New York Confidential

By Rick Moranis ( Op-Ed ) 807 words

I could see the ''Biography'' sign flashing through the window in front of my treadmill. They had run out of people and were now profiling hurricanes. ''Hazel,'' it repeated, ''tonight at 8 on A&E.'' Hazel was on Nick at Nite, too, and I wondered what Shirley Booth would think about $600,000 an episode. I climbed off the machine, before the Japanese cartoon syndrome took hold. Two-tenths of a mile? Sweating from embarrassment, I hit the streets.

There were cops everywhere. I asked somebody, ''Hey, who's in town?'' A pretty face turned around. ''Giuliani,'' she said, and I took her home, married her, and we left town to open a bicycle rental business in Tobago. But she was gone before I could ask her name. I climbed into a cab.

''Hi! This is Robert De Niro. Are you talkin' to me? No! I'm talkin' to you! Fasten your seat belt.'' I told the driver, "MondoMonaco, Governors Island.'' Fluent in several Middle Eastern dialects, I knew all nine Arabic words for sinkhole. It seemed, by his gestures, that the top of the Chrysler Building had fallen off. Lexington Avenue from 52d to 24th was the new No. 6 train tunnel, and the whole city was closed below 59th Street, unless you were a tourist with a valid passport and a net worth four times the value of your hotel room on a per foot/per year basis discounted by your primary domestic currency and all city nonresident occupancy taxes. The fare was $3.60. I threw him a five and got out before he could turn off the meter.

These vagabond shoes. . . . I ran across the street to grab an uptown cab. Had to talk my way out of a jaywalking ticket using the barricade defense. If I could get up to 96th Street, I could take the DisneyTram to 42d and jump onto the WynnShuttle. I needed to get to the SportsBook before the first pitch. Yankees 6 to 5 over the Staten Island Sea Gulls. I got into another cab.

''This is Philippe de Montebello. The Crown Victoria, a boldly drawn instance of utilitarian pragmatism, is constrained only by the discreetly commanding gesture of the Medallion. Fasten your seat belt and I'll meet you at your destination.'' The cabby spoke English. One of the new DroidDrivers the Mayor had gotten from Microsoft in the Coliseum deal. The news was bad. Every transverse was closed. The city was biting

These little town blues. . . . I had some quick thinking to do. I wanted to get off the island but had to sell my apartment first. I thought about the old days. The Naked City. Holdups in the Bronx. Fights breakin' out in Brooklyn. Traffic jams that would back up from Harlem all the way to Jackson Heights.

I bolted from the hack and sprinted south. A glance at Tourneau told me I didn't have much time in any time zone. I jumped on a display bike at the Harley-Davidson Cafe and pulled a wheelie down West 57th. I threaded the Arc de Trump and hung a loud left onto Broadway.

It was eerie. The place was dead. I had heard about this. The Great White Way was dark. Only ''Capeman'' was playing, but retitled ''Bring in 'Da Gar Bring in 'Da Funkel.'' It had happened. The Casino had killed the Theater. Since Siegfried and Roy had moved those animals into Sutton Place, a lot of people were leaving. Now it was my turn.

I grabbed the first chopper on West 30th and headed for the one crap table that would take my co-op shares. I landed on the roof of VegasVegas and jumped onto the moving sidewalk to the casino. Around me were brightly lit marquees for Betty Buckley, Patti LuPone and the new all-star Bohemian Opera, ''Why Rent?''

''Hi, this is Wayne Newton! Danke schon for keeping to the right!'' I moved quickly to the left to get around a gilded Brazilian couple and collided with a young uniformed woman hurrying to her casino job. ''Hey,'' she said. It was her! The Tobago bicycle woman! I asked her where she was going. ''Blackjack,'' she said. I looked around, moved back to the right, realized that I wanted to be a part of it, make a brand new start of it, and noticed that for the first time, I wasn't seeing any cops.

''It's a casino,'' she said. ''Believe me, there's a ton of security.''

''Really? Who's in town?''