A short story

Samuel hurried unabashed onto the subway. Passengers turned their backs on him at once. His tattered clothes and faded hat were clear indicators of his intentions to anyone that had rode the subway habitually.

Samuel’s stomach growled, and he felt lucky that his shirt covered most of his arms. “Please stand clear of the closing doors,” played over the intercom. As the subway train lurched towards its next destination, the passengers settled back into its jovial mood, talking excitedly of weekend plans. Then Samuel stood ready to recount the fictional tale of his life—the one he told each and every subway train that was unfortunate enough to let him in. Samuel chuckled as he envisioned passengers diving out the windows plummeting to their deaths to avoid him. Or attempting to scamper onto an adjoining car only to get squashed. Samuel noticed that atmosphere in the car shifted and the talking died down. They sat quietly, instead. Some passengers discreetly ducked their heads and turned up their mp3 players; others carried on with their conversations, paying no attention. Selfish bastards, Samuel thought, as he watched hands drift protectively towards pockets. He swallowed his anger and opened his mouth wide so that he would be better able to lie through his teeth, and began his important announcement

“Hi, everyone, I’m real sorry to bother you, but if you could help me out with some cash, I would really appreciate it,”

Samuel strained as he surveyed the group with a desperate smile. Someone in the back coughed—a strangled interruption, as If the the person had tried to stop it from escaping or fear of drawing attention.

“I lost my job last year and it’s been really hard trying to get back on my feet,” Samuel continued, thinking about all the clients he he’d lost because his addiction had consumed him, and consumed all the drugs he could afford.

“I have a beautiful baby girl named Cynthiana. She’s only two years old, and I can’t support her much longer,” he proclaimed, he felt he was really hitting his stride, and supressed a grin with all his might.

How terrible it would be to have a child! He watched them on the subway now, pandering to their parents for worthless, trivial things, naively eating ice cream cones and candy that he could not believe their parents allowed. He could picture the treats sliding through their intestines, catapulting them into years encumbered with obesity and diabetes.

Samuel could not fathom the responsbilities of parenthood. “My wife and I barely have any food to feed ourselves, let alone our daughter,” Samuel said sincerely while remembering the last whore he had bought and the cocktail of drugs that had enhanced the sex and their slumber after. As he slept next to her, he decided that he could never do it again. He would have to leave after the sex next time.

As the train began slowing down, Samuel thought thoughtlessly of God and how he had never believed in him. Or how there was much more powerful things to believe in and to follow. Samuel’s notion of God was a man who didn’t want him to be happy and didn’t understand happiness himself.

Samuel felt bitterness well up inside him as he finished with an enthustiastic, “God bless.”

With this conclusion, Samuel removed his cap and walked around the train with it held in his outstretched, begging hand while he wore an ashamed expression across his face. After collecting what the subway passengers were willing to part with, Samuel hopped off the subway train and onto the platform, where he paused.

As he watched the train speed away, Samuel felt an insatiable urge to grab onto the barreling train. To latch onto it and never let go until it took him to where he wanted to go. Until it took him back to where he used to be, the place he dreamed of every time he stepped onto a subway train and told his tale.

Instead Samuel scurried, smiling as he counted the money he’d just received, as it were just enough. He swaggered outside into the debilitating heat and whispered aloud that He really did live in the greatest city in the world.