I was somewhere under Manhattan. Velocity screamed through dark windows and the air conditioning was out. Beads of sweat trickled down my back like moving mosquito bites. A man missing a shoe and sock stood five feet away, desperately holding onto a pole in the center aisle of the crowded subway car, not allowing his bare foot to touch the floor. He hopped on at 59 th street, maybe he’d been hopping around for hours, or even days. His weathered skin stretched tightly over bones insinuating themselves into a gaunt face. A soiled, wrinkled pinstripe suite and scuffed wing tipped shoe suggested that he had once been a man to be reckoned with but was now one of those psychotics on the fast track to self annihilation you see in about every fourth train.

 

He tried to sleep with his bare footed leg wrapped around the pole. Every time the foot slipped down he rearranged himself while heisting his precious body part as far back up as possible. I brought my camera up to my eye. It had a 3D modeling sensor, so I had to brace my elbow into my side for stability. Suddenly the man’s eyes opened and were drilling holes through me. I lowered the camera to my lap without making an exposure.

 

“I smash camera into floor,” he said. “Through your face into floor.”

 

I got up and went to my right—to the far end of the car. The man kept glaring at me. Behind the patina of street grime was someone younger than me, thin but taller, more broad shouldered and probably much stronger than me. Moreover, he was enraged. He began hopping towards me with his arms spread-eagled for balance. He was 15 feet away and closing fast. I held up the camera and yelled, “Take it and see for yourself, I didn’t shoot your picture.” A bony hand swept through the space between us, knocking the camera out of my grasp onto to the floor. I held my arms up to protect my dental implants as he started flailing away with his fists at the air in front of me, missing my forearms and shoulders with uncoordinated swings while hopping about like an inebriated kangaroo, trying to stay up on one foot. There was a sudden lurch in the motion of the train and we both fell. I hit the floor first and he landed on top of me.

 

My face was squashed into a sticky spilt soda stain with the man’s weight pressing down, his opened wet mouth on me, his teeth biting into the back of my neck, his jaw closing hard, breaking the surface of pinched skin, his incisors and cuspids sinking into my flesh. It was rape through the neck and it hurt like hell, made me scream and kick and fight for my life, made me cry.

 

If only I had missed the train, or stepped into a different car, or decided not to take my camera that day. Quantum mechanics says that for every “if only” the vicissitudes of life make possible, the universe splits and creates copies of itself where all options come true, that anything that can happen will happen, that the simple act of standing up and turning to the left instead of the right will create a parallel universe with a different destiny.  

 

I was somewhere under Manhattan. Velocity screamed through dark windows and the air conditioning was out. Beads of sweat trickled down my back like moving mosquito bites. A man missing a shoe and sock stood four feet away, desperately holding onto a pole in the center aisle, not allowing his bare foot to touch the floor. I brought my camera up and focused, but suddenly the man’s eyes opened and were drilling holes through me.

 

“I smash camera into floor,” he said. “Through your face into floor.”  

 

I got up, turned left and walked to the near end of the car. The man twisted himself around the pole to maintain eye contact. It was the most dysmorphic human shape and spirit I had ever seen or felt. On the other side of the door I was leaning against were eighteen more cars I could walk through to put distance and time between us if I needed to, so I raised the camera to my eye again.

 

I could see the final image of the vagrant crucified on that pole in a three-dimensional laser repro, fifty feet high. It would be suspended in the great atrium of the Guggenheim Museum of Art. Worshippers would rim the spiraled interior walkway and notions of redemption would pale in the presence of someone who could sink his teeth deep into the flesh of another human being. Reverence for the truths those eyes told would inexorably spread, and who could know what ramifications that would have in worlds to come. The bare footed man was about to be converted into a numerical code imbedded into trillions of clones of planet Earth, for as long as there was such a planet.

 

I was somewhere under Manhattan. Velocity screamed through dark windows and the air conditioning was out. Beads of sweat trickled down my back like moving mosquito bites...

THE QUANTUM PSYCHOTIC

Fiction

  August 2017

Produced from 100% Everything

Literary Juice

Ron Hartley

Robert Hartley was a creative director in the New York advertising world and helped create over 100 national network and cable TV campaigns before finally burning out. He started writing fiction a year ago and his first two published stories have recently appeared in Gravel Magazine and After The Pause.

 

 

COPYRIGHT 2017 LITERARY JUICE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.