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An Old Friend

Stranded in New York City with no place to stay, my dance partner and I took to the streets.

New York was supposed to be a layover. My dance partner Dennis and I had been hired by the Israel Ballet in Tel Aviv; all we had to do was pack our bags and get from Florida to New York to meet our flight to the Holy Land. Our tickets to Israel were standby, but we figured it wouldn’t be a problem. Then we got to Kennedy Airport. The airline told us it would be at least a week until seats on the flight to Israel would be available. “We don’t have money for a hotel,” I said to Dennis.

“Let’s take a cab into the city,” he said. “I have an aunt there, she’ll take us in.”

We took the cab and were in the city by the time Dennis got in touch with his aunt. She had a very bad case of the flu, and couldn’t take any guests. We were completely broke and stranded on the sidewalk. “Do you know anybody?” Dennis asked. Only one person, Ellen, who was my best friend in high school. We’d lost touch a few years ago, but last I’d heard she was working as an actress in the city. I looked her up in the phone book. She wasn’t listed.

“Let’s make the best of it,” Dennis said. “Say a prayer, then pick up our chins and go out and look at New York.”

I wished I could share his optimism. It became harder as the day wore on and the shadows from the skyscrapers began to creep across the street. We looked at the Empire State Building, Times Square. Finally I’d had it. On a random street corner, I broke down. “I can’t walk anymore. I’m tired and hungry. We can’t just pick up our chins and look at New York. We have to solve this!”

Just then, I heard a screech. I turned my head to take a look. A city bus was pulling up to the stop next to us. The doors opened, and a single passenger got off. Stepping onto the sidewalk, she glanced in my direction. A smile came across her face.

“Debra? Is that you?” she said.

“Ellen!” I exclaimed.

A few minutes later, we had a place to stay. Thanks to an old friend.

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