It was the stragglers’ hour. Trains came spasmodically. Commuters loitered in an orderless scatter of waiting.
A couple emerged on the next platform. From across the tracks Len followed their progress beneath the television timetables. As they walked they separated and came together like the sides of an accordion. They spoke continually, Len thought perhaps in agitation, but the brisk wind whipped their words away.
In a movement, both fluid and violent, the man snatched the shopping bag from his partner’s arms and tossed it onto the tracks. Len detected the sway of drunkenness as the stranger stepped away. And the sway of fear as the other stood her ground.
He came at her again. She held him back with words and hands. He tottered uncertainly.
Len watched mute.
A woman called from the platform beyond theirs. ‘Are you alright?’
Two glares for her concern, Len thought—it was hard to tell from where he stood.
His train pulled in. Its slowing windows animated them in jagged flipbook frames. The thrust and counterthrust of something turned terribly wrong between two strangers.
Len climbed aboard, taking a seat near the window. As his train pulled out he saw the woman scream in anger then turn away, just as an express, coming the other way, took away his view.