I was waiting for the N train. You were waiting for the K train. You asked somebody when the K train would be coming, but the person who you asked must not have spoken English, because he didn’t respond. He just stared at you for a while until you turned away. Somebody else overheard the conversation and informed you that there is no K train. You got defensive. You pulled out your cell phone and showed him a picture of a K train. You insisted that the K train does exist. The man looked puzzled. He eventually shrugged and walked away.
I went home that night and looked up “K Train” on Wikipedia. There was a K train, in the 1980s, but the service was discontinued in 1988. On the Wikipedia page, there was that same picture of the K train that you showed that guy in the subway. I couldn’t stop thinking about you. Were you from the past? Did you somehow wind up in the future, but underground, and you couldn’t figure out how to get back home?
Maybe you were a ghost. Maybe there’s a hidden meaning. But then I remembered that you had pulled out a cell phone, so you couldn’t be from the past, because cell phones didn’t exist yet. I mean, I think they existed, but nobody had them. And they were huge. And they didn’t have screens, definitely no high-resolution screens for showing pictures and stuff. Those didn’t come out until like 2005. And you probably weren’t a ghost, because, while I’m not discounting the existence of ghosts, it’s just that I’ve never heard of a ghost with a cell phone.
If you’re a ghost, is your cell phone a ghost too? Is it a ghost phone? If I asked you to borrow it to make a call, and you said yes, and you handed it to me, and if indeed you were a ghost, would the phone make contact with my hands or would it just pass through me, like I’d expect a ghost phone would? And if it passed through my hands, would it pass through the ground also? And then I’d be really spooked, I’d realize that you were a ghost. If I looked up, would you still be there? Because that’s when I’d imagine you’d probably vanish. It’s always right when the person figures out that the other person is a ghost that the ghost vanishes, and then the person who got spooked gets chills up their spine. I think I just spooked myself a little.
But now that I’m thinking about it even more, why did you pull your phone out underground anyway? What, did you have that picture of the K train preloaded, ready to go? Like you looked it up on the Internet while you were above ground, and you saved it to your phone in case you had to prove to some stranger the existence of some non-existent train?
I wish that you had asked me when the K train was coming. I’d have had so many questions. Well, that’s what I think anyway. I’m saying this all with the benefit of hindsight. How many times do you find yourself in situations where you’re simply at a loss for words? And only after the fact, like much later do you say to yourself that I should have said this or I should have asked that. Maybe if you had asked me about the K train I would have been so stumped that I would have just stared at you like the first guy.
And the more I’m thinking about it, that’s exactly what would have happened. It’s like, I could have approached you and said, “What are you talking about lady?” but I didn’t. Again, I don’t know if this was because I couldn’t think of anything to say, or because when I’m riding the subway, I’m just locked in my own world, somewhat aware of what’s going on around me, but really very conditioned to try to at least pretend to ignore it, like I’m a statue, or a robot. Yeah, a robot, because statues don’t move.
I was waiting for the N train. You were standing there confused, helpless. The N train came and I got on. The doors closed and I looked at you through the windows. You turned around and we made eye contact. I could feel something, a connection, a missed connection. I put my hand to the glass. You maintained the eye contact. Then some guy walked by and bumped into your shoulder, and you stumbled just a little, not too much, it wasn’t that strong of a bump. And so I figured, yup, definitely not a ghost. Unless that guy was a ghost also. Ghosts can make physical contact with other ghosts, right?