I saw him in the subway, tugging at his fingers and listening to metal music loudly. It was crowded and small in the subway car, and even so everyone was kind of keeling over in the opposite direction of him, as if touching him would somehow spark an inner freak that would be inappropriate at a corporate office.
I decide I like him. He has a mohawk that hits the top of the subway car and it’s kind of funny because it looks like a wilting flower. It’s purple and green and he has black lipstick on his mouth and black nail polish on his hands and I’m kind of in shock and I think that’s the point. In a sea of sameness there he is, minding his own mohawked business while everyone else stares at him and then at themselves, maybe being thankful for being ordinary or just wondering how he got that way.
He’s sort of magnetic, head bumping back and forth a little like he’s listening to trap music but every syllable on that track sounds like someone is painfully coughing while also trying to read the bible out loud.
I wonder if his parents mind it, I wonder if he’s in high school or 35, it’s hard to tell with this kind of ensemble. Just then he looks up at me, in between switching cd cassettes from his walkman, and gives me a hostile look. I know what I must look like to him. Tall and red-lipped and full of judgement. He switches the cd and I think to myself if I can even recall the last time I saw somebody do that on the subway, or anywhere. I can’t.
The subway car dings and it gets to one of the major stops and a whoosh of people come out of the car. The mohawked man sits down on one of the chairs and I sit in an empty one across from him and take out a book.
“Wallace, I love that guy.”
What is it about an actual voice in the subway that makes it feel like it’s echoing everywhere? The subway is loud and the noise is overwhelming but an actual voice makes it seem like there’s a live studio audience watching you talk.
“Oh, yea, I like it too, first time reading it.”
He smiled then, through the black lips, and it was comical, kind of how you would never expect Voldemort to smile.
I stuck out my hand then, against all sound judgement, and all silent judgement surrounding me on the slightly less crowded subway car.
“I’m Amy,” I said, “pleased to meet you”.