I finished my story and read it in front of a live audience a few nights ago. Here is the revised and final version. You can see the draft here.
BART is crazy. You get on and there’s a guy with a knife frantically cutting up his backpack — with a knife, a short thick one like scuba divers use. You escape to the next car and find yourself seated next to a woman with no pants on! Just a top, with a long jacket is all she is wearing. You decide you had better strike up conversation with the crazy. You don’t want to anger her by leaving as soon as you get there. So you say hello, hoping she ain’t as crazy as you think she is. Maybe if you treat her like normal, she’ll act like normal. She asks if you have a cell phone she can borrow. Aww hell naw! If I give her my phone she may run off with it. I lie and say I don’t have one. She looks at me suspiciously, eyes narrowing. Aw shit, I’ve made her mad. “You must not have kids,” she says. “Cos if you did, you’d have a cell phone.” I lie some more and say I left it at home and only use it for emergencies anyway. That last part is true. The knife guy in the other car could be an emergency. Hell, this lady might be one too. You know what would be a real emergency? Being stuck on BART with no phone when shit goes down, and you just know shit’s gonna go down when you’re on BART.
Uhh, what is that guy doing, the one who just came from the knife car into ours? He is going straight for the red emergency button. Did knife guy do something even more bizarre than bring that knife out into the open on the train? New guy goes straight for the red emergency button. Is he going to make the train come to a halt like it does when you pull the emergency cord in New York City’s subway trains? If yes, that’s not too bright, because then we will all be stuck in an immobile train with knife guy.
Aw hell. I don’t believe what I’m hearing. New guy, who looks like he is as high as a kite, is asking the train operator for a band aid because he cut his finger. What kind of lunatic cargo is BART carrying this morning? Well, at least pulling the cord didn’t make the train come to a standstill.
Pantless wonder is still talking next to me. “I was in Russia. Got jacked every day. It’s worse there than here,” she says. Uh huh. Now I’m thinking, lady, why don’t you just get off this train already?
The train is pulling into a station. I look out. Fruitvale. I was planning to get off at the next stop and wait for another train. But Fruitvale? No thank you. I ain’t getting off here. A new set of crazies get on. One just plopped herself right down on the floor next to me, as if it’s a regular seat. Maybe I should have gotten off at Fruitvale afterall cos now that girl on the floor is starting to twitch and jerk like she’s crazy. Pantless wonder leans over. “She’s having a seizure,” she says. “Move over. I know what to do. I used to have them too.” “Lady,” I say. “This better not be more of your bullshit.” I yell for someone to pull the cord and let the train operator know we have an emergency. People are starting to stare at the girl and at my pantless lady. Aw jesus. I hope she didn’t come on the train without her underwear. She loosens the girl’s blouse and tells the people standing nearby to move over and give her room. I think she truly knows what she is doing. The girl is slowing down, thrashing about less. After a little while, she stops twitching. My pantless lady looks up at me and smiles. “Don’t think I didn’t see you pull out that phone just now,” she says. I respond, “I told you, I only use it only for emergencies.” “Well there’s gonna be another emergency if you don’t lend it to me now,” she threatens. Aw hell. I hand it to her.