Lost Weekend by Jeff Nazzaro

The Green Line train was late, and when it finally came you had to squeeze in and hold your breath. At Harbor Freeway, only a couple of people got off, and then a morbidly obese man wedged himself on, turning in the doorway and telling the few people remaining on the platform, “There’s another train two minutes behind this one: just wait.” The doors closed in their faces.

The train rolled west, then the operator announced, “Due to police activity, this train will not be stopping at Vermont/Athens Station. The next stop for this train will be Crenshaw Station.”

A man pulled out his earbuds and said, “Huh?”

I told him.

He said, “I’m going all the way to the end—Redondo Beach.”

“Doesn’t matter then,” I said.

He put his earbuds back in.

A woman saw us talking. She pulled her earbuds out and said, “What?”

I told her, too. She wasn’t getting off at Vermont, either.

When the train slowed through Vermont/Athens Station, everyone looked out the platform-side windows. Uniformed LAPD and Metro workers in fluorescent vests milled around the platform. There were little markers on the concrete, maybe marking shell casings, maybe spatters of blood. There was an elongated lump under a bright pink plastic sheet. We all knew what that was.

On the train came gasps; explanations; descriptions; a couple of phone calls. The guy who’d said “Huh?” pulled out his earbuds again.

“Damn, on a Friday, too,” he said.

Someone else said, “Friday before a long weekend.”

“Just became a very short weekend.”

“Or a very long weekend.”

“Lost weekend.”

A high school girl in full cheerleader regalia had one of the seats backed against a window. I’d noticed her when I looked out the window to see the cops and the markers and the lump under the pink sheet. I saw the sheet and then I saw her. She had short hair with a lot of product in it—wax or gel or cream—kind of like Jackie Wilson back in the late 50s. She sort of looked like late 50s Jackie Wilson, if he had been a beautiful high school cheerleader. Her uniform was black and red with long white sleeves. She wore scarlet old-school running shoes. She looked out the window and then quickly looked back. She must have seen that bright pink sheet. She’d be on the sidelines with her squad somewhere in the city that night, her voice a spirited counterpoint to the crack of helmets and pads on the field, the shouts of the coaches and fans, the band, the referee’s whistles. She got off at Crenshaw.

I checked my phone. There were already reports online: Body discovered just after ten last night; Hispanic male, five-foot-seven- to five-foot-nine-inches tall; multiple stab wounds; no suspects; no known motive.

“Damn,” the man with the earbuds said, “imagine spending all eternity on an LA Metro train platform.”

The woman next to him crossed herself, kissed her fingers, and looked up: “Don’t we?”





by Jeff Nazzaro

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed your story. The atmosphere of the metro train is vividly evoked. I've never been on the LA metro but now I feel that I have!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Claire. LA Metro is something else. I'm glad you enjoyed the little peek inside.

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  2. There is so much to celebrate with this piece, Jeff. From the stylistic components––sentence variation, spare but significant dialogue, etc.––to the assessment of mankind's skewed priorities at the end via the strategically placed rhetorical question. Masterful.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the thoughtful words, Chad. I hadn't thought of it exactly as skewed priorities—more perspective—at the end, but you're absolutely right.

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    2. This was a great read! Very well written ❤️

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    3. Thank you, Kylah!

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    4. Nice piece of observational writing. Well done.

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