STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS PLEASE
The robotic voice announces the impending motion of the car. The automated doors close with that definitive thunk.
Sitting in the cool, stale air of the train car, you lean your head back against the Cheezits ad. The car is almost entirely empty, except for a homeless man sleeping across all of the seets to your oblique left. He seems to be out cold, so you don't reallly pay him any mind.
You put your headphones in and turn up the Pixies.
"Well sit right down my wicked son
and let me tell you a story
About a boy who fell from glory
and how he was a wicked sonnnn"
Out the corner of your eye, you see the homeless man stir from his sleep. You take one headphone out of your ear, almsot defensively. It drops onto your denim vest with an imperceptible pap.
Grunting, the homeless man hoists himself to a seating position. A handful of before-unseen empty beer cans tumble to the floor with loud metallic clangs. You think you hear him mumbling under his breath, but with one headphone in, you can't be sure.
You pause the music to see if he's talking. He is, with slurred words and a voice like gravel in a metal pail:
how strange it is to be anythiiiing
You recognize the words. You know the song he's singing.
For no reason, you feel a jolt of fear run through you.
You look at the iPod in your hand.
The next song in the queue is Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea".
You don't know what it means, or if it's just coincidence.
You play the song.
The homeless man slumps back in his seat.
The train rattles along forward.
The train pulls into the next station.
An empty platform, no one boards.
The homeless man exits, making eye contact with you as he steps off the train.
"You never really know,
when the whistle's gonna blow
You never really know,
easy come and easy goooo"
Again, he's singing a line from the next song on your playlist.
The next stop is announced.