Character


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The Man On The Train... coming soon to theatres everywhere.

I was riding on the train recently as part of my holiday travels. It was Christmas Eve and the train was sparsely occupied, but I was curious to know what kind of people were traveling late in the evening on Christmas Eve.

The train cars in Chicago are double decker cars and I usually prefer to ride on the upper level if I am traveling alone because there are individual seats instead of two person seats which might be shared with another commuter. This was a rather moot detail for Christmas Eve, but habits are habits so I went straight up to the upper level to sit down. Being on the upper level meant that I had a pretty good view of the seats below me on the opposite side of the train and a fairly discreet vantage point from which to view them.

Immediately below me on the opposite side of the car was a pair of seats facing one another: prime seats if the train is not crowded. These seats were quickly occupied by a young man about my own age carrying a number of bags and clearly on his way to a holiday gathering. The more I observed him the more interesting I found him.  He was tall and fairly wiry. His clothes were nondescript, or,  at least, unremarkable. He had long hair pulled back in a “man-bun” (this is apparently a thing now) and he had a full, lumberjack beard. He was almost certainly an urban dweller. The backs of his hands were illuminated with elaborate, full color tattoos. He carried a thick, hardcover book with no dust jacket and dense, literary text which he read in between fielding texts on a smartphone device. His bookmark was a two dollar bill. The pattern on the Christmas gifts in his bag was of small, green monsters.

I watched him with interest for about thirty minutes. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of life he led or where he was going or what the people that he was going to meet thought of him. Perhaps they rolled their eyes because he was tattooed and eccentric. He seemed like he might be a writer- someone who had studied great literature and still liked reading it in his free time. Or he seemed like the kind of person who might work in a craft brewery or with artisanal cheeses.

Whomever he was, I could imagine that I had encountered a character: someone whose life would always be a narrative told to dramatic effect: a character in a screenplay not yet written.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on December 27, 2014.

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