HE’S HOLDING ONE OF THOSE HAND RINGS IN THE SUBWAY, those handles to help you stand.
A tunnel rushes past them, like a tape sped up, as they go deep into the city. Above the rings there’s an advertisement for a community college, an anti-smoking ad, and a PSA asking people to not wear strong perfume and to respect other passengers.
He lets go of the ring and just as he does, the subway hits something on the rails and he’s knocked off balance, and has to grab back the ring. Embarrassed, he smiles at a baby. The baby starts to cry. He smiles at an old man, but the old man pretends to be asleep.
About six people come on at the next stop, as the robot lady says, “Please stand clear of the doors.” How do you stand clear, instead of murky? It’s breezy out there. A single sheet of newspaper floats away, spinning, like a drunk, urban tumbleweed.
He taps his shoe on the platform. It’s a nice shoe. The subway brakes screech in the distance, and he hears and feels the whoosh of wind from the subway leaving. He’s always loved the whoosh of a subway. It feels like an immortal wind, a scream of ghosts, the sound of the Ark of the Covenant. The subway is like a mineshaft, a tube everyone is pulled along in at very high speeds, but no one thinks it’s strange. No one seems to think anything is strange, except him.