A children's book for grown-ups by Jon Evans

October 19, 2007

90. Afterword

In 1935, the New York Times reported the discovery of an eight-foot alligator in a manhole on East 123rd Street. As recently as 2001, a five-foot caiman was captured in the Harlem Meer in Central Park. Deer have been seen on Staten Island. Tigers have lived in Harlem high-rises. A coyote was found in Central Park in the summer of 2005. In October 2007 a seven-foot python was found emerging from a Brooklyn toilet. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve, and indeed Central Park itself, are havens for birds from all over the world. And few New Yorkers would be surprised to learn that illegal dogfights take place in abandoned warehouses in darkest Brooklyn.

One could, if one were so inclined, inspect many of the places Patch visited during his adventures. His drey is somewhere on the tree-covered hills near West 83rd Street, the highest point in Central Park. Karmerruk flew him all the way to Fresh Kills on Staten Island, once the world's largest trash dump, now a park - albeit one built on millions of tons of garbage and bubbling methane. Patch travelled across Staten Island to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, which he could not cross. Instead his adventure on the boat took him to the wild and overgrown beaches near Fort Tilden. From there, he and Zelina traversed the Cross Bay Bridge to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve.

After being captured and caged, they escaped from a Brooklyn warehouse near the Pulaski Bridge over Newtown Creek. After exploring the Hidden Kingdom, they rode a bus across the Brooklyn Bridge, disembarked in lower Manhattan, and headed north. Patch went underground to find Sniffer at the 8th Street/NYU subway station. He and the cats escaped the rats on the N/R, and rode it all the way to the 59th Street station. There he followed Zelina to Park Avenue - aka the Great Avenue - and then turned back to his home in Central Park.

The Center Kingdom is easy enough to navigate. White's tree is somewhere near the southeast corner of the park. The Dungeon is, of course, the Central Park Zoo; the Ramble is, conveniently, the Ramble; the Great Sea is the Onassis Reservoir; and the Labyrinth is the Conservatory Garden. The stone spire where Patch meets Coyote for the second time is Cleopatra's Needle. The Northern Sea is the Harlem Meer.

Much of the underworld is inaccessible to oversized humans, but there are exceptions. The abandoned subway station at Broadway and 91st, where Patch and White found themselves after their encounter with the Legless, is visible for a few flashing seconds if you peer carefully out of passing trains. The huge Amtrak tunnel runs up the west side of Manhattan, beneath Riverside Park. And the massive and long-disused Croton Aqueduct stretches for 41 miles from Central Park, north through the very belly of Manhattan, across the abandoned High Bridge into the Bronx, and along the Aqueduct Trail in Van Cortlandt Park. It is there, at an abandoned way station that still stands, where the squirrels finally emerged into daylight.

All of these places lie within the five boroughs of magnificent New York City.

Well, th-th-that's all she I wrote, folks. Thanks for reading Beasts of New York. Hope you enjoyed it half as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

... now i want to go to new york and find specific trees... :D

hmm, how much did you enjoy writing it, on (say) a scale of one to ten? because i enjoyed it about a fifteen. :D

October 19, 2007 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger Sassy said...

Very interesting.....

October 21, 2007 at 8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad, I caught that there was an Afterword, Jon. Well done. Thanks for tying the loose ends and explaining. Not having lived in Brooklyn in about 35 years, I needed some details filled in.

One thing you reminded me of was my childhood fascination with an abandoned subway station we'd see just as you described, when taking one of the "express" trains from Brooklyn to Manhattan. After leaving the Pacific Street station in Brooklyn, before crossing the Manhattan Bridge (as opposed to going underground as all the "locals" did), you'd glimpse a barely lit abandoned station thru the openings of the express tunnel.

Of course, I haven't been on the subway since about 1971--even tho', I'm only an hour or so away--so I don't know whether or notany of this would be the same as I remember.

October 22, 2007 at 5:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I said it earlier, but thanks again for sharing your terrific story with us.

It would be great if someone (more skilled with Google maps than I) could plot all these points for us only vaguely familiar with the NYC locations cited...

October 22, 2007 at 7:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful story, I'm really glad I came in right at the end (Rakie told me about it ages ago but I'm slow) and could read the whole thing through in three sittings. It was incredibly captivating, even though I know nothing of New York.

The variety of animals and the wonderful details such as their speech and mythical aspects came as a complete and fascinating surprise.

Thank you Jon for keeping me occupied for ninety excellent chapters over three much brightned days. :)


October 23, 2007 at 5:49 AM  
Blogger Rick Castello said...


November 7, 2007 at 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Jon for the enlightening story on my backyard friends. One never knows about the struggles these little fellas endure on a daily basis... thank you..

December 5, 2007 at 7:07 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow. This was like, amazingly awesome. Found it on Web Fiction Guide and well... if it had been a paperback I'd say I couldn't put it down XP

I took a brief break after chapter 21, came back, and read the entire novel through to the end. I simply couldn't stop XP This is pretty impressive considering that I am not actually a fan of web fiction and was just looking for something to browse through for a few minutes while I ate supper.

Great job!

August 18, 2008 at 8:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I've added this novel to Muse's Success. I don't currently have a description for it, so if you could email me one that would be ideal.

~ Rose Darkthorn


September 13, 2008 at 4:20 PM  
Anonymous gjoule said...

hey jon,
i'm from malaysia and i really like this story. no no.. i mean i loooove this story.
I think you should find some producer to film it.
Love to see the squrrels on screen..
Thx 4 creating it 4 us!!!

August 27, 2009 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Phayona said...

Wails* I want a pet squirrel * I loved this story, having just moved to New York 2 months ago, I havent been to Central Park yet but I'm so excited to go now. Ands its so odd that the one creature that has captivated my attention since getting here is the squirrel and now this terrific story. Excellent stuff Jon. Keep up the good work.

November 3, 2009 at 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a magnificent piece of work! And how kind of you to share it!

July 13, 2010 at 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

I'd give this read a 10. Very enjoyable.

October 25, 2011 at 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this at an ebook website - gonna drop it onto my nook AND find more of your stuff. What a fun adventure...sorta like Watership Down but with squirrels (Easier to buy than homicidal rabbits). And just as entertaining. Your descriptions of how they see things, and how they (and the other critters) speak was well-thought and presented.
My salutations and congratulations!

November 2, 2011 at 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Tyler said...

10 10 10 10 you got a top ten story top 10.

November 22, 2011 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Natan K said...

What a masterpiece! I spent hours looking for a good book to read next and I found this - I would love to see it made into a movie. It's sort of a cross between Watership Down and Underland Chronicles.

May 22, 2016 at 7:19 AM  

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Jon Evans is the award-winning author of the thrillers Invisible Armies, Dark Places (aka Trail of the Dead), and The Blood Price. See his web site rezendi.com.

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