Originally published in the zeroth volume of Susan Hamilton.
On the twelfth car of the four train to Woodlawn, a man is trying to start ‘Showtime’ but unbeknownst to him the D-cell batteries in his boom box have corroded. He is hitting ▶ over and over again, which frantic movement and clicking sound alert the passengers near him. They drift away until a lacuna forms around him, which leaves him with no choice but to increase the frequency of his desperate pushing. ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ . This will be the last time he spends with the fingerprints on his index and middle fingers, which will soon find their way into the battery case where they will be chemically ablated by the aqueous lead sulfate at an astonishing and cosmopolitan speed.
In the middle of the uptown Rector St. platform, people are avoiding the castle-like edifice of newspaper and twine surrounding the center bench seats. This ruse, ostensibly hoarding, is actually the clever disguise of one future publishing magnate (and prodigy) Marvin Hamish. Hamish (a prodigy) is a rising star who is launching his own daily magazine without the overhead of leasing office space by operating out of the Rector St. station. After all, the station comes with (1) partial climate control; (2) access to shipping infrastructure; (3) bustle; and (4) clock. Marvin Hamish’s parents have seen neither hide nor tail of him since the fractious dinner three years ago. Marvin Hamish has not showered in a long time but he knows he is clean and successful.
On the last car of the L train to Canarsie, people are huddled together at one end in fear of the rat that scampers to and from the luggage space under the seats. The rat is frantic in finding its Month Pass MetroCard, which she had just purchased yesterday so the card still holds at least $100 worth of value on it. The atmosphere is unpleasant. Everybody just wants to be home.