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The grass is always greener when you stay the fuck home.   —   A New York Moment

The world is too distracting for me to find my peace.

This morning I was waiting for the subway trying to read my Blaylock book when this very large man reeking of cigarette smoke approaches the bench I was sitting on and sits down. I heard this man before I saw him because the guy was wheezing so loud I felt my lungs constrict just listening to him. As he sits there wheezing he's also gasping for breath. He's trying to calm his breathing by taking deep slow breaths in through his nose and out through his mouth. You can tell his breathing is a health issue he's been dealing with for quite some time, something that started as a small annoyance that has slowly grown into a beast that he can barely control. But he seems versed in how to deal with it and not panicking like the drowning person he sounds like.

I'm trying to continue reading my book and at the same time sorting out a new idea I had for a short story, listening to this guy was making me nervous and I couldn't concentrate. I started having flashes of the guy having a heart attack and seeing how there were only old Polish ladies around me I would be forced into giving this guy CPR.

So I want to move away, to not have to claim responsibility for this guy if he drops over for being a fat ass with a bad smoking habit, but I don't want to give up my seat because, I'm tired too.

The train comes and I hop up and dash on board. Of course all the men dive for the seats, as they do every morning, and I'm crammed in the middle section holding the smooth silver rail and being harshly bumped by some fool wearing a backpack.

I transfer to the 7 train, spot a seat and sit down. At last I can read my book and sink into my other reality that lies between the paper-thin covers.

A foul stench fills the air and my brow stitches in reflex and I look around trying to determine who the culprit was. Of course I don’t have to look far, it’s the man next to me. He's leaning forward staring at the floor while slightly rocking back and forth. I can tell he's got a stomachache because his stare is focused and concentrated. He's leaning forward to relieve the pressure of the gas and to allow it an easy escape route. This guy’s flatulence is the kind that, if it were in a comic book the artist would color it cloudy and green. It's thick and sour, it smells like death and decay and I feel it all over me. When the smell passes I catch a brief whiff of the guys cologne and for a moment I'm not sure what is worse. And just as I'm trying to determine my decision the guy farts again. It's not noisy mind you, but the stench speaks for itself and once again I feel my body being devoured by this man’s sour gas.

We live in each other’s waste.

I was trying to decide what would be worse, giving up my seat and standing amongst the rush hour crowd of strangers while tightly pressed against business men and being covertly groped or sitting in my own seat and being assaulted by the bog of eternal stench.

I decided to stay, but I still couldn't read, instead I sat there with a desperate look on my face staring blankly at the words in my book and smelling what must have been a buffet of farts from the guy next to me.

Finally I arrive at my stop, I exit and make my way to work. I stop at a deli before making it to the office, grabbing some coffee and a muffin. I arrive at my desk, it's twenty after nine and I'm late again. After setting up my laptop I remove the contents of my breakfast from the brown paper sack and discover that the muffin was placed on top of the coffee, resulting in a soggy muffin.

Being filled with hate this early in the morning can't be healthy.

Posted 10.1.2003

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