Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

THE ICE KING THAWS
As I stood at the light rail station listening to Mr. C beg me, yet again, to call him so we could hang out, I noticed the transit Ice King smiling slightly as he overheard our interaction. The Ice King and I have been on the same train schedule for several months now, and this was the first time I had seen any kind of emotion cross his face.
The Ice King has the commute down to a science. He has the generic appearance of a Junior High school principal, with a full head of salt-and-pepper hair, cropped short and parted on the side. His nose is large, and years of boredom have etched deep lines in his face. He wears a well-pressed but cheap button-down shirt, generic cotton slacks and worn but worthwhile loafers.
As soon as he boards the train he wraps his jacket around his shoulders and leans back against the window, stretching his body sideways across the seat, and places his backpack on the remaining space next to him. Even though its still slightly dark in the morning, he puts on his mirrored sunglasses, crosses his arms in his lap, drops his chin to his chest and pretends to be asleep. Nobody ever sits next to him, he never speaks to other commuters. No. He lets everyone know that this is his alone time.
I’ve figured out that he’s not actually sleeping, but he’s checking out what’s going on around him. I get the feeling that he’s only interested in getting where he’s going, and probably leads an incredibly boring, miserable life. I try not to sit near him if I don’t have to—I’m a little intimidated by him and feel awkward knowing he’s purposely ignoring all of us.
But this day I was forced to sit across the aisle from him. He assumed his position and I began fiddling in my backpack, searching for a book or anything to read. I had nothing, and finally sat back to endure the ride. Then the unthinkable happened. He spoke to me.
“I see you on the train all the time,” he said.
Me being me, I responded with a completely unnecessary rant about Mr. C.
“Yeah, I buy tokens from that guy and now he kind of thinks I’m his girlfriend, and I try to be nice to him but sometimes I’m just a pansie.” Well that just sounded ridiculous.
“Where are you headed?” the Ice King asked.
“Yale. I work part-time for a non-profit out there.”
He asked if I was from here, and told me he was a computer geek. I was surprised that he had so much life in his speech and eyes, not at all the miserable man I had pegged him for. He halted our conversation momentarily and motioned for me to look out my window.
“Look at that sunrise. Those clouds are just incredible.”
Wow, I certainly hadn’t pegged him as the sentimental artistic type. But he was right. The rising sun had turned the low-lying clouds a deep red, which cast a pink glow over the city as we passed by.
“It’s beautiful,” I said.
We watched the sunrise together, and I felt strangely intimate, and proud, that I would be the one the Ice King would choose to break his silence with. The conversation ended there, but as I exited the train he wished me a good day, and said he’d see me again tomorrow…

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BACK TO THE GRIND
With the holidays behind me and having fully recovered from my television melt-down, it was time to leave my warm apartment and make my commute to the office. I find myself looking forward to the early morning walk, just as the sun is rising and casting a glow upon the towering buildings of the city. Sipping my coffee, listening to Simon and Garfunkel on my iPod, and strolling down 17th Avenue, I was feeling good.
The first leg of my journey is about ten blocks into the city itself, then I board the free mall shuttle for a few blocks to the light rail station. I’m never disappointed with the conversations going on. This morning, I overheard a gentleman, about my age, apparently on the phone with his grown son.
“What time’s your interview?” the man asked.
“I don’t want to tell you what to do or anything, but you might have a better chance of getting the job if you trim your hair a little bit.” He listened to his son’s response, which, judging from his face and answer was defiant. “I’m just saying. I know, but you have to understand that employers are going to judge you on your first impression.”
The son continued to protest, and the father went on to explain that although he knew what a great person his son was, strangers at the interview had no idea how brilliant and personable the boy was. Frustrated, the father hung up after telling his son good luck and that he loved him. I caught the lady next to me smiling like myself, both of us knew exactly what the father was going through.
Mr. C was waiting for me at the light rail station. He had no tokens to sell, but he had a gift for me. It was a leather pouch that hung around his neck, which he kept his phone and change in. I tried to decline the gift, but to no avail. I have come to realize that Mr. C might think I’m his girlfriend. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, except that every time I see him he’s on his way to report to his parole officer or off to a mental health appointment. My new year’s resolution is to be more firm with people like Mr. C. But today I just took his gift and said thank you.

January 5, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment