If you're starting with Part 4, you've already missed some of the Christmasy candy-cane-flavored fun: Catch up here with the chapter index!
Part 4: A Slight DetourThe city streets were even more hectic and crowded in Manhattan than they were in Brooklyn. Bully emerged from the subway, pushed and pressured in multiple directions at once. He let out a sharp squeak as boots and shoes clattered around him, and he ducked and weaved his way through the maze of shoppers, peering up at the flashing neon lights shining from shop after shop across the darkening of the late afternoon.
He looked up and spied right above him the familiar sight from his newspaper clipping, a store towering above him and billboarded boldly: THE WORLD'S LARGEST STORE. Funny, it didn't look as big as he'd pictured, but there it was. "Macy's!" he exclaimed aloud in excitement. "Macy's...Macy's!"
"It's only a model," corrected a passer-by, barely glancing down, and sure enough, as Bully blinked and rubbed his button eyes he could see it was no more than a window decoration, just a scale model of the World's Most Famous Store, surrounded by pretty mannequins perched on pedestals around it, and Bully craned his neck backwards until he nearly fell over staring at them. Most of the manikins were in skimpy underwear, and gosh, that was skimpier than most. Bully tilted his head back further and read the sign above the window: VICTORIA'S SE...but that was all he read before he covered his eyes and ran on a little quicker, a bright blush showing from underneath his white fur. He certainly didn't need to see that, he reflected, allowing himself only a little quick glimpse back at the pretty redhead one who seemed to be smiling at him.
He had come up on the wrong side of the street, up the wrong subway staircase, he knew that now. Bully could see Macy's just across Herald Square, but with the sea of people and cars and taxis and pedi-cabs it might have been a mile away. Even through the throng of pre-Christmas activity it was quite the most amazing view. Bully did not think he had every seen anything as wonderful and as magical as Macy's. The store towered above the Square, more impressive than any building he had ever been in, and, to a little stuffed bull, even smaller buildings are pretty darn impressive. Flashing holiday lights in long elaborate strands outlined the shape of an illuminated Christmas tree the size of the Jolly Green Giant, and every window was brilliantly spotlighted from within with fancy tableaux and dioramas that Bully could only imagine were salutes to famous Macys through the ages: Macy Gray, William H. Macy, Bill Macy (who was not the same person, Marshall had once passionately explained in great detail, more detail than anyone in the apartment needed or wanted to know). Bully rocked in excitement from hoof to hoof: so near, so far! He turned and pushed his way through the crowd, pressing against foot traffic, moving down the sidewalk.
The air was crisp and cold and smelt of roasted chestnuts. Bully eyed a "Nuts to You!" vendor carefully, sizing up his desire for delicious sweet candied peanuts or cashews in crinkly little wax bags, but with a shake of his head and a short sigh, he turned from the aromas and kept going. Shopping first, he decided firmly. Nuts later.
The stores along Broadway were dressed up in cheerful holiday decorations, and the crowd was busy and bustling, like something out of one of the old Warner brothers Hollywood musicals Blackie liked to watch on TV. Windows were bright and shiny, with flashing lights and tinsel strung from corner to corner. Carols played loudly but did not drown out the buzz of people talking and laughing and complaining and shouting. It felt like Christmas, and Bully thought he was only a moment or two away from Mister Bob Hope stepping out of the crowd and singing "Silver Bells" to him.
But Macy's wasn't getting any closer. In fact, it seemed to be somewhere behind him. Bully paused to catch his breath and to peer up at the street sign, wishing he'd thought to bring his opera glasses with himthat sign was immediately above him and a long way up, but Bully was fairly certain it said 33 STREET. He stood for a moment thoughtfully sucking his hoof and trying to remember, musing aloud: "Miracle on 33rd Street." No, that didn't sound right. "Miracle on 32nd Street?" Definitely the wrong direction. "Miracle on 34th Street?" Ah, yes, that was it. "And the original too, not the remake," Bully announced aloud, just in case anyone was eavesdropping and was in doubt about his taste in motion pictures. He needed to be on 34th Street to get to Macy's, not 33rd Street.
He peered down 33rd Street towards Fifth Avenue in the distance. On the left-hand side of the street the Empire State Building towered above, ape-free for at least one more night. But on the right-hand side, nearly three-quarters, oh, maybe even seven-eighths of the way down, Bully's eyes focused on a familiar shop, one of his favorite stores in all of Manhattan, the home of many a happy afternoon and many a shiny dime spent...
Jim Hanley's Universe. Quite possibly one of the best comic book stores in the city. Bully squeaked in recognition of the recognizable landmark. And it was so very close, too...
He turned and trotted down 33rd Street towards Hanley's. Macy's could wait...for a while at least.
Tomorrow, Part 5: Fantastic Find.