i was on a semi-crowded local subway train at the start of rush hour. i like to stand just in front of the doors and play solitaire on my phone, it's distracting, but not enough to miss what's going on around you. so, there's this guy sitting a couple feet from me, clutching a plastic bag to his chest, jittery. it's new york, big deal. but further discreet observance while sliding aces around proved disturbing. it was 19 degrees outside. he wore a flimsy knee length trench coat. sneakers that were several sizes too small, tied very tightly. no scarf or gloves. khakis and a button down. clothes that were bland-- not new, not old, and definitely not suited for the chill outside. speaking of dead-of-winter, he was sweating. a LOT. lips occasionally parting while eyeing everyone on the train, quickly and nervously.
there was something sturdy inside his plastic bag.
as we pulled into the 34th street station, the little no-nonsense voice inside me told me to get off the train, even if there wasn't another train in the station to get on. i HATE to get off a successfully moving train and wait. but this voice likes to bite me in the ass if i don't listen. lo and behold, an express pulled in. with great nonchalance i strolled across the platform, assumed my usual position inside the car, and resumed my game of solitaire.
i glanced up CIA style, eyes only, as the recently abandoned local train prepared to pull away. as the doors slid closed, i saw the head of jittery man slowly rise. he walked to the edge of the doors, stopping an inch in front of them, and calmly stared directly at me as they slid closed. just stared. i raised my head and returned the look. we continued to stare until his train was out of sight.
either i'm not as discreet an observer as i think, or that was one freaky freaking freak of a moment.