Thursday, April 9, 2009

Train Snapshots

April 9 train ride from the Bowery to the Republic of Brooklyn

I saw a man on the M train that made Mickey Rourke look like an Amish virgen.
He yelled, "Anybody want some acid?"and proceeded to throw himself on the floor and thrash around like an alligator. He then stepped in between the train cars so he could be high and crazy al fresco as the train rode across the bridge with its blessed views of the labia of Brooklyn.
He reenters refreshed and he and his friend, cause guys like this are never lacking for "friends," laugh like hyenas making the Mardi Gras beads bounce on their bare chests.

April 9 train ride to the Bowery from Upstate Manhattan

I sit in the seat reserved for people who do not want to be bothered.
You know, the sideways seat that says you are tough enough to turn your back, on whoever is behind you, in the subway.
The other seats with your back against the wall and facing the other seats with your back against the wall signal that you are a tourist, a voyeur, a nosy body, a person who can't read with movement or who doesn't read, the person who observes all movements like the train car is the human zoo and you got your phone camera just in case something out of the ordinary happens.

Well, I sat in the leave-me-alone seat.
And adjacent to me, sat a little old man with huge eyes with whites stained by liver disease.
He had a tremendous piece of luggage into which two of him could comfortable fit and who knows? maybe, that's how he got to New York.

He glances over at me a total of twenty times in sharp staccato movements - I was counting and watched the little man out of the corner of my eye, the part that's always vigilant.

Finally, despite the headphones and No-Conversation-Wanted seating, he blurts out
"Habla español?"

I unplug one ear like my mother's daughter that I am and say

"sí, señor."

My heart and soul are suddenly full of love, concern and compassion for this tiny man. DAMNIT!

" Puede vigilar mi equipaje?"


When I agree to watch his giant luggage, I am not sure if he plans to go home and I'm to cart it somewhere or if he's taking a nap on the train, but I say yes anyways.

He scurries over to the door connecting one train car to another and he yanks the handle with all his might and I think, "Oh, shit! He's gonna commit suicide and the note's in the luggage."

After the fifth yank, I tell him it's locked.
No, they have a new indiscriminate law about allowing people to walk from one car to another. It is a pretty strict law where you know some train cars are and some aren't locked and then maybe, tomorrow that same train line will let you pop a wheelie in between cars and nobody cares but today, well you see how it is. It's locked. But I said this in Spanish.

He sat down, dejected and watched me read my book for fifteen minutes and as I stood up, he began to wave wildly like we were old friends who had met in prekindergarten and were saying goodbye today in kindergarten.

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