Tuesday, February 17, 2004

On the subway platform Saturday or was it Sunday. A disheveled black man with lunatic eyes played the violin for change. He sounded surprisingly good – he played shit like "Ma Vie En Rose" with a delicate touch. A beautiful young woman put a dollar in his case and he immediately stopped playing and handed her the fiddle and bow to play. Strangely, she accepted them without hesitation, as though that were exactly what she'd expected in the transaction. She was French or Italian or something and so he gestured to her how to play. She held the violin stiffly in the crook of her collar and clutched the bow like a knife. The man bobbed his head and pointed for each string he wanted her to play, Like that! Like that! and she drew the bow across the open strings, articulating in succession WANH WANH WANH WANH, four hideous rasping notes; a jagged, tuneless melody from someplace in hell. He nodded and smiled vigorously and she smiled and handed him back his instrument then slipped sprite-like into the dour crowd.

I gave him all my change on the way onto the train: quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies.