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He bets, this fair-skinned young creature that all passengers today are complaining about the heat, like he knows all the languages in the world! It is hot, though, and it’s come unexpected. While old trains clatter along, and shrewd locals know it’s best to avoid them, new trains are like refrigerators on wheels, and AC pumping out at full blast is cheered or rejected with relief or impatience – the youngish blonde would have no problem recognizing feelings here, sighs and snorts being a sort of universal language. Going up from underground there’s only twelve people and they move like ants, a feeling never appreciated when there’s a full crowd trudging randomly along – wind comes up from the tunnels and mixes with the breeze from outside, some put a hand in defense of their throats. We walk out. It’s raining on this side of town!


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On-the-subway-for-spare-change, “with a white string I can make stand straight and hard, look!” leaps into the intermittent morning waltz of in…and-out, back…and-forth, you…getting-off?. When in the middle of his feat of magic the poor-Bosnian-I-live-in-a-shack with-this-little-girl please-help-me “20 cents to buy milk” gets on and sees the Amazing-Magician-from-India-etc…

The who-drowns-out-who challenge is on! Yeah! No.

“Please,” she starts, “ladies and gent…” then breaks off, gets off, the code of conduct of the beggars who can’t choose which train to ticketless-ly attack. “The white string stands straight and hard, look!” Not much change, though, in the worn-out Kullu cap.

In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2018/09/06/september-6-flash-fiction-challenge/


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Now that most leaves have fallen and a white coat blankets somewhere the side of city streets – it felt odd to hear the notes of a summer song, on at full blast all through the hot months. The music, out of tune and in broken pieces, came from the hands of a child accordionist who squeezed his tattered instrument in a rhythm vaguely familiar. Surely at the gypsy camp he had skipped the lesson on the carols of the season – those who will move passengers riding around town – or he, did he maybe run away from a life of hardship and made his living now from the only tunes he’d learnt before escaping? Ah, the common thought that they must want something different. On he played, little red beret à la Santa Claus. Didn’t get one single coin, but some were still humming his tune on the stairs leading to the cold world above.


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Yellow blouse sitting opposite has already taken out her little purse to give the poor woman some change. Not too willingly, she makes a point of showing. Her funny facial contortions, “It’s not my fault, what are governments doing? These people come here and it’s up to us to feel guilty and have enough compassion to give them whatever little we have. Coffee with a friend this morning – on me! – he’s going through a hard time – dinner with another tomorrow – and now this poor mother with a child, I live in a shack near the station, please…”

But the mother turns out to be wealthy, i.e. one of us, and is only dragging her child through the subway train to get a seat. A tattered kick-scooter creaks along the woman’s daughter, in scanty summer clothes; misleading ideas of poverty for compassionate nearsighted people, now zipping up their purses one after the other.