Riding the subway and the characters you meet.
Years ago I was listening to music while standing at the end of a subway car when a man slaloms around the center poles of the train toward me, stops and bows with his right hand shielded in his left. Now, I’ve seen enough movies to recognize this as a challenge. I pop out the earbuds and return the bow. Shielded hand, same as him.
“Are you a nice guy?” He asks. How to respond?
“When I have to be” He looks puzzled. I’ve thrown him off by not reacting in a predictable way.
“I’m a nice guy too.” He says showing me his knuckles, prison tattooed with the word “KILL” spelled out on his fingers. He has blood caked in his eyebrows and he reeks of booze.
Then the train stops and he stumbles back. I reach out for the hand and save this guy from a concussion, stitches or worse. Suddenly he’s my best friend. He introduces himself, and tells me his story. Chris from Winnipeg. His friend calls him over for their stop. “See you man!” I say as he leaves.
Fast forward some years later and I’m milling about Queen West, waiting for the Lomo Gallery store to open, and who do I see tossing a ball over the busy street with his friend…
They were passing the large brandy bottle around and harrassing people waiting for the streetcar. When I made eye contact, something triggered in him and he averted his gaze. Forgetting why I was familiar to him, no doubt.