Metro rule number one: don’t make eye contact. My daily commutes were spent as though in my own closed off bubble, semi-aware of what went on around me. Wearing headphones helped with appearing disinterested in my fellow travelers. Sometimes I wore them without even having music playing, just the illusion of listening was enough to give the impression of obliviousness and unobtrusiveness
“Nice day, isn’t it?” said a deep voice that seemed to come from my right. I turned and looked at the woman sitting next to me. She was dozing with her head resting on the window.
“No, not over there.” The voice was now on my left. My head snapped around to the other side only to see the crotch of a man standing in the aisle next to me. I looked up and watched him bop his head to the beat moving through his ear buds. He was entirely too young to be the owner of the rough voice I had heard.
“Not there, either, sweetheart.” The voice was centered now. Centered and coming out of the small speakers that rested on my ears. I looked down at my phone to make sure I hadn’t accidentally started the music player or audio book app. I hadn’t.
“That’s right, darlin’, I’m talking to you – just to you.”
I felt the muscles in my chest constricting and my face started tingling. I looked around again and there was no one paying any attention to me at all. I snatched the headphones off and tried to will myself to calm down.
“Yeah, that’s not going to do any good. I’m in your head, sweetheart, and I’m not going anywhere. Not just yet, anyway.”
Jesus! What the hell is happening? Am I going crazy?
“No, not crazy. And Jesus was a nice guy but he can’t help you. He died a couple thousand years ago – and stayed that way. You may run into him, though.
“Anyway, I’m Floyd and it’s my job to help you through the next few minutes and drop you off at the reception center.”
The tinny speaker announced Silver Spring station and I jumped out of my seat and knocked solidly into the man in the aisle. I quickly, and too loudly, apologized and dashed for the door, shoving my way past the rest of the passengers.
“Just relax, it’ll be over soon. I promise, there will be very little pain and then we’ll get you settled in.”
The door opened and I took a step forward to escape the car and when I looked up, I was staring into the barrel of a gun, and past that, the dark eyes of the woman holding it.
“This is it. Take a deep breath and-”
Floyd was right, the pain in my forehead lasted only a split second and then it was over.
He was also right about Jesus. He is a nice guy. A bit too talkative but very nice.