Gabriel watched a haggard looking man, known as Harry to the other transients in this section of the city, stumble into the crosswalk with the rest of the pedestrian traffic. He clutched an old trumpet in his left hand and a blind man’s cane in his right. Professionals of the Financial District gave him a wide berth as he tapped his way to the opposite sidewalk. The locals called him Dirty Harry.
Upon reaching the sidewalk, Harry stopped amidst the flow of people like a boulder in a river, lifted his trumpet to his chapped lips, and began to blow. He didn’t attempt a tune like a street performer, he just belted out a monotone scream that cut through the morning air like a sonic boom.
People in Harry’s vicinity fled the street corner. Others standing nearby kept their distance. The crowd grew as more people from surrounding buildings exited by the dozens at the trumpet’s emergency calling.
Gabriel observed as Harry’s trumpet screams caused a restless commotion to ripple through the gathered crowd. Passing cars slowed to see what was happening. Observers began to yell for Harry to stop, but he continued his warning undisturbed.
Finally, one man stepped out from the crowd and approached the lonely messenger. The man placed a cautious hand just past the bell of the trumpet and gave it a tug.
Harry screamed in a wild fit of flailing arms and ripped his trumpet from the stranger’s grip. Yelling in gabbling tongues, Harry stumbled back a step, swinging his cane until he found the man’s ankle. Now out of reach, Harry blew into his trumpet again with an even greater intensity.
The man looked around at the infuriated crowd and decided to reach for the trumpet again, this time pulling it with enough force to peel Harry’s lips from the mouthpiece. But Harry refused to give up his instrument, now in a bitter game of tug-of-war. His cane fell to the ground as he latched on with both hands to pull his endangered friend to freedom. The stranger refused to give up in front of all the spectators and held on tight.
Three more men leapt from the crowd and grabbed Harry, each by an arm, yanking the trumpet from his frantic hands in seconds. They tried their best to restrain him, but Harry refused to be restrained. He screamed incoherently, and kicked and spat at his aggressors. His bony arms were flexed and sweaty hands balled into fists as he thrashed his weight around in a desperate attempt to break free.
The man now holding the trumpet backed away as the other three men took over the fight. With a man securing each arm, the third man bent down to pick up Harry’s cane. Unable to anticipate what was coming, Harry was dropped to his knees by a swift jab to the stomach with the marshmallow tip of his cane. And his arms were suddenly freed, but they just fell limply to his side. A second man punched Harry in the nose, sending him reeling backwards onto the cement. All three spat on his bleeding body and marched off. No one in the surrounding crowd moved. Without the scream of the trumpet, the sounds of the city had quieted to a murmur.
With the fight over, Gabriel crossed the street, broke through the crowd, and took a knee next to his friend. He removed a handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiped the spit and blood from Harry’s chin, and then held it to his swollen nose.
“Gabriel, is that you?” Harry asked.
“I’m here, Jeremiel.”
“Were you here, did you hear; did you see what I did?”
“But I lost my trumpet.” Jeremiel coughed and cringed, clutching his chest.
“Not to worry. I’ll get it back.”
“I broke the final seal.”
“That you did, my friend,” Gabriel said with just the hint of a smile. “Can you stand?” He looked around as Jeremiel slowly got to his feet, bracing himself on Gabriel’s arm. The crowd had fully dispersed. The only sign left that something had happened on this corner was the spattering of blood on the sidewalk. “You have called forth the beginning of the end. And these people today were all witnesses. No more Dirty Harry.”