THE BEAUTY OF THE L TRAIN – New Rules Novel | New Rules Novel

MASON - CHAPTER 21 - (4 Min Read)

THE BEAUTY OF THE L TRAIN

The last few weeks had been the most eventful vortex of financial evaporation I’d experienced in a long time. I played a bunch of gigs but I had zero to show for it, going out, hitting parties with free drinks but still managing to spend all the cash I had, and neglecting to put anything aside for rent. My roommate was lax, but even he would hit his breaking point. Whatever, I was back on the grind, the Monday morning hustle.

Just after 9am at the Bedford stop, a mass of early twenties to mid thirties staring down the tunnel into the empty space, willing the train to appear. The flushed red checks of the girl next to me looked warm to touch, revealing her between her scarf and hat. One of those girls that could shine through their winter coat.

“The facials of someone being squashed into the L train told you a lot about them.”

The train was always packed in the morning, the ever-increasing population of Bushwick jamming the cars before they even got here. Some were happy to wait for a couple of trains to pass, afraid of the awkwardness of being pushed up against someone, but not me. I watch the eyeballs of the passengers as it pulls up, appealing to us that there is no room, that it isn’t human to push in and we should wait. Pssh, newbies, lighten up. It’s all fair game, only a short ride into the city; we don’t even have the sweat of summer to deal with. Haven’t they seen the YouTube videos of people jammed into trains in Japan? The facials of someone being squashed into the L train told you a lot about them. How long had they lived in the Williamsburg; their comfort level and confidence around strangers; and it’ll uncover any underlying claustrophobia that you didn’t know existed.

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“The L train is that girl you have known a long time. When you first met them you were struck by how cool and hot they were, but after you hung out a lot you  are quickly irritated about the small quirks.”

A couple of others cram in after me, everyone with their own headphone-induced slice of isolation. I twist a little, maintaining my hold on the bar above, my hip brushes with a shorter girl next to me. Mostly I like the odd proximity the L train provides, I enjoy observing everyone’s reactions to it. One couple look like they are going through hell, he grimaces as he holds an arm out in front of his girl, shielding her as if their credibility depended on it. I smile at the girl below me, better to acknowledge the situation. I pull an arm out to turn up my headphones.

The L train is that girl you have known a long time. When you first met them you were struck by how cool and hot they were, but after you hung out a lot you  are quickly irritated about the small quirks, the haze of familiarity. You box this girl up and subconsciously slap a label on her. We all do it.

But then you have some time apart and it feels like you haven’t seen her in years. All of a sudden you watch yourself trying to play it cool, wondering why you hadn’t noticed how great she was before, where had she been hiding this beauty. It’s when the mundane starts to creep in, the routine of a commute  – that’s when it will spring something on you, a wave of eye-tingling intrigue reassures you that this is still unique. A sparked conversation will inject some energy, reaffirming your original faith. Sure, it’s just another subway most of the time, but now and then it’s a zoo of urban expression: a bargain at only $2.50 a ticket. Unless you have to rely on it for a regular commute – in that case, you’re screwed.

It was only one stop to First Avenue, less than ten minutes; I pulled out my phone as I came up out of the Subway.

< JenniferEW@gmail.com>

Hi dear,

Was so nice to receive the video for my birthday. I don’t know about some of the shots but it was certainly fun. I showed it to Debbie and she though it was amazing; She said the song was very appropriate. She is taking me out for dinner tonight which is very nice.

Thinking of you

Love Mum

I had sent her a video montage made up entirely of shots where she is smiling, laughing and one of her dancing that I chopped up and messed with. It was all set to the hip hop track ‘All I Do is Win’. She deserved to win.

There was over an hour to kill before I was meeting Victor at the studio, I walked the long way to a cheap breakfast spot, watching Alphabet City slowly awaken. The city was very slowly defrosting, the sound of ice crunching and melting, giving off steam.

“He rents out this studio for a day, pretends he owns it, indulges his own fantasy along with that of young girls and struggle rappers.”

I’d told him that I needed cash in full after the session, made him say it on the phone before I committed. Now and then I got a bit of work from Victor; he rents out this studio for a day, pretends he owns it, indulges his own fantasy along with that of young girls and struggle rappers.

He brings me in because I don’t charge as much as the established producers, producers that have the principle not to touch this bullshit work, let alone spend the time chasing the payment for it. ‘Charge’ implies that I typically get paid; normally he tries to put me off for weeks, offering me crappy drugs at a ‘discount’,

“Look, you know what this is worth when you sell it, I’m doing you a favor”. Once or twice I actually took him up on it, when I had abandoned the idea of getting any real money from him. Coke that’s more jaw clenching than numbing, bags of this and that under the catch all of ‘Molly’. This time I made him promise cash on delivery, whatever whack tune it was that I’d be working on.

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