The Man

The five PM subway ran over Henry Thompson.
When five PM rolled around on a gleaming Thursday, Henry Thompson is standing in at the subway station in New York as the subway is rumbling though its tunnel and the passengers on both ends are gathering their things. Henry is not, he is watching a lady walk to her brother, blue jeans grasping her behind like two hands.

Henry's story in simple. A starving writer, a martyr for his craft. Nevertheless, his writing is terrible. One of the few starving artists who deserves his starvation. But he is good at little else and he has long realized that being sensitive attracts ladies and that is his true passion, he has gotten his act down to the last word and is perfectly happy to play it every night. His physiognomy is intellectual with brown eyes that hold the doors to a soul void of everything except cobwebs. He has perfected the eyebrow dimple and the coy lower lip pout and does not see anything wrong with what he does, he is unrepentant and frank. Women are merely bodies. Hips and thighs, animals without thoughts or feelings. It is all lined up in his mind, cold and clinical like a doctor's office. Women are poker cards, this is his game, no other players stand a chance. But he doesn't understand the dry rot, he doesn't see it. It is not something that fits in his cold, clinical heart and so he does not stop it.

Henry remembers his first love in an unromantic light, believes it to be a nervous, first-time mindset that enveloped him. But he wasn't. It was wrong because he was wrong and his cold, clinical heart was already present. It did not develop over time and harden with past tragedies. There are none, he was born into a good home with good money in a good neighborhood in a good city. Birth held no worries and nothing tarnished his shield. His mother did not see it, she thought he was a perfectly good kid who got perfectly good grades and was always perfectly happy, his father did not see it, he was not an insightful man. It reared up on him once but he covered it with a white tarp and has shoved it in the back corner, he will not look at it. It means nothing to him.

He moved away when he was eighteen and went to a perfectly good college in Washington and moved to New York when he was twenty-four and has stayed because he says it is home to him. But there is no home for a heart that does not live. He feels no love for New York. It is a city, very like any other city.

So, he wakes up every morning, and cleans out his bed. He feeds his fish and then makes breakfast. His routine unfolds before him on a piece of paper and he checks them off one by one. The activities that are required for life. Mostly the words do not come, he takes a walk, the words come after that. They step out onto the page in a proper army march. These words are drilled and practiced. They know what they are to do; sit on the page and look up at him in their quiet, unremarkable rows. They are nothing new and they know it. But he writes them and he smiles, he believes this to be his best work yet, though there are others in a stack under his bed. He has tired of them but will not throw them away. They are proof. Proof that he is not a liar. But he is and no amount a proof will change that.

Today was like any other. Ate his breakfast and fed his fish. Lined up his words and performed his acts of humanity. Today, he has decided to take his army-worded pages to an editor. His pants are clean pressed and his shirt is tucked in, breakfast is long gone and his stomach wrinkles up and sits like a rock among his other intestines and organs. He walks slowly down the subway steps with his folder tucked up under his arm. Shoe heels click on the steps and his smile pops up with well-practiced precision. So, when five PM rolls around he gathers his things around him and stands up. The young lady with the blue jeans walks past him and he watches her move while he walks. The five PM subway rattles in and he is at the edge of the platform. The subway does not know he is there and he does not know the subway is there. The platform stops but Henry doesn't. He is watching the body moving in the blue jeans. The people around the subway suck puffs of air up into their lungs, they see it but they can do nothing. The five PM subway ran over Henry Thompson.





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crazydumb said...
Mar. 9, 2011 at 11:21 pm

eyes that hold the doors to a soul void of everything except cobwebs.

 

great line.

 
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