I begrudgingly walked with my son through Times Square last Saturday. With my firm situated so close on 40th and Broadway, I had been dreading this venture for quite some time. I absolutely hate wading through the throng of tourists on the way to work and the weekend was going to be no different, but Tommy had insisted for weeks that we go to Toys ‘R Us and ride the ferris wheel. What kind of father would I be if I didn’t take him?
After the ride and purchasing Tommy a new Lego set, I made a beeline for the train (something else he insisted on when we could easily afford a cab uptown). If you’ve never been to Times Square, it is an absolute clusterfuck. Before me lay a sea of people, all stopping in the middle of the fucking sidewalk to soak in the “sights,” I regarded them with as much consideration as they deserved, mere obstacles to my goal.
In addition to this there are opportunists descending from every angle on the tourists attempting to make a quick buck in any way they can. The most annoying of which have to be the costumed people pandering for a picture then guilting you into giving them money. There’s something so disturbing about a grown man dressed as Elmo or the Cookie Monster with the knowledge that what lies below that plush suit is a man desperate for cash. The whole enterprise is extremely off-putting. I was praying that, even though I was walking with my five year old, we wouldn’t draw the attention of one of them thinking they have found some fresh prey.
As I nearly collided with a tourist firmly camped in the middle of the sidewalk, a Spongebob began to close in on us. I shielded Tommy’s vision as I quickened my step almost dragging him along in the process.
We arrived at 42nd and Broadway and I could see sweet freedom. The subway station was calling my name and only thirty feet in front of me. However, traffic was heavy on 42nd. If I didn’t have Tommy with me, I would have darted into the street. As I thought about my son, I heard his voice call out through the din of the crowd.
I looked down to see Tommy thankfully still tethered to my grasp. He was looking at something to his right. I turned my gaze to see a yellow hand patting him on the head. I expected to see the Spongebob that had made its mark on us a block or so back, but what I saw was so much more perplexing than I had anticipated. What faced me was a mass of yellow fur, tangled and wild. I turned my gaze to his face and was immediately repulsed. An open mouthed smile was part of his ill advised design. His impossibly straight chompers hung below the beady plastic eyes, lifeless and staring down at Tommy’s little head. (I remarked in my mind how weird it was that he was bent over at an angle that the person underneath couldn’t possibly see him). As I looked even closer at it, I could see that the yellow fur was matted by dirt and grime. Everything about him annoyed me on a visceral level, but this was multiplied tenfold by the fact that he was touching my son.
“Look, we’re not tourists or anything. Go bother someone else. Also, I don’t appreciate that you are touching my son.”
After the words escaped my mouth, the smell hit my nose. An absolutely heinous aroma coming from the man that was still patting Tommy’s head after I asked politely for him to stop. It was pungent, a disgusting stink. It hung in the air and invaded my nostrils.
It activated a vague memory that remained cloudy in my mind’s eye. The almost retch inducing stench was forgotten as he continued to caress my son’s head. As his other hand reached for Tommy’s shoulder, I became more forceful.
“Listen, get your fucking hands off my kid. Who the fuck are you supposed to be anyway?”
Spoken in a monotone that belied the jovial nature of the costume, he replied,
“I’m Mr. Blinky, the Fun-Lover, and I just love having fun.”
If I wasn’t already disturbed by his dirty fur and lifeless eyes, the monotonous way he delivered that line was the last straw.
“I don’t care, leave us the fuck alone,” I said with conviction as the crowd began to move across the street. I pulled Tommy expecting him to follow with ease, but I almost jerked backward. I turned around to see both yellow hands grasping Tommy’s shoulders in a tight grip.
“Listen motherfucker, if you don’t let go of my son, I’m going to shout for the police.”
I looked into the mouth of the costume trying to see if I could regard whatever asshole was hiding underneath. He chose instead to turn his head upwards and stare with those dead, plastic eyes.
“You’re going to regret talking to me like that. I want to have fun, and we’re going to whether you like it or not. Tommy too.” This line was delivered with the same flat inflection. This was quickly progressing from annoying to terrifying. I jerked Tommy into my arms and ran toward the train.
I didn’t feel entirely safe until we made it back to my building. I greeted the doorman quickly hoping that conversation would be cut short (he’s going to figure out I don’t know or care about his name eventually) and made my way to the elevator.
I lay in bed that night thinking about this strange encounter. As sleep was about to find me, thoughts swirled around in my head. That smell still lingered. I could finally put my finger on it. It was the unmistakably putrid aroma of decaying flesh. As sleep finally began to overcome me, my last thoughts disturbed me. After delivering his vague threat, I could swear that plastic eye winked at me, and how the fuck did he know Tommy’s name… ?
By Monday, the whole bizarre experience had been chased out of my mind and replaced with the anxiety of a new week at the law firm. However, I soldiered through the day relatively unscathed (the meeting with the partners I had been dreading went extraordinarily well). As the day came to a close, I quickly made my way to the lobby. I had just recalled that Michelle had Tommy until the weekend and sweet freedom from responsibility awaited me as soon as I made my way out the door.
I crossed the lobby and was stopped by the man at the front desk (another person I see day in and out but can’t remember their name to save my life).
“I didn’t know you were a furry,” he said in a way too familiar tone.
“Pardon?” I said in a way to indicate that I wasn’t too pleased with the tone he was using.
“Well… someone dropped this off for you,” he said sheepishly.
He handed over a grimy black business card with fine white lettering. I read it. My blood began to run cold.
Mr. Blinky, the Fun-Lover stopped by to say, hey, let’s have some fun.
“Who dropped this off?” I demanded.
“I don’t know, some weirdo in a suit.”
“How long ago?”
“About 10 minutes.”
“If he ever comes back, call the fucking police.”
I stormed out of the building and hailed a cab. I wouldn’t feel normal until I was in the safety of my home. For a brief moment before I stepped into the taxi, I caught a hint of yellow out of the corner of my eye. I turned and scanned the crowd furiously to find nothing amiss in the mass of people.
The next few days I could swear that Mr. Blinky was following me as soon as I stepped foot out of the office. It’s not that I saw him or even perceived a flash of yellow out of the corner of my eye. It was an intangible feeling that stuck with me. I knew the second I left the office to go get food or head home he would be waiting with his matted fur and those creepy dead eyes. A general sense of unease and foreboding followed me that week through Wednesday.
However, by Thursday afternoon my guard was down. The case I was working on occupied my thoughts. I ate at the diner going through the ins and outs of the upcoming trial in my head.
I stepped out to the sidewalk and made a path for my office. Suddenly, a horrendous stench stung my nostrils. Before I had time to process the implications of this, the hand grabbed my shoulders. I turned to see Mr. Blinky standing next to me with his eyes glaring at me. Something was different about him this time. His eyes had changed. They seemed… alive.The first time I saw him his mouth hung open in a ridiculous and slack smile. That Thursday, a smile still greeted me from his face, but this time it was different. The angles weren’t right. It was really… off.
“Look, I’m a lawyer and you’re harassing me. If you don’t get your fucking hands off of me, I’m going to the fucking police,” I said forcefully.
“You shouldn’t talk to me like that. I haven’t forgotten about you or… Tommy, sweet little Tommy. We’re going to have fun soon. Very soon.”
I looked downward and my eyes grew large. In his right hand was a dagger, a twisted jagged thing. Red stains lined the blade. He raised it into the air. I ran out into the middle of the street. A BMW nearly collided with me. I saw a cop standing further down the block, and sprinted toward him.
Breathlessly, I screamed for his help, but as I turned around, Blinky was gone as if he vanished into thin air.
I filed a report with the police. They seemed incredulous when I described the… man… who was harassing me, like it was some sort of big joke.
When I returned home, I was greeted by my doorman with a stupid grin hanging on his face. I was really not in the mood to talk. I barreled toward the door.
“Everything alright Mr. B?” he asked with that dumb smile on his face. I know it’s rude, but I blew him off, entered my apartment, and went to bed.
The next day, I called the precinct from my office. They hadn’t found my “mystery yellow man” yet.
I worked late dreading the trip out to the street. As the clock showed 7 a new anxiety filled me. Fuck! I forgot I had Tommy this weekend. I was supposed to relieve my nanny at 6. No wonder my phone had been buzzing. I looked to see plenty of missed calls from her. I hate talking to her over the phone as I can barely understand her broken English. I would just apologize when I got home.
I made my way to the lobby. I prepared to steel myself to go out to the street and reached for the door. Something gave me pause.
He’s waiting for me out there.
I was sure of it.
I called the security guard in the lobby toward me.
“Can you hail me a cab, and… if there’s some weirdo out there in a yellow suit, can you let me know?”
“Sure thing boss.”
I waited with bated breath.
The door burst inward.
The guard said the coast was clear. I stepped outside, and much to my relief, the only yellow object I saw was the taxi I crawled into.
I arrived home and there was the fucking doorman again with that same fake smile I have to see everyday. I planned to blow past him in silence. That’s when he spoke the words.
“Tell little Tommy happy birthday!” I stopped in my tracks.
“It’s not his birthday.”
“Well, whatever party you’re having for him. I sent up Mr. Blinky. You better hurry up. He was very clear,” he said with a wink. “The fun can’t begin until you’re there.”