The dude assessed me as soon as I sat down. Trouble is, I’m impossible to figure, noise-wise, at least at first, and especially on trains. I’m as quiet as a mound of shit—and just as useful, some of you would surely say—but I don’t look quiet. I look loud. I look like I can cause you a noise problem. I also look like a guy who could give you your money’s worth if you asked me to stop.
He wore khaki, head to toe. Khaki socks and khaki slip-ons, the ones I always think I’d like to buy because they look comfortable, but never do. Khaki slacks and a khaki jacket that sure as hell looked like something Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers used to sell on TV back in the 80’s, when things were better. Khaki hat with a big blue P on the front and Velcro strap in back. Acne-scarred pineapple skin—that Edward James Olmos shit—and a big nose with a John Sandford paperback almost perched on the damned thing, jammed up into his face like he was reading it letter by letter.
Next to him, on his seat, was a blue gym bag—one of those old-style duffels with white canvas straps. It sat on top of his newspaper. The dude liked to read. He sat with his legs crossed. Really crossed, the way women do it, and not in that figure-four thing I like to do. I’ll never understand men who sit like that. I can’t get my legs into that position. I've never wanted to.
He had quiet, too, until the Russian lady boarded the train. We all had quiet until she was there. She wore a quilted red coat, the kind with both a zipper and a belt. Her hair didn’t move. She was yelling all kinds of Eastern European mumbo-jumbo into her phone. Speaking in Cyrillic. Or Slavic. Who the fuck knows? The dude looked at me. I looked back. The car was quiet for about a second and a half. The Russian lady shrieked into her phone again. The dude had had enough.
“EXCUSE ME. YOU CAN’T DO THAT. YOU CAN’T DO THAT IN HERE.”