Scene on a Train...

Sunday...July 18, 1999...12:32 pm...Broad Street Orange line riding southbound from North Philly...So, I get on the last car cause that's where they make you sit when you get on with a bicycle. The car is half full with middle-aged black women on their way to church, young be-boppers going into town, and the usual array of lunatics and geniuses. I sit on a row of three connected plastic seats, the ones right across from the sliding doors, the ones you're supposed to give up to the elderly or infirm, but no one really does. Well, my bike fits nicely between my legs when I sit here so I take out a book and begin to read. It doesn't take long to notice the insanity that is playing itself out in front of me.

A flute player twists and turns with the rhythm of Gershwin, his feet unsteady with the rolling and shifting of the subway car...Once and a while he stumbles but catches himself before falling and without missing a single beat...The middle-aged church ladies on their way to Sunday mass casually glance at him, paying him no mind. A white woman -- probably in her early fifties but with the looks of a person ten years older -- is battling with the demons in her head across from me..."Goddam son-of-a-bitch cunt has the dirtiest house I've ever seen!" ... Noticing me looking at her she glares angrily in my direction. I glance down at my book...the flute player twirls, stumbles..."fucking niggers, blah, blah, blah," she's ranting...She catches me again and shoots me a cold, hard glance..."You know, you're supposed to be on the last car with that fuckin bicycle! blah, blah, blah"...I look down. A man across from me catches my eye. We look at each other in disbelief. Is this some kind of movie or am I in the twilight zone?

The flute player twirls..."blah, blah, fucking blah"...the middle-aged church ladies on their way to Sunday mass and the young be-boppers heading into town sit with heads down as if nothing is happening...I look at my companion across the aisle as he stands to get off...Girard Ave...the flute player twirls, stumbles..."fucking blah, fucking blah, fucking blah"...Only in America.

- Chris Moraff