“You’re dead – you’re all dead.”
Scary words to hear as you’re sharing public transportation with strangers – but it didn’t have the intended impact because we all recognized the crazy voice of the homeless.
I turned to see what’s the fuss. It’s an old woman who just boarded the MAX Red Line on its way to the airport.
She’s heading towards us, still ranting. We’re all the way forward in the front car, she continues to approach. She is speaking directly to us.
I can’t believe my eyes. She’s a figment of my imagination, an apparition from my worst nightmare – her white hair, white shirt, her ancient face is covered in blood, her blood.
Is this a prank? Her blood is bright under the fluorescent lights, bright red. And the blood on her face looks so symmetrical. How could that happen? Then I see the wound, her nose, up high, something hit her hard, and square. But could a broken nose yield all this blood? And there are no pranks at 6am on a Saturday on the Red Line.
This is real. What’s going on?
We’re up, out of our seats, moving in the same direction from where she came. She’s seated, we pass her and keep walking. There’s a line of us evacuating this car. The man in front of me steps to the left; he’s pushing a button, “We’ve got a problem back here.” The train isn’t departing. We wait.
Others are watching, everyone has turned their gaze, but I’m in an awkward position turned all the way around with my backpack in my lap. Everyone is watching, but me.
I’m disoriented, thinking the conductor who’s announcing the delay is to my right, so I’ll observe her walk by on her way to what I think is the last car. I’ll turn around to look then. But I guessed wrong, the conductor came from the left. So I never saw what happened. In just a few minutes the doors close without comment and we’re on our way, barely delayed, wondering what happened to the poor woman.
I’m still wondering.