I am going to tell you how I met Mr. Legend, leading to my tragic demise. They say the devil is in the details then again Mr. Legend could be considered the details. This is not a psychiatry session, this is my evidently over due confession of my culminated failures as I see it.
You wanted to know how I succumbed to a grievous end and I will tell you that there were many moments that lead to it, but first let me tell you about the jogging experience months prior. That faithful day where I should have seen the signs, taking my over due vacation time from my mundane desk job.
In a concrete jungle like New York City there are constant array of stories and fables: people getting hit by cars, objects landing on unsuspecting pedestrians from the higher layers of buildings, and the individual unable to withstand the crushing pressure that hurls themselves in the path of a subway car. It truly is a wild jungle, the terrible reality is that you secretly hope it doesn’t happen within your immediate vicinity to delay your commute and impeded the rapid pace of one’s daily routine.
The desensitized attention to all the shootings, stabbings, bathtub drownings that we are constantly bombarded with that when something new does appear on the such as a cannibal garbage man or a foster mother freezing her wards and collecting her checks, we act infuriated posting immediately to let everyone know of our acute observation to current events. If the papers were smart they would concoct the outrageous for our eagerly ignorant heads to consume, no one is going to fact check to see if it’s true anyway, maybe they already do.
When I was killed by Mr. Legend that was one of the first thoughts that came to my mind, ‘The Washington Post would love this’, maybe that isn’t entirely true because I was hemorrhaging from my skull and my thought process wasn’t fully cognizant.
My death certainly was something never seen before, though I am unable to witness the headline or Facebook post, as far as I know Mr. Legend is continuing to hunt in the city unscathed and the media is missing out on a juicy tidbit of news.
Before the jog down the west side I always thought about actually seeing someone killed on the street, to witness the mangled body parts of a subway jumper or crushed corpse of a construction accident. Well that spring day I had my milestone and realized I wasn’t as effected as intensely as I thought I would be, maybe not as much as it should have or I would be alive right now.
I was jogging on the west side next to the Hudson River passing people with their children out in the grass, pushing their dogs in strollers and the occasional tinge of pot in the air. It was unseasonably warm all winter, and that early morning was a perfect steady temperature. The sun was up for two hours and I could feel that it was going to be a quick run, already trying to make excuses for myself to stop and head home.
I started my routine a few weeks earlier because the “winter weight” needed to come off and I was trying to save money on a gym membership. As i passed sail boat docks on my left there was a group of police and paramedics blocking off a portion of side walk up against the metal railing over the river. I joined the congregation of people rubbernecking (obviously using the commotion to postpone my run) and from my angle at the corner I saw two divers near the stone outlet pipe leading under the cement sidewalk. The tide was down and the top 2 feet of the opening was visible, the hole leading under the city probably led to a drainage system releasing “overflow” from the sewers into the river. The frogmen-as I heard one of the officers refer to them- dove down in the water directly outside the pipe, the officer’s radios became busy with conversations of static talking and police codes. The police attempted to move us back away from the railing but their own curiosity for what was to be pulled out distracted them, that is when I saw it.
The divers rose with a body, the first I had ever seen and I was surprised at how well I handled myself. One other onlooker an older women gagged and and started muttering something about decency and professionalism, as if she was mad at the cops for her being there to see them removing the body.
I recognized from the condition that it had to have been under the water for sometime, the skin was pealing, the color unnatural and inhuman. I realized it wasn’t a complete body, unsure of what was missing but from my obstructed view I would guess the legs or entire bottom half were gone.
At that point the police were attentive to the growing crowd and hysterical screams from those who desired to make a spectacle of themselves so they maneuvered the increasing crowd out of the way. The media vultures discovered the smell of blood and swooped in, satisfied with seeing my first dead body I turned around and with the least amount of effort jogged back home.
I completely forgot about the incident until I was at work later that day and saw reports on my Google news feed. The very vague and poorly written article said that the man was a construction worker for a large midtown project, the police suspect that an accident underground was the cause of death and were awaiting on the autopsy report to confirm. I was disappointed to find that the article was just an editorial piece to write negatively on the project as well as the developer.
There was more information on the cost to the city and the colorful history of those spearheading the construction than the actual victim. It disregarded the condition of the body, lacking any explanation or theory as to how the worker died from an accident in the tunnels of midtown east then made it all the way across the city to lower Manhattan.
With a general knowledge of the tunnel systems it is hard to swallow that a body could be “washed” through the pipes across a metropolis like New York. The entire underground has been ripped apart and rebuilt over centuries and there has to be a labyrinth of sewers and subways, it is surprising the body was to be found at all.
Remembering the divers removing the body from the stone sewer hole I was certain the body was missing it’s lower half. What type of “accident” would result in the severing of the torso? I was going to write it off as pure journalistic laziness, lack of investigation due to an obvious bias opinion. I couldn’t help but romanticize the vague information. imagining there was an argument between two men and his co-worker taking a large tool, slicing him in half then attempting to dispose of him far away from the site. Maybe he was working overtime and attacked by the famed “mole people” of the mid 80’s early 90’s that supposedly Giuliani had killed, coming back for revenge. Possibly it was something as simple as an accident and it was completely plausible for a body to move through the sewers out into the Hudson and I was just looking for reason to disqualify the explanation.
Shortly into my day dreaming and creative conspiracy theories I was called into a meeting leaving my strange stories of my first dead body left in the shadows of my subconscious.
I never in my wildest dreams guessed it was Mr. Legend, he did leave clues and I ignored the signs which now appear obvious but living in New York over the years you become blind to random acts of strange and bizarre, its all business as usual. The “mole people” popped back in my head another week later. Waiting for a subway early morning on my way to work I saw two rats on the tracks eating the severed bottom half of a larger rat. I did take notice that the meaty bottom half of the carcass must have come from something very large even for New York standard. The subway platform was empty except for a young kid listening to his music extremely loud and an older man that moved further down the platform to free himself from the disgusting display. That smaller animals could have possibly killed the larger one, thought it appeared as if it was cleaved by a butcher’s knife or a fast moving subway car. I was instantly reminded of a “clickbate” article I read from a Facebook wall reporting the rat population in New York City was dramatically declining. A specialist from the Bronx Zoo was asked to make a statement and felt that either a disease or toxic levels could be responsible. In her expert opinion she stated that it would not last for long and rats evolve rather quickly, the population would rise again using an example of the large amounts of deaths after the flooding from Hurricane Sandy.
I imagined a killer “mole man” roaming abandoned subways tunnels in the bottom reaches under the city. Coming across a behemoth of a rat, the man’s giant slicing weapon fresh with the blood from a construction worker he just disposed of. He grabs the wire thick tail of the beast and before it is able to sink its sharp teeth into him he cleaves it in half, throwing the remains he doesn’t eat as he makes his way through the tunnel track.
Like I said the “devil is in the details” and the details were displayed all over, my wild imagination of the infamous “mole man” was close but how would a man eating giant rats and killing construction workers avoid attention in a congested city like this?
I found my answer and met Mr. Legend after a happy hour with a group of friends. The evening started off with shots of Pickle Back and Tequila mixes in a bar near Washington Square park. I understood my short fuse and knew that I was above my limit before I decided to act a fool but couldn’t help myself ignoring friend’s call to slow down. After an assumed insult I lashed out at a man I considered a dear friend and threatened to punch him in the face. The blurry incident is suspiciously one sided in my head, I assume I was wrong but during my alcohol induced anger I felt in the right.
Inside the bar was blurry and vague but I do recall leaving and attempting to make my way to the nearest subway. For some reason I crossed the infamous park and after a few more blocks attempted to enter another bar, the bouncer must have been busy flirting with a bosomy women outside or in the bathroom because I can’t remember seeing him or I would have never made it to begin with through the front door. There I stood using the edge of the bar to hold myself up yelling louder than necessary over the light crowd for a beer. The bartender tried to ignore me for a bit to see if my lack of balance or shouting voice would attract the attention from the absent bouncer but to no avail he decided to handle me himself.
“Sorry sir but I can’t serve you.” he politely said standing in front of me.
He was at the far end of the bar making sure not to be within reach of an assumed swing. If I wasn’t drunk I would have easily assured him that I would not have tried to punch him for denying me service, then again if I wasn’t drunk I wouldn’t have been refused.
I slightly recall telling him that he was not qualified to say how inebriated I was but I am sure it did not come out as coherently or even pleasantly as that.
My continued antics must have signaled the bouncer because I was swiftly lifted off my feet and remember my ass connecting solidly to the side walk outside. My blackout somehow lead me further on to Union Square, for a man who was unable to stand at a bar to order a drink I was fully capable of walking many blocks without incident.
As I stumbled down the stairs toward my downtown line I passed by two officers waiting for any hoppers looking to jump the turnstile for a free ride. Both men eyed me suspiciously, I did my best to walk straight and not stumble while removing my metro card and entering through the revolving metal arms.
The police had more important offenders to patrol for and a drunk past midnight in a business suit was not worth their efforts unless I was throwing up or maybe slapping a women around. I suppose I should have taken an Uber home but I was being a conscientious and frugal drunk and felt I already spent more than enough on shots and tipped the beautiful bartender more than the standard percent.
It was late and I was the only person on the subway platform except for a homeless man and his enormous collection of plastic bags in his grocery store cart. I realized after what felt like 10 or 15 minutes that I probably should have gone to the bathroom before I stormed out of the bar, I probably should have done a lot of things but c’est la vie.
The train never came and it felt like hours went by, in drunk time it could have easily been only a few minutes. I started to get fidgety and associated it with boredom but the bursting feeling in my bladder built to the point of being painful. The intense feeling to go to the bathroom sobered me enough to look at the sign posted on the metal girder rising form the concrete floor and realized my specific downtown train was on a delay every 30 mins which in New York City subway terms meant more like an hour.
I looked around for the police but still at this point it was only me and the homeless man and his bags, he was passed out on the wooden seats.
I walked toward the end of the concrete platform and the entrance of the tunnel, there was a two feet wide extension off the wall in the dark tunnel for MTA workers to use as safe access through the tunnels. The inner wall of the tunnel was dark and the floor was filled with grimy suit, dull orange lights spread every 10-15 feet on the ceiling illuminated the pitch black enough to manage on the narrow walkway.
The crying pain from my bladder over ruled my better judgement-or lack there of- I walked a good 6 feet on the narrow extension and peed onto the tracks. The instant relief cleared my mind and I did my best to ignore the calls from my scattered memories to reconstruct parts of the embarrassing night. I looked to the right of me seeing if anyone was on the the platform, looking to my left further town the darkened tunnel I saw a hollow extension a short distance down meant to be either an abandoned subway entrance or an unused station for workers.
Spray painted on the wall illuminated by one of the dim subway lights I could see in large fading letters was “Watch 4 Mr Legend, still drunk I thought the image would be a cool picture for my Instagram page and a good story documenting the crazy escapades of my night.
I ignored the concept that a train may come advancing down the tunnel and my life would most likely be over. My irrationally concern was of big fat rats moving over my feet and sinking their teeth into my flesh or a homeless man with a cleaver cutting me in half. I reached the abandoned area, the entire area was filthy with black sediment and stank of mildew and human waste. There was empty buckets and discarded tools everywhere, a mattress covered with stains and food wrappers was placed in a corner and a man’s boot leaning next to it.
I took out my phone, struggling with my four digit pass code I dropped it onto the dirt filled floor. When I picked it up my fingers were black and my white case dripped with a strange slime and years of soot. Unsuccessfully trying to clean it with my hands I wiped it on my pants staining my suit. A sharp pain shot from my ankle to my thigh, it felt like a giant with spiked hands grasped my leg. My legs were pulled out from under me slamming my face onto the floor, breaking my nose and shattering my front teeth. I was sprawled out ,blood gushing from my nose mixing with the dirt covering my face and shards of teeth breaking away from my destroyed smile. My mind was trying to come grasp if I fell or if I was just attacked, I attempted to push myself up moving around the years of untouched grime accumulated on the floor. When I lifted my face up even more blood flowed from my nose, my eyes swollen from a mixture of inflammation and black grime from when my face hit the ground. In a kneeling position I felt both my legs gripped again and I was thrown by an immense force against the wall of the platform smacking my head into the wall. I landed on my side with my back against the tiled surface, blood flowed from my forehead into my eyes clearing enough of the dirt to see a huge scaly tale. I started to fade out from my concussion when my waist was bitten and my body was thrashed back and forth bashing my skull once again. I know I wasn’t dead because I regained consciousness in a pitch black tunnel, the bones in my shins were shattered and my entire pelvis was in such excruciating pain that I ignored the putrid smell wafting through the darkness. Mr. Legend came over to my destroyed body and began to tear off one of my legs, I put my hand on his scaly back screaming in agony. He viciously shook his head back and forth loosening tendons and muscle to remove the appendage, I assume I died from either pain or shock once my leg and piece of my broken hip tore loose.
Now here I am in the subterranean lair of an urban killer, my corpse placed next to a man who had been here much longer then I have. The flies born in his chest swarm around landing on my blood clotted face, laying their eggs in the holes dug into my chest and severed portion of where my leg used to be. I wonder if my body will be flushed down the pipes out into the Hudson and they will label my cause of death as a drunken accident.
Even though I am dead I am stuck here in my decomposing corpse surrounded by a smorgasbord of bodies, my dead neighbor on me oozing puss out of the torn hole in his chest onto my arm. I wonder how long Mr. Legend has been here, a true animal in the concrete jungle surviving on the outcasts and unfortunates deep in the belly of the darkness where no one dares to venture and fearful of what exists. Well now I know what lives down there: Mr. Legend and his tale will be told generation after generation as an urban story to scare children away from going where they don’t belong and teaching adults a lesson in civility.