“Rashomon” by Ron Kolm

We got off an R train
At Lexington Avenue
And went down the steps
To catch an express
To South Street Seaport
To hear some music.
Kids were breakdancing
On the 4, poorly,
So we bailed to a local
At Grand Central
And got on the last car.

There was a girl
Sitting to our right
Dressed all in black:
Black boots, black mini,
Black top, her hair
In a knot.
She was nodding out
And by the time
We got to 14th Street
Her head was almost
Touching the floor.

As the train stopped
A guy sitting
Across from her
Tapped her shoulder.
She looked up, startled,
Then staggered out
To the platform.
We had to switch
Back to an express
So we left the train too.

While we were waiting
I turned to you and said,
“Man, she was fucked up.”
You threw up your arms
And almost started to cry;
A strange response, I thought,
But the people around us
Threw up their arms
At exactly the same time
Like a Broadway chorus line.

I could hear an express
Slam on its brakes
As it entered the station
Behind me and figured
That something on that train
Was freaking everyone out.
I spun around and looked
Through the windows
For someone holding
A knife or a gun.

“My God!” you cried,
“The train hit someone!”
And now I thought I knew
Exactly what had happened:
The girl must have fallen
Onto the tracks
When I’d turned
To talk to you.
I ran over to where some kids
Were looking down
Between two cars
As if they were fishing
In a tiny creek
But I couldn’t see anything.

I walked up to the front car
And tapped on the window
Which the engineer lowered.
“Hey, dude,” I said. “It wasn’t
Your fault. She was a junkie.
I saw her on the local.”
He nodded, grim-faced.

Cops finally came
And cleared the platform.
“It was that person
We saw on the train.
I should have done something.”
“No,” you said. “It was a man
In a gray shirt. I saw him
Curled up on the tracks
Just as the train hit him.”

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