Cassie, Episode II (aka Never Go Out Of Your Way To Be Unkind)

That morning I had called in sick to work on my way there, because something about subway posters at 7AM can just be so fucking depressing? Those wide, grinning, dead-eyed actors trying to sell you college courses, some stupid movie, or Old Navy cargo shorts. Baby crying in a stroller, some asshole blasting music through the speaker on his iPhone, some sixty people crowded side by side with nobody saying a fucking thing. Just the hum of the subway train burrowing to Manhattan.

Kachung, Kachung, Kachung, 

“Stand clear of the closing doors, please.” 

Ding-doon. Ding-doon.

It was enough to make a man exhausted, too tired to clock in and pretend to give a shit about Bridget’s new baby or an Excel spreadsheet. And if you can’t relate to that, well, then this story isn’t for you, bud. 

So I sent a text pretending I was sick and got off on 96th street, booked a room at Carmine’s like I used to when I was more degenerate. I wanted to get away, needed a low cost escape and bottom shelf liquor type of abandoning ship, and not knowing where to go, I went back to Amsterdam Avenue, where I had traumatic and yet awesome times in my youth. An instinctive return to chaos and creation; natural, the way sea turtles go back to die or lay eggs in the same beaches where they’re born.

There’s also such a safety in what’s familiar, how easy it is to slide into old habits like a pair of your favorite jeans. 

After an hour of checking and settling in to my room I hopped back on the train downtown. I had to get to 79th, which was where the bars stopped and everything south became  skyscrapers and big businesses. Suits, ties and bored housewives walking yorkies on their way to $200 manicures. Not my tempo or atmosphere, to say the least.

The subway was less crowded by then, only a handful of bodies too distinct and all over the place  to categorize as 9-5’ers.  Those wide, grinning, dead-eyed actors on the posters didn’t bother me as much. I felt better, knowing I was on my way to a good time I should not be having. I sat down and let the hum of the subway train burrowing through Manhattan rock me gently to all the irresponsible things I planned on doing. Satisfied, anticipating, feeling like I escaped.  

“BECAUSE DISEASE IS NOT OF GOD.” A womans voice, booming, echoing. I didn’t look, because I didn’t care. Religious fanatics were pretty common at any hour of the day on any corner of New York.

“SATAN IS THE AUTHOR. HAPPINESS RESIDES IN YOUR HEART, BUT YOU SHRINK FROM THE LIGHT. YOU HIDE FROM GRACE. YOU WALK IN DARKNESS.” 

79th Street came and I stepped out of the subway car, the woman’s voice echoing behind me as the doors closed. 

“But what about your soul?”

Stand clear of the closing doors, please. 

“But what about your soul?”

Ding-doon. Ding-doon.

“But what about your soul?”

Kachung, Kachung, Kachung. 

“But what about your soul!?”

When You Reach The Last Stop, Show The Grim Reaper You Have A Transfer Card (aka Subway Soliloquy)

STAND-CLEAR-OF-THE-CLOSING-DOORS-PLEASE.

Crowded, packed and stuffed with no AC.
Doors close, open, close, open, close, open, cl-
open. Somebody sucks teeth and the whole train sighs.
An afternoon turning evening ride home, ten stops away
from Wednesday rituals and the nonsense we do to get
over the hump of a work-week. Walking starts looking
like an option from all these delays. And if this
old ladies bag pushes me ONE MORE TIME I swear I’ll-

LADIES-AND-GENTLEMAN
PLEASE-GIVE-UP-YOUR-SEAT
FOR-THE-PREGNANT
AND
THE-ELDERLY
IT’S-STANDING-UP-FOR-WHATS-RIGHT
AND-COURTESY
IS-CONTAGIOUS.

Sweating, hot and suffocating in 9 to 5 company.
Undone ties and tired eyes fanning magazines,
smearing makeup, grunting offhand conversations,
complacent and wailing for home. Singing to the rhythm
of train tracks and middle class disappointment.
ka-kun ka-kun…ka-kun…ka-kun…ka-
A Game of Thrones Ringtone plays and somebody sneezes.

LADIES-AND-GENTLEMAN
FOR-YOUR-SAFETY-PLEASE
DO-NOT-BLOCK-OR-HOLD-THE-CAR-DOORS
WHILE-THE-TRAIN-IS
IN-THE-STATION.

Two men argue over who touched who first,
but it doesn’t matter and devolves to racial slurs.
Fingers, movements, violence vibrating in IF YOU COME
ONE STEP CLOSER
and voices getting louder
and louder and louder and louder and
more uncomfortable the longer neither of them backs down.
Then one says F**K THIS and starts reaching in his bag and

THIS-IS-A-SOUTHBOUND
SIX-TRAIN
THE-NEXT-STOP-IS
SAINT-LAWRENCE
AVENUE.

Crowded, packed and stuffed with no AC.
Doors close, open, close, open, close, open, cl-
open. Red floor, red doors, red rails, red everything.
Red advertisement on prescription acne treatment
on sale with Dr. Zimmerman, blood blushing his smile.
People running. Screams. Yelling. Shoving. I TOLD HIM
HE SHOULDN’T. I TOLD HIM. I TOLD HIM.
Sirens.

STAND-CLEAR-OF-THE-CLOSING-DOORS-PLEASE.