Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ronkonkoma Blues

I am sitting at the Ronkonkoma train station. It is a hot day and the heat only makes the commanding silence all the more audible. Men loaf about, cracking their knuckles while leaning back on worn benches. There is nothing to do but wait. No amount of technology can make their friends arrive faster. They have to wait. Waiting is a very un-21st century thing. Then again, so are trains.

Fearless little birdies hop hop from spot to spot like playful schoolchildren. Tempting fate, they inch closer and closer to my shoe searching in cracks for crumbs. They remind me of when I was in Spain, and the birdies, "los pajaritos", were courageous enough to come right up to my plate to steal food. "Los pajaritos no tienen miedo", I said to an old couple who were also admiring the little critters. We went back to our meals. Later, the old couple got up to leave the cafe and got not more than a few strides away when the old man stuttered, turned around, and gave a smiling "Buenos tardes" to me. I returned the parting comment, and continued sipping my vermouth and nibbling on my Tortilla Espanola, smiling the whole time. I made sure to leave some tortilla for the pajaritos.

Cicadas buzz about, fighting valiantly against an invisible-- and unfelt-- breeze. A roadside weed, with brilliant little purple flowers, latchs on to some passing refuse, refusing to release the dirty plastic bag from its barbarous grip.

An old Hispanic woman sips from a Big Gulp (I didn't know that they still sell Big Gulps; I didn't think people still bought Big Gulps). The old woman is smoking a cigarette that looks longer than it actually is due to the way she holds it, pincered between her two gaunt and bony fingers-- all knuckles sheathed in a leathery thin skin. I can see the arthritis. The cigarettes are cheap, and they release a heavy dirty smoke. The smoke smells like an ashtray.

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