Crazy train

What happens when a crotchety old man (who also has cancer and a walker) meets a Hispanic man sitting on the floor of a train car meets a big black woman who just wants to get to work in peace?

And, what the hell, throw in a businessman holding 64 hamburger buns on his lap.

What you get is an ethnically diverse verbal brawl. One in which cancer takes out all his anger on anything in his way especially things on the floor – because as he said himself he’s dying and you can’t back down, the moment you back down they walk all over you.

He pulls up his shirt revealing a tube stuck into his gut, marbled pink with fluid and blood like a rancid cocktail, his throat a punctured scar from a long ago tracheotomy. His skull bald and prickly. And he doesn’t back down, even after the Hispanic man (still on the floor) moves his legs to let cancer shuffle past. Cancer doesn’t think he moved enough, you have to stand up for cancer. Cancer gets in your face when you don’t. It fakes tripping and calls you an asshole. It bends over, says you’re a rude soma bitch; it’s handicapped and what the fuck is wrong with the system when it can’t get respect. Cancer is told to move on. Told to let it go. Told to sit down, but you sit down and you die. So Cancer hangs onto the metal railings of his walker, yells across the train so everyone – even the 2 year old little girl – can hear the fight in his voice and the anger mutating his cells. The medication he took this morning is supposed to quell situations like this, supposed to lower the pressure.

Every one in the train car looks at Cancer like a disease, the little girl wide-eyed in her stroller, the black woman sick of hearing him over the usual dings and stranger’s earbud beats, tells Cancer to shut up and sit down. She’s tired of listening to him yell at a man he doesn’t even know. The Hispanic man smiles and looks away out the window. Hamburger buns stares blankly.

Cancer stands up as best his broken spine will allow. He’s never hit a woman, but by God, he won’t back down from nobody. This system is broken. The veterans, the handicaps, the dying. I’m dying, he yells, and no one will stand up for me.

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2 Responses to Crazy train

  1. These are not situations I handle well. Too much raw, too much real, too much everything he says is true and we don’t know that any of it can be fixed, by anyone, ever. Have we always been these people? And if not, when did we change? I wonder that every day. Sometimes I think we have fallen out of orbit, are on our way to oblivion in a black hole and somehow we are too self-involved to notice. And then something suggests hope. xo

    • rachvb says:

      I don’t either. I wanted to make myself very very small. It’s so true, but he was so angry at so many people and in a lot of ways he was so wrong. I don’t know. The guy should have moved, absolutely. But there’s a point where you have to let certain things go. Like a light rail trip downtown. We are still out of orbit. I wonder if we were ever IN orbit. You just never know what people are going through on any given day. I try to remember that always. xo

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