Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ridin' Dirty - a fingerless kind of night

Lance David --Dec. 19, 1958 to May 1, 2013

Thirty miles of blunts and brownies, 15 more to go. Bar time at the Fourth Avenue Subway, Wednesday night, INXS' "New Sensation" is playing over the speakers. A young drunk woman in a skirt keeps slapping her male companion, who keeps promising he is going to do something about it. "Woman!" he says.

Another drunk woman, younger still, stumbles into the women's room in bare feet and says, "You're an angel," to the gnomish sandwich artist.

The man being struck is no longer being struck, and compliments the artist. "You work graveyard? Why, man? You are the fastest subway maker I have ever seen! Why aren't you manager?"

He is assistant manager, he mentions self-consciously. "I don't want to be manager, I like to sleep."

The drunks clear out, and the rest of the customers drift to the front to feed on their toasted sandwiches.

An aged trio -- looking like castaways from a Greyhound depot -- claims the back tables with their baggage, murmuring to themselves. One per table, two men and a woman. The woman speaks, softly, with long sentences. One gent, gaunt and hunched and scrawny, in need of a cane, wears an Oakland Raiders hat.

Now it is "Little Pink Houses" over the speakers.

Eavesdropping, I catch only bits and pieces, whole sentences, but empty of context and they do not amount to anything. The trio uses conspiratorial tones, where the weight of the words requires low voices. But like a jury deliberating into the umpteenth hour, they have said everything that can be said, and don't know when to stop. The only thing perfectly comprehensible is their coughing.

The men wander outside, as though getting some air on the porch, and have a smoke. First the more robust of the men, crazed eyes, gunfighter mustache concealing his lips, Hells Angel ponytail. Now followed by the scrawny man with the lean pallor. He says: "Oh boy!" while clutching his lumbar region. The woman plods to the restroom, fetching the key from the counter. The key is attached to a red plastic bin lid, about the size and shape of an LP. Outside the men gesture while they speak.

Now reassembled at their respective tables, it feels as though a decision had been reached.

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