ON THE TRAIN PLATFORM (New Series)
Sean is just standing there, jamming to music in his earbuds, and Train Platform Man singles him out and slips him a small package, then TPM tries to flee but is violently ambushed by Staring Man, who then attempts to attack Sean.
So, I’m waiting for the train. Jammin’ to music in my earbuds. People keep glancing over. That usually means I’m accidentally singing out loud.
My train pulls up. I’m queued to get in. Bustling people hustle off. I’m standing at the Gap I need to Mind, and from behind, and a man pushes through the line and stands next to me. Not looking at me, he says two words.
I wear earbuds for this very reason – do not disturb! I notice the man smells bad; he is dressed in shabby clothes. But the man doesn’t say the usual stuff. Nothing like, “the end of the world is nigh!” or “will you fill out this survey?”
He says only two words, he says ‘take… this’. Take this.
And then he reaches into his pocket.
Reaches into his pocket?? “Nuh uh/No way.” Don’t hand me nothing. I’m not taking it. Drugs, a murder weapon, some sort of illegal or ill-gotten stock tip. Nuh. Not interested.
Then I think, ‘maybe he’s reaching into his pocket for a gun, or a knife.’ I think, “He’s going to take this knife, stick it in my ribs and then say, ‘take THIS!'”
But really, he said, simply, “take this.” I look at the man. He has an earnest look. In his eyes, the stakes are high. The stakes are aboard a rocket ship, blasting through the sky high.
I think of him as “Mr Train Platform Man” and I hear him growl to me, he says “Don’t look at me. Look ahead. Or the Arcana will see.”
Now… I know nothing. If this guy has some sort of mental disorder, then probably a lot of things seem earnest to him. Probably the stakes are always rocket-ship-in-the-sky-high. There’s probably a lot of paranoia, lots of voices, lots of people “following him.”
I’m human. But I will not judge this man. So… I look straight ahead. Tunnel vision. Got the blinders on. Gonna just do what he says, no need to get into a kerfuffle here. It’s morning rush. It’ll all be over soon.
The queue I’m in is five deep, five wide.
People are finished stepping off the train.
It’s time to board.
People start pushing a little.
I take a step forward and I feel something… drop… into my jacket pocket.
About the size of my fist.
Heavy but not heavy like a bar of gold or lead.
Then, the man I call Train Platform Man turns to his right,
away from me,
Train Platform Man takes off running like OJ in a Hertz commercial.
He dodges people,
(hurdles/jumps) a bench,
Bumps an old lady.
Trips and stalls/slips and falls
I watch Train Platform Man run as the crowd rushes me aboard the train. I grab a hand-hold, bend my knees slightly to see what I can see through the train window. Three men break from the pack and chase Train Platform Man. They tackle him. They go through his pockets. They are searching for whatever the fuck the man gave me. But they are not finding it.
The train doors close.
I reach into my jacket pocket and touch what the man gave me. I want to look at it but now is not the time to look at it. No one else on the train saw the man drop it in my pocket. I don’t want any questions. I have no answers.
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I wrap my hand around it and…
Everything becomes crystal clear.
The three men are not going to find what they are searching for.
One of the men will slap the ground in frustration.
Another man will look toward the train.
If he does, it’s important I don’t look back.
I cannot show interest in the scene.
Anyone on the train looking at the scene with interest
They will assume that person has the –
The what? It’s cool and lumpy and smooth and hard. I don’t know what it is but a word I’ve never heard pops into my mind. I want to look at it but now is not the time to look at it. Now is not the time. I let go.
The train starts to pull away. I’m staring, staring, turning my head, talking, telling myself to stop looking. I stare, stare as the train passes the three men and my guy, on the ground, a knee on his back. They finish searching. One of the men slaps the ground in frustration. Another man looks around.
I wonder // who is Train Platform Man?
I wonder // why did he choose me?
I wonder // what did he give me?
I wonder // who are these men who tackled him?
He called them a name. A name… Ahhh… I can’t remember the name. He said not to look at him, or then they would see.
I stare at the scene. I know I shouldn’t but I can’t tear my eyes away. I stare. Just as the train car I’m in passes directly next to them – one of the three men looks toward me. Then, not just toward me, but at me. Then, his eyes and my eyes meet. Oh shit!
Suddenly, the Staring Man leaps toward the train like a ninja monkey. But the train is gaining speed, moving fast now. Ninja Monkey Man runs with the train, dodging people. His eyes and my eyes lock in a super-platonic way. Then my train goes into a tunnel.
I collapse into a seat, put my hand in my pocket and grab the package.
I know I have what Ninja Monkey Man wants. He knows I have what he wants. We both know he’s going to try to find me and get it. Whatever the fuck it is. A word I’ve never heard again pops into my head. Now is not the time to look.
Written, Produced and Narrated by Hans Anderson