Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New Yawk Today: Midnight Train

When I got on the L train at Lorimer, I noticed that the guy sitting next to the door was curled over in a peculiar way. He looked like the usual downwardly mobile Bushwick denizen: plaid jacket, dark jeans, broad belt with large silver buckle. I liked his curly light brown hair and in other circumstances, I might have found him attractive. But his face was rather grey and he definitely did not look well. He looked harmless enough, though, so I sat one seat over from him.

As the train careened through the tunnel towards Bedford station, his equilibrium seemed to get worse. He leaned over so far that I thought his head might end up on my lap. But at the last moment, he straightened himself up with a grunt. I exchanged glances of amusement with the girl across the aisle. After a moment, he began to lean over again. This time, his mouth opened slightly and a thick strand of drool dangled like a white thread and slowly dropped to the floor.
"Are you all right?" I asked.
His bloodshot blue eyes opened for a moment and he mumbled, "I'm okay."
"He's just drunk," the girl on the other side of the train said. 
The guy attempted to stand up and as he did so, he reached toward the seat as if to pick something up. Whatever this invisible item was, it was apparently wrapped around the metal arm rest.
"I think he's a little more than just drunk," I observed to the girl. 
The guy was now leaning against the door of the subway. Everyone was casting furtive glances at him, in that New York kind of way, not sure if we ought to ignore him or do something about him, since he looked like he might keel over or start vomiting or both. Then water started to cascade out of his pants, darkening the denim of his jeans. It was so surreal that it took me a moment to realize that he was urinating. So much urine poured out of him, it created a little lake that promptly began to form finger-like rivulets. Everyone hopped out of the way to avoid the urine that was now spreading throughout the train car. The guy continued to lean on the door, unaware that he had peed on himself.

He finally sat himself down again as I got off the train at Union Square. I wondered if I should find the conductor as I headed toward the stairway for the N, R and Q trains. But the train had already started off.

In the area at the foot of the stairs, a blond tattooed busker was packing up. I recognized him as Morgan O'Kane, a remarkable banjo player whom I've seen performing at a few places in Brooklyn. He was in the middle of a conversation with another busker, one of those black guys that drum on plaster buckets.
"I like this area," O'Kane was saying.
"Yeah," the drummer said, "It's near the ky... the key... what are these things called?"
"Right, kiosk," the drummer nodded, "Sounds Japanese, don't it?"
He offered O'Kane an enormous bag of trail mix.
"You want some? I only eat the peanuts out of these."
"Sure," O'Kane said. 
The offering and the acceptance of the trail mix seemed to seal the deal. O'Kane opened up his banjo case and cleared out the money that was already in it. The two of them sat down to play together in a weird and wild amalgamation of Appalachia and inner city that instantly drew a crowd. I watched until I saw the guys that had congregated on the stairs making tracks. Throwing a dollar in the banjo case, I hurried upstairs to catch the arriving train.

NYC, it's an adventure just getting home. 

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