During the six years that Krissy and I have been together we have shared a few near death experiences in this crazy city of ours. There was the cab ride from a Brooklyn Glove Compartment gig years ago when the cabbie, Das Badal, tried to kill us on the BQE going 15 miles-an-hour across multiple lanes. And then there was the time during Krissy's personal assistant days in Grammercy when the black Escalade fleeing from the cops jumped the curb, gunning to run us down on the sidewalk like the bulls in Pamplona. Then of course was the time the tow truck driver wasn't looking where he was going and hit us walking across the street near our old place coming home from the grocery store. And I don't know why, but I guess I kind of felt like we paid our dues. The city would let us know it was maybe our time to get out before we became another scary statistic, but somehow it seemed like we were in the clear. Well, if the crazed man on the train last night followed through with everything that was coming out of his mouth then I am not sure if I would actually be dead right now, but I know I would have been seriously maimed for a long time. So I'm really thankful not to be in a hospital bed right now.
We were on a 6 train heading down the east side to Astor Place to meet some friends for a night of beer drinking and karaoke. Having the whole weekend together we were feeling good and looking good and psyched to be out on the town. We boarded the train and sat down in the center of the car. The downtown train was not too packed, a variable cast of city folk sat throughout, and we rumbled on under ground. Up above Krissy and I spotted a non-smoking ad that caught our attention. The subways are lined with all sorts of advertisements, some obviously better than others, so it is always fun to see what you find. In our jovial mood we thought the ad adorned with bunnies and hearts and hokey phrases seemed kind of funny and wrong for a non-smoking ad so we got silly sharing a good laugh over it.
While we are looking and commenting on this ad, having our little laugh, we realize that the man next to me is beginning to mumble to himself. He is a middle aged black man, a healthy size and build, dressed in typical jeans and sweatshirt with various bracelets and necklaces. We fall silent to try and hear what he's mumbling about. The words begin to get more clear. "Are you insulting me? Are you insulting me?" I look to my right and man is staring at me intently. "No, sir", I reply, "uh, I'm sorry, I'm not insulting you at all sir, I'm not sure what you are talking about." He holds the same mean stare and says, "oh, ok" as we turns to face forward again. Next Krissy remembers him saying, "that's good 'cause otherwise I'd have to fuck you up." I thought I dodged a major bullet but this was apparently just the tip of the iceberg.
People get off at the next stop and a few newcomers board the car. Tourists with big rolling suitcases take up the space by the doors and an older man sits down across from us.
Now the man is really beginning to work himself up. His mumbles are not entirely understandable but somehow I pissed this guy off and he is now talking to himself about how he is going to teach me a lesson. Now the guy is telling himself that I am making fun of him, making fun of what he cares about, and it's time to fuck me up and teach me a lesson. His rant is building and the rage is getting scarier and scarier. He's convinced himself that I have seriously wronged him and he's not going to stand for it any more.
My heart is now racing, my adrenaline flying through my veins, and Krissy and I are clutching each others legs. This man has gotten himself so worked up I simply do not know what to do. I turn to him and try and back-pedal because I have no idea what else I can do. "Excuse me sir, have I done something to offend you? My wife and I were just poking fun at the advertisement up there, nothing was directed towards you sir. Have I offended you because if so I am very sorry."
"No, no, I love you, I love you..." As he continues to repeat how he loves me he has clearly graduated to full-on, indescribable rage. He's now talking about how this ain't no fucking Law & Order bullshit, how he's going to destroy me before any cops get anywhere near us. He's not going to hit my lady but he is sure as hell going to fuck me up. The crippling fear sets in as he methodically begins to disrobe. As his tirade builds to the utmost limits he slowly begins to take off his necklaces and bracelets and puts them away. He takes off the serious leather-buckled wrist bands and I am really thinking to myself that I might get beaten into a serious coma.
The train is still between stations but a quick glance between Krissy and I and we know the goal is to run once we enter the next station. The tall lanky tourists with their bags by the doors and the older man across from us simply stare in disbelief at this scene and the three of us, equally unsure of what is really going to transpire here. The man continues to disrobe and slowly store his valuables.
I see that we are entering the 33rd Street station just as the man removes the last of his jewelry. The final step is when he removes his sweatshirt to reveal arms of pulsing muscles under his small green tank top. Now I know I am really fucked. It's like the Jerry Springer show, but real. This guy is really nuts, and there's no going back. And he is really going to lose it. And I'm on my own. No one around is going to come to my rescue, nobody would dare get in this guy's way. The question is just whether or not he will begin his attack before the train doors open and we have a chance to escape. The train slows but it seems like each second is going slower and slower and time is not on my side. The conductor announces the station. The doors hadn't opened yet and not wanting to give him any reason to jump into action any sooner we continued to sit still as stones. By this point he's a sitting fury of spit and curse words, still folding his sweatshirt carefully on his lap so for a split second I thought, "I have a chance". We took one final breath in unison as the doors finally opened and we wasted no time. With purpose and no eye contact we jumped over the collection of suitcases between us and the door and kept ourselves to the fastest walk we could muster. Off the train we were ten feet from the doors in seconds and Krissy, who I had walking in front of me, had the nerve to look over her shoulder. He wasn't behind us. He was still on the train. The doors closed and we stopped, shaking and staring at each other on the quiet platform as a couple of young giggling girls passed us and exited through the turnstiles.
What exactly set this guy off we don't know. Krissy would later guess that maybe he liked the same sign we had been mocking, that he took it personally that we were poking such fun. Who knows. But there is no doubt the danger was real and by far one of the scariest situations I have ever been in. The randomness of his rage and the certainty of his anger combined was more frightening than I truly know how to articulate. We stood there shaking and staring at each other for the next minutes until another 6 train came our way. We feared for the folks still on the train because now the guy was worked up and it was going to explode on someone, somehow, or so it seemed. All we knew was that we were safe, we avoided the emergency room yet again, and we couldn't be more thankful. Eventually we would make it down to Astor Place and have a ball with Alba and the gang singing at Sing Sing on St. Mark's. We told of our harrowing tale and the bar crowd was equally in awe. Let me tell you the beer never tasted so good.
On the way home from the bar we got on an uptown train and found the same comical poster that had gotten us into this whole mess so that's how I got the above shots. ooh wee! Never quite know what you are going to find in this city. But the more we think about it, the more it might be time to get out.