Taking a moment to reflect…

Something inside him began to crumble.  The slide lock clicked into place and Samuel jingled his keys into his pocket.  A short walk down Roosevelt to the station elevated platform.  Samuel tucked his hands into the pockets of his pecoat and shuffled through the crowds.  People seemed to move with an added sense of urgency, and there were far fewer of them.  The groups would dissipate after a few blocks, all of them off in their separate ways.  

The roads seemed devoid of moving cars, like everyone had just found a spot and stayed there.  Samuel was one of the few wandering toward Roosevelt station.  It was an ugly day with low hanging clouds and a soft wind that blew through the pecoat.  Samuel warmed his hands and fumbled for a cigarette from his inside breast pocket.  

Those that wandered the streets look detached; skinny, boney things that wandered the streets of Queens in aimless mind sets.  Samuel brushed past a few of them, felt their bones crumple against his body, past them to the steps of Roosevelt station.  

He bought a ticket and took a spot on the platform behind the yellow line.  The train pulled up in the same screeching-ugly way it always did, except the standing-room-only he had come to know and detest was non existent.  An expanse of space was unheard of in this city, and Samuel could not ignore the omen that an empty train presented.  He took a seat at the rear of the third car and listened to the conductor call out the next stop.  His voice sounded scratchy and hopeless.   

Samuel watched Queens speed away and thought about the bustle of Manhattan. Not a place he traveled to often, but things there gave a sense of being solid. The foundation, the pillars in the sky, all of them were solid and Samuel felt there was no better place to bank. There in the financial capital of all of America, maybe even the world! Even now as it crumbled, the papers spoke of crashes in other nations. How the mighty had fallen, all over the world! The epidemic was startling! 


The train shook and Samuel wondered silently whether another war was coming. They pulled into Grand central with a screech. Samuel gripped the railing and swayed with the motion of the train. This new world would be cut throat, dog eat dog. He released the grip he held on the iron bar and watched the red color flush back into his knuckles. The doors opened and the air seeping in touched his hand with a frozen slap. He realized his palms were sweating. 


The city was full of people honking and yelling and calling out to one another. Vendors shouting, and paper boys loudly paraphrasing the day’s headlines. Samuel worked his way through the crowd. People seemed to be everywhere with no sense of where to go or what to do with themselves. In the direction of Wall street, there seemed to be a block of people banded together filing down the boulevards waving hands and shouting at the sky. Lots of noise, massive confusion. 


Samuel slipped past and made his way downtown. He passed a few blocks, in this madness he felt it would be pointless to try to look for a bus or a taxi. No one was moving in the streets anyhow, did they get in their cars just to honk at each other? Enough to make someone wonder if anyone actually went anywhere in the city of Manhattan, that is if one could think. There was so much noise, it sounded like the collective screaming of the entire city of New York. Not a scream of terror, a scream of mercy. 


He arrived at the bank and shuffled his way through a crowd that had gathered there. The clock struck 8:30 and already there were hundreds swarming the tellers. Could one even hear ones self in that crowd? Samuel shuffled and shimmied his way through, closer to the front, but someone elbowed him back. 


Stumbling, he caught his balance on someone else’s shoulder, a male. Samuel twisted and regained his footing. He let go of the man’s shoulder and braced to catch him should he fall backward. The noise of the patrons made the whole situation seem incomprehensible, Samuel said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to bump into you! Hey, did you hear me! I said I was sorry–”  


The man turned to face Samuel and gave him the stink eye.  Samuel saw the man’s mouth move and heard a gruffy droning voice in response to his apology, but the volume of noise made any deciphering near impossible.  He pushed past the man and weaved his way through the crowd.


Samuel couldn’t really make out the teller past the crowd.  A wall of shoulders and backs separated him from his last dollars, and today wasn’t the day to keep a man waiting.

Published on January 26, 2009 at 11:43 PM  Leave a Comment  

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