Thursday, March 28, 2013

Otis

Seen exiting the Brown Line to Kimball at about 8:40 a.m.

His uniform is that of a classic railroad man, the kind you’d see on a children’s TV show—white-and-blue-striped overalls, matching cap. Otis feels that it’s inappropriate. Why should the CTA issue such a uniform for a train that would never show up on a children’s show? A train crusted in leftover food and spilled drinks, a train filled with crazy people screeching, with homeless people begging. A train that will gladly kill you with its biting third rail.

Like that woman the other week, trapped under Otis’ train for two hours. He helped the firefighters free her, unscrewed some of the metal pieces as they shimmied out her mangled body. He sees her all over the place now, face death pale, lips blood red, body wrapped in mourning black. She gets on and off the trains with the other passengers, on and off, on and off, unnoticed by everyone but Otis. She thought death would be better, but the train is still the same, and she’s just as lonely and miserable as she was in life.

Sometimes Otis’ kids ask him about work, about what the trains are really like, but he never tells them. He hangs his uniforms all the way in the back of his closet. Someday he wants to move his family out to the suburbs, someplace where they have friendlier trains, or no trains at all.

Sometimes I think I have on-weeks and off-weeks in regards to the stories I write for this blog. Unfortunately for you, I think this may be an off week. I'm not loving it. Oh well. It'll get better soon. Hopefully the weather will, too. I'm sick of this prolonged winter. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dave

Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:30 a.m.

He looked like the type of guy who’d host a wilderness survival TV show but sleep in hotels due to fear of snakes. Or at least that’s what Dave’s ex told him the other day when she came to collect her hiking shoes. The break-up had been amiable, so Jenny said this in a jovial manner; nevertheless, it hurt Dave’s feelings. Had he not been manly enough? Had he not faced the outdoors with all the heart and spirit of the first pioneers? Sure, he had asthma, so their rock-climbing trip hadn’t gone as planned. And his allergies had acted up whenever they went camping. But he’d still done all those things, willingly, despite his physical impediments. For Jenny.

He loved to watch her strip naked and jump into glassy lakes. He loved the way her collarbones looked by firelight.

I seriously cannot believe this is the first time I tried to name someone "Dave." Normal names ahoy.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Joel

Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:45 a.m.

My phone just said that Amanda Knox girl is going on trial again. And you know what? I think it’s great. It makes me want to move to Italy. I fucking love Italy right now.

Double jeopardy laws are fucking stupid. Justice isn’t blind like they say. I hate it when you know they’re guilty and the jury lets them off anyway. O.J., Casey Anthony. Other people I won’t mention. It happens way too often.

I mean, juries are kind of a sick idea in the first place. Let’s take a handful of normal people whose only legal experience is watching Law & Order marathons on TNT and have them decide who’s guilty and who’s innocent. No wonder they get it wrong so much.

And then those fucking double jeopardy laws kick in! We know they’re guilty, but some dumbass jury said they’re innocent, so now they’re free to go, never to be tried again. That’s why this Amanda Knox thing is so great. Everybody knows she did it. She’s a cold-blooded, murdering little bitch, and maybe the new jury will get it right this time. They should try her over and over again until she gets what she deserves.

Joel has some opinions (that in no way coincide with mine, FYI). I wanted to write this in such a way that Joel seems like the type of person who a) has been personally affected by double jeopardy laws, like maybe a family member hurt him and got away with it and can't be tried again, AND b) might be somewhat violent himself, and may someday commit a crime. Does that come through? Feedback is appreciated.

Last night Lindsey and I got dinner with one of our former couchsurfers, and it was delightful. It was at a steakhouse downtown, though; I don't think I've ever dropped so much money on a meal for just myself before. I have no regrets, however. It was freaking delicious. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Nelson

Seen waiting for the Red Line to 95th at about 8 a.m.

“Fee-fi-fo-fum,” said the girl. She had dirty hair and pale, round cheeks. She wore a faded green jacket. Her only striking feature was the tar-black eyeliner she had chalked around her lids, which made her green irises glow like those strange fish you only find in the deepest recesses of the ocean.

“Excuse me?”

The girl reached up and grabbed the knot of Nelson’s tie. “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I see the clothes of a businessman.” She announced this scornfully; the words were venom dripping from her teeth. Although Nelson towered over her, she made him feel small.

“What the hell? Get off me!”

She leaned closer. Her breath smelled like germs and cigarettes. “Broad-shouldered wool coat. Blue-and-white-striped dress shirt—plain enough to be office appropriate, but with enough of a pattern to feed your delusions of personality. Rich leather briefcase and shoes. You, sir, smack of Wall Street.”

“But I’ve never even been to New York.”

Her hands moved to his lapels. “Then you’re even worse than I thought. You’re a failed businessman. The system has chewed you up and spit you back out, and you still want to be a part of it. You’re a coward, a phony.”

“I’m a phony?” Nelson considered this for a few seconds. “Have you ever read The Catcher in the Rye?”

The girl took a step back. “No.”

“You should. Holden, the main character, he always calls everyone phonies. I think maybe you’re a lot like Holden. I may be nothing but a phony businessman, but you’re nothing but a Holden Caulfield.”

That evening the girl checked The Catcher in the Rye out from the library. Nelson swapped his khakis for a pair of nice jeans.

Hm...I'm not sure I like where this story went. Oh well. Sometimes there's only so much you can do when you write a story in 15 minutes on the train. This weekend was full of writing, so that was nice. Looking forward to workshopping at DWChitown tomorrow.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Aimee

Seen on the Best Western Mardi Gras’ shuttle to McCarran Airport at about 1:30 p.m., March 19th, 2013

“So what do you want, Aimee?”

“What?”

“I said, what—”

“What? My phone. My phone is I dunno. It’s doing some…stuff.”

“WHAT DO YOU WANT IF YOU DON’T WANT ME?”

I want Jessica to come back. You know? I mean, who just leaves their friend in Vegas like that? It’s Vegas. Doesn’t the buddy system mean anything to her? Like, Girl Scouts? We were both in Girls Scouts. I stayed longer than her, though, up to the green one. Junior Scouts. Maybe that’s why it stuck. With me, I mean. Buddy system.

“I want—I mean I don’t want a relationship. Ok? No relationships. I like talking to you, and stuff. And being with you is fun, but…”

“But what?”

“But I just don’t understand why guys and girls can’t just be friends, you know what I mean? What’s wrong with friends?”

“I love you, though. I love you, Aimee. I want you to move in with me.”

I want to catch my flight. Yeah. I just really want to catch my flight home. I was on standby, and then I was sick, and I had to buy a new ticket, and that one guy said he was the shuttle driver, but he wasn’t. He was just old. So the shuttle finally came, but my flight’s at 2. I hope I make it. I just wanna get out of here.

“I mean, I want to. Live with you, I mean. I’d have to save up, like, so much money, though. Like so much. And you could see other girls and whatever. That’d be fine. You could see whoever you wanted and do stuff. I just don’t feel like I can be in a relationship right now.”

“I don’t want to see any other girls, Aimee!”

“Why are you angry? Just stop being so loud and angry, ok?”

“Do you want to see other guys? What the hell is the matter with you?”

I’m just so tired, you know? Have you ever been so tired that your eyelids stick together and they won’t open even if you tell them to?

“You’re like my eyelids, baby.”

“WHAT?”

“Yeah. Eyelids.” 

This was a fun one to write. I've never written from the perspective of a drunk person before. It's also my last story from my trip to Vegas. Next week we'll return to the passengers of the L. Have a good weekend!