The Strangest Sound in New York

It was the sound of six or seven hundred people all inhaling their breath in shock simultaneously. Most writers would call that a gasp. But that’s not what it sounds like in real life. No one actually says “Gasp!” or screams out or cries. There is just the sound of air being sucked in as people try to comprehend what they are seeing.  I didn’t understand what was causing it until I looked up and saw the man in the air.

It was a beautiful summer’s Friday and I was rushing down the sidewalk on Park Avenue trying to get to Grand Central to catch the train after a very hard day at work.

The man was about 55 years old and was wearing an grey suit and was still holding on to the handle of his expensive leather briefcase. The cream colored BMW that hit him had probably been traveling about forty five miles an hour. It was a hit-and -run and the BMW was a half a block away while the man was still in the air.

He seemed to pause in mid air and then came crashing down to the street. I could swear that he came down faster than he went up, although I know that’s not possible.

The BMW did not get very far. It was rush hour in New York on a Friday afternoon.  The BMW reached a line of stopped traffic and the driver hopped out only to be surrounded by a crowd that had witnessed the accident. The crowd did not approach the driver, but continued to surround him while many phones called the police.  The driver was a man about twenty five in a sharply cut suit who seemed to be simultaneously crying and talking to himself while he paced around in circles. The hit pedestrian was lying on the ground and still moving also surrounded by a circle of people on phones.

Those of us outside either circle stood helplessly for  few minutes and then one by one wandered off. If we walked quickly enough we could still make our trains.

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