Attempt on the A Train (Excerpt 2) – Cacophony

Excerpt from Amin Erfani, “Attempt on the A Train,” in Unsaid Magazine, Issue 8, ed. David McLendon, March 2021.

“[…] Lad’s palm pounds end-door window: Yo. Sodden swarthiness of complexion. They’re coming. Tag: This door is locked. Nowhere to go. The filmy dimness of the eyes. Better get out of here. Why won’t it open. Pallor and compression of the lips. It’s fucking stupid. This door will not open for your own safety. Hawkishness flashing. Warning sign: Don’t be a number. Let me out. Don’t play dumb. Remain inside. Tracks are electrified. From countenance whose every other feature bears expressions of being a prey: Copped. You may not use end doors. Bushwhacked. Or partake in inter-car traveling. Quietude on the outside. It is contrary to the law. Nerves at the brink of breaking on the inside. Bigwigs of the underground scene. Hi-top fade hair and a Flightposite pair. Young vanguards bop in reprobative hops. Nascent soft tuft on the lip-top. Showtime: Ladies and gentlemen. What time is it. It’s showtime. You may not conduct artistic performances when you’re on board. This one particular’s called: Running from the cops. Litefeet. Simple steps: Run in place to a skittering pace. Watch this: I can fit anywhere. Mind the gap: Between your skulls. Don’t budge or y’ll get bust. Heed the feet riffing ’round and bouncing about. You may not cause reckless endangerment of others. Hovering up. This one’s called: Tone wop. Fully chopped up into a pitched up beat. Sound pollution. Blast out. Seek license for speakers or amp. Levitate props normally not meant to levitate. Hang still up in the air. Caps and keys and sneakers. Airborne upon bobbing body unbound from gravity. Don’t blink or y’ll loose it. More you look: More I fly. This one’s called: Dance your angst. Motionlessly if necessary. You may not use your art and performance as excuse for active aggressive solicitation. Nine to two. Four to nine. A to D. Two lines. One song. Or walk through the audience with a container asking for payment. If only you knew how much I love you. Modern faber glass mariachi güiro. It’s ‘cause you’re all the good left in my life. Twelve-string bajo sexto guitar string pinching. Full regalia. Three border crossings. Torso strapped bejeweled accordion key tapping. Mainstay of the norteño. Three countries over. Babe: I will spoil you alright. Three times risked my life. Huffy yuppy: Dry up wetback. Overhead card commercial: Green card. Deportation. Call. C’mon c’mon c’mon: Love me back. Broad-brimmed and high-crowned. Battered baseball cap. All kinds of hats. Split transparent plastic cup. Bare palm. Don’t touch me. Don’t you fucking touch me. Soliciting and panhandling are prohibited. Blind beggar bravely reeling through the throng. Rebutting the apologetically cocky: What are you sorry for. Candy peddler. Ladies and gentlemen: It’s that time again. You may not distribute food or ask for payment in exchange. It’s candy time. Or goods or merchandise of any kind. I’m here and you’re here and we’re here. For a fee or for free. And w’all gonna eat together. Right now: I’m this car’s lead and sole seller of sweets. As a matter of fact you will meet nobody as crazy about confectionery as yours truly. My life’s purpose is for you to understand that this very box here holds a perfect candy for you and you only. I don’t sell sweets. Ladies and gentlemen: I sell dreams. For one dollar. Tissues. Water bottles. Dish soap. Hand sanitizers. Pamphleteer: This is an opportunity to receive Him as your savior. You may solicit contributions for pre-approved religious or political causes. Let us pray for you: Text us. You may make no excessive noise that causes discomfort to others surrounding you. Lonely linguist enmeshed on unwilling straphanger. Note: Consult the text of the rule for the specific decibel levels defined as excessive noise. Unloading the breadth of allophonic knowledge. Guttural growls that span across the pharyngeal and the glottal and the epiglottal. All the way to the velar and the uvular fricatives. Kind of consonants ubiquitous to Juu and Tuu tongues. All across different Arabic dialects. Rhotic: Tremulants. Really easy peasy lemon squeezy. Picture this: Airstream gushing through the tracheal tube into the buccal cavity. Lopped up lickety-split like this tap tap tap with your rippling tongue-tip. Here: See. R’s rolling and roaring and throbbing on the throat’s bottom all the way to her orifice’s front. Apical trill: Try it. Apical flab at the front upon upper gum curled up toward mouth roof in retroflexion. Don’t be shy: Just try. Ladies and gentlemen: We are not moving. Fun fact: Psittacidae’s budgerigars are wired to whistle one thousand seven hundred twenty-eight words. Did you just hear: I said whistle. Talking birds: No sir. No vocal cords. Bifurcated trachea. Fancy this: Talking without a tongue. Expelled air. No larynx: Just a syrinx. Breath is the foundation of voice. Ha: I guess you didn’t know that. Ladies and gentlemen: Doors will not open. Improv singer standing ‘bove sedentary grouch: Opera aria vibrato riff singalong on earbuds. Shoving out inconsistent bursts of air. Shaking diaphragm. Lunging pipes. Ear-finger-plugged octogenarian opera buff suffering aesthetic offense seated below the baritone. Rock to and fro head over bust vociferating: ’Tis shit. ’Tis poppycock. ’Tis overblown ostentatious arrhythmic tone-deaf razzmatazz. You may not trigger auditory angst to your peers. Hour twenty-five one-way to the plaza: Everyday. Fingernails-on-blackboard agony. Inspiring artist. Toddler-tantruming in-laws-haranguing kind of predicament at home. Tiny junior four and one bath. But big dreams. And a day job. Bamboo-under-fingernails torture. Gobs of mobs by the millions piled in a single city. No room to be alone. Quarterly’ll call it: Aural lobotomy. Six-hour daily practice: Prerequisite. Witch’s voice. Simple math. They say: Art’s for the masses but you can’t explain it to them. Psalm cantor belting out with gusto to the beat of fingered beads. Dandy uppity conversationalist bloating a blatantly prepubescent pitch over-dragged into adulthood. I envy those people who don’t care about their looks. Heedless obnoxious posh. Prada ostrich tote. I was just born like with expensive taste. Splutterer and stutterer: Guide for actors with speech disorder. Overcome your articulatory stumbling blocks in seven easy steps. Luculent tongue. There’s daggers in men’s smiles. Face’s ghastly disfigurement up-close stumbling upon sound. Eye of newt. Toe of frog. Wool of bat and tongue of dog. Random sounds faltering in random spots. For a charm of powerful trouble like a hell-broth boil and bubble. Monstrous and mutic lineaments reclaiming facial territories for split seconds before disappearing. The assassination could trammel up the consequence and catch with his surcease success that but this blow might be the be-all and the end-all here. Nagger nagging. Pal: Sounds like you trying to say something but can’t just come out and say it. Buccal arcs cracking into contortions. Find a knack of throwing your voice directly into others’ consciousness. There there’s a dilettante troubadour chirruping oldies toppled by a plenum of people. Oh: Happy days. There there’s the hooded heeding rhythms of voices singing inside his head. Krumper krumping. The hiss and the jostle and the jerks. The periphery of vacuum surrounding him despite the sparsity of space. Where to go. Old bag-lady confessing: Don’t be fooled there ain’t no Pepsi in this Pepsi. Ear-splitting lone and lost schoolgirl vociferates bullishly to a petrified commuter: Sir please take all of my money. Elementary schooler soliciting under parental escort: Excuse me mister how would you like to buy a beautiful piece of drawing. Two-dimensional wax pastel doodle. Yellow sun. Blue sky. Green grass. Colors spilling over lines. No soliciting onboard. Zero tolerance approach to small-time hustles. Not much into contemporary art: Sorry. Black lad throbbing at the end door: There’re there. There’re coming. I see them. Sexagenarian caucasian pathos peddling. I’m handicapped. I’m homeless. I don’t steal. I don’t sell drugs. Quingenerian caucasian with varifocal glasses dangling on his noise tip. Bursting out. Hey old shit: I’m a drug dealer. Here: Take my money. It’s real dough: Take it. What’s wrong with being a drug dealer. Rubicund cheeks ballooning angrily. Obliterating nose. Take my dough ya hobo. I earned it. Selling crack. What’s the matter with people today. People going down the toilet. Peddlers can’t be kind no more. Or take a fucking ride. Broad finely embroidered silk headband over long-haired redhead. It’s the needles that release the tension in the muscles it’s unbelievable you just must try it. Monochrome cotton white short sleeves behind bland black clip-on skinny tie. Light-brown blot all over. I mean I’d never gotten hit by an errant cup of coffee before. Multi chevron shirt. Checkered shorts. Bowler hat. Bow tie. She helped me find my own style: I mean I didn’t even like patterns before we met. The corpulent’s various efforts to clear up a throat. The honking adenoidal inflections. The sonic map of the mucus-clogged. The gular-nasal-otic tunnels. The orthorhinopharyngeal sound variations of the obese. The re-echoing body-chamber. The discreet chiming bell of the silent Asian alien flick purveyor. Judgment day 2. Do the right thing. C’mon man ’tis so twentieth century. Plastic bagged xerox-paper cover. Polycarbonate plastic discs. Knockoff handbags. Big buckles and large logos. Popular branding of the early oughts. Bootleggers. Malingerers. The unsolicited compulsive confessor. I feel like I’m trying to be everything to everyone and I don’t know who I am anymore or how to stop being me and nobody even cares to listen. The accidental recurrent ear-lender. Godammit how many times are we going to take this fucking ride together. The bright light pink garb and sparkly star wand. I wonder what is going to be the hardest part about becoming a princess hairdresser. Kingsbridge southwest old socialite incense paper seller. Mother’s work is never done that’s what mommy tells me. Lamenting loner self-scolding out-loud. Can’t stand you talking me down like this in public: It’s demeaning. Mogul heiress scavenger hunting: I told my analyst I met someone who looks just like him. The grand cacophony. I’ve flown straight my entire life. I hate myself because I don’t have dreams. Somebody somewhere says something. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana. My favorite: I should get that tattooed on me. I hate myself because I am five pounds too heavy. Mommy: There’s no air. Shush. You want bits and pieces of you or you want to be held. I hate myself because my kid has piano lesson and I’m stuck here with him and nothing’s moving. Lone lost glove on car floor. I hate myself because I’m living in a tiny car sucking dick for money and spending it all on heroin. Excuse me: Are you a boy or a girl. It’s just I sometimes put on nail polish because I feel sad. Lost. It is a reminder of days past like ones when I felt happy. Fulfilled. It is a piece of myself I hang on to. Unwinding. It is what lifts me up in the morning. Gets me through my day. Do you have other questions. Thick curly chest hair springing out of a notched-lapel open collar. Gold plated link chain. Squatting mom’s basement. Say: Excuse me miss is this local or express. Ringed fingers dive into purse for a bottle of pepper spray. Fuck off: I don’t have time for this shit. Ladies and gentlemen I’m out of prison and on my way to a shelter. Granular red stain over three fourths of facial skin: Wordless and unblinkingly locking eyes with person on the opposite seat. The 1-car-per-stop spare-changer. Feel free to unload for a change. The refined pitch. I’ll take verbal abuse if you hit me with a quarter. Sturdy professional panhandler scowling upon mendicant of a better stamp. One whom despair alone has driven forth for charity. Circa thirty-year-old Caucasian male in rags. Malinger and unshaven and unkempt. Holding up hand-cut cardboard: Spare a coin for a lost soul. God bless. Circa thirty-year-old African-American professional. Built up and tattoos and gold wrist watch. Drops a bill. Shit: Grabbing beggar’s arm. Don’t use His name in vain. Crack’s falling off your pocket. Howling at the back end: Stainless steel fiberglass thirty by seventy-five.  Hey: Post-General-Overhaul storm door. Here they come: Double-hung window shatterproof elongated Lexan sheets. Black rubber striping seal edge. Parting polycarb and panel. Single-handled door-lock keyhole: Set off. No civilian. Rimmed blue door fault light. So scarcely lit. Omen of some external element intruding. Now: Lit. Single door slides in a whirl loudly open. City’s Finest. Foreign invasion. Into sealed microcosm of people airlocked. Law infringing on all types and stripes of transgressors and transgressions. […]

Featured in Unsaid Magazine Issue 8, which you can buy here: