Thursday, February 28, 2013


            It smelled terrible on the train. Jefferson couldn’t believe how rank it was. It almost made his eyes tear up. It smelled of body odor and something like mildew growing on an old couch left on the curb, in the rain. There was also the smell of hot, wet, cat in the air. It made Jefferson feel a little dizzy. The train was crowded so he didn’t have much of a choice of where to stand. He was sure everyone else, all the business women in their fine outfits and men in their classy suit could smell this stench and they were all doing what he was doing. Hating it but trying to ignore it.

            Jefferson tried to concentrate on the music playing in his headphones but every time the train stopped and the doors opened; a backdraft of horrendous odor would be reinvigorated and swirl up his nostrils and tickle the gag reflex in his throat. He looked around for the culprit. He wanted to know who the offender with the offending odor was. It was something he had to solve.

            He started scanning the people around him and no one looked particularly dirty or unkempt. All the riders seemed to be just regular business folks or students just riding the train like normal. No one seemed the have been bathed in feces or urine and then rolled around in hot garbage. Everyone seemed clean.

            A woman covered her face near Jefferson and seemed to make an, “oh my”, face, as she caught a terrible whiff of the stink wafting through the crowded train car. Jefferson had a clue. It must be someone near the woman for her to make cower with disgust. He looked passed where she was standing but was only met with a hard stare from a tough looking Hispanic guy. The Hispanic guy looked clean though so it probably wasn’t him. Jefferson looked past him, trying not to make any eye contact. He certainly didn’t want any trouble this morning. He had a lot of appointments to make and the last thing he needed was to get embroiled in some roughhousing with this stern looking Hispanic guy.

            The train came to another stop and the doors opened, re-activating that terrible rotting corpse smell. The people on the train were becoming noticeably uncomfortable. A woman got on at this stop and she caught the awful scent and tried to turn around but the doors closed in front of her. She exhaled audibly. Jefferson thought he should welcome her to this nightmarish stink-a-thon with something clever, like, “Hot enough for you?” or “You should have smelled the other guy”, but then decided against it. He wasn’t really interested in talking to this lady anyway. He had plenty of woman problems as it was.

            The young woman, this new rider, took a small perfume spray bottle and asked the folks around her if they minded if she sprayed it into the air. No one told her she couldn’t so she gave the bottle a few quick puffs and a remarkable mist smelling of warm chamomile and lilacs gently wafted through the train. Jefferson thought it was a remarkable perfume, it smelled clean and fresh, like talcum and honey. Jefferson smiled to himself.

“What are you smiling at”, asked the angry Hispanic man.
“Huh”, said Jefferson, pointing to himself.
“Yeah man, you frigging stink man. Get off this train man. You stink so bad man. Did you get those clothes off a corpse or something man”, said the angry Hispanic man.

            Jefferson tried to pull his headphones off. Then realized he actually wasn’t wearing any headphones. The music was just in his head. He looked down and saw his jacket was in tatters and his shoes were mismatched. His pants were so stiff with his own filth that they could practically stand up on their own.

“Don’t say that to him”, said the young woman with the sweet perfume.
“Shut up lady. This guy stinks and nobody wants him on this train. You hear that man, get off this train”, said the angry Hispanic man.
‘Don’t tell me to shut up you jerk. You get off the train if you can’t handle it”, she replied.

            Jefferson felt his eyes well up with tears and his vision got a little blurry. He looked down again at the floor of the train and tried to remember how he got there. He didn’t remember boarding the train at all.  The young woman with the perfume reached over to Jefferson and she tapped him on the arm.

“Are you okay”, she asked.

            Jefferson wanted to thank her for her kindness, he wanted to tell her she was pretty and she smelled like what a beautiful woman is supposed to smell like. Instead he started rambling with nervous anxiety.

“The Germans took my ship from the electrified field scanner with the blue rune stone”, said Jefferson.

            She looked at him but she didn’t understand. Jefferson could see that she didn’t understand. She nodded at him and asked if he needed anything. All Jefferson could do was shake his head no. The train pulled into the next station and the angry Hispanic guy started telling Jefferson to get off. Jefferson didn’t want any trouble. He moved from his spot on the train to the doors next to the perfumed woman. He looked at her but couldn’t find the words to express himself. The doors opened and Jefferson stepped from the train onto the platform. The doors closed after him and he turned back to look through the window. Someone was congratulating the angry Hispanic man for something. The perfume woman was moving away from him to another side of the train car. The train pulled away and Jefferson wondered where he was and how he got there. 

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