I've spent the last five minutes trying to stay awake, feeling guilty every time I nod off and lean too heavily into the people on either side of me. Finally, I stop fighting and just lower my head and fold my arms.
In high school my brother and I did a lot of shows (in school and out) and we'd sometimes have a little time to ourselves before 7:00 rehearsal. A lot of the time I'd come home from school and just fall asleep on the couch. That was the coolest. Hot damn I miss those naps with cartoons on in the background. Those were the bomb.
So I'm asleep now on the subway and suddenly I jolt awake because, wait just a damn minute...why are we still at 86th street? Where is my soothing motion and noise?
Something has gained the attention of the people on the platform. That something starts to gain the attention of the people on the left side of the subway car. The attention spreads quickly. People are watching and...backing up.
Waitwhat? Hold on. I'm still asleep. Waitwhat??
OK. Whatever is getting everybody's attention is starting to make them back up and panic.
And, uh, whatever is getting their attention is heading right for me.
Waitwhat?? Leave me alone, I'm asleep!! I'm on my mom's couch under the ceiling fan and I've got rehearsal till 11:00 tonight! Leave me alone, I'm just a kid!!
I look up and the noise slowly turns into words. Those words are "Help me! Help me! Help me! Help me!" over and over and over again. This being New York, everybody rushes out of the way.
I wipe the sleep from my eyes. Is it Saturday yet?
OK, that kid's covered in blood.
Man. Knew I should've taken the express.
He's running at top speed when he barrels into the subway car, pushing through everybody. I get up instinctively and he pushes against my arm, propelling us both out through the center car door.
I back up and watch him continue to run off towards the end of the platform, a hand on his right side which is covered in blood. Behind him trail two other kids, yelling at him to come back.
An undercover cop pulls her badge and shoves it in one of the kid's faces, a slight black kid no more than 15 years old in a red polo and red cap. "Alright, you're done here. Let's go outside. All of your friends. Let's go!"
The kid in red shoves the badge out of his face. "I don't give a fuck about that shit! Mafia!! Mafia!!"
He turns and looks me dead in the eye. "Mafia, boy!"
And, OK. Now this is just getting silly.
I mean, mafia? There's lots of street gangs, kid. You really can't go around calling yourself "Mafia", if only for name recognition. This is just another cold and terrible example of how things were so much better in the 50's. At least when a group of teenage ruffians got together back then, all in their leather jackets and slick hair down by the wharf, they'd come up with cool names like, "The T-Birds" or "The Skull Boys" or "Bill Haley and the Comets". They wouldn't call themselves "The Motorcycle Gang."
Man, I miss those days. Riding around with Alice, her arms wrapped tightly around me. She didn't belong--her daddy was rich and she dressed nice in those long pleated skirts and scarves around her neck. But there was a wild streak in her a mile wide, and those city boys in their cute little white pants didn't know the first thing to do with her. To make her young and alive and free.
Anyhoo--then all kinds of predictable stuff happens, what with the girlfriends all yelling "Leave him alone!" and the other kids chest thumping and the one bloody kid hiding behind the train. An MTA worker prowls the station, looking for more of the kids to round up. Everyone just kind of stands around in shock.
I finally take my seat. Pull out my Onion.
The doors chime and close. Everyone starts jabbering to each other.
"Where'd that one go?"
"He ran across the tracks to get away from them other boys!"
"Oh, that's dangerous."
I check the time. Shit! It's later than I thought. What am I gonna make for dinner?