Although Halloween fell on a Sunday that didn’t stop Leo and the rest of New York City from drinking. Leo knew that his first class wouldn’t be until noon the next day, a poorly scheduled exam by psychology Professor Carey, so the logical thing to do was to drink until then.
Leo was not a fool like his friend Carlos who spent his weeknights trying to coerce girls to give him a chance. Carlos never went anywhere with his advances for over two years but his determination was admirable. Whenever Leo went out, it was to fulfill a specific need. Sometimes for sex and sometimes to spend the night not alone in his bed listening to the Pinkerton album, again, with a handle of something cheap to keep him warm.
Aboard the C train he was listening to a mix of The Thermals, The Black Keys, and The Arctic Monkey’s. The train was local and going slowly at eleven pm but that didn’t stop the crowds from boarding by the droves. Two groups of 20-something Harlem residents and Columbia students dressed in costumes that for once didn’t separate them from economic or educational gaps. Most of the men looked ridiculous and all the women were more or less, half naked.
Sexy cowgirl, sexy lion, sexy cat, sexy dog, sexy Captain America, sexy Batman, sexy anime character, sexy little red riding hood, sexy Green Lantern, sexy Leia and of course sexy Darth Vader which was just the mask, a sports bra and tights.
Leo realized he was just wearing a red hoodie from H&M his ex-girlfriend bought him, a pair of jeans from Goodwill and Nike’s. He realized how pathetic he must look in front of all these people. Both groups of men and women were stumbling, roaring loudly and celebrating a holiday that Leo hardly recognized anymore. He wanted that euphoria derived from liquor now. Now, now, now!
The backdoor of the subway compartment opened mid transit and an average white male stepped out. He was about middle age, Leo guessed, with a disheveled face that had been battered and ignored by doctors for years. He was missing shoes and wearing only gray pants and a black jacket. At first glance the average New Yorker would turn away immediately, hinted by the lack of shoes, and this man understood this. So he spoke among the roar.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen.” He began. “My name is Chris and although my circumstances at this moment are very dire and due to circumstances I could not control, at this moment I am homeless. I did not wish to be homeless but once again ladies and gentlemen, my circumstances have led me to this path. If you could spare anything on this night I would be very grateful. Thank you and God bless you all.”
As he walked, he limped. His left leg dragging slightly and his feet were visibly pigeon toed. He muttered: “Spare an orange? Spare an apple?” Robotic, as if he had done this before. Leo looked up and so did some of those in costume but what was understood by everyone in the subway was silence.
He made his round and earned nothing from the trip. The C train pulled up to 86th street where he got off and dashed to the next car. He retold his story, again.