Wednesday, May 12, 2010



His watch didn't work. Well, it worked, but randomly, and offered him facts meaningless, useless, and, in this moment, reassuring. At 10:30 in the morning on the second of August, Irish Daylight Time he might say to be specific, because, he could be that specific if he put in the effort, his watch could say that it was 6:12, either a.m. or p.m. on the seventh of that month, or perhaps another, for the date was represented as only an analog number - 1 through 31 inclusive.

"Why do you wear it?" she asked. He considered the standard answers; that people expected someone like him to wear a watch, that he liked the jewelry aspect of it – it's thick, clunky, cheap Soviet style, that it reminded him of which hand not to write with, but he didn't want to lie. "With this," he tapped the crystal, "time can be wherever I want it to be." And she smiled the way she did when he said things like that.


She had two cigarettes in her hand by the time her first foot landed on the platform and he had a lighter out of his pocket just as quickly and though an overprotective mom with two very young kids looked angrily at them they were inhaling nicotine charged smoke and exhaling it's second hand variety before the crowd leaving the train could disperse at all.

"I'm sick of anti-smokers," he offered, "I'm tired of the looks." "She's got kids, she's new at this, she probably doesn't even let them eat off the floor yet."

"Everybody's got problems," he thought, but took an intensely long, deep drag instead of talking, banged his left hand on the guard separating him from electrocution via the wires of the transit power system as they walked up the ramp, looked at her and smiled in a slightly sad way. "But you just need the drugs," she told him. 

"You too," he said defensively. "Yeah, me too."


What had they been waiting for? It wasn't a train. There just were not trains around back when he was kid. It must have been a bus. But they were waiting and then, yeah, they'd started yelling at each other, they did that, and then, he'd done something because, well, was it because he always did something? 

Was it because it was how he hoped to change the scene? They'd been waiting, kind of like he was waiting with her except it was the bus not this train and there were all these kids, of course, and the weights of their lives piled on them and they fought and then that kid, yeah, that kid did... that doesn't matter, does it, and he'd hit the other kid, hit him that hard, sent him sprawling into the edge of... Don't remember, the kerb probably, that's what always did the damage, the kerbstones. Remember the blood, the screaming that followed. Not much more. Maybe getting hit. Maybe the edge of a building... yet nothing that looks like anything here. They were waiting, is that the only connection?
He shook, violently, as if a frigid wind had just blown along his naked spine. She looked at him just a little nervously. And he wished he could explain all the things that made him afraid.

(c) copyright 2006 - 2010 by Ira Socol

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