The following is a piece of flash fiction depicting the death of Jack Haringa. Why? I’ll let Brian explain.
JACK CATCHES THE A TRAIN
Jack said his goodbyes and walked out of the bar as the clock struck 10. The heady mix of fine liquor and a good night of prose and poetry readings put a smile on his lips and a stumble in his step, but he looked dapper as always in his pressed jacket and favorite tie. He hated to leave so early, especially with so many of his friends taking the mic, but he promised his wife he’d make it home at a reasonable hour this time.
They had different definitions of “reasonable hour,” but if he caught the A train he’d be home by 10:30, a good middle ground that would likely let him avoid the worst of her ire. The subway station was right around the corner, and a glance at the clock after he descended to the platform assured him he had time to spare.
The sparse crowd surprised him. He wondered if perhaps the smart ones were all still at the bars and nightclubs, leaving him with the workaholics headed home late and the lightweights bailing early. In fact, after the recent arrivals climbed to the street, Jack was left with only two other travelers.
The first leaned against a column only six feet or so to Jack’s left. He looked tired and weary as he read the newspaper. His tie was missing from his open collar and his blazer hung over his right forearm.
The second man wore a long, threadbare overcoat with the collar turned up high. He stood halfway down the platform from Jack, but even from that distance Jack could see the shiny beads of sweat trickling down the man’s temple and brow. His head twitched twice in the few seconds Jack observed him, and he held his head low as he mumbled to himself.
The twitchy man caught Jack’s eye. “What, you want to propose or something?” he shouted.
Jack flinched as the man’s voice echoed around the platform. The weary man sighed heavily.
“Sorry,” Jack said. “I wasn’t staring, just looking around.”
“You don’t fool me! I know exactly what you are!” Twitchy stomped down to the other side of the platform and sat down on one of the rubber-coated benches near the wall. He drew his knees up to his chest, closed his coat around them, and dropped his head down so his collar concealed his face.
“What the hell was that all about?” Jack asked Weary.
Weary glanced sideways at Jack, then turned the page of his newspaper and snapped it back open hard.
Must have had a rough day, Jack thought. His eyes drifted to the front page headline: “Homicide not ruled out in subway accidents.” The picture showed the side of a subway car streaked with red. Jack recognized it from the news two nights ago, when a man fell in front of the train and became wedged between the train and the platform. The man didn’t die until the authorities pried the train away and inadvertently released his guts to spill out all over the tracks.
“Excuse me,” Jack said to Weary. “Did you read the subway piece?”
“Do they have a suspect?”
The A train rumbled around the curve toward the platform. Jack raised his voice.
“Do they have a description?”
The man lowered his paper. “A vague one… Why?”
Jack turned back toward Twitchy. “Oh, just thinking worst case, I guess.”
The light on the front of the train shone across the platform.
“Don’t worry,” Weary said. “He ain’t the guy.”
“How do you know?”
“He doesn’t look a thing like me.”
Jack felt the shove, and then he was flying through the air. The last thing he saw were the tracks rising up to greet him.
The train got to him first.