Fiction: Elaine Doesn’t Miss The Subway

Elaine walked around the barrier and started down the stairs into the subway. Frankie was being such a fucking jerk. Why did he always have to freak out over money? She always pitched in when she could and she was doing her best. Shit, she had to take this stupid medication to keep things under control but hell, she felt so shaky, so wired every time she took it. Smoking a blunt was far better. Instead of getting her all wired up like the medication, a joint mellowed her out. She felt calm, cool, and collected.

But now? She skipped her medication this morning because she didn't want to feel off but unfortunately, she discovered she didn't have any more weed. Now she had to go cross town for a dumb appointment about some part-time work which looked just about as attractive as shit. Crap, who liked working for a living? That sucked. But Frankie had to freak out about her living there and not coughing up her fair share. Jesus, didn't she let him fuck her? Didn't she blow him once in a while? It wasn't like he wasn't getting anything out of the deal. Guys are such fucking assholes.

Elaine got down to the bottom of the stairs and started to walk the short tunnel to the platform. A couple of paces in and an advertisement on the wall caught her eye. She stopped and stood in front of a poster. "In any war between civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man." She read the sentence several times mulling over the meaning. Her eyes fell upon two words in red: "Stop jihad." Yeah, stop those goddamn terrorists. Stop those goddamn Muslims.

A certain anger welled up in her as she thought once again of 9/11. It had been startling to watch the twin towers collapse and it was still startling to walk by the memorial and see the empty space where the buildings used to be. She missed them. In her mind's eye, they were an integral part of the New York skyline just as much as the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building. A few years ago, she had been up to the Top of the Rock to view New York from the 70th floor observation deck and had sadly looked over towards the place where the World Trade Centre buildings had once stood. To her, this was a big hole in New York that would probably never be filled. Those goddamn ragheads.

Elaine stared at the poster and mumbled to herself, "Fuck." Stop jihad, indeed. Those terrorists had a thing coming to them and she would certainly like to do her part. Would anything make up for destroying the twin towers?

She looked around, glanced again at the poster then started towards the platform. Elaine's mind was going a mile a minute as she mentally ran over all the things troubling her. Without knowing it, she was periodically muttering out loud and as she walked by, a few people stared at her. But it was New York; it was a big city and it wasn't all that unusual to see somebody who might be just a tad off. Tad off? Heck, there were some real crazies running around.

Elaine walked down the platform about twenty feet or so then stopped and leaned against the wall. She rubbed her hands together. Shit, her palms were kind of sweaty. Damn, this wasn't turning out to be the best of days. Yeah, like she needed to go across town for a job interview like she needed a hole in her head. Fuck, why wasn't there any weed left over? That would have made this so much more bearable. If she doesn't get this job there is going to be another fight with Frankie for sure. Brother, who needs that shit? If that dumb bastard had a better job, this wouldn't be a problem. But no, that dipshit is too stupid to get himself a good job. No, he can only get some shit job. Fuck, fuck, fuck!

**********************

Sadiq Gupta was living the American dream. He came to the States in his late twenties from India. He spent a decade doing minor jobs but lived frugally to save his money. Even though he was university educated back home, he had managed to further his education on a part-time basis over the last decade. It had been a long haul but now that he had managed to get himself a certificate in business administration at a local community college and now he was making a go of it on his own. Enough of working for somebody else; it was time to work for himself.

For the past five years, Sadiq had worked for the Anderson Print Shop. It was a small business and for whatever reason, Sadiq had fallen in love with the printing business. The clients were friendly and the work was interesting. There always seemed to be a new challenge so he felt the work was never boring.

Mr. Anderson, the owner of the business, had taken a shining to Sadiq and took him under his wing. He had shown Sadiq the ropes, so to speak, and a friend said that Sadiq was like the son Mr. Anderson had never had.

Was it a surprise when Mr. Anderson announced his retirement that he offered to sell the business to Sadiq? Sadiq was elated. This was an excellent opportunity; this was his dream come true. After keeping his nose to the grindstone for a decade since coming to America, he was now getting the chance to step up. He was going to be the owner of his own business. Yes, this was the America dream. This was his chance to make his fortune. Okay, this wasn't going to be a Donald Trump fortune, but it did represent a certain financial independence. He was going to have something that he could call his very own.

Mr. Anderson had left a note on the door of the shop that the business would not open until 10:30am today. The two of them, Mr. Anderson and Sadiq, had an appointment with the lawyer to sign the documents transferring ownership of the business. The two of them had worked out a decent financial settlement which would be good for both of them. The cost of the business wasn't onerous for Sadiq and the monthly payments evenly spaced out over the next five years would make Mr. Anderson's retirement a little less worrisome. Going from working and having a steady income to not working and having to live off of one's investments was a cause for concern. Who didn't wonder if they would have enough money to pay all the bills? The golden years were golden only if you had enough gold.

Sadiq finished descending the stairs and started towards the platform. He glanced at his watch and saw that he would have more than enough time to get to the lawyer's office. He smiled. He had to admit to himself that he was just a little excited. Things were coming together. Life was good.

Exiting the short tunnel from the stairs, Sadiq looked up and down the platform. He had been riding the subway for years and knew the exits of many of the stations. Consequently he would always walk to that part of the platform to board the train where the exit was located at his destination. He remembered a friend asking him how he knew this but after you ride to the same stations over and over again, you end up with a mental list of various travel details: position of the destination exits, locations of public washrooms, and how close is the nearest Starbucks. Isn't this part of life in any big city? It was certainly part and parcel of life in New York.

Sadiq knew the subway station for the lawyer's office but didn't usually stop there. He wasn't sure of where the exit was so he decided to just stroll down the platform a bit, get on the train anywhere and try his luck when he got off. After all, walking the length of the platform wasn't that big of a deal and you couldn't prepare for every eventuality.

He idly stepped twenty or so feet down the platform, stopped, and looked towards the tunnel where the train would come through. He glanced at his watch again. In an hour he would be the owner of his own business. Mentally he said to himself, "All right!" and did an invisible fist pump. This was going to be good.

A slight breeze had started up. Sadiq heard a few clicks in the metal rails. The train was not too far up the tunnel approaching the station. Other people moved from the wall or got up from the benches to prepare to board. The breeze had turned into a wind and some pieces of newspaper lying on the tracks started to fly around. The noise of the train increased in volume as it got closer then suddenly it burst out of the tunnel and roared down the length of the platform.

Elaine leaned against the wall muttering to herself. Frankie, medication, goddamn it this was just one lousy fucking day. She looked up. She looked right at brown-skinned man standing in front of her. She remembered the words "stop jihad" from the poster. Those fucking terrorists. Those goddamn Muslims. How dare they destroy the twin towers? How dare they destroy an important part of her New York? How much bullshit was anybody supposed to put up with?

Fuck it. Elaine moved from the wall, took two steps then placed both of her hands on the back of the man and pushed. She pushed with all her might. She pushed the man across the platform then pushed him off onto the tracks. Fuck them. It's about time she did something to get them all back.

Sadiq felt himself being pushed across the platform towards the tracks. He was startled. What was going on? He tried to dig his feet into the floor but he couldn't stop himself moving forward. He half turned and managed to say, "What…?" when he went over the edge and fell off the platform. He fell between the two rails. One of his feet landed half on a tie and slipped off. He twisted his ankle and immediately felt a sharp pain. He rolled forward and put out his hands to catch himself. There was a deafening roar. He looked up. The subway train was coming right at him. He panicked. He knew he only had seconds. He jumped up and stepped back to the platform. A stab of pain shot up his leg from his ankle and he winced. He put both hands on the edge of the platform and tried to jump up. He couldn't get enough height to get back up on the platform and fell back to the track.

Elaine watched the train sweep the man out of the way in front of her. She stood for a moment watching the train carry on down the track before coming to halt. She looked up the length of the platform. Everyone was staring at the train. A few people had rushed forward to see if there was anything they could do.

Elaine looked back at the platform where she had pushed the man on the tracks. Oh fuck, maybe she shouldn't have done that. She turned and started towards the exit. She heard a voice somewhere behind her yell, "Hey!" She bolted. She ran to the exit then ran up the stairs. Oh crap, she needed to get out of there and she need to get out of there fast.

When she got to the street, she stopped for a second and looked both ways wondering where to go. Back to Frankie's she guessed. She'd miss the job interview but better that then stick around at the subway. Elaine started to run down the street. Jesus, she could really use some weed just about now.

 
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