“The last time I had brunch,” says the one, and stops to think. “I literally can’t remember the last time I had brunch.”
“The last time I had brunch was with Robert at Yvan,” says her friend, sitting. “Remember? After Beck’s birthday party?”
“Wait.” A third. “Where was I?”
“Weren’t you there?”
“Were you there when we had brunch at Trio?”
The third one again: “I don’t remember that.”
The second: “I think you were there.”
“I’m pretty sure.”
The man next to the one who’s sitting joins in. “I was having brunch when that man was killed at 59th Street a few weeks ago.”
They all pause.
“Oh,” says one standing. Their eyes all meet in the middle and they smirk.
“You didn’t hear about this?” asks the guy. He’s got shoulder-length dreads and a sort of urban militant flair. “It was raining and someone uptown stuck their umbrella in the door to try—”
“Beck’s was December 17th,” says the one sitting. “Maybe you were at home?”
The third: “Were you with us the morning of the marathon?”
Sitting across from the guy in dreads, black suit, no tie: “Don’t talk about that stuff while we’re on here.”
Dreads: “Don’t talk about what? He was waiting on the platform and the umbrella hit him in the—”
“Did you hear about the guy who got stuck in the revolving door?” This from a white kid looking up from his paperback.
“Because it’s bad luck to say that stuff.”
“—finished eating and I get down there. This massive, unbelievably vibrant puddle—”
“Remember Adrian that time we were at Wondee? When he picked up the fork and stabbed it through his own—”
An olive-skinned woman seated down the car, tight black dress, uncrosses her legs and fixes me with her eyes. Is it a smile?
“—severed three fingers I think when it swung—”
“—like ‘Hey bitch, why don’t you’—”
“I had brunch,” says an older woman, “the morning of September the 11th,” and we all swivel towards her. Sheepishly, “Of course I’ve had a few since then.”
In the middle of the car, two passengers hanging off the center pole who’ve up to now shown not a mite of interest in each other suddenly swing together and find each other’s lips, holding for a few heartbeats.
We decelerate towards a stop. The doors open.
“I’ll see you tonight,” the one says, and turns to find her way off.
The other watches her go, eyes darting between strangers, tracking her window to window.
A man walks in, suit bruised with grime. The doors close behind him.
“Ladies and gentleman, I don’t beg, I don’t steal.”
The doors close and for thirty seconds more, we’re alone with each other, hurtling through the tunnel into the dark.
Jeff Bakkensen once came in second place in a George Washington look-alike contest. Recent fiction can be found in Oblong Magazine, Smokelong Quarterly, The Antigonish Review, and Straylight Literary Magazine. Email: jeffrey.bakkensen[at]gmail.com