Several months ago, I was riding BART home from work when a man seated in front of me turned around and demanded to know our next stop.

He was an oafish 30-something with a glossy forehead and big, broad cheeks.  Three of his shirt buttons were undone and there was no undershirt to hide the pink of his chest. He wore the flashed stare of the victim of a lightening strike.

“Civic Center,” I said.

He wiped his brow and rotated his body so that we were now facing each other. “Because I need to get out at Mission and 16th. I’ve got to get out of this place.”

I nodded and smiled, as if I heard this all the time from strangers on a subway.

He leaned in closer without lowering his voice. “I just walked in on my wife fucking another man. Walked into the bedroom, and there they were. You know,” he said, not even pausing to blink, “I’ve been with her for five years, married three.”

I interjected to apologize and told him that sounded awful.

“I left. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t get a damn word out. I just stood there for a second and yelled. She hid beneath the covers of our- of our bed.”

I reiterated that this sounded like a terrible thing.

“I’m going to live in Tom’s place. That’s the only thing I can do. I have to go to Tom’s.” By now he wasn’t watching me at all. He was staring at an ad for Disney Radio as if it had just shot his mother.

“Your stop,” I said, as I watched him stagger up, dizzy with shock. I didn’t know what to follow that with, so I said, “Good luck.”

His gaze shot back to me. “Ha! Haha!” He shook his head, gave me a dismissive wave, lurched off the train, and stood as passengers ducked around him to get to the escalators.   If they noticed him at all, it was as another obstruction on their way home to other secrets buried in the decency of routine.

“Adultery” by Little Comets
 

 

 

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