Short story by Christopher Kelly:
The Richmond via Parramatta express was 37 seconds late on its schedule, as usual. And confined within the insidiously spacious tube were people, decidedly unfazed by the idea that this Monday morning screams De Ja Vu. Some slumped against the large windows, hoping to “accidentally” sleep past their intended destination, others crammed their heads with remedying melodies, and a select few escaped inside the world of a book.
Simon Harper was one of yet another select few who wished to find comfort in the window. Buildings that looked older than any of the onboard passengers skipped by; but Simon wasn’t looking at that. He was witnessing an hilarious sketch.
A fly skimmed along the hair stained window of the carriage, desperately wondering why cannot pass through the invisible barrier. Then, as the fly realised he couldn’t escape, it decided to land on a waxed out hairdo, of which the middle aged wannabe in front of Simon, had.
And as the fly came to a rest, so too did the train. Simon looked out the left side window. Lidcombe, he thought. A shuffle of passengers ensued, and as he tried to get comfortable, some guy sat on his hand.
“Oh, sorry,” said the good looking gentlemen that Simon a finally eyed.
“That’s ok, it’s not the first time my hand has-” Simon stopped. That was awkward. Simon unfortunately always gets awkward around good looking guys. And the good looking guy eventually indicated that he knew it too. That smile. But fortunately for Simon, the good looking guy had a sense of humour.
“Yeah, it’s not the first time my butt has been touched by a guys hand either”
If Simon’s eyes were not awake, they were now. They widened just a touch. And if it wasn’t for the damn air conditioner set to 5 degrees, the good looking guy would have seen Simon blush.
“Um… sorry.” Simon tried to regain his composure, which was just as awkward as the fly STILL perched on the guy’s head in front. The great unwashed, as he once heard in some other place and time.
The good looking guy laughed through his nose, and in the process his chest bounced like the silly little girl’s legs, sitting in the row opposite, who thought short shorts and a tank top were a fashion in winter.
“Don’t be sorry,” said the good looking guy. He paused, then proceeded to take off his sunglasses. “I’m Victor,” he noted, extending his hand towards Simon.
Simon grasped it hesitantly. “I’m Simon.”
“Nice to meet you, Simon. Where are you off to today?”
“Uni. Have class at nine thirty,” said Simon, slightly wondering how Victor could be so cheery on a Monday. “You off to work?”
“Yeah, last day working behind a desk,” Said Victor, pausing to smile, perhaps reminisce. “I work as an accountant, soon to be journalist.”
The open train yard between Lidcombe and Auburn caught Simon’s gaze for a second, though he was still listening. They reminded him of his elaborate train his dad helped put together years ago. He smiled, and fell into frivolous thoughts. But they were swiftly broken when Victor spoke up.
“So what do you do at uni?” He asked, noticing Simon’s lost gaze.
“Oh, am studying a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Media,” he said, stealing himself away from the open field of steel tracks and idle trains.
“Oh nice, is it exciting?” Victor asked, content that he doesn’t have to fall into the pits of his smartphone as he usually does on every other day he catches public transport.
“Yeah, it is, today I have mediated mobilities. This week we are learning about social media. Mostly about how social media controls what we see, and how we find meaning.”
Simon shuffled in his chair to get comfortable again, and while leaning forward, the fly on the guy’s head (finally!) flew away. Unfortunately it wasn’t anywhere meaningful, at least to us humans, but to a fly, perhaps bouncing around on the hair stained window is the very idea of meaningful. The train sped past Auburn.
Victor was impressed by Simon’s thoughts, and less impressed by the fly which he also saw attempting the impossible feat of going through a window like a ghost. Each bounce defeating the purpose, but the fly seemed unperturbed.
“It does control what we see, that is definitely true,” Victor agreed.
“But I don’t think it controls how we find meaning,” Simon said, with a hint of passion that Victor noticed.
“How so?” Victor asked.
“Have you ever had an argument with a fundamental religious person on Facebook? It’s like throwing stones at a wall. We all think differently. Facebook can only show what we see, from there; we can either like it or comment on it. I can share a meme that I find hilarious, and someone may comment saying it’s not that funny.”
Victor trailed a connection with his eyes over Simon’s impressive gestures and words, in a sense of awe. Not for the sake that it was a good argument, Victor knew that, but simply because Simon made an argument. Victor couldn’t help but take himself into the fact that Simon is perhaps the most noteworthy person he has ever met on public transport.
“I like your argument. I believe that we are not sheep among pigs, but we are free thinkers, and even though Facebook tells us what to think, it doesn’t control our lives.”
Simon smiled a little, both on the idea of being acknowledged, and on the idea that this guy isn’t boring to talk to. He could almost see himself and Victor spending hours discussing random ideologies that the world exhibits.
“So you have read animal farm?” Said Simon, as he proceeded to lose himself in a trance within the coral textures of Victor’s left eye. He couldn’t help but notice how they blended skilfully with his Eastern European facial features.
“George Orwell? I did when I was in high school for English class. I did enjoy it.” Victor paused to look out the window, but not to lose himself in thought. “This is my stop.”
Simon looked out and saw Clyde fly by. “Granville?” He asked.
“Well I change here to go to Liverpool. Thank god my work is just across the road from the station.” Victor pulled out the sunnies from his inside breast pocket of the fine gravel coloured jacket he wore and slipped them over his head, then placed out his hand towards Simon. “It was nice meeting you,” said Victor.
Simon collected Victor’s hand in his own, and caught one more glance of his stunning coral eyes. “Same with you, Victor,” he said.
Victor shot a pleasing smile to anyone who desired to notice, then lifted himself out of the chair. The train squealed in defiance while it came to a stop at Granville, then the doors beamed open. And during this, Victor walked up the carriage stairs to the vestibule and out to the fresh morning air that Granville had to offer. The fly swiftly drew away from the window and seemingly followed after Victor, or perhaps following the trail of fresh air. Simon stared on, taking in some other stunning features of Victor, then silently screamed a thought in his mind: Fuck! I didn’t get his phone number!
IMAGE: txmx 2