I was in Highland Park to conduct an interview. I had only been told to meet my interested party at a certain road in the park, near one of the cemeteries, Trinity Cemetery, I believe. I made it to the tree at the appointed hour, noon exactly, on Wednesday evening. It was a quiet, chilly November day. It looked as though rain was inevitably that needed to be accepted, and me without my umbrella. Deciding to wait, I took a seat under the tree, checking my recorder to make sure it was working. From above me, I heard, “Are you looking for me?”
I jumped to my feet, looked up. In a branch a good distance above me, a man sat. I hadn’t noticed him while approaching, and I honestly don’t know how I could have missed him. He wore a gold and red crown, which, even with the overcast day, was glimmering in the faint sunlight. From his back, a long silk red and white cape flowed down, so long that I could tug on it like a Lion’s tail, even though he was several feet above me. A purple doublet and black breeches trimmed with scarlet ribbons were underneath the fur coat he draped around himself. Aside from the checker-board Adidas he wore, he looked like he had stepped straight out of a king’s throne room in the Seventeenth Century.
Needless to say, I was confused. He gave me his name, which I have been asked to keep out of this article, but I realized he was my intended interview subject.
He refused to come down from the branch when I requested it. I had to call a buddy a few blocks away to bring me a ladder from his construction job. It was their day off, so, no issue there thankfully. After climbing the ladder and getting on his level, I was able to begin the interview.
What do you call yourself?
I am the Baron of Brooklyn.
How did you come by that title?
Well, someone needed to take the title when the last one died.
What is in involved in being the Baron of Brooklyn?
Governing, primarily. I have to communicate with the parliament that I have assembled and I–
Yes, the parliament. The squirrels, the ducks, the trees, the turtles, the skunks, and peacocks, and occasional bear, when they wander into the area. We must speak of the issues in the city. Taxes, minimum wage, the plight of litter.
I’m sorry, I need to go back for a moment. What happened to the last Baron?
He died before things moved. It was tragic, but expected, he had been the Baron for many years, you see. I believe it was a heart condition that he had.
And you were next in line?
No. There are no lines for the role of Baron, it was simply that I discovered him and took on the role. He is actually buried in the cemetery over yonder, my dear friend. Before you ask, I will not give you his name, either.
Okay, so what exactly do you do, and what does the parliament do?
We discuss matters of the city, as I said. Somethings are simple, like the tax conversation. Others are more complicated. My job is to take the words of my parliament into heed and to make the decision that I deem are fair. Usually, these involve trying to discern how we are being affected by the changes, ever since the event you know. And! And! It is quite important that we keep track of the borders of the city. I may be the Baron of Brooklyn, but as the last Baron in the city of New York, I am left as the only one who is capable of tracking everyone’s borders. It’s a shame about the other Barons, no one ever finding them to claim their titles. No one’s held the title in Queens since The Great War.
There’s a lot here I need to take apart. Other Barons?
Baron of the Bronx, Baron of Queens, Baron of Manhattan, Baron of Staten Island, yes.
And they are not around anymore?
Their thrones remain vacant, yes. It’s a true shame.
What did the Barons do, together?
Defend isn’t the right word, not really. Alerted the city, I suppose. To the things happening within it. It’s a shame I was not here to take the place of Baron of Brooklyn before the changes happened. I don’t know if being Baron could have prevented it, but it might have at least helped prepare somewhat.
And that, you keep saying that, the changes. What is that?
Some people call it the events, if that helps?
It doesn’t. What do you mean?
When the shift happened, you know. One day everything was the same, one day it was different. The buildings were all a few inches taller, the water was just a few millimeters lower, landmarks and places shifted around and we never noticed. The Empire State Building used to have six thousand five hundred windows, but no one asked when it suddenly had six thousand five hundred and two. We have moved on from our old reality because embracing the new one is more comforting.
What does any of that mean?
It’s like, to use an example… [Pause.] No, um. How do you explain a feeling you experienced via retrospect? I don’t, truly, have the words. Feelings are, in a way, powered by such things as trauma, I think, maybe? And I think we all feel off, slightly. Seeing things, feelings things we don’t think we should. I think that people are only just new catching up to what happened, as hard as it may be to imagine.
Do you know why I was asked to speak with you today?
I don’t know, Ms. K█████. I imagine someone thought I could answer your questions. But, why are you asking them?
There have been strange things in the city recently, and, frankly, you’re one of them.
Well, I never denied that I am a bit strange, but that just comes with being royalty, I think. I’m going to ask you another question.
What strange things are you referring to?
Objects, things in places they shouldn’t be, other things just appearing out of no where. A colleague of mine found a musket on the floor and a warthog
Oh, my. I have some unfortunate news, directly from my parliament, about those particular happenings.
That’s nothing, that’s just New York City.
Then what is happening, exactly?
I would say that I think things are being merged, or distorted around something else, like when a car wraps around a lightpost after a hundred mile an hour wreck. At that point, frankly, I would say that the car belongs to the lightpost now. Much the same way a puppet belongs to the hand inside it.
What does any of that mean?
I have no idea what it means, as in the effects. And, frankly, I don’t even know how it happened. One second New York City was as strange and wonderful as it had always been, and, in a flash and a snap, it had moved on, changed, run away from us into another place. Beyond control, beyond understanding.
And how do you know any of this?
Because I’m the Baron of Brooklyn. Royalty has to keep up with the latest trends, darling. It’s our one superpower. Alongside speaking to trees, animals, air molecules.