I had just set out with my wooden ladder over my left shoulder and my brightly lit red lantern swaying back and forth with my right hand. The other guys and I had set out in all directions, each of us on our own separate route, along the tree-lined avenues with their leaves like fire in yellows, reds, and orange colors. We were enjoying the weather, we were cracking jokes at the warehouse where we meet up every evening to collect our ladders and lanterns. We were even whistling as we left the station. It isn't always like this, the summers are hot and muggy, the winter is bitter cold, spring is rainy. However, nothing compares to an evening in New York in the Autumn. It is like no other, and as lamplighters we get to enjoy them every evening. This night was the exception.
I am halfway through my route and halfway down my ladder, having just lit another lamp along this narrow stretch of avenue, when I hear an argument brewing between a fashionably dressed older man and a beautiful young girl across the street near an alley. When I had first arrived they were walking down the avenue. The boss tells all new lamplighters to mind your business and stay out of trouble so I was pointedly ignoring them and busy with my work. They are getting louder, though, so it is getting harder to do. Then, right when I glance over I could have sworn I see him trying to grab her. Honestly, I still was going to pretend I hadn't noticed, but that is when she screamed.
That was all I needed, something was definitely not right with the situation and now this fashionable girl had literally screamed at the top of her lungs on the near empty street. I raced down my ladder with my lantern in my hand. I quickly raced across the street taking my ladder along, too. The girl and the guy had disappeared into the alley as I yelled to them to stop. It was getting dark, but the lamps I had just lit were shining and the fading light of dusk was still lingering. I held my lantern up high to see further into the alleyway. I didn't hear them at all, not a murmur. The footprints there looked like my couples, but I couldn't be certain. I wondered to myself that I didn't see them. I tried to explain away the unexplainable, not the first and, in this city, it wouldn't be the last. They had simply vanished and I had a job to finish. Other girls were depending on me to light up the darkness.