a singular, giant creature, working together in a unison that only locals can truly fathom. It was definitely beyond the grasp of a 22 year old California native with limited traveling experience, and a massive hangover to boot.

It was at this point, when we began our walk, that I stopped in front of a pizza parlor and noticed a sign I’d never seen before:

“Attention; no students allowed on the premises between the hours of 11 am and 4 pm. Failure to comply will result in being escorted from the premises.”

I looked at it for a minute or two, utterly and completely confused by what I was seeing. I asked my brother and a look of disgust crossed his face.

“It’s like I was telling you. It’s those damn kids, man! They’re everywhere. They get out of school and pretty much just run all over the city making noise and causing trouble.”

As he spoke I began to get a mental picture in my mind of some ancient nomadic tribe of barbarians, sweeping through the city with reckless abandon, with store owners and pedestrians frantically diving for shelter from the invading horde.

I was in the middle of an inner monologue and it made me smile. But at that very moment, the gates of Hell opened up.

It started with just what sounded as some light yelling in the distance, but it quickly began to grow louder and louder. Before I had any chance of making an escape, I was swarmed and subsumed by about 35-50 high school and elementary students, all hopped up sugar and caffeine and looking to cause some trouble.

Smarter, savvier New Yorkers seemed to have anticipated the incoming pestilence and had already disappeared–to the subway or the other side of the street. I, unfortunately, was not one of these people. I yelled out for my brother, but it was too late. My voice was drowned out in the sea of shrill cries and cracking prepubescent voices. I unsuccessfully tried to move my way through the crowd, but to no avail.

I had visions of Ancient Egypt, being destroyed by the plagues God sent to punish the Pharaoh after he would not allow Moses to leave. I imagined these kids going from shop to shop like locusts, hungrily devouring everything in their wake, leaving only skeletal remains of patrons, pizza crusts and empty gelato tubs, only to move on looking for the next kill.

The Locusts seemed to have spotted another brood across the street, and began to howl shrilly for the other group to meet up with them. I had no interest in being involved in what was about to take place, so I did what any sane man would do when presented with such a crisis; I gave in to the hangover. I began to yell that I was going to vomit at any moment and needed to find a bathroom as quickly as possible, lest the remnants of my last meal end up on one of these kids. Needless to say, they parted like Red Sea. The way those kids moved you’d have thought I announced that I had the plague and was going to infect every last one of those little fuckers.

I sprinted to meet up with my brother, who had been so engrossed in his >BlackBerry that he’d failed to notice his younger sibling had almost been devoured by the Locust Horde. By the time I caught up with him, I was breathing heavily, and more than a little nauseated.

He looked at me quizzically.

“What happened to you?”

I stared at him for a second or two, then stood up straight, doing my best to catch my breath as I replied, “What, you didn’t see? It was them! Jesus, I thought I was never going to get out of there.”

My brother paused, turned slowly and then looked back to where I was frantically pointing. Then, looking back down at his BlackBerry, once again shook his head and sighed.

“Goddamn kids.”

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