Vapid condescension, a cloud of perfume, the stink of layered foundation, a dog in a wig.

She is perfect for where she is, in Manhattan on a Brooklyn bound L train. All eyes on her. Not that there is an expectation of violence or outburst of insanity, just that she is loud and squeaky and in being herself she is a show. Entertainment. Something to gawk and wonder at the how and why of.

She is a tiny woman, maybe 90 pounds and this flat open bench on the L is perfect for her to squeeze down between the man in a panda t-shirt and the woman wearing a seasonally appropriate sweatshirt.

She found the sweatshirt in one of those sidewalk vendor’s cardboard boxes. It was red. She likes red. It said Brooklyn. She lives in Brooklyn. So she bought it for five bucks and has worn it pretty much everyday this winter.

She is heading home to Brownsville and she is not pleased. She has to deal. With this shit. Everyday.

It’s the infection that is Williamsburg.

Bratty kids with no jobs who for some reason need emotional assist animals.

She works the front desk at the U.S. veteran affairs office on Houston.

It’s good to have a job, but fuck the commute.

And now on her way home she has to deal with Miss Look at my tats on a forty degree day with her stupid little dog she shouldn’t have out on the train in the first place.

“You should have that animal in a carrier.” she says tilting her head back and talking as if the woman were simple.

“Oh Mr. Snuggles isn’t going to hurt anyone, are you Mr. Snuggles.”

“Mr. Snuggles might not, but you never know when someone else might take a stab at it.”

It’s with the word stab she puts the greatest emphasis.

And the little woman with the tats looks down at the Brooklyn sweatshirt for the first time. She swallows deeply.

Fear and uncertainty cross over her face.

Maybe a little confusion.

She has charms. People generally treat her like she is the grand-prize at a carnival booth. She doesn’t like promised violence. Who does?

The train stops at Second and she jumps off dragging Mr. Snuggle behind her.

The woman in the red sweatshirt watches her through the window as the train continues East. She gives the tatted up woman a middle finger wave goodbye.

She turns around and finds a private place to put her eyes and tries not to think about when the train stops in her neighborhood or tonight or tomorrow.

The car settles into a kind of relief as if a show meant for babies has been turned off and a blissful silence remains.

Published by Bryan Aiello

Raised on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Bryan served in the Army, graduated from the University of South Florida and now calls Brooklyn home. For more of his fiction and updates on his podcasts, follow him on Twitter: @bryaiello and Reddit: /u/voyage_of_roadkill.

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