"Why are we here?" Terry asked me innocently.
"Well, the 2 is local; this train is express so the trip will be shorter."
The train arrived at the platform, and we took our places standing cross from each other by the doors.
I tried to probe a little deeper and find something Terry and I could relate to for discussion.
"So what are you doing here in the city, Terry?"
"I left PA, and I was looking for work. I couldn’t find work, or a place to stay. Then I got sick and had to go to the hospital."
"Where is your family?"
"I don’t have family. I think that your family is just here to give birth to you. After that, you have to figure it out by yourself. I’m by myself now."
"No, you have me Terry."
We crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, taking in the scenery. I happened to look away for a moment and noticed that Terry’s face had taken on a look of frustration.
"What the fuck does that guy want, man."
I looked around; no one was paying us any mind. So I tried to align my vision with his and see what the problem was.
"What guy, Terry?"
"That fucking asshole right there!"
He shoved his hand upward and pointed. Everyone looked.
I blinked and tried to keep a rational approach.
"Terry, don’t worry he just wants you to know that if you ever need skin care he can help. He doesn’t really want anything from you."
"I don’t believe it, FUCK THAT GUY!" He yelled.
He started a quiet interrogation of Dr. Zizmor, demanding to know who he thought he was and why he wouldn’t stop staring. By now women were clutching their purses a little tighter and grown men raised a few eyebrows. I didn’t want Terry to feel like I was everyone else, so I had to let him know I understood.
"You’re right! FUCK HIM!" I yelled, shaking my fist in the air with a scowl.
"Come on let’s go over here so he can’t see us," I added, grabbing his hand.
We walked over to the other end of the car. I’m not quite sure what everyone thought of the black woman wearing a business suit along side the white man with hospital scrubs on, but it didn’t matter to me. They were not any of my concern. Terry was.
My stop was fast approaching, and where as I couldn’t just skip work to hang out with Terry, I did feel somewhat responsible for him, being that I kidnapped him onto the Q train.
I started to reach into my bag.
"Terry, I have to go to work now. Are you going to be okay?"
"Yeah, I am kind of hungry though."
I pulled out $5, a cigarette, and a pack of matches, and placed them into his hands.
"This is for you Terry."
I then pulled out a scrap of paper and a pen, and wrote down my name and number. I took his hands into mine and looked him directly in his eyes. He blinked and smiled.
"If you ever need anything, anything at all, just call me okay? Whatever you need, I promise I will be there and do my best."
"You mean it?"
The train came to a screeching halt. I stepped onto the platform and looked at Terry. His eyes were filled with sadness, but a smile remained on his face. I waved and stood across from him until the train doors closed. As the train pulled off, reality sunk in and I remembered that I needed an excuse as to why I was late for work.
Family emergency…yeah that works.
Time went on. Four days later I found myself in the Manhattan Mall, aimlessly walking around spending money on girly items that I didn’t need. I was texting an old boyfriend about having lunch, when a strange number appeared on my caller ID.
"Its me, Terry."
I stood still and racked my brain for a minute to try and figure out who it was.
"Remember, we met on the train…you said you would be there for me and you gave me $5."
"OH TERRY! Hi sweetie, how are you?"
"Not so good."
"Why what’s wrong?
"Well, when I got off at Times Square, I went to McDonalds with the money you gave me, but I was in there for so long and it was crowded. There were people everywhere and they were touching me and I started to smell like ketchup. I needed to take a shower, but no one would help me find a shower."
"I’m so sorry Terry."
"Yeah. So these guys took me to get a shower, but now they won’t let me leave. And I really need a cigarette."
"Where did they take you?"
"Back to a fucking hospital."
"I don’t know let me ask."
I heard a muffling on the reciever and his voice yell out to someone.
"Man, hey man, where the fuck are we?"
Hearing someone in the background yelling back to him, I waited anxiously for a response.
"Oh, okay. I’m in Staten Island. Will you come? I don’t know any of these people."
More background noise, followed by Terry yelling out, “SHUT UP I CAN BE ON THE PHONE IF I WANT TO STOP TELLING.”
I was slightly shocked, but continued the conversation. How in the hell did I leave this kid in Midtown Manhattan and he ended up across a body of water? I had never been to Staten Island before, and I am quite sure they have more than one hospital.
"Terry, where in Staten Island are you?"
"I told you, I’m at the hospital. Its a Virginia hospital."
Confused, I just sat on the phone, really not knowing what to say. So I decided to say the only thing that made sense.
"Of course Terry. What do you need?"
"I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to let you go outside to smoke it."
"You can sneak in it, it will be okay."
"Is there anything else you want Terry?"
"Um, M&Ms. I need M&Ms."
"Okay, and what else?"
"I can’t be on the phone for this long I don’t know these people. And its fucking cold."
I stood in the mall, mouth open, head spinning, and heart racing. People were pushing past me frustrated that I was blocking a door. I didn’t think Terry was actually going to phone me, but he had. And now here I was, faced with a genuine request that was totally unexpected. I walked outside and lit a cigarette, staring in awe at my phone screen contemplating what to do. I walked down the street, irritated by the madness of clueless tourists and sidewalk purse boosters. I puffed my cigarette smoke in peoples faces as a silent form of retaliation.
Later, I met up with my ex for lunch. He could tell I was distracted and not really listening to him.
"What’s wrong with you, you aren’t even paying attention to me."
"Sorry, I’ve got a lot on my mind."
"Well what’s wrong we’re friends talk to me."
I started to reveal my Terry story to him. His face scrunched up as I reached the most recent point of the story.
"How do you always find a way to get into these dumb random ass situations? That mutha fucker is crazy."
"Well, crazy or not it happened."
"So what are you going to do?"
We finished our lunch and left. I rode the train home in silence, thinking to myself over and over again, what was I going to do?
In my mind, there was really only one option.
I had to go find Terry.