posted December 10, 2007
At 5:23 am the fire alarm goes off in
the Charles Hotel. I spring out of bed; grab my pants, shoes and
T-shirt; sprint down the corridor toward the red exit sign; push open
the fire door; bolt down ten flights of stairs; and emerge into a dark
and chill December morning. Cambridge still sleeps.
I make my way to the hotel's front entrance and into the lobby. Behind
the reception desk a beleaguered woman is picking up the phone every
five seconds to say "It was a false alarm... it was a false alarm... it
was a false alarm." Beside me stands a man in a camel-hair overcoat and
red baseball cap. He is chewing the stub of a stogie. He is familiar but
the name escapes me, so I ask.