Click here to go to the beginning of the Commuting series
Across from me a lady stares daggers at me. I look down and continue to read the business section of the paper. I feel her eyes on me and I sneak a peek. She elbows the passenger next to her and whispers in his ear.
“Excuse me,” the woman said.
I ignore her and keep reading.
“I am talking to you,” she said.
I sigh and look up. I see a gray haired African American lady. She is wearing a black overcoat and holding a sheaf of papers in her hands.
“Do you have a problem with your hearing young man,” she said.
Me, a young man? Hah. “No, I am trying to catch up on the news,” I said.
“The human aorta is a foot long and an inch in diameter,” she said.
“That’s nice,” I said. I bury my nose in the newspaper. The woman is nuts.
“Does this train go to Penn Station?” she said.
I look up. I can’t keep a look of irritation off my face. “Yes,” I said.
“Thank you,” the woman said as she rustled her papers. “Do you know how many branches the aorta has?”
I shake my head. I just want to read the paper. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to know anything.
“There are twenty branches. Well, not really since some are in pairs,” she said.
I take out my ear phones and plug them into my phone with a savage gesture. I punch my phone with my finger and crank up a loud rock song. There, no way she can penetrate my wall of sound. I go back to the article on the Fed. Goddamn it, raise the interest rates already. I feel a tap on the shoulder. I look up and her face is inches away from mine. Her pupils are gigantic. I pull one of the ear buds out of my right ear.
“What?” I said.
“CREAM,” she said.
“What are you talking about?” I said.
She points at me and looks me up and down. “CREAM.”
I put my earbud back in. Stupid idiots on this train. I just want to be left in peace for a few minutes.
The lady turns to the man next to her. “CREAM, Congenital Rheumatic damage, Endocarditis, Aortic dissection, Marfan’s,” she said. The man next to her nodded. “I can tell just by looking at him, ” she said.
I look up and now the woman and the man next to her are both staring at me. What? Did I do something wrong? I continue to read and ignore them.
“I tried,” she said to the man next to her. He nodded. “Too bad, he looks like a nice young man.”