How to Read the Face of the Man Across from You on the Train

A Specimen from an Anatomy of Melancholy

Sun in the train through the window, shadows cast–a woman plays with her braid, sitting. There, a face of a man asleep, across from me on this train, Manhattan-bound, to meet her after theater class, to go for a drink. I had a slice before I left. Margarita. A small seltzer. I chewed and sipped as the Mexican clerk counted my change. He miscounted and corrected himself. The sun angles itself through the window it seems. The train turns on its approach to the 9th Avenue Station. I am on the D train here in Brooklyn.

Time passes . . . passing time in minutes or hours; time passes in hours or days or weeks maybe months, perhaps years, decades, centuries ages periods eras eons . . . and I recall how I heard a preacher commend us to the notion that time, as we understand it geologically or even astronomically, for God, is as we measure time in instants, those happenings in the blink of an eye . . . and here Democritus the Third speaks to you for himself and others, but as you may assume, for his author, himself other than the narrator here, who tells you something of the events, the happenings, the thoughts, the incidentals, the what-else? Questions I have many. Answers I have few. Responses, themselves at times other and at other times the same as answers, I have too many. What else is the question? It is always about else, elsewhere, when else, what else from who else?

A woman, tall, slender with striking eyebrows who got on at Pacific Street gets off at Canal. The next stop is Broadway-Lafayette. I will walk to the Public Theater to wait for her. The woman with striking eyebrows also had gorgeous legs. I realize that the pleasure I anticipate feeling from imagining what going for a drink should be like will have nothing to do with what will take place, and certainly for no fault of my own, but only because the woman I love at the moment is fucked up in the head, just a little bit. This I take to be self-evident to me even though my explication of what I take to be evidence in observation rarely convinces anyone who listens. I am convinced that I see better than many of these fools who have been corrupted by a corrupting age, an age whose corruption is so disseminated throughout all of society, only someone whose acumen and vigor is like mine, in avoiding this corrupting influence that going along to get along insists.

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