New York City, October 30, 2017

★★★★ The wind groaned and the water splashed on the windows. A hard yellow incoming line on the radar was racing against school dropoff on the clock. The storms were faster, which made the dropoff a victory. Before the children had their shoes on, a rip in the west was showing clear sky. Outside, a few last drops were on the still-rising wind. An umbrella lay utterly broken and squashed dead flat in the roadway of the avenue. The school had dared to open the water-sheeted and leaf-strewn yard as if the morning were normal. The cold and the wet and alcohol had felled one of the men under the scaffold, plainly enough that a passerby had stopped and phoned for help. After he’d stopped shuddering and regained his feet, he argued bloody-mouthed and dismissive with the EMT crew trying to talk him into the ambulance. A stroller, pushed with blind intensity against the cold, ran right through the middle of the discussion and kept going. Another man who knew him pressed the matter: It’s warm in there, he said. In a compromise, he refused the stretcher and trudged, on sodden running shoes, to the ambulance’s side door. The sidewalks were already being blown dry. The layer of clouds held on a while and then broke, leaving rounded, lustrous ones in a blue sky. The wind over the mouth of the coffee lid sent inaudible vibrations down the cup.