on the train one day

Bearded young man, late twenties, early thirties, in a dark forest kind of green Marmot jacket and clashingly green cargo pants and green-brown knit hat with a brim sitting beside a blonde woman in a black top and gray pencil skirt and I wonder which is more uniform and what their first encounter was like. She’s to his left and they’re talking—though he talks most, fast but measured, full of intention—to another passenger, a man, older than either by a good twenty years, to the young man’s right, with straight, back-combed salt and pepper hair and an expression that says he’s heard shit like this and even his most genuine interest is ambiguous. He reminds me of Martin Sheen. Not perfectly, just something in the cheeks, the shape of the face, and I wonder how it is that we see people in others sometimes, known and strange. Martin wears a black coat, a neat-patterned button-down under a gray sweater, jeans, brown leather oxfords. A lull in the conversation ensues and all three check their phones in unison. The bearded young man continues his spiel, yammering about collateral, what’s different this year, sell, sell, sell, he says, and she looks on, at the ready. He’s so serious, full of himself. She’s so placid, pre-programmed. Then he busts out a box of brochures and their attitudes instantly align in perfect unison on an unspoken internal chorus of “yeah, show it to him, bust that shit out,” self-satisfaction radiating from them like stench as they inwardly acknowledge reaching this little scene in their little play, these little ancillary thespians. Martin takes the brochure he’s handed, turns it over and unfolds it politely and seems gracefully unimpressed.

Memory is such an odd, prismatic, and strange bird with sometimes silent vibrant wings and all we can do is watch it take flight. This was a few years ago, three at least, and for all I know or care they’re still on that train. Aren’t I?

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