The Name for Patience is Solitaire

Three of them — two men, one woman, all young — the youngest perhaps nineteen or twenty and the oldest somewhat under thirty. They span the little terminal, in view of both doors and each other at all times. They make eye contact only casually, fleetingly, or in passing, as though merely curious about the title of the books they’re reading, or drawn to an unexpected chuckle or bark of derision. The men wear headphones; the woman does not.

The young man sits by the entrance, thrashing his head to the music leaking out of his ear buds. He’s reading a battered student copy of the Communist Manifesto and making sarcastic notes in the margins. Whatever he’s listening to has a lot of drums.

The woman is leaning back against the tiled hallway next to the restroom. She’s folded her paperback in half, but the back cover is lurid – a romance or fantasy novel. She smiles to herself often, or grins cheekily at the other passengers waiting for the train. I know this is cheesy, she seems to say, and you know it’s cheesy, but we’re in this together, aren’t we?

Nothing escapes the large discs covering the older man’s ears. They might not even be on. He waits at the exit onto the platform. He leans over his book, Perec’s Things, hands throttled around it, eyes flicking hungrily over the pages. Voices murmur in his ears, male and female, and the black sexless weight of the gun presses into his side.