City Life

By Em Hughes

(founder, DIASH)

The moon hung lower over the horizon, shining on the tracks below the 451 as it slowly chugged along.

Nothing could be seen besides the faces of the work-sullen people commuting home. Oh, and the bratty kids sitting next to their overindulgent parents on their iPhone X’s ranting on about how their life sucked. In the middle row, she sat with her head hung low and eyes wide open. She was leaving. The sounds from the booze-filled rampage and bloodstains on the couch would soon be distant memories. Outside, there was nothing but trees and rocks stretched out for miles. She grew up near the woods in Albany but never experienced nature quite like this. Freedom, at last, from the bleak, dirty city.

Not that she completely hated leaving everything behind. Hell, it still hurt thinking about purchasing the train tickets. But nothing good came out of living there. Getting fired from every job. Blowing multiple auditions. And the crowds. God, the crowds! She couldn’t go anywhere without hundreds of people slamming into her body like a punching bag. At times, she wanted to punch them in their foul-mouthed faces but was too decent and level-headed to go through with it.

Then there was Tony. Ah, yes. The guy that swept her off the sidewalk after Kinky Boots on Broadway. Soon after, he took her in. Gave her all the attention she needed. No amount of sex and performance art could amount to his charity. Or his invitations to Aruba. The parties. The premieres. Hell, he even gave her a nice apartment to live in so he could visit her when he wanted.

When he wanted. Her biggest mistake was asking for more than she bargained for. Showing up drunk on his front porch in front of his wife, Lola, and their two small children. Waking up in horror to the Uber receipt on her phone with his name on the bill. Overflowing donations, once in abundance, becoming small rations because his smug wife threatened to leave him; she even told the children to snitch on their former Sunday school teacher. Imagine the scandal in his parish! The letter containing $9,000 check served the death sentence to their five-year arrangement.

Sighing, she blocked out the people sitting on the other side. The suitcase in the compartment above her head, worn from frequent use. What a whore, she thought to herself begrudgingly, picturing her pathetic attempts to make amends with Tony in the hotel room. Promising to never overstep her place again. When Lola walked in, a loud BANG echoed in the hallways. In seconds, they both lay dead.

Satisfied, she took off her wedding ring.

Suddenly, the train came to a screeching halt, bewildering the whole cabin. Flashing blue and red lights appeared in the window. Clearly, they knew she would pull a getaway. Panicking, she looked for way to escape. The front and back of the couch car? Locked. Emergency doors? Shut off by police. No way out this time.

She took a deep breath and pulled the murder weapon out of her Coach mini-handbag. As she held it to her head, she looked out the window and prayed to God, eyes filling with tears. Held the gun closer to her head. Pulled the trigger. Waited for the pitch-black that lie ahead. Fired.

Nothing.

The back of the seat in front of her was still visible. She tried once more to pull the trigger. The gun jammed. Frustrated, she looked at it for a couple of minutes. And then, problem solved. The gun wasn’t loaded. The bullets were left under the bed at the hotel and forgotten. Damn it. The police were closing in and there was nowhere else to go.

Defeated, Lola was escorted out of the cabin and into a police van with admonished passengers looking on. She was taken to the prison with the clothes she wore during the murder. Faint bloodstains tainted a former perfectly-white blouse. In the middle of being transferred to her cell, a haggard-looking woman rudely pushed past her.

“Bitch,” the woman muttered to herself silently.

Lola didn’t take offense. She was used to it. 

City life. At it’s finest.

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