There was an old man with long silky stright white hair on the elevator in the 42 st station. I stood back to let him get out and he shook his head no. He was clearly indigent. He was dressed in a hospital gown. I recoiled at first and then entered the tiny dirty metal cage with him. And he spoke. He said,
“It is much warmer in here.”
I noticed his bare scabbed feet were in those disposable paper hospital slippers. It was 16 degrees outside. No doubt he had been brought to the hospital and treated there for the ailments of his age and homelessness. He did not have the rank cloud of odor that clings to the perennially homeless. Perhaps they also bathed him there.
Upon my exit I wished him a good day and he returned my salutation.
Where were his familiars?
While I am on the train home, my mother emails me.
I am not well, she writes.
I call her from the railroad car, and she is fine, really.
“It is just damp.” she states.
“I am rotting.” she continues.
We chuckle at this. And she rattles on and on, as I try to end the call rather than incite the wrath of my fellow commuters.
(my extremely firmly coiffed row neighbor has moved seats in a bristly huff)
I say,” I just wanted to call and make sure you are ok,” and she says,
“Yes, I’m fine. I don’t plan to linger its not my style. I am just going to go pop and be gone. Don’t worry though. I will still haunt you. “