Nights Out

Mexican Standoff

The hat heard round the world

It was a perfectly ordinary Friday night belonging to the vast and soon forgotten statistical abstractions of the modern world. The subway car sails down the east side, and the whole car stacks on top of each other to the right, because urine threatens the doors on the left as the car rocks first back, and then forth. The air burns sharp in the nose, but friday-night subway overpacking very rarely affords choice in these matters, and despite faint hints of an unparalleled Nordic edifice on my left, the book in front of me is very good, and so on I read, oblivious. A new black wool hat with a big brim sits on my head. Nothing but a knighthood might induce me to take it off.

The doors open, and someone wedges into the newly-open seat across, but does not settle in. Instead, this new and bronzed stranger thrusts forward, inches from the tallest point of my face and hisses: ” I NEVER SEEN TRUE GLAAASS BEFORE–” and winds his way back into his seat, full of a cheerful vitriol.

The rolling eyes widen, and he snaps the rows of admittedly pretty teeth together. This, however, is a person on drugs, who believes in the see-through potential of pale skin. He stares, hungry, and feels close.

Perhaps in another world I might have had worries about being made into a window. Instead of letting a possible skinning and stretching fester, however, a certain unidentifiable force encourages the eyebrows to raise, the book to close and one leg to cross over the other. “Are you talking to me or Winterscape here next to me?” I say, settling into this confrontation by knocking my hat back on my head with one knuckle and indicating next to me, at the blond hair swept with glacial permanence across the temples, and the large square eyes brilliant like stones. This guy, Winter Johansson, for his part, sits up a little straighter in his beautiful, ugly-colored suit.

The Mexican Standoff begins. Winter Johansson stares, awkward, having been chosen by a girl in a hat who was chosen by a man on drugs. There we are, the three of us, and the car watches us even as we watch each other.

The end is quick– the man on drugs makes as if to touch me and I meet his eye, and without breaking contact, settle the brim of my hat back into place, where it belongs. I cut my eyes back down to my book, which as I have said, is very good.

The man on drugs meanwhile starts convulsing, to answer my question, but it’s too late. The victory has already been assigned, and it is mine, and all the athletic dancing in the world cannot make victory his. I can never go back to the Midwest now, I know this. They will wonder what happened to victimization in the name of the greater good, and will wonder if the world is all wrong.

and Winter Johansson? seems worried about what has just happened.



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