A Brief And Angry Encounter

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The man with the army backpack took a seat on the train. He pulled a torn and marked up Bible out of his bag and began to read it. The A train was full but not packed–all but one of the seats were taken and very few people were standing. The empty seat was perpendicular to where the man with the backpack read his Bible.

On the other side, sat a woman holding tightly to a stroller. A braces-faced boy, barely a teenager, got on the train at Fulton Street and sat next to the woman with the stroller, and in front of the man reading the Bible. As the boy took a seat, his backpack brushed the man’s knee, interrupting his reading. The boy did not notice and took a sip from his Coca Cola bottle.
The man stopped reading his Bible. “Excuse me, bro,” he mumbled under his breath.

The boy wasn’t paying attention.

“You can’t just step on someone’s shoe, my man,” the man continued, slightly louder, as he put away his Bible.

“You can’t just sit wherever man! And now you scuffed my shoe!” he yelled.

The boy looked at him, “I didn’t do anything to you, man. It was a mistake.”

“You weren’t raised right,” the man began to preach. “People better raise their boys right.”

The boy said nothing, but his face was tight. He looked embarrassed and annoyed as he scooted closer to the woman gripping the stroller. The man continued his rant and the boy stood up to walk away.
The man kicked his foot as if to trip him.

“Don’t think that because you’re a kid I won’t smack you and wait for your parents,” the man yelled.
The boy said nothing. His face was still tight as he walked to the other end of the train.
“What a good boy, not saying anything to that crazy man,” said a woman seated across from the scene said to the older man sitting next to her. She shook her head in disgust.

“Ha, and he was reading a Bible,” the older man said as he, too, began to shake his head.
The boy got off the train at Jay Street, and the man returned to his Bible.

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