Featured Nonfiction: Subway Tunnel Therapy

by Richard DiFino

I rode the subway trains to take me away from everything that I hated, my father, his fist, the blood and everything else in my seventh floor Bronx apartment. The train was my hero, my savoir, my lover and my escape for the day. And she was cheap. Only $2 for a whole afternoon of pleasure.

In the tunnels of the Number “1” train, I was free from my father and free from the world. I would stare out the window at the wall lights mounted along the walls though out the tunnel. There must have been hundreds of them. I would love to watch them go by endlessly, they seemed to go on forever.

I also rode in between the train cars, it excited me, never frightened me, I was calm, for once. There were enough chains and bars connecting one car to the other, but I never held on to them. I firmly planted my feet for balance, and let the momentum of the train’s speed keep me upright. Occasionally I would get yelled at by a conductor or someone’s concerned mother, but it was always worth it. My own mother was probably wasting away in some cheap motel getting drunk, trying to kill herself, so I was actually happy that some random mom seemed concerned enough for my own safety. It made me feel the tiniest bit of emotion about something positive in life.

There was this intense rush down there in the tunnels. It didn’t matter if I was inside the tunnel or above ground, it was the rush that I needed. It was amazing to stand out there, outside of the moving train and not only watch everything go by at what seemed like ten times faster than watching through the window, but to actually feel it go by, it was other worldly to me, better than tossing around a football with friends.

The mounted wall lights seemed to be inches from my face and blinding me as I remained on the outside of the moving train. The smell of rust filled my nose and the force of the train pulling me back was almost orgasmic. I guess knowing that there was a slight chance that I could die was also a rush. It felt good. It cleared my mind. It reminded me that I was alive.

I loved how the train would barrel down the track as if the conductor almost knew that I was trying to escape my retched life. It made me feel like I was in an old Western movie and I had just hijacked the train waving a shiny six shooter revolver around in the air, shouting through a red bandana that covered my mouth and nose demanding money from the innocent passengers.

Back inside the train, I always felt a little anxious before I arrived at my destination. I never wanted to go back to the outside world with all the outsiders and freaks, the people who could notice me. As soon as my eyes would adjust to the natural light of the world again and not the synthetic subway lighting, I hated life again, unlike my love for life riding in between the subway cars barreling down the tracks holding onto nothing playing with death, but it was all for fun, all for a cheap way to forget about my life and to forget about what was waiting for me as soon as I would make my way back home and through my apartment door. Dying on those tracks would have been much easier than going back home, but I was always the optimistic type.

This kind of therapy is cheap. A $2 fare as opposed to a $25 co-pay at the doctor’s office and there weren’t any pills to swallow, just the aroma of decades upon decades of rusted metal to breathe in and miles of shaky tracks to balance on. Both the train ride and the doctor’s office lasted about 45 minutes, but I choose the possibly of death and freedom over the stale and mundane atmosphere of the psychiatrists office any day.

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Richard De Fino is from New York City and lived there for twenty years, but now calls Buffalo, New York home. His focus is on memoir, creative non-fiction and poetry. He has been published in Writers Digest, Two Cities Review, theNewerYork, Hallow Publishing, Purple Pig Lit, FuckFiction, Dialougal and (Cycatrix Press – [NAMELESS] Digest)