Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pyramids Come From a Million Years Ago

I stepped onto the A train after work, late at night. It was crowded but for one of those deceptive oases of empty seats that always surrounds some offense just foul enough to keep the weary on their feet. A leaking bottle. A pile of puke. This time it was a piss-soaked man. Those nearest him covered their noses with the collars of their shirts, eyed him warily and tittered amongst themselves. One last, intrepid holdout finally got up and walked away, leaving an entire bench to the bum, who stretched his arms up happily, perhaps victoriously, and sprawled across the seats.

I switched to the F at Jay Street and this time there was an angry drunk.

"Never mind, never mind, I'll shut up now," I heard him say to a woman and her two young daughters. There was an Indian man nearby.

"Fucking curry-eating motherfucker," shouted the drunk, who was light skinned but not quite white. Maybe Hispanic, Mediterranean. Could have been North African. His worn jeans seemed to be dotted with dried blood.

He began to conflate Indians with Native Americans. "You Indian motherfuckers, we took your land."

The woman and her girls got off and I sat down. I wanted both to be near this man and far away. Everyone else was studiously ignoring him. Trying to do normal things like read the paper. Breathe.

"In Africa, they got pyramids!" he shouted. "Listen to me!" He slid forward on the bench and pounded his soda bottle in the middle of the floor. "They got, they got, they got pyramids no fuckin' nuclear bomb can touch." He laughed a little. "Fuckin' people don't understand. They got pyramids, come from a million years ago."

He sat back and grumbled for a while. My stop was coming up. Seventh Ave. Before I got up he turned to the Chinese guy sitting beside him.

"An' this little yellow Chinese motherfucker right here..." he drawled menacingly.

I got out and walked toward the stairs. A few moments later the train moved again, and I wondered what I'd see when the car came by. One man standing over another, arms swinging madly, onlookers aghast?

I turned around to see. The troublemaker sat alone, apparently silent, looking through the other window at the dark.