Alone in the city #1: The Wisdom of the Tags
It was the middle of the day and the new sleek trains, moulded for speed and sealed for safety, were in the turnaround yards waiting to return for the peak hour. Within a few minutes one of the older trains shunted to a halt in front of him. On its side, sprayed in alien glyphs, the wisdom of the night. On any other day, the poetry of the tags would have been meaningless, but today, as the abused train beckoned him, every tag voiced a meaning – they screamed “why?” in a repetitious, deafening chorus. Now he knew how it felt to hear no answer.
He was carried forward through the doors by the crowd and found himself seated at one end, facing the double interconnecting doors to the next carriage. It was one of those old trains, built by those who relied on the commuting public to have common sense – no automatic doors, pneumatic locks or articulated bellows connecting each carriage. These trains were reminiscent of a different sensibility, of the era of his parents and Chicago’s Super Chief, with beautifully crafted Pullman carriages for genteel folk, and ribbed sidings not plastered with the “whys” of people who had been denied reasonable answers.
Like an old bag lady dragging her trolley through some cold, glass and stainless steel shopping mall, the old train heaved itself out of the station, wheezing and clanking into the tunnel to the River. He didn’t know where these images were coming from, nor how he could understand the resentment of a tired old train and a lonely bag lady – he just knew; somehow he just knew. He searched the faces of the other passengers and found them blank. He looked through the glass door to the exposed breezeway between the carriages, and saw his own face, distorted in the grime, frowning back in bewilderment. The train slowed for some reason, and as the slack in the couplings was taken up, sharp reports rang out through the tunnel like gunshots.
Candid Street Photography
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