Amy Amsterdam

William Creedle

Will is an eclectic mix of people, places and things. He was born in Minnesota, raised in Texas, spent his 20’s in DC and spent the better part of his 30’s in NYC. As a result he’s polite, boastful, self-conscious and argues with policemen. He works in IT but has a master’s in Archaeology. He loves French food, German beer and British Humor. As his right as an American, he has absorbed all of these into his identity and his writing. He thinks life is way too important to take seriously. Will is the also author of Evan Branko (Is Unlovable).
+ evan branko on kindle

O.K., so the way Amy Amsterdam came to be at 45th and 2nd in Manhattan, albeit a different 45th and 2nd in a different Manhattan in essentially a different world is this: She had just broken up with – No, no wait, first it’s important that you understand that Amy Amsterdam is not crazy, nor I, your humble narrator, nor is this a ‘sci-fi’ book. No, this is not a sci-fi story, it’s a love story, and a lousy one at that.

Not that the story is lousy, but the love is; the quality of it anyway. It’s kind of clingy and pathetic. But then in reality, even alternate ones, that’s what makes for a relationship. In the end we need not excitement, adventure, or whirlwind, but some pretty grounded, Maslow’s-hierarchy-of-needs type stuff, the kind of stuff that walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. Essentially, true love is a duck, but it floats. Anybody can sink, but Love makes floating easy, even if it means looking at someone’s goddamn toe-nail clippings on the coffee table.

O.K., so the way Amy Amsterdam came to be at 45th and 2nd in Manhattan, albeit a different 45th and 2nd in a different Manhattan in essentially a different world is this: Her apartment got broken into and her boyfriend dumped her. Amy came home from work at The Strand Book Store (an alternate reality in its own right) to find that someone had broken into her upper west side apartment. Technically she hadn’t been broken into because she kept her door unlocked, but someone had come in uninvited nonetheless.

As disturbing as home intrusion was, the thing that bothered her the most was that the intruder had stolen nothing. Was her life so pathetic, she thought, that she had nothing worthy of stealing? Sure, her jewelry was fake and her TV so old it was ‘solid state’ (whatever that meant), but there must have been something your average burglar would want. Maybe he was a sex perv. Nope, all of her panties were still there. In fact the only thing missing throughout the whole apartment had been a 5-pound Pepperidge Farms salami sausage she’d received for Christmas and never opened.

The thought that she was of no worth financially, or sexually, and that the only thing of estimable worth in her life was a salami (if only she had known how valuable it was!) and said salami was now gone, brought about a total, unequivocal emotional meltdown. Tears a-flowing, she dialed her boyfriend. Having no choice in the matter, since men are powerless against tears, James dutifully came over.

James bears only the most cursory of review, since he’s a selfish shit and remains in this story only for a page or two more, so here goes: He was tall, brown haired, not unpleasant to look at, fairly well-groomed, pretty well read and well traveled and liked to watch porn, a LOT. That pretty much covers him. Who cares what color his eyes were or if he had brothers and sisters. Like I said, he’s a shit.

But at least for the moment, rendered powerless as he was, he was decent, and he held Amy while she cried and patted her gently as he sort of ignored her tear-soaked rambling.

“This can’t be the end-all be-all of life, can it?” she sobbed. “I mean, what’s my life really about? Where’s the direction, where’s the decency? I don’t know what’s even important to me. Apparently sausage, but I only know that because it’s gone.” Amy’s tears were almost all gone by now. “I mean, do I deserve this world? Why?” If only James had understood that this was a rhetorical question.

“Shit happens, I guess.”

“What?” said Amy, pulling back from his embrace. “‘Shit happens?’ Wow,

James, that’s a real brilliant insight there. You should put it on a bumper sticker and make millions.”

“Don’t get mad at me, Amy. I didn’t rob you.” Said James, backpedaling as fast as he could. “I’m just trying to comfort you.”

“Yes, by telling me that ‘shit happens’. Real bang up job of comforting me there.”

“I’m not the idiot who left their door unlocked.” Why won’t men just let it go?

“Oh so I’m an idiot, and shit happens, fucking great. Just fucking great. What- what the fuck? I mean, is this how guys talk to each other? ‘How’s your Mom? Oh she died. Oh well, shit happens.’ No really, James, I want to know.”

Realizing that he wasn’t going to win this one, he caved.

“I’m sorry, Amy. I guess I just don’t know how to comfort you very well.”

“I’ll say.” She said. “But you’re here, and that’s something, I suppose.”

It was about then that James had a great epiphany in his life, one that would lead him down a road to contentment, a road filled with successful short-term, porno filled relationships, and subsequently right out of this story. He realized that not only did he not want to win the round with Amy, he didn’t even want to play the game anymore. So he hit the reset button. Hard.

“I think we should see other people.”


Well, the only answer for a day like this was booze, and lots of it. Perhaps even some companionship. However, it was the holidays (why do relationships always end over Christmas?), and all of her friends were gone. She hardly felt like going to a fancy club alone and probably reeking of rejection and clinginess, not to mention that at any moment the waterworks could start up again, and nothing is more disturbing to the general order of the universe than a woman crying alone. So she did what she never did: that is, she went to a pub.

The Dublin was as hole-in-the-wall as you could get, and had a few distinct advantages: she could go to it looking like shit (which she did currently), she could get fairly safely pixellated (it was only a block from her apartment), and if the waterworks started, she could just leave.

So it was here, 3 Vodka Collins into her pixellation, that she met Christopher Plumber, only she didn’t know that was his name yet. It had only been his name for a week anyway. 8 days ago it was ‘Tom Plumber’. For a brief period in September it had been ‘Hans Indepants’. He had been in a weird mood then. Before that it had been ‘Kelly Fox’. He’d liked that one, it was a good summer name.

As out of place in a dive as Amy was, being a single girl in sweatpants and scünci-ed hair and a Prada bag, Kelly-Hans-Tom cum Christopher was even more out of place. First of all, he was in a suit. Not just any suit, but a tuxedo, complete with tails. Like Bugs Bunny conducting the symphony tails. If he rented it, he found an awesome place, because it was silk, and fit his well-proportioned frame like a glove. Speaking of gloves, he had a pair of white ones sticking out of his black wool overcoat which hung on the wall behind him. How she had not noticed his entrance (and what an entrance it was!), is one of the great mysteries of alcohol. But she noticed him now.

She noticed his hair, which was trimmed to perfection and pomaded back, which combined with the monkey suit gave him the look of a star of the silent screen. She noticed his pencil moustache which ran above his thin lips almost like eyeliner. This was a new edition for him, it came in about the time Hans went out. But it suited him, insomuch as anything did and it gave a nice punctuation to his wry little smile.

Amy had always been terribly jealous of people who smiled like that, those conspiratorial smiles to themselves, those smiles that whispered ‘the world is a funny place if only you get the joke.’ She had a theory that only people who had conversations in their heads had smiles like that. She was jealous of those people too. After all, they were never truly alone.
But enough of her petty jealousies and back to noticing Chris. She noticed how every time he ordered a bourbon on the rocks he would swirl his finger through the glass and lick the sweet liquor off of it. She noticed how his eyes closed when he did, a soft closing, as if the open eyes diluted the sensation. But it wasn’t an insulting close of the eyes, like the wrinkled, cramped, aggressive closing the eyes make during orgasm; it was a soft close, like one makes before smelling a rose, or kissing the hand of a queen.

Amy allowed a brief flirtation with fantasy and imagined kissing those eyelids, and for a moment, a sensation, a smell of something old and traditional, like warm shave soap and sandalwood filled her nostrils.

Perhaps it was the smell, perhaps it was the sound of a hand slapping a back somewhere further down the bar, but Amy snapped out of the fantasy and back to her reality. Suddenly, she was ashamed of it, of using him in an unapproved manner, as if he was somehow aware that he caused this sort of thought in frumpy, baggily dressed women. For some reason, she feared it might make him uncomfortable (how she didn’t understand men!), to know that he was walking around on earth creating Mr. Clean/Calgon commercial fantasies in every outmatched woman he passed by in the night. Sort of a walking Haagan-Dazs and spin cycle magically wrapped into one.

Convinced of her emotional interloping, Amy contrived to think of anything but the man in the black silk tux. She tried thinking of words she hadn’t used in daily conversation but should, but the words she thought of were things like manhandle, impregnable and turgid. She found that the only thing that did the trick was to think of how pathetic her own life had become. Oh yeah, that did the trick alright.

She wondered how it was she had gotten there, to that place in life we all reach (usually 15 years later, missy!), where we wonder if this is all there is, if there wasn’t some other place we’re supposed to be, is this really the rest of my life?

“You’re wondering,” spoke the Haagen-Dazs in the monkey suit, “if this is all there is, if there wasn’t some other place we’re supposed to be, is this really the rest of my life?”

Christopher’s head stayed down the whole time, contemplating the swirl of his finger and the taste of the bourbon, and when he finished speaking, out came the wry, conspiratorial smile. There was something about his voice she couldn’t place, a certain staccato delivery combined with an accent that sounded as if it was from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, but she didn’t really register that, since she was far more concerned about how in the hell he knew her thoughts. ‘Probably’ she thought, ‘I am telegraphing it.’ After all, one need not be Sherlock Holmes to figure out what the red, makeup-less face, the sweatpants, the tousled hair and the 3 empty glasses meant. They only need be semi-intelligent, and he fit the bill. This intrusion into her thoughts, so clearly funny to him, really pissed her off. No doubt he thought himself so fucking clever.

“Ahaha, Mr. Gadabout.” She said sarcastically. “No doubt I look like an easy pull to you, what with my hair and my” she made a frantic, all-body encompassing hand motion, which just made his smile go that much more wry, “whatever! Only I’ll have you know, I’m 28, I got broken into and dumped on the same day, so if you’re thinking I’ll be allowing a third violation tonight, you’re sorely mistaken. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice-” Amy paused for a moment as she realized her analogy had failed her in the most crucial of moments. “Okay so I’m a fool. There! Are you happy? I’m a fool.”

And yet, exciting and well-acted as her soliloquy was, Christopher never raised his head, never took his eyes off his bourbon. He just sat there, listening, responding only with that moustachioed, wry smile of his.

“There is, you know.” He replied as he savoured another delicate pull from his glass.

“There is what?” she asked.

“Another place you’re supposed to be. More to life. The big- Whateveryoucallit.”

“I suppose I’ll find it in your arms, or a cornfield in Iowa, or is it at the bottom of a whiskey glass?”

“Nothing so uncouth.” Again his accent startled her. It wasn’t regional, or foreign or anything, and yet she was sure she had heard it before.

“Are you sure? You’re sucking those down like candy.” With that, he stood up, this man in the monkey suit, and gracefully strolled over to her. Standing he was even more impressive. 6 feet tall or more, he possibly weighed 170 pounds, and had that broad shouldered, thin-waisted build that was last seen on Johnny Weismuller. He slid the glass in front of her.

“This is not something as rough and unrefined as bourbon,” he said, “which has its purposes. No, this is much more discerning, and the pleasures are even greater, if you can sense them.”

“Tequila.” She replied and pushed the glass away. His presence was making her terribly self-conscious.

“No, not exactly, my dear.” Again his accent rung a bell with her, only not knowing from where meant every time his accent came out it rubbed her the wrong way, like a dry loofa on a naked back. “This is sweet tea.”

“Sure it is.” Again he offered, again she refused. “If you insist.” He said, and his wry smile reappeared.

Perhaps it was that goddamned smirk, perhaps the mystery of it all, but she suddenly felt the impulse to take his drink and slam it down. So she did. And the taste that greeted her palate shocked her. Warm spearmint tea. The flavor was indeed delicate and gentle, and yet crisp and piercing at the same time. She instantly felt warm all over and her mind, so recently clouded by emotions and 3 vodka Collins became clear again. In this moment of clarity, it hit her.

“Christopher Walken.”

“You sound just like Christopher Walken. Man was that bothering me. And now I get you, with the tuxedo and all. You’re a magician. It all makes sense: the cape, the gloves, the bizarre… …stage presence. Nice trick with the tea, Magic man. Only I can’t figure out what you did with the real whiskey. I don’t suppose you’ll tell me, though, will you?”

“Certainly.” He replied. “Call it transubstantiation.”

Amy snorked loudly. “So you’re Jesus now. Before I thought you were just a creepy magician, but this is somehow better. It’s more surreal. So go on, Jesus, by all means take this conversation from the bizarre to the next level, or the next-next level.”

The man in the monkey suit flagged down the bartender who filled his glass again with bourbon, which he patiently swirled his finger in, licked and closed his eyes. He turned to Amy. When he spoke this time, he was very direct, and his piercing eyes carried an earnestness in them she hadn’t seen in a very long time.

“I’m no magician, and no saint. I don’t want to take you home and make love to you while you’re vulnerable, nor do I want to hurt you. But I do hold answers.” He paused for a moment, and then reconsidered his previous statement “Not answers really, perhaps more questions in the end, but different questions, ones that will make these that bother you now a trifle, really. That is, if you’re interested.”

Amy pondered this while still staring at his eyes, his beautiful eyes, with their smoky, well defined eyelids. It was only after a heavy pause that she spoke to him. “Are you wearing makeup?”

Christopher finished his bourbon/sweet tea and laid down what seemed to be a lot more cash than was necessary for just a few drinks. As he put on his coat, and grabbed his top hat (a top hat!) he offered his gloved hand to her. “You may come if you like. I promise you no harm.”

Who knows why she took his hand. Maybe she craved adventure. Probably she didn’t care what happened anymore. Besides, nobody in top hats killed anybody. Except Jack the Ripper. Forgot about him.


The cab over from the Upper West Side to Turtle Bay was uneventful. He said nothing along the way, save from introducing himself as Christopher Plumber, and that he was not a religious nut, or drug addict or cabalist.

“Christopher Plummer?” said Amy, “Sure, why not. I mean, what was I expecting, really?”

“Not this, I’m sure. But its Plumber, like the gent who fixes your pipes.”


“I get that a lot.” That was a lie. This was the first time he’d gotten that. In fact, until now he had forgotten that Christopher Plummer existed. No wonder the name had such a good ring to it.

When the car pulled up to 45th and 2nd Christopher Plumber exited, and opened the door for Amy. Together they strolled to just out in front of a bar called Keats.

“You’re taking me to another bar?” she asked incredulously. She peered inside to see that the bar was packed to the gills with people, and at the very front of it, two drunken businessmen were belting into microphones as loud and off key as they could. She could barely make it out through the bleating of their voices, but it sure as hell sounded like Bon Jovi. Ahh yes, she just caught ‘Steel Horse’ somewhere in that last stanza.

“Oh God, you want to do karaoke.” Suddenly Amy’s mind was filled with terrible pictures of the two of them sharing show-tune filled nights and days spend together clothes shopping at Century 21. She had not found the rebirth of Valentino, but a sweet-natured Broadway queer. At least this meant he probably wasn’t going to make a girl-suit out of her hide.

“I promised you that there was more to life than just this, didn’t I.” he asked. “Well, there is, and it isn’t karaoke, and no, I’m not gay.” There he went with that mind-reading thing again. “There is more, a lot more, but you’ll have to trust me for a little while. You’ve trusted me this far. Just come a little further.” With that, Christopher Plumber opened the cellar door and stepped down into it. “Come on Alice, down the rabbit hole.”


“Right. Off to Wonderland.”

God knows why she keeps trusting strangers like this. I mean, down into a cellar? Fuck me. There is such a thing a social Darwinism, you know.

But she did trust him. So down they went into the cellar, past the kitchen, past the illegal immigrants bagging garbage, past the kegs in the back room until they came to a door. “Shall we?” he said as he opened it, and without waiting for an answer he pulled her into a long, poorly lit hall. Down they walked, further and further, past many rows of bulbs strung to the curved brick ceiling by exposed wire. Onward they continued and always it was the same, no side doors, no turns or curves, just the vaguely damp hall, the pitter-pat of feet on cobbles, the fade and pulse of bulb after bulb.

Weird as it was, and even though with every step she got farther and farther away from anybody who could possibly help her (How do you say ‘Help me’ in Spanish?) Amy felt strangely at peace, and given where she was and with whom, she was not afraid. Chris, for his part simply kept smiling and tugging her along. Eventually, a door became visible in the distance. After what seemed like another 10 minutes, they came to it.

Chris opened it and revealed a row of kegs. Past the kegs were the trash bagging illegal immigrants, and past them the kitchen. Up they went through the same cellar hatch and out on 45th and 2nd. This is how Amy Amsterdam came to be at 45th and 2nd in Manhattan, albeit a different 45th and 2nd in a different Manhattan in essentially a different world.

© William Creedle

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