Monday, January 24, 2011

Subway Mystic

I was new to NYC, but already aware how rare it was to find a seat on the subway. One day I was delighted to get on and find several seats! I failed to notice the wide berth people were giving them. I paid no attention to the empty paper bag on the seat beside me, thinking it was just garbage that somebody left behind. Then I heard a kind of chanting. The crowd parted and grizzled old man in grimy clothes appeared. Droning his chant he began lighting matched and tossing them, still lit, in the bag beside me.

The thing about deranged people is you have to be careful about moves you make around them. When the ‘mystic’ on the subway car began tossing lighted matches into a paper bag on the seat beside me, I sat frozen, not wanting to draw attention to myself. I breathed a sigh of relief each time a match went out before disappearing into the depths of the bag. At the next subway stop I bolted for the door. Who knows what blessing he would have bestowed if he had become aware of my presence? Maybe I missed out on great fortune?

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