The water was much browner than he expected. Not so blue and green as the ocean he knew back home. Oil slicks and paper waste swirled by the boats edge as they docked into the harbor, already teeming with life. It only reminded him of how far he was from home, from Father.
"Passport and intent of immigration."
Kay woke from his daze and handed it the stocky man, along with a letter.
"Hospital apprenticeship, aye? Welcome to New York, doc."
He gazed beyond to a horizon of steel and stone. Every way he turned, he was met by towers that reached beyond the clouds and the turbulent whir of automobile engines. As he stepped onto solid ground, he suddenly felt like an ant in an open field. It was all so big. Kay had seen this place in magazines and newspapers before, but had never imagined it like this: A city beyond its time.
It was even more apparent in a glittering crowd of bare ankles and painted faces. He hadn't witnessed such gaudy fashion until now, and as a flock of girls giggled past him, he couldn't help but giggle in reply. Suddenly, his mind wandered back to a conversation with his father.
"You'll make some nice friends, just like you always wanted. Perhaps even find a wife!"
"I'm strictly on business papa. This is for us, the church. Our home comes first."
Kay was so preoccupied with thoughts of the deteriorating man that he hardly noticed the car skidding towards him until a hand yanked him away from the street curb. Its owner cussed loudly as Kay came to his senses.
"Watch it, buster! Those things can kill ya' despite what it looks like in cartoons."
Kay turned to a lanky figure with a cheshire cat smile as bright as a Times Square billboard. Still, there was a friendliness behind his impish looks.
"I do apologize, I'm not used to such commotion."
"Didn't have to tell me twice. Where ya headed?"
"Bellevue Medical College. If you could point me in the direction, I'd be eternally grateful."
The man slung an arm around Kay and offered his hand. "Would you look at that, fellow alumni! Name's Alvin, and I'd be much obliged."
Alvin hailed a cab between their brief exchange, and filled every moment after with chatter about the town: the best restaurants, alleys to avoid, illegal speakeasies, along with the occasional cabaret theater – and Kay couldn't keep his eyes off of what strolled out. What Alvin didn't say was much about himself, nor did he ask too many probing questions. This, Kay liked best about him because he felt as if they might get along no matter what background he came from. America certainly outranked Britain in their lack of regard for class.
As they neared the end of their route, Alvin piped up again. "You know, you came at just the right time. My pals and I are looking for a buddy to share our pad with and you seem like a pretty decent fella, so why don't you stop by and see how you like it?"
Kay would have rather soloed his stay, but after just a few short hours in the dizzyingly foreign city, he realized that a companion and tour guide would be more valuable. And certainly much more enjoyable than being penned up in a dormitory with a stranger, like most new students.
"That's very kind. Perhaps I've found another home, yet."