You may have read my post about Sacred Lake Baikal, Siberia. This is post two in The Earth Shifter Mystical Setting series. Last Thanksgiving we took a fabulous walk around Manhattan, NY, visiting The Village and Hell’s Kitchen, where part of The Earth Shifter action takes place. It is the location of Red’s Underworld Club with the secret entrance into the real, honest-to-goodness Underworld. While depicting Underworld Club I drew on my real Manhattan experiences and observations.
It was dusking, still I couldn’t resist taking some pics with my iPhone since the setting was so right. Judge for yourself!
We are walking towards Hell’s Kitchen. Only in Manhattan! A weird, narrow “wedge” building next to Madison Park. This building is usually referred to as the “Flat Iron” and I think it goes so well with Red’s theme.
More Madison Park area:
I thought this was sooooo Red! This building and the amazing colors as they came out on my iPhone camera reminded me of Red’s Underworld castle as I imagined it.
In reality, this is a church…
A very progressive church. The sign says: “Organ Meditation,” which to me is also soooo Red.
We are walking through Greenwich Village, which we call simply “the Village.”
This could be Red’s motorcycle.
A Village shop.
I love the detail on the Village buildings.
There are so many hidden gems here, which are easy to overlook, but if you have a keen eye, you are in for a treat. Illuminated with the surreal light of the dusk, these pictures remind me of Red’s Underworld castle and garden.
Red is one of the coolest characters in the book, and this is her world!
By the way, I structured the book in such a way that Red’s real identity remains an enigma till almost the very end. I dare you to guess what she really is while reading the book! But no spoilers, please!
Ah, finally, Hell’s Kitchen!
These sentinel-like iron guards also remind me of Red’s Underworld Night Club.
Hell’s Kitchen is nothing like it used to be!
From The Earth Shifter:
On Friday, Kei met Red at the corner of 47th Street and 9th Avenue. She wore skinny jeans, high heels, and a sleeveless black tunic with sequined accents, which highlighted her dark hair and eyes, and made her look positively ravishing.
“We are going to an underground night club, fittingly called Underworld,” she explained. Kei didn’t care whether they were going to Underworld, or to the end of the world. He was ready to follow her anywhere.
The Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan was once where prostitutes, drug addicts and other rather unsavory characters found refuge because it was cheap. Now of course, the entire Manhattan was so gentrified that even here you wouldn’t find a shoe-box-sized apartment for less than $3,500 a month.
It was only 6:30 p.m. and still early by the nightclub goers’ etiquette. Red knocked three times on a nondescript, metal door painted dark brown, which was buried in a walk-down. At eye level, the door had a small window with jail-like grates. There was movement behind the door and the non-smiling face of a burly dude, who belonged in a Pro Wrestling rink, appeared behind the grates.
“We are cl…,” he started. Suddenly, his expression changed and he hurriedly opened the door, muttering apologetically, “Yes, of course, come in, come in—welcome, my Lady.”
“Thank you, Heraldo,” Red replied regally, making her way past the huge bouncer. Kei followed, throwing cautious glances at the towering mountain of muscle guarding the door.
“I am actually not of age…yet,” admitted Kei when they were safely out of the bouncer’s earshot.
“Not to worry,” said Red, smiling. “It’s covered.”
At this hour, the bar was still dark with only a couple of people sitting in high chairs with drinks in their hands. There was no one else—not even a bartender—around. The whole place gave out the air of forlornness typical of nightclubs before patrons pile in and the show begins.
“Light, please,” said Red into thin air, making herself comfortable at a tiny table for two, located not too far from the dance floor.
The moment she finished her sentence, the candles set in whimsical cast iron candle holders burst into flame around them, giving the space an immediate feeling of mystery and magic.
“My Lady, what an honor to serve you!” A slick waiter, dressed all in black with white gloves, materialized in front of them with a bow. “What can I offer my beautiful queen and her handsome prince?”
“You are such a joker, Emmanuel,” murmured Red. “The usual—for two.”
“Of course, my Lady.” He melted into darkness, as if he never existed.
“Wow,” said Kei. “What is this place? They haven’t even asked for my ID, and they treat you like a queen…”
“Do you like it?”
“Yeah, it’s great, but how is that possible? You are no more than twenty, right?”
“Something like that,” said Red, smiling serenely.
“Then, how come they know you so well here? Are you a celebrity of some sort? Should I know you? Of course,” Kei continued his monologue, “of course, how silly of me! You must be a celebrity—just look at you! You are so beautiful. I am just surprised I can’t remember you from a movie or a magazine.”
“Let’s eat, shall we,” replied Red with a mysterious smile, as a whole procession of servers, directed by Emmanuel, brought out their dinner.
Somehow, the table they sat at started expanding to accommodate all the dishes being laid out before their eyes. Kei closed his eyes, and rubbed them vigorously. When he opened them again, everything seemed back to normal.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel was describing the bounty on the table. “Exquisite eggplant caviar—goes wonderfully with the Russian pancakes; fresh vegetarian pate—just in from our French suppliers; artichoke and olive salad; assorted cheeses from Holland, France and Greece; guacamole and rainbow-hummus platter, created by our chef especially for you; Middleastern salad; jasmine basmati rice with pine nuts, and of course…,” with these words Emmanuel conjured a large carafe filled with dark red liquid, solemnly placing it on the table. “Fresh from the vines of Tuscany, just as you like it, my Lady.”
Kei’s eyes widened. Having grown up in a Chinese family, he never tried wine before. At sixteen, he still had much to learn about the world around him.
“Very nice, Emmanuel, you’ve outdone yourself,” said Red approvingly.
The waiter and the servers bowed and vanished into the darkness.
“Let’s begin, shall we?” said Red. “I am starving.”
“Wow, this is quite a spread,” commented Kei. “Wine, my Lady?” He tried to sound mature while picking up the carafe to pour some wine into Red’s goblet.
“Yes, please,” she said with the same smile, pushing her goblet closer to Kei. She had to reach all the way to the middle of the table to do so, and again, Kei got a distinct feeling that the table was actually much larger than it visually appeared.
He chased the thought away, preparing to pour the beautiful dark liquid into Red’s goblet, and hoping—praying—that he’d be able to handle the wine.
“It’s actually not wine—it’s grape juice, from the best vines of Tuscany,” she explained in response to his unspoken fears.
“Oh…” Kei’s hand twitched and he spilled a drop of dark red liquid. The drop kept expanding, forming a blood-red stain on the snow-white tablecloth.
Red glanced at the drop, and then back at Kei. “I’m really not much of a drinker, and you are not of age yet.”
“Right,” said Kei, inadvertent relief spreading through his veins. He confidently poured the juice into goblets. No more spillage.
In the near future, I am planning posts about other Earh Shifter settings, including Moscow (Tverskaya and Moscow University), Princeton, NJ, Battery Park City and New York Chinatown. I’ll be filming Chinese New Year in Chinatown and will post it both here and on my Youtube channel. Stay tuned!
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