Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York
Reading on the L train as it rocketed underneath the East River in the early morning remains of Saturday night / Sunday morning. The worn, bleach blond haired woman with the gypsy face and buxom figure sitting across from me suddenly began laughing, holding her pink fake nails over her mouth as I looked up from my book. She smiled at me shaking her head as she put her hand down, flashing her eyes toward the other passengers, then laughing again she returned her playful gaze to me. I looked around the somber, morgue like train, searching under the stale fluorescent light for the source of her laughter. Heavy heads with ashen faces nodded against their own weight as the train screeched and burrowed its through the underground. She got up and came and sat down next to me, holding her hand out, smiling. I thought that she wanted to introduce herself as she leaned up against me, but she was pointing at my book that I held open in my lap. "You reading," she said with a strong Eastern European accent, still smiling, trying to keep from laughing. "Look," she said turning toward the dead-to-the-world-passengers who looked as though they were being ferried across the River Styx to the underworld. "They drinking. Es crazy, no? Look what they do. And you reading, smiling. Strange. No?" No. Surreal, I thought as I looked around, that I'd be beaming, reading Andrei Cordescu, oblivious that I was on my way to the fifth circle of hell.