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The last train to Brooklyn speeds beneath a relentless, purple sky that burns until Orion becomes the consistency of honey. It is a bullet train, impeccably engineered and meticulously inspected. It bullets down the same fourteen-mile, steel track twenty times a day. Passengers fly in and out like a constant stream of tap water. They are ordinary people, living their lives no differently than I.
I am first on Train 47 at 10pm, the last train to Brooklyn. Then comes the biblical flood.
The white man with the white umbrella sits in the white seat next to the emergency exit. He totes a briefcase with conspicuous, Merrill-Lynch insignia. His white face appears elastic. He wears horn-brimmed glasses, a rigid tie, and a suit stiffer than a wooden spoon. He doesn’t smile. He sits in his white seat fingering his white umbrella, humming “Yellow Submarine.”
“All aboard!” the conductor moans.
The brown man enters the train with his brown tie and sits in the brown seat near the bathroom. He wears Nike sneakers that squeal on the floor; they are wet from the rain outside. The brown man has no umbrella, and isn’t afraid to let the rain trickle down his face. Around his neck hangs a brown Jesus piece.
The windows fog as a woman enters through the left door, wearing a blue, buttoned-down cardigan and a blue barrette in her hair. She glances at the white Merrill-Lynch advisor, who does not smile. Her blue stiletto heals tap the train’s floor, echoing softly.
The relentless, purple sky waits outside. Images float past the windows as numbers do on a bingo wheel. The train whistles as the woman taps her blue stilettos. And while the rain trickles down the brown man’s face, the white man hums “Yellow Submarine.”
In the next cabin, a baby reaches for a red, plastic balloon. The mother adjusts the baby’s red hat with her red fingertips. The baby cries a melancholy cry, unable to reach the balloon; fat tears trickle down his plump face, wet and fragile. As the mother yawns, his red hat falls to the ground.
I see an old woman with a green shawl and a shrunken face; she reads a gardening magazine. “Seven ways to a green yard,” she mouths, flipping through the waxy, green pages. She hears the baby cry, as the woman taps her blue stilettos, and as the white man hums “Yellow Submarine.”
A black woman huddles in the corner with a black I-pod, swaying braided hair to The Black Eyed Peas. As she whispers the music softly, her breath fogs the Plexiglas window. She traces a heart in the fog with her black finger, and looks left to the white man, who does not smile. The white man peers through his horn-brimmed glasses, as he hums “Yellow Submarine.”
The last train to Brooklyn croons at the purple sky with no apparent melody. The sky does not croon back, but sways the train back and forth, like a weak ballerina. The sky pours; luckily, the white man carries a white umbrella.
Near the emergency exit, a boy glances at the images beyond the Plexiglas. He is like the white man, stiff and starched. There is little color in his face, just the pale orange of his eyes. He licks an orange lollypop, the orange sugar transferring to his tongue. As he licks his lollypop, the brown man wipes his brown face, the woman taps her blue stilettos, and the white Merrill-Lynch advisor hums “Yellow Submarine.”
The man with the pink, sea serpent tattoo does not speak. Everyone stares at his pink umbrella and laughs. The man does not laugh, but closes his pink eyes, and dreams of somewhere else. He bites his pink fingernails harshly, while the baby cries fat tears, and reaches for the red balloon. And as the black woman whispers music softly, the old woman mouths, “seven ways to a green yard.”
The last train to Brooklyn flaps its metallic wings; the train rumbles and shakes. The baby’s red hat falls to the floor a second time, as the conductor moans, “Last stop, Brooklyn!”
The white man shifts uncomfortably in his white seat. I look at him, and he doesn’t smile. He clutches his Merrill-Lynch briefcase to his wooden suit. I look to the brown man, whose face is now free of rain, and to the woman with the blue stilettos, tapping the train’s floor. I hear the baby cry fat, red tears, as his mother yawns and the old woman mouths, “seven ways to a green yard.” The black woman sways her braids to the Black Eyed Peas, watching the boy with the orange eyes lick his orange lollypop. I notice the tattooed man open his pink umbrella, eyes still closed. All the while, the purple sky is strewn above, and the white man hums “Yellow Submarine.”
I sit near the door, eating a handful of rainbow skittles. I watch the Plexiglas windows become mirrors. The reflections are of ordinary people: white, brown, blue, red, green, black, orange and pink.
The Last Train to Brooklyn is the wrapper. We are the skittles.