Jay St-Metrotech [A CC Express Story]
What follows is a preview of sorts to a project that I’m working on. It’s a collection of short stories [tentatively] titled “The CC Express”, with every story revolving around/including a subway stop on the 8th Ave/Fulton Express Line. In other words, it’s the fictionalization of a subway map. I will be posting these stories periodically throughout the rest of the year. Constructive feedback is always encouraged and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Word to your moms.
“What, were you going to name a character Jerome?”
Nothing ever happens here. The coffee house is teeming with those staring out the window, waiting for the Spring warmth to melt the snow off the patio. When that happens, they will sit endlessly on the patio, waiting for the leaves to change colors. If they had their way, seasons would be ambiguous and love would not be free, but about as affordable as a liter bottle of generic Caribbean cola. Nothing will ever change here. They will exercise their abundant patience, as the radio plays a 70’s funk song reminiscent of Will Smith’s chart-topping hit, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”. Nothing is original anymore. Not even this story.
“What’re you trying to say?”
“I’m changing what I’m saying.”
Two bearded dudes sit at the table closest to the window. Otherwise, this table usually goes unoccupied, as they’re the only ones that can brave the cold draft the blows through the cracks in the door. One digs into his bag and presents stacks upon stacks of pocket notebooks, with no particular intention other than displaying the stack to himself and others, with the knowledge that he once filled all of these up and they should probably be read or organized or sold or burned or transcribed into digital format at 11.5 Helvetica-Neue. His companion, feeling inadequate, gazes up and down at the stacks with the dreadful feeling that he has never successfully filled out or kept a pocket notebook of any kind. To combat, he pulls a blank notebook out of his satchel, made from 100% post-consumer waste recycled pages [SKU# 97181412430869] and his gray Papermate® pen [that writes in gray] and starts scribbling manically, in effort to either be noticed as a man that writes a lot or maybe, just maybe, he will come up with something profound and genius that would’ve never been made if he didn’t feel intimidated by the notebook-filling prowess of his best friend and blood brother. Or maybe he just forgot to masturbate today. Nothing will ever happen here.
I’ll be doing standup on the 13th.”
“Just wanted to let you know…”
She wants to be the only person in the place with red hair. Although it may be statistically improbable, she faces the wall so that she’ll never know the difference. Bystanders can tell by the way she sips her Americano, and her tattered Chuck Taylors that she has confidence issues. The same people can tell by his tucked-in white shirt, Carhartt jacket and his untouched Iced Chai, that he doesn’t want to be there. But he can hide behind his laptop as she lectures on and on about fixing his resumé, which emails to send and to whom, how to comb the back of his hair, how he can project his high points while hiding his lows, anything that she can do for him to disguise the fact that she is more lost than him, especially considering that she doesn’t have a person in her life to double function as a life coach, because let’s face it, he doesn’t love her and she doesn’t love him. She can’t bear being alone and he can’t make any decisions for himself. Recent studies have shown that this is how 89% of relationships grow. They’ll probably have sex tonight, after the Seamless® bag is emptied and the season of Dr Who ends. But nothing will ever happen here.
“I’m gonna get a tattoo on my chest”
“Oh yeah? Are you excited?”
“It’s gonna be a giant bird!”
He’s trying too hard and he knows it. She does the same, but doesn’t believe the world has caught up to her ruse. But he has, they have, the American people have. Her jig is up. The long, greasy hair that’s constantly covered with a beanie cap, the non-descript college sweater, the impeccably cared-for Doc Martens and of course, the glasses. Oh, the glasses. He knows that she doesn’t need them, but she’s developed a mental condition causing her to feel permanently near-sighted. After all, impairedness is all in the head, so what’s the difference? Or at least that’s what she always says. Did he ever mention that he hates her fucking trenchcoat? Because he does. At least he has no misconceptions about himself. He knows that he spends 5,689 seconds on his hair every day, so that it will look like it was never combed at all. He revels in shit like that. Or his velvet 3-piece suit, 1964, bought in a quirky shop on St Marks Place, you’ve probably never heard of it. $550 and worth every goddamned penny. She never listens to him anymore. Wait, she never listened to him in the first place. He wonder if she even has ears. Who can tell? They’re always covered by her caked-up hair. In any event, he never says anything substantial and she never notices. They’ll just come here every Saturday and fit into the scenery, spitting out non-sequitors and appearing to be beautiful people of great importance. It will never change and nothing will ever happen here.
“Well, I have a sister, but she’s like 30-something”
“So I guess she’s my half-sister…”
She never knows what to order. Does she even need coffee? Probably. What else is she going to hold on the A shuttle to Jay St-Metrotech? The pole? Get real. Little does she know, the shuttle bus is going to be packed to the teeth and the coffee will eventually explode all over herself as a crowd of people squeeze together to try to get some exiting motion going. The barista doesn’t notice her. She can still bail. She just has to take 2 steps backward and spin around. Feign a phone call. A prior engagement. “Aw shucks, cash only? Sorry!”. But now it’s too late, as the mustachioed barista stops talking about his tattoo plans for a brief second to take the order of this frightened young lady, as he maintains the general posture of someone who would typically say something like “Whuddaya drinkin'” and call people “chief” or “boss”. A long pause. A large coffee. Make it to go, nothing is going to happen here.
“The last time I sent you guys a group text was when I was playing The Lawnmower Man video game…”
He’s been sitting there for hours, observing. Nothing ever changes. Those who are seated never leave. The dude in the back hasn’t stopped writing, surely on the fast-track to arthritis. His friend is still pulling notebooks out of his bag in a clown car-like fasion. The girl in the forefront pretends to be typing away at her laptop, even has her glasses pointed downwards, but in reality hasn’t been able to keep her eyes off the scribbling dude, as she wonders if he will ever stop, if his words make sense, if he’ll ever put his pen down and just fucking notice her for a change, what his morning breath smells like, if his writing makes any sense, what his face looks like, if she knows him from somewhere, dot, dot, dot, ad infinum. The bored redhead against the wall reads, but never turns the page, while her quo boyfriend plays Nintendo DS®. The meta-hipsters that frequent the place more than him. As a plane flies over the building, everyone knows that it will land nowhere and return in 10 minutes. He wouldn’t trade this place for the world. From the awkward conversation to the construction site sitting stagnantly outside, nothing ever happens here and nothing ever will.
“They have cider, too, it looks like?”
“You think the guy’s going to be good or not bad?”
“Instead of canceling, see if she’ll do 10:30-2”
“It’s not non-profit, just mild profit.”
“To stay, but can I get a paper cup? I might leave.”
“The 2 and the 3 is next to the museum.”
Stop listening. Nothing will ever happen here.