Tapping her well-manicured fingernails on her expensive black skirt, the woman in the powder blue blouse and vest held her other hand back and the source of the music only she could hear and the wires that delivered it to her ears were invisible.
Every full PATH car has at least one beautiful woman on it. She's usually surrounded by so many sleepy people - men and women, night and day - that her countenance is unnoticed. But sometimes you can spot her.
This morning, this woman stood in full view & I could see had no wrinkles in her clothes or skin. A brief glance revealed a perfect young face framed in perfect brown hair.
The young man standing to my right was staring at and through her. He was amazed at his lot in life this morning on the Newark PATH to Jersey City and beyond.
She, meanwhile had perfected the invisible stare that all beautiful young women must master (or be overcome by their own beauty) and she tapped her fingers against her rich black skirt listening to music that must have made her happy way down yonder in her soul.
I fumbled with my free paper, squished my AM New York into my backpack and retrieved the tattered and battered old Walkman.
I tried to juggle and jiggle the antique CD player and the mismatched earphones from some long ago trashed player.
Spinning around there the Marty Robbins Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs wailed and gurgled in one ear or the other then blasted in both ears before cutting out all together.
With each bump in the rickety PATH rail the music popped, chopped and crackled in my head.
Stereo sound strained out of my earpieces if I tilted my head & looked off into the distance like someone sitting for a senior high school yearbook picture.
The noises I heard were not comforting the savage breast, but most irritating.
It took me back to long ago when vinyl record albums skipped - instant headache - & the only earphones you could get were huge and made you look like a pilot on Twelve O'Clock High.
Twitching with the odd sounds in my head - a woman off to our side held a nonstop chat at the door facing off into the spacious mews oblivious of all around her cringing on each word like fingernails dragged across a blackboard.
The beautiful young woman before me traveled through the meadows with all of us but you could see she was alone somewhere swell as the music played through her head.
A blast in my head said, "I caught a good one it looked like it could run ..."
And I saw before me a young woman whose beauty could start a war, who could make a bishop punch his fist through a stained glass window.
Her blue shoes seemed like sneakers but anyone who spent what she did on the rest of her fine clothes would never wear SNEAKERS you know.
Anyway her shoes had a blue cloth cover and no backs so they looked like a hybrid sandal tennis shoe when I knew I’d seen something like that on the incredible shoe show on late night TV when they sold Birkenstock shoes as if they were the latest thing.
Those shoes were around 30 years ago. I think I read about them in a novel called Housewife that was written back in the 70s. It’s about a woman who is less than satisfied with her weight and her husband. But when I read it a while back, I saw that it mentioned Birkenstocks and I thought that everything old is new again.
"Aloha, pretty girl," I wanted to say, “do you ever weary of the weight of your beauty?” But, alas, Exchange Place flashed in the dirty windows. Every man & woman for himself as we melded towards the escalator.
Up she walked ahead. She was much shorter now that I was standing too.
A skinny man with lint on his pants' butt walked ahead and between us as we scaled the moving stairs.
At the top I went north and she went south to the place where forgotten names, memories and faces go.
Copyright © 2005 by Anthony Buccino, all rights reserved. Content may not be used for commercial purposes without written permission.
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Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs
Twin-Music Lyrics - El Paso
Bob Dylan - Desire
Romance In Durango
Twelve O'Clock High
AM New York