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Think You Know?

by Pavelle Wesser

It was late at night as Steve sat in the subway car, thinking. He hated to think and felt bad that he had broken his promise never to do it again. Tonight, he was thinking about her, and how she’d left him. He stared straight ahead, concentrating. Thinking required work.

A homeless woman sat across from him, old, dirty and ragged. She chewed her nails as she muttered to herself. After studying her heavily creased face for several minutes, Steve realized that he was staring at his own mother, whom he hadn’t spoken to in years. They’d had their last big fight while he was still in high school. He may even have stolen her money, which would explain, he supposed, why she was now homeless.

He thought about it, and decided that he should give her money. He reached into his pocket, withdrew all his cash, then walked over and held it out to her. Her eyes darted wildly about.

“Do you remember me?” he asked, although he doubted very much that she did. Her nervous fingers reached out to grab the loot.

“I’ve been thinking about you,” he said, by way of conversation.

He actually hadn’t thought of her in years. And at the present moment, he couldn’t wait to get away from her. Her stench was frankly overwhelming. Nevertheless, he looked at her and smiled. And then she spat right in his face.

“Godammit!” Steve raised his voice. “Why’d you do that?”

She flashed him a toothless maniacal grin. Her eyes glittered with a psychosis that made him very eager to exit the train. At the next stop, he bolted.

His problems were, of course, not over. For one thing, this was the wrong stop. The second thing was that he was completely alone on the deserted platform, with the exception of one man, who was approaching him with a look of silent intent on his twisted features. He walked up to Steve and flashed a knife at him.

“Look,” said Steve, “I just gave all my money to my mother.”

He emptied his pockets to prove his point. A pair of his ex-girlfriend’s underpants fell onto the filth of the platform. He had stolen them from her so that he could always keep part of her close to him. He felt sorry now, as the pretty pink silkiness was smudged and soiled.

“Just what in Hell’s name were you thinking?” The mugger was staring at him. “Man, you are dumb.”

As the knife entered Steve’s abdomen, he fell, merging with the same filth as his ex-girlfriend’s underwear. Blood flowed freely from his wounds and he was lulled into unconsciousness. His mind, thankfully, was filled with nothing.

He would awaken the next day, safely tucked into the crisp white sheets of a hospital bed. His ex-girlfriend would not visit. His mother would neither know nor care. His job would fire him. But he would refuse to think about any of the above, because the answers would never be his to know.

On the day he left the hospital, he stared into the mirror and saw reflected back at him eyes that harbored secrets he vowed never even to contemplate thinking about, because nothing was worth the price of knowing...

Copyright © 2008 by Pavelle Wesser

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