Friday, September 24, 2010

Train Snapshots

Odilia Rivera Santos

I am on the train headed deep into the Boogie Down.
A man who looks like that fake portrait of Jesus with eyes that follow you is on his knees begging. He has inched his way from one end of the train to the other on his knees.
His blond hair matted in chunks as if someone had mushed in a mixture of rubber cement and mud. And his eyes foggy as if his windshield wiper were broken. I refuse to interact - - my eyes sit on one word of Travels with Herodotus because I have to pay attention.
Fake Portrait of Jesus inches toward me.
Dragging himself on his knees slowly like a horror movie except that the object of his attention is not running.
I keep an eye on his hands, which is what you do with unpredictable characters.
Fake Portrait is now settled in supplication pose slightly to my left, not right in front of me. In fighterly body language logic, this means he does not want a real confrontation.
He simply wants to shame me. But it doesn't work; I recognize his as an arrogant false humility.
I still have my head phones on, listening to Maurice Brown.
Through the trumpet, I hear some remark about my coffee.
I am holding a Starbucks cup and Fake resents this.
Fake wonders out loud why I buy coffee from Starbucks -- why would I spend money on myself that I could give to a crackhead?
I glance at him as if to say something along the lines of please don't make me hit you, and he looks down, stops talking and drags himself out of the car and into the next one where a new audience awaits.

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