2.26.2010

two subway musicians

charlie ticket on the express bus

His stool and dingy Santa doll sat beside a pillar as he waited for passengers to make the transfer from the green line to the blue. His harmonica wailed a short tune to new arrivals. Then silence. No shuffling feet, no rolling luggage, no jingling coins. More passengers arrived, and he began his tune again, with more emphasis on each note. Still nothing. He played the song again, louder still. "Come on. Help me out!" He leaned back against the pillar, glaring at everyone whose pockets burned with the money he earned. Footsteps clicked down the stairs, but only the first few harmonica notes sounded before the clatter of the train drowned them out, leaving the man and Santa alone on the platform.

Her dark hair and short stature were in stark contrast to the shiny acoustic guitar. A John Denver song strummed through a small black amplifier that ensured the waves of passengers could hear every note. The periodic clack of another green line train served as a metronome. Her accent, distinctly un-country, stamped her signature on "Take Me Home, Country Roads." Although her notes were sometimes off key she sang with abandon, making you believe the train tracks would take her to those West Virginia mountains. Bills piled up in her little box, each green flutter prompting a smile with crinkled eyes in the giver's direction before her focus returned to the music stand in front of her. Songs trailed after the train cars like lingering perfume.
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