A Subway Ride
Pounding the doors open, Thomas left the museum. Lions, stony, lay couchant at the gates, suffering none to pass unheeded under their granite stare. Immutable rock: dull, rough, and eternal. The sun blazed out from behind a cloud, golden-dancing on his shoulders, and the hollow anger that slept in him stirred again to waking—yawning, vacuous—unmitigated rage pulling and twisting his organs together and apart. The saliva turned to bitter acid on his palate, and his stomach bubbled and churned and wrapped in on itself, slowsucked into the surrounding vacuum of loathing. There it was, laughing in the sky: the greater orb by day. Sun, moon, stars—false idols. But nonetheless extant. He would escape it. Yes. There, the entrance to the subway. Go South, young man.
Thomas descended the stairs to the subway, steam-wisps dissipating up out of the yawning cavern in smoky-whispered silence, incense of the underground. A formless, grey-suited sea of faceless, colorless men and women flowed and ebbed with the train schedule, shadows in the fluorescent light, and Thomas dissolved into the currents. Awash in grey tides, he tossed and waited. Waited. On a bench by a pillar, an old woman sat, crying into her hands, her face contorted. Weep on, frailty. From the flow, Thomas—waiting, tossing, wondering—watched her, the sliver of wonder spurred on by imagination, that tiny fragment of another life seen from afar, gone after the briefest second—a breath of the unknown—one shining, microscopic shard, seen through a fogged, foreign lens, fleshflashed and forgotten. Thomas observed her still, wondered, imagined, decided, knew. Her sons had abandoned her. No. Never. Husband? Perhaps. No, I have it! Another man. Well! Not old, actually—probably no more than forty. Another man. Probably used her. Left her pregnant, alone, afraid, so long ago. Immaculate. Did Mary weep for her son? This woman did, her tears Vanessa’s tears. Another man. Used, seduced, left to womb-rotting loneliness. False smiles and liewhitened teeth mollify the weaker sex again and again. Cyclical.
Trainscreech. Begin the flow. The grey sea oozed and wavered, quivering as the cars emptied, trickled, a funnel effect slowing the osmotes at the doors. One last droplet, and then. And then. The torrent, the flood, Thomas lost himself in it, scrambling to stay with the tide, scrambling scrambling. Bodies pressed against him, crushing him, and yet he was alone. So many people. A mass. A furious swarm of locusts. Greengrey now, the sea became a cloud of buzzing, gnawing, hunger-maddened plague-bugs. Greengreylocustplague humhowling around him, peaking, crashing, tornadoswirling updownaroundeverywhere, Thomas staggered, mad, blinded, surely God plagues the unholy caverns of man. Humhowling still, the swarm carried him—Thomas—towards the gaping, deepinhaling mouth of the train. Swallowed. To be swallowed alive! Oh, Jesus. And then if it digests me? And then. No! People. Just people. Slowly, tediously slowly, the swarm disintegrated, the greengrey air, once thick with beating locust-wings, fled on phantom winds. The sweat beaded on Thomas’ forehead. He shook in the spasmodic shivers of panic, adrenaline freezing through his veins, a cold mercury icing any pain until only alertness remained. Just people. Grey amblers traveled un-swarm toward the doors, the metal, inanimate doors. Thomas, now calm and lucid, walked with the crowd into the car and sat, gripping a pole for support, on a poorly cushioned seat, watching the tide fill the space around him. And waited.
Trainscreech. The subway tram jolted forward, slowed, then jolted again, shakystarting to again cycle the stops of the circling tracks. Thomas sat perfectly still, watching the lighted tunnel stream by outside the car windows. Stillmoving, Thomas waited for his stop, idly watching the other passengers. Legless beggar. Toothless, drooling, blackgaping hole wetting his beard. Incoherent babble-moaning sirened from his mouth, the halfworded sputterings of an age-made mute. Long, knotted, grey hair fell about the man’s misshapen face, and his head wobbling from side to side as he made his horrible, drycracking wail of a moan. Waking once again from its fitful, uneasy sleep, the vacuous anger returned, and bubbling, sour snake-venom stung Thomas’ mouth, like beggar like sun. Disgust and horror lumped cancerous in his throat—malignant—and his intestines shriveled into dusty nausea. Legless, rolling himself around on a four-wheeled, plywood board, the beggar made his way up the car. Made his way toward Thomas, who was looking at the back of the car, wishing beyond wanting, beyond even needing, to escape before the filth-ridden man could reach him. This stop comes before mine. I’ll make it. Determine next by last, always. Still-looking back towards the beggar, Thomas began sweating again, wringing his hands in nervous terror.
Perhaps that beggar managed to reach him. Perhaps they even spoke. No matter. There’s no sense in a dialogue, it slows the motion, and one does not wish to go in reverse. Yes, seeing him crucified by his infirmity will suffice. No. Thomas saw the man crucified—a sacrilege mockery. That which is unholy could not be made whole, and, like the beggar, Thomas knew himself wholly unholy. Knew. A crumbling, grey steeple, festering with mold. Holy. He spat.
Trainscreech. Sideways scuffleshuffling, Thomas trickled with the faceless grey out into the station, still spitting the sour sting from his mouth. Pressing, crushing, the beggar! Out! Bending over, he vomited. Again. His body seized and shook as he regurgitated everything within him, and a crowd gathered greymass around him, keeping their distance—amazed, concerned, horrified, enthralled. Again. Again. At last a retch whipcracked his body so violently that he dropped to the ground, dry heaving. Blood oozed from the corners of his twisting mouth as he lay convulsing in puddled putrescence. Purgation. The beggar was gone from Thomas’s mind, though hunger had taken his place. Ravenous and violent, it tore at him. So it is. Expulsion, replacement. Statue of David. Defecation, regurgitation. Whichever. Whole. Ingestions and digestions to be released to the world in the manner we see fit.
I want the bomb
I want the P-funk!
My band is better than yours...
I want the P-funk!
My band is better than yours...