There is a man and two women standing in the corner of a car on the T. The train is a blue line bound for Wonderland and the man and the two women board at Aquarium and ride on past Maverick where I debark.
The man is white and young and dressed in slacks with mousy brown hair. He is tall. He holds an over-sized leather ladies’ leather bag between his feet. On his right is an Asian woman with ivory skin and perfectly-rouged cheeks. She is wearing gray leggings and tall black boots. She is talking to the man in accented English. On his left is a woman with brown eyes and brown hair and jiggly jowls and fat around her mid-section. She is wearing tan corduroy and stark white running sneakers of the far-too-new variety and has a purse strap cutting her across the chest. She is talking to the man in Hungarian or Ukrainian or another Eastern European language indiscernible to me.
The women take turns speaking to the man. One waits for the other to finish – pausing and eying the man for a reaction, eying the other for a sign that she has concluded her segment – before continuing on. There is a moment between each thing being said at him; in his direction.
The man breathes and his head windshield-wipers from the one woman to the other (from his mother to his girlfriend? his wife?). He is set on intermittent and pauses just long enough to blink at each one before swishing back the other way. The man breathes.
The man breathes and opens his mouth and for one half instant and I think he will say something. And then his mouth closes a bit. I see the hair plumb to his nose and his mouth (still slightly ajar) flutter with his breath like a collection of socks on a drying line on a breezy afternoon in a backyard in the sun.
He says nothing. And the women keep talking; taking their turns, each in their own language, each looking at him and checking in with the other. And I exit the train. And the man keeps swishing back and forth to the rhythm of his life.