Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Year's Train

The New Year comes like the Chicago 'L.' I stand on the blue "that arm was no good anyway" stripe. I lean over the tracks and grin at the Third Rail. Electricity is magnetic (such charisma). The Rail plays it cool by not acknowledging me. "I know your secret," I whisper. I once shorted out a wing of my high school by jamming a paper clip bent into a "U" into an outlet. I held the paper clip between two wooden pencils, Asian style.

The train's red and green top-lights shimmer on the horizon. Its headlights are not yet visible.

"What will this train bring me?" I wonder.

A transparent Chicago Transit Authority employee hovers over the track. She smiles, white on black, but her voice is barely hers. "Ask not what the train will bring to you, cute thing, ask what you will bring to the train. And turn need some ass on you." She laughs clamorous bells.

"Hey," I say. "Don't spout no philosophy to me. You make twenty-two dollars an hour for -- hovering -- in a glass booth talking on your cell phone. And I like my ass the way it is." Though secretly I agree with her. I wish my ass looked like one of those nectarines with the gross cleavage (gross because you can't see all the way into it and risk biting a worm in the sweet, juicy flesh.)

"God bless the cigarette tax," she responds. She disappears, bells ringing, clutching her sides.

Jesus Hache Cristo! The train is almost upon me, and I'm still leaning over the tracks, engaging the apparition. Lights flash at the adjacent intersection. The train shrieks two syllables of warning. I leap back into a man dressed as the white-linen Samuel Clemens (you know, Mark Twain).

"Did you see her too?" he says with white bushy eyebrows raised and quivering.

I laugh. Nothing is funny, but I can't help it.

"You been to Mizzuruh?" he says.

While I worry about the tears and snot pouring out of my doubled-over body, the train roars into the station. The placard in front reads "DEATH" in white letters on a brown background. Usually it reads "Loop."

The doors open, and Sam and I get on. I wipe my face with my coat sleeve.

No worries. We'll be getting off at Irving Park.


Blogger Stella McGee said...

Hey thanks for the note you left in my blog back before Christmas. I've just been skimming your writing - sorry about the ant - at least it was dead - and I love your use of dialogue.

Just had to say so.

Happy New Year.

1:12 PM  

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