Wednesday, April 4, 2012

We Will All Shake Hands With Ourselves, And Each Other

The people had left the city long ago, but by then the trains had been automated. In the exodus (or maybe it was even an extinction) no one had thought to turn them off. So we met, a crowd of us, to watch the empty trains come and go.

     An uninformed observer would wonder at the half of us in outlandish dress, thinking perhaps it was a convention for twins; and one of each pair of questionable sanity. Even so, there seemed an air of nonchalance about the thing, hardly a meeting and more a mass running-into. Those who bore the same faces didn't seem terribly interested in each other, and as the crowd milled and mingled, some of the pairs would weave together, like strained lovers at a big party. The trains came, the trains went, whooshing in and out of the little gathering, doors opening, doors closing. Some bound for Coney Island, some for The Capitol.
     I sat on a wooden bench, trying not to think of what trouble my other identity might be causing, as he flitted about in his ridiculous clothes. I had friends there, they too in multiples. We weren't concerned with each other, though, none of us were. It was a tempting thrill, I'll admit, even for me, to watch the name I sometimes put on walk around independently. Everyone else seemed to relish the chance. I just wanted to see if any of these trains happened to be heading some place I'd like to go.
     The destinations written out it on the marquees on the side of each car were elegant in their utilitarian simplicity, so when one lurched in displaying "home"-quotation marks, italics, lack of capitalization and all- I had the distinct impression the damn thing was being sarcastic. So naturally, as the doors slid open I crossed the threshold. The other me continued his hobnobbing with the other those and them's.
    I held my breath, fearing some one, or some one else, or some one else's else, would join me in the car, but thankfully, the doors slid shut, and I was alone. As the train left the station, I watched partners, friends, bosses, and of course, her- both of her- slide away out the window. I took a seat on a hard plastic bench, and wondered how the louder version of myself would react when he realized I'd left. I couldn't help but suspect some other train might call him elsewhere. But to where? If home was calling me, I could only guess his chariot would be bound for a party where he'd be confident in the novelty denied him by his current engagement.
     The train shot out of the tunnels and into daylight, and i found myself on raised tracks, forest beneath me. The mountains I have always considered the seat of my youth were all around me, and the sky a blistering, empty blue. The train slowed and stopped at an open air platform, and the doors slid open with a soft chime. I stepped out to find a raccoon milling around an over turned trash can, a gaudy hummingbird perched resolutely on his shoulders, stable despite the scurryings of the masked critter. They both turned to regard me, and while the smiles weren't apparent on the creatures faces, the warmth radiating from their gaze told me the train had indeed brought me where it had promised.
     Half a world away, or nearer, or not, a reflection of me- gaudy, flirtatious- continued his parlay with all those others who found themselves as multiple players. The convention of refracted personas continued well past my exit, the laughter and the conversation echoing up the stairs from the subway tunnels to the empty streets.
     Among the trees, though, I found solace with my two, tiny friends.


  1. I had never thought of your raccoon and hummingbird as twins - great post - one of my favorites - DCW

  2. I am glad to read that you are finding solace among the trashcans and the trees =)