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Like the strings of a violin being plucked, each tendril of his leg muscles twitched with each footfall as he was finishing his run. Gordon had just exited the north side of Central Park through Malcolm X. Blvd when he turned right along Central Park North. His tall frame swiftly dodged a few pedestrians, all of who were winding down the workday to get home for dinner.

He slowed down at the first intersection and jogged in place. His dark navy jogging pants hugged each of his flexing thigh muscles as his performance hoodie showed his athletic frame. He donned his New York Yankees baseball cap with pride along with his blue lens sports sunglasses, which gave him the demeanor of a determined athlete.

The traffic signal turned red at the intersection, and Gordon crossed diagonally to the other corner. He continued on before he stopped in front of the Chinese restaurant that his parents had owned since he was a boy. It brought back so many memories for him each time he entered. It was a local favorite, with a Yelp review of 4.5 stars.

He pulled on the metal handle of the glass door as the bell clanged a couple of times. A woman, along with her young son, was just exiting, and she smiled as he held the door open for her. Upon entering, he could feel the familiar warmth of the restaurant, and already he saw that the waiting area was full with people quietly talking amongst themselves.

His father, who was the host and cashier and answered the phone, was just finishing up a take-out order when he looked up. His grayish hair was neatly combed, and he always wore a jovial expression. He urgently waved his son over, and Gordon hurried over just as he placed the phone down.

“I need you to deliver a take-out order,” he said.

“A hi to you too, Ba-ba,” said Gordon mischievously.

His father’s eyes winced in resignation, and he dismissed his son’s need for pleasantries. He continued, “Aiyah, stop being so needy. It’s dinner rush hour, and Johnny and Ronnie are slow to get back. Make your Ba-ba happy and run this delivery. It’s very close.”

Gordon smiled and was always happy to help his parents, even with such an unexpected request. He was about to ask where the food was when his mother appeared from the kitchen with a brown bag with the white-and-green order ticket stapled at the top.

His mother’s eyes lit up, and she headed toward Gordon. She was a slim woman in a red blouse with black slacks. She was the queen expediter of the kitchen whose organizational skills always ensured that the customers got their delicious Chinese food hot and on time.

“Gordon is going to deliver it,” said Gordon’s father, and his mother promptly shoved the brown bag into Gordon’s hands.

“Sheesh, a hi to you too, Mom,” said Gordon as he took the bag from her.

“Oh, don’t make a big fuss,” said his mother coyly. “You may be a lawyer now but this restaurant is the family’s…”

“Responsibility,” echoed Gordon as it was the family motto grilled into his and his siblings’ heads ever since they were young. Each one of them had a hand in working the restaurant, especially memorable times such as when seemingly every single Jewish family would visit their restaurant during Christmas. Christmas was very different for the Chin family.

“See, we taught him well,” snickered his father as he winked at his wife.

“OK, where is this going?” asked Gordon as he looked down at the order ticket.

“Upper East Side, a couple of blocks from here. Go now, and it’ll still be hot for her,” said Gordon’s father.

Gordon saw the address and the name “Erin” scribbled at the bottom and nodded, “Got it. I’ll take care of it. Have a good night!” he said as he exited the restaurant.

“Are you coming back for dinner?” asked his mother, but it fell on deaf ears as the door closed behind him.

“Gone in a flash,” said Gordon’s father with a smirk.

After being let in by the doorman and shown upstairs by the concierge, he approached the customer’s door, which was slightly ajar. He could hear a woman’s voice from within speaking Cantonese. He quickly straightened up, a bit conscious that he was in his running gear and hoped he didn’t smell like sweat. He checked the brown bag to ensure there were no leaks before he knocked gently on the door, which slowly swung open. She suddenly came into view as she leaned over with her cell phone in her left hand and with a smile, waved gently with the other hand.

Her slim fit jeans showed off her slenderness, and her casual dressy gray shirt flattered her. Her black shoulder length hair twisted slightly each time she turned her head, and Gordon simply couldn’t ignore how graceful she was. He was a bit caught off guard as he smirked in kind. While still talking on the phone, she gestured at the desk with a friendly smile.

Gordon snapped out of his awe at her beauty and nodded. But he suddenly realized he had his sneakers on and noticed that she had on white socks. In a split second, he took one big stride over to the desk, stretched out his arms and gently dropped the brown paper bag onto the desk. Then he recoiled back by the door.

The awkward drop off did not go unnoticed by Erin, who gave Gordon a quizzical look. Gordon sheepishly pointed toward his sneakers and the hardwood floors. A glint of mutual cultural understanding resonated with her as she gave him a smirk and continued talking on the phone.

Gordon could only surmise that it was one of her parents, most likely her mother, as Erin continued to reassure the person on the phone that everything was OK. As Erin strode quickly over to the desk, Gordon took a quick look around her apartment and saw that she was still unboxing from a recent move, and the furniture looked like it had been plopped down wantonly.

Erin glanced at the order ticket and scooped up two twenties she had ready on the desk for a total that would have only amounted to $30 with a reasonable tip.

Gordon saw this as she approached him and he heard her tell her mother, “One second,” in Cantonese.

In Cantonese, Gordon stated embarrassingly, “Oh, I don’t have change.”

“It’s OK, for all your trouble,” she responded in her melodious Cantonese.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“I’m sure,” she said as Gordon could hear her mother’s loud voice from the cell phone.

“I’ll let you get back to talking to your mother,” said Gordon humorously.

With a playful eye roll, she said in a shush, “Thank you.”

Gordon backed out of her apartment into the hallway as he watched her friendly eyes twinkle at him along with her grin as the door gently closed. The deadbolt clicked and Gordon gave out a heavy sigh and suddenly, all he could think about was the beautiful woman in apartment 8B.




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