What’s in the bagzzzz he said, laughing at his own corny line. He pointed in the direction of the rolling metal shopping cart and tilted his head slightly towards this mysterious woman named Pat with a goofy sort of grin.
These? She said loudly in a deep dusky voice that caused everyone around them to stop in the middle of their conversations, glance at Pat and each other a bit nervously.
These bloody bags are how I carry my burdens from place to place. These bloody bags are heavy and fragile and easily pierced by angry words.
Tim began to feel a little edgy at the force of her response and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat. He met the eyes of a woman in the next row of seats who shook her head slowly and then grabbed a large cross hanging from a thick golden chain around her neck. Lifting it slightly, she moved it quickly upward, touched it to her forehead, her heart, then tapped both her shoulders, and brought it towards her face, pressing it firmly against the lushness of her lips for a small moment, then closed her eyes and braced herself as if she anticipated some sort of violent impact.
The woman called Pat leapt out of the seat at the next stop and pushed through the line of people waiting to get off the trolley, bumping a young boy on the stairway, who went sprawling onto the platform face first.
Tim looked around frantically trying to recall, and then to understand what had just happened,
The woman with the cross was gone. Everyone was gone. He was left alone in the car with that shopping basket full of God knows what.
Perfect, he said aloud. The perfect end to a horrible stressful day. I’m beginning to think it’s my karma. Things just keep on getting fucked up, and I’m not doing a darned thing! He pulled himself out of his seat, and pushed the emergency button, just as the trolley began moving towards the next station.
Chapter One “And then she touched me”
She rolled up alongside the wood framed trash bin and reached into her shopping basket, pulling a hard candy from its wrapper and popping it in her mouth.
Tim had just arrived and taken his normal seat in the shade, between a 30 something guy with a dew rag, and an Asian man who smelled like egg foo young.
She was dressed head to toe in white linen with red stiletto pumps. It was obvious that she had a pedicure within the last two weeks, but she was overdue.
Under her long country-style dress she wore old fashioned pantaloons, also white with seaming every three inches or so horizontally. Around her neck was a straw bonnet, the kind you see in documentaries about the Amish in Pennsylvania Dutch country.
Her grocery basket was filled with plastic bags. He had seen her several times before. It was never clear if she was homeless has dementia or was just eccentric. Her hair was that shocking unnatural shade of red favored by type A women of a certain age, but instead of a choppy short cut it was obvious she had been growing out her hair for years, maybe even decades.
He got up from the bench when the blue line approached the station, blocking his view of her journey for a moment. He pushed the button to open the doors and as they slid apart he saw her climbing the stairs of the doorway opposite him, her back arched downward to give her additional strength to pull the cart into the car. He took a few steps towards her and reaching down said politely “allow me”. She stumbled slightly as he invaded her space for a moment but their eyes met briefly and they both smiled realizing it was OK. She wasn’t crazy and he wasn’t going to rob her.
He pulled the cart over to the nearest bench and motioned for her to take a seat. She lowered her head and said “thank you” modestly glancing up just long enough for him to see the laughter in her eyes.
My name is Tim he said holding out his right hand. Pleased to meet you.
She looked up slowly taking stock of the man in front of her and said in a deep voice “Hi my name is Pat. Thanks for the help it’s been a long day.”
Taking a seat opposite her during a lapse in their conversation, he decided to ask about the hundreds of shopping bags stuffed in her basket. Was she an environmentalist, did she clean up public pathways, or was she just going to reuse them or recycle them. Did she use them to clean out her kitty box or?
To be continued