”Hello, this is Alex, the one man band. Have a blessed day.”
Oh god, now what? I think to myself. After a sleepless night, I’m on my way to my weekly emotional masturbation that is therapy. Tired, pissed off, edgy, you name it. Now this old man. What does he want from me?
He’s an odd curiosity, with his fading black fedora complete with feather. Images of Romanian gypsies come to mind. I’m half expecting a monkey with cymbals to pop out his bag.
Then he starts his shpiel.
“Hello, this is Alex, the one man band. Have a blessed day.”
On a portable mic, no less. As if the shitty day can’t get any worse. It was a cold rainy day. Good luck making any money, bro.
After some fumbling, he pushes a button on the portable speaker. An upright jazz tempo starts blaring. He pauses, takes a deep breath, and starts playing his trumpet. That’s crossing the line. He went from minor nuisance to full blown pain in the ass. SHUT THE FUCK UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP!
The music gets louder as he approaches my seat in the train car. My headache escalates as well. Louder and louder. Louder and Louder. As he neared me, I controlled every impulse to tackle him head on, football style. Shut up! Shut the hell up!
He passed. I survived. Sigh of relief. As the music started fading, I looked over at Alex. He’s no longer my problem, I thought. Poor bastards at the end of the train. Enjoy him, suckers! I yell at the people he’s approaching.
Suddenly, the train screeches at a bend in the tunnel. Alex stumbles, and falls back a step. My anger turns to anxiety. Is he okay? He’s no longer the money-grubbing, loud, obnoxious gypsy. The image fades as we pull into Jay Street. What’s left is an old man, struggling to make a living. Floundering, drowning. Someone who puts himself out there every few minutes. Displays himself on life’s stage. Vulnerable to the harsh heckles of strangers.
The train’s changing speed forces him a step back. It’s as if life’s crossing guard is telling him “STOP”. For every step forward, he falls two back.
As the train leaves the station, I look over at Alex, once again onstage in the next car. Rendering himself vulnerable to new uncertainties. From the window in my car, I see him through a reflection of myself. We’re not that different, Alex and I.