The Underground

Let’s run across the tracks

𝗔𝗹𝗲𝘅 𝘙𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘳

Chapter III. | Metropolis

“Yep. There goes.”

The two watch as the train zips by. Sussex notices Riette’s lack of motion, sees the train, looks back at his companion. “Do you wanna catch it, or…” he suggests, but it’s confirmed.

“What couple sounds more interesting to you? The one who gets caught in the snow or who rides a train off into the sun?”

“What’re you talking about, ‘couple’? You’ve done nothing but take cracks at my face and my smell all day. I got my kneecap busted just to sit here in the cold and watch the metro pass our asses up. This ain’t some Rom-Com movie … The hell.” Sussex grabs his belly, immediately regretting his dumb (but true, let’s face it) outburst. Riette stares at her feet for a while, not sure whether she wants to throw a fit all up and over her date or simply leave him there and walk home. His voice then breaks the silence. “I think it must be the damn Ice Age revived or something. Must be snowing down to the tropics right now. Hey, it might even be snowing on my island.”

“If we could go to your island, that’d be, like, superb.”

“True. But we’d be warm, so we wouldn’t be an interesting couple anymore,” Sussex says. He takes some cautionary scoots backward.

“You’d probably like that since you aren’t interesting in the first place. You couldn’t make it two minutes in this city without complaining, or freezing your balls off … Jerk.”

“How’m I a jerk in any sense? ‘Cuz if I lived in this ice hole, I would freeze?”

“That’s right!” she wails. Her tone rings with an I’m done with you, boy kind of rhythm. Patting her hair, she reaches into her small purse and augments her bubble with a bit more flowery perfume. He opens his mouth but doesn’t make a squeak before she says, “Oh! Do you see that man?”

“What man?” Sussex searches frantically over his shoulders and under his legs trying to find the so-called “man.”

“Lookit, lil’ baby … There. Look at that man! He is just am-A-zing. What’s he doing?”

“Where? Wha — What did you just call me?”

“Huh? Oh, nothing, blockhead. Just my lit-t-tle baby. Nothing special.”

“Finally! A pet name I can work with. I been called many names … today. Now I’m finally a baby!” Maybe he hasn’t traveled this far and been tortured upside down in vain after all.

“Well, don’t just sit there with your head between your pantyhose. You need to find this crazy-man! Quick, before he leaves. He’s got the biggest lips in humanity, just like a chimp or something.” Her face bursts into a smile.

Sussex stands up straight and raises his voice. “Where on the Earth is this man? If he’s so crazy, why can’t I find him? Is he a tiny man, or hiding or … What, babe?” The pet names, they’ve been unleashed! True, they come in the flash of a torched arrow, but they are there, irrevocable. Sussex then looks at her, accusingly, realizing the subject of her cruel joke. So gullible! “God, what is wrong with me?”

“Nothing. But, gotcha back!” She grabs his chin and resurrects him from misery toward some higher place, though where, he can’t tell. Puzzled faces and their whispers prey on the couple’s showings of affection, nose-rubbing, and whatnot. Their awkward PDA aside, something buzzes strangely about, a vibe, as if there was a party that everyone might be late to. That bum and Poor girl sputter through the station halls. But nothing comes of it yet.

As time passes, they remain on a bench that would be better suited for butt torture, and little by little, their private concrete hive starts to fill with hundreds of creepy-crawlers. The night erupts with a tick as crowds of people bombard each other on their routes into the subway. The world moves busily around them in a rapid flow, but none of it stirs the couple an inch. Elbows bump eyelids and heels crush feet. A small red object gets kicked into view near the only two tranquil persons in sight.

“Hey, love. What’s that on the ground?” Riette asks. “It looks like a ladybug, but dead. I can’t imagine this stampede of bozos even cares about the poor thing. Well, I mean, it feels good to me anyway. All this — being in a big crowd. It’s better ‘cuz nobody can really see us.”

“Wha’do you mean? Of course they see us. You can’t hide where there’s a crowd.”

“Like this: if we’re the only two here then anybody can spot us. When there’s tons of people around is when we’re really alone.” The concept causes her to grin. Her shoulders nudge into Sussex as she curls into his side.

“Well, hey, if it makes you feel intimate, that’s cool with me. I was thinking ‘bout stopping at one of those little hotels we saw on the way. That reminds me, one time I fell into this phone call with a girl I used to date, right? She managed a hotel back then.” He pauses for her reaction.

Riette doesn’t budge a muscle, just sighs a quick laugh. “I’d like to see how you ‘fall’ into a phone. I’d pay to see that.”

He strokes her lip stud and thinks aloud. “I knew you liked piercings since you showed me your secret one on cam. Remember that? Who knows, now you could show me the real deal.” She grunts. “I love that little one under your lip, though. That thing is crisp. It’s, like, the best stud I ever seen, so — Riette? You sleep? Damn, you fall fast.”

“What? Who fell in the phone?” She comes out of her three-second dream, holding the expression of someone who’s just jugged a pint of hard liquor.

“You were knocked out, girl. I’m glad I put you to sleep so quick.”

“Don’t hang your head, silly. I sleep all around. At least I won’t miss any sleep with — ”

“Hold up — ‘Sleep all around’? With who?!” He nearly implodes. Riette bounces up with the enthusiasm of a rubber ball. She takes some steps back just to be safe.

“Are you mad, bro?”

“Nah, not mad. I’m concerned. Who are you sleeping ‘all around’ with?”

“Aha! Look at ya, all jelly. Didn’t know you were such a buster. Come on, boy. Really? The only ones I sleep around are the grass and the ants at the park.”

“You lie,” he says. His tone turns playful, having noticed some suspicious eyes coming from the train. “Let me back away from you before your pants start flaming.”

“Ooh, fire! That really would be nice right now.” He agrees with an Mm-hmm, and some hot, cheesy… “Sleeping around, sheesh. I didn’t know it bothered you so much.” Riette pulls out her vape pen. Sussex snarls.

“Real men smoke cigarettes. You know my grand-daddy smoked cigs. I think you’d ought’a smoke a cig, too. He was in the War, you know. He was tough. Smoking is tough. I love to smoke, but I don’t {Riette is nodding halfway to sleep again} care if it gives you cancer. I do it out of choice. Everyone respects guys who smoke tobacco. Movie stars do it. If I smoked right now, you’d pro’ly respect me more for it, too.”

“Well, I’m not a ‘real man’, so what gives? I vape, or is that unholy?”

“Blasphemy,” he says looking to the ground with the same defeat as before. “This date ain’t really gone how we thought, huh?” Riette shrugs. “It was a lot safer dating on the computer. I didn’t know I’d be pissed on and beaten by some bigot morons, embarrassed in front of a diner, and have people stare at us like zoo apes all day.”

“You do look kinda like a gorilla. Ooh!” Sussex stays silent. Riette reconsiders his point, then takes his hand. “Hey, I’ve got an idea to save this date. Let’s run across the tracks.”


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No Expert But Of Himself — aka Trystn Waller. Just writing what I know, a bit of what I think I know, hopefully I help others know a bit more than they knew.