I am reading on the train to Newark. A woman wheels on a plastic-covered baby carriage, a crumpled bag of McDonald’s balanced on top.The story is the thing, the arc, the bread crumbs leading on to eat. She is solid, her hair braided thick down her back. She keeps her phone in her back jean’s pocket. There is a solidity to her, a permanence. She blocks out the light from the window, only a glimpse of it between her elbow and waist. There is a man too, her husband perhaps, who she does not acknowledge, and a teenage boy. They are all thick in their coats. Her phone rings, a deep bass and growling voice. She answers. “I’m here.” She pauses. “That’s not going to happen.” She slides the phone back into her jean’s pocket. The sun comes through the window, bright, almost majestic. There is something magical about the New Jersey light. Industrial. Hard. Clear. We have arrived.
The train has stopped. There are no announcements. The signs inform us that the 18% who drop out need 100% of our help and that you will go to jail if you resell your guns. A wide-eyed woman searches her phone for another song while a bearded fat devil licks cheesy-fry grease from his fingers and a gaunt man, new accounting textbooks on his knees, speaks too loudly into his phone, declaring his price and promising to be there soon.
The train has stopped.