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  • I come up the stairs as he's yelling, "FUCK YOU man, that's my fucking GIRLFRIEND."

    My eyes flick down to the seemingly unconscious female sprawled out on the bench beside him. I slow-motion turn my head to follow the words he's hurling across the subway platform towards a group of 10-12 black teenagers on the other side of the tracks.

    Obscenities float over from their side. "Why don't you come over here and say that?" the boys taunt.

    I had come up on the wrong side of the platform, so I swivel around and run back down the steps and up a different set to join the black kids on the other side.

    They are euphoric at the prospect of a fight. A few boys with backpacks and shirts draped around their necks—the bold ones who want to go to the other side of the platform and back up their words—are already halfway down the stairs as I'm running up them. A girl or two comes crashing down the stairs behind the them, giggling and yelling. As I reach the top of the steps, I come face to face with a tall gangly kid in an oversized white t-shirt yelling after those running down.

    Now I can see the man and his passed out girlfriend from across the tracks and feel the sharp realization of my literal choosing of sides.

    The tall kid cups his hands around his mouth and bellows down the steps, "YOOOOOOOO. Train s'comin." The rest of the kids around him pick up the refrain and they too yell at the top of their lungs, "YO THE TRAIN IS COMING."

    I lean over the tracks a bit to peer down the long dark tunnel. No train. I laugh a little bit to myself as I walk further down the platform and turn to sneak one last glance at the young Kissinger, subway diplomat.
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