Three sets of escalators for nine flights from the subway tracks up to the surface. Jules Verne didn’t know you could actually go this deep. They say the tracks are at a level below that of a river – a river no one recalls any longer, it too flowing underneath the city. So cell phones have no reception, and as the flow of passengers gushed out at rush hour slides up in single file – The Train Terminates Here; The Train Terminates H… – the beeps of messages and missed calls come back to life. Some start at the seventh flight up, some at the eighth; so the silence in the bowels of the earth strikes with no awe anymore. And the owners of older models shake their phones convulsively to get them to pick any signal back at all.
Cher is in Vegas and you can fly out to see her. And talk to her backstage. The revolving billboard slides in some nasal spray, get rid of congestion and back to your day; no day seems worth it unless you fly out and see her – Cher, again – light-blue, young, divine. She slides back. Then there are other events in this town and those preferred flyers or paper of cheaper quality, too light not to swirl around in the chilly wind. It’ll be daybreak before Personnel will clean up the crumpled mass of fantastic evenings not to be missed.
In response to: https://carrotranch.com/2018/11/15/november-15-flash-fiction-challenge/
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!
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/
Look! And he pointed; and he could because it wasn’t a person he was pointing at, or so it seemed, otherwise good manners would have prevented the action, resorting to some sort of verbal explanation – funny how in these circumstances the instinctual response must be the drilled-in consequence of years being brought up a certain way. This was through the big window of a bus, leaving downtown behind and heading north (the acquainted faces at that hour could already see the route and every stop), and by the time all this was over, they’d rolled on, quite noisily, potholes and street bumps and all – so what was it? The bookstore all lit up, the Grand Hotel, a palm tree swinging in the breeze, the amusing walk of puffy jacket & flip-flops? Wait, that was a person, so how about good manners? Gosh, it was all gone!
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.
An old one had been resurrected. A bus, that is. And it bumped along, and the windows all shook in sync at every pothole on the roads. By the park, it almost tipped over while swerving around a bend. Most windows shook because they couldn’t close anymore – and the night was cold, so you could see little pieces of paper, folded many times over, sticking out here and there between the windows and their broken clasps. It looked like the bus was all decked out for the imminent holiday season. A bank statement: a withdrawal from two days before; a receipt: bread, 150 grams of ham, 3 bottl…
One piece fell, and it was of a different nature altogether. Some lines of Dante’s Divine Comedy, from a night of (reading? poetry?) It had rained and the illegible part had been out of the window, braving the elements. It was Hell.
The small screens on the platforms stop blasting videos when the train’s on its way in. “Incoming train. Stand back.” Sometimes they don’t work – we get screeching brakes and we know. We get on. Umbrellas swoosh in a battle for a vertical place as sitting eyes roll back because it rained yesterday and last night – what makes these people think it’s going to rain today? They’re afraid of one gray cloud. Meanwhile, in a book, “The medieval king was not an absolute ruler or a constitutional monarch, but a contractual one. In his oath while being anointed and crowned, he committed in front of God, the Church and the people. (The first two capital. Who gives a fig about the people? Although,) “The first two contracts became null with historical evolution, thus laying the foundations for the control of power by the people or by an organism representing it.” Capital letters are not worth that much after all. We get off.
While as much as one fifth of the population might not know they’re actually celiac – so take the test, 50% off till the end of January! – we all found out pretty quickly that the escalators in the subway can become quite narrow on arctic winter days, when the stand-on-the-right and walk-on-the-left policy just can’t work right as our ballooning winter coats and jackets over layers of shirts, undershirts, T-shirts, sweatshirts etc. just make us so puffy there’s no room left, on the left. Elbows sticking out on the other side, some holding bags – It’s too tight if you don’t stretch out a bit! The rhythm of sorry and excuse me starts orchestra-like at every unloading of inflated passengers, reduced to strutting, chests out, like a disbanded horde of overly proud army officers I saw once in a French movie, marching while eating a tart, gluten not being much of a problem then.