New Yorkers witnessed a surreal sight last week, an alien scene that made residents question the city’s future livability.
No, not wildfire smoke that turned the sky orange but a slow-motion murder unfolding in a Manhattan crosswalk as rush-hour passersby went about their day.
Is this the apocalyptic new normal?
Just after 8 a.m. at Seventh Avenue and 30th Street, in the commuting corridor from Penn Station to Chelsea tech offices, two 30-something men punch each other.
As traffic stops, they move into the crosswalk.
One pulls a small knife.
The two stand a foot or so apart, sparring with each other as if this were an MMA fight in the middle of the avenue.
A woman dressed in neat professional clothes — black skirt just above the knee, pale-blue summer jacket, gray curled coif, perfectly adjusted K95 mask — cuts through the scene as she crosses the street, close enough to one of the combatants to nearly brush him.
The fight is in full view, but she keeps her head down and, like Lot’s wife, takes only a furtive glance back at the two men as she quickens her pace.
As one of the men brandishes his knife at his opponent, another pedestrian in business-casual office wear — baby-blue shirt, dark jacket — also hurries by, head resolutely down.
A man in an orange sweatshirt idly watches from the sidewalk.
A woman in medical scrubs — and medical mask — crosses the avenue right between the two fighters.
She stops, apparently to tell them to knock it off. But when they don’t, she too keeps moving.
Seconds later, one of the two men is dead, bleeding out in the crosswalk.
The other, Nisean Graves, 34, who police say provoked the fight, is charged with murder .