What the Night Might Bring
Debbie picked the pepperoni slices off her slice of pizza. She wasn’t in the mood to imbibe beer or crack jokes. Like Whitey Ford, her “Mural Man” struck her out. She wasted her time pinch hitting for a dream lover. Aunt Sophie won’t be nudging Jodie, because her sister made the big league. Since the up and coming Mark Cohen was leaving the Bronx for the Gold Coast along Central Park West, Debbie watched Jodie divert her attention away from Michael, knowing that her sister would prefer to marry a man of means under a canopy of white roses and orchids. Elaine inadvertently played the matchmaker by having Mark’s baby and Jodie having the luck to meet the baby’s father.
Elaine was all lovey-dovey after Michael explained the mystery behind Jodie’s phone numbers. Peace prevailed over another round of Rheingold beer.
Debbie couldn’t watch the two jovial couples enjoy a Saturday night get-together. It was after ten, and she wanted to go home. Her sister begged her to stay over, but Debbie refused. She left the apartment for the IND Sixth Avenue Subway at West 4th Street and the long trip back to the Bronx.
On the middle of the platform, Debbie leaned against the pillar, staring into the blackened tunnel. A violinist played “Santa Lucia,” and a well-dressed man and woman began to dance. When the song ended, the dapper gentleman placed a quarter in the tin cup.
The violinist tipped his hat and asked, “Any requests? The night sings ‘amore’ for you and the bellissima signorina. How about Grazie Dei Fior?”
When the song ended, the man placed two more quarters in the cup. After a brief exchange of gratitude, the couple proceeded to the wooden bench where they sat and held hands. The gentleman kissed his lady friend on the cheek.
Debbie’s eyes turned away. Groups of laughing lovers passed by, enjoying a Saturday night in the city. Between the laughter and music, Debbie’s head began to throb and the pillar’s cold steel gave her little support. Her eyes accidentally made contact with the violinist and his eyes made her feel uneasy.
“Signorina, why do you look so angry on such a beautiful night. May I play a song to cheer you up?”
“No thanks. My mood is none of your business!”
“Signorina, please don’t leave with anger in your heart. You’ll never know what the night might bring. How about a sonata from Béla Bartók?”
His bow swiftly moved across the strings, but his delicate touch turned edgy. He applied pressure to his instrument’s neck as his chin pressed harder on the chinrest’s rounded curve. The music grew louder, more menacing.
Debbie excused herself and hurried down to the most desolate part of the platform, leaving the violinist to entertain the smiling couple on the bench. The breeze of the approaching Bronx-bound D train blew her hair haphazardly over her face. She heard its roar rise a few irritating octaves, drowning out the violinist’s sonata. The first three cars appeared empty. When drab green door to the second car opened, she ran to a wicker seat by the window. She was alone, except for a sleeping elderly porter. Although the train was going express, the speed seemed unusually slow.
At Columbus Circle, three men boarded. One of the men, a husky guy with spiked red hair, yelled at Debbie, “Hey girlie, why the glum look? Did your boyfriend dump you for another broad? C’mon, gimme a smile!”
Debbie was too afraid to answer back. Since the ruffians were seated by the door to the third car, they would follow her into first car. She would have to push past them to escape to a more populated car. Her only solution would be to pull the lever at the other end of the car, but when she got up, the thug who spoke to her pushed her back into her seat. Before she could scream, he punched her in the mouth, bruising her lips and breaking her two front teeth.
One of his buddies shoved his glove into her bleeding mouth and firmly placed his hand to suppress her from retaliation. The other tore the buttons off her coat and groped her. They both threw her on the floor and held her down as the burly one ripped off her garter belt and panties. Fists repeatedly pounded her face, chest, and stomach until Debbie no longer screamed or kicked.
The incident was happening too fast for the porter. He was too old to defend a helpless woman, as well as himself. However, he could pull the lever and stop the train and the men from doing more harm.
Just as his hand was reaching for the lever, a fist slammed him in the stomach. The men reiterated threats and racial epithets. After a few minutes, the assailants exited, running through two empty cars, distancing themselves from the damage they left behind.
The porter hobbled over to Debbie. A pool of blood outlined her upper body. He couldn’t tell whether she was dead or alive. Before the train entered 125th Street, he pulled the lever and the train came to a halt.
Patricia Carragon’s latest books are The Cupcake Chronicles (Poets Wear Prada, 2017) and Innocence (Finishing Line Press, 2017). Patricia hosts the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology. She is an active member of brevitas, as well as the PEN Women’s Literary Workshop, Women Writers in Bloom, and Tamarind. She is an executive editor for Home Planet News Online.