“If you keep crying, they’re going to mug us. Or worse!”
It was my good friend Michael. And Me. A duo. Buds. – in the grip of a humid, restless haze. Saturday morning at 11. August, 1974. Off to a Coney Island adventure. My idea.
On an elevated subway. The “F” line. Nothing smelled Brooklyn summer like stale urine, heat and metal grinding as the train made its regular stop at the Avenue U station.
“This is going to be so great,” Michael said as we sat.
Then I noticed them. After a few seconds. It was too late.
Two cars down. Then one. Even though the yellowed, scratched Plexiglass of the exit doors between cars kept bouncing, turning, as we headed closer to the destination, I could see them. Trying to get over. Over other riders. Fear and intimidation were the first weapons of choice. And if they weren’t getting anywhere, most likely a weapon was waiting – ready to make an appearance. Usually a knife. Stiletto blade. Sharp. Sharpest.
I glanced over at boy wonder. Staring out the window. He could barely stay in his seat. Turning his head toward me, talking rapidly about all the cool things we would do in urban America’s (in)famous amusement park. Michael was younger. Two years. Unaware of the travelers. I chose not to alarm him – It was too late anyway. The psycho train had left the station. Next stop was an eternity away. Best now to figure a way to get over, over the travelers.
Two of them. On my fear radar. I felt panic rise and settle in my throat. I couldn’t swallow. No matter how many times the travelers find you there’s fear and panic. There’s a throat collapse.
Frequent riders had a sixth sense about this stuff. They always knew when travelers were closing in. After a few trips, you just felt when their cold shadows were near. They rode the rails at all hours. Young, angry, looking for prey. Money mostly. But if you set them off and god knows what set them off, they would hurt you. Urban train ghouls.
Michael kept squawking One long excite-ence. Strings of syllables peppered with exciting thoughts – rides, games, food, more rides, games. food! It all comforted me. Nobreathinbetweenwords. His energy was contagious. This morning I needed to catch it. His positive vibe was my strength.
“Where you kids headed?”
We looked up. Travelers above us. Facing us. Towering over, over our minds, our thoughts. Overwhelming. They were kids too – but old. Old, evil souls. Having the upper hand must age travelers. I kept a mental note.
Michael knew quick. I could see it in his face. Fast learner. His excitement stopped. It was there and gone. In a second. From chatty to quiet. Split-speed breathless. I thought I could hear his heartbeat. Or was it mine?
“We’re headed to Coney Island.” I threw in: “Our parents are meeting us at the station.”
I could see the parents commentary threw them off a bit. They weren’t expecting that. Time to throw another blow before they could continue their terror-sales pitch. You see, years ago, travelers would warm you up to a mugging. Feel you out a bit. You can detect them – mentally processing a next move. Go in for the take or travel on. To others. Was it worth it this time? Could I hold a poker face? Who would win the game in the tunnel shadows? I looked down casually. I could see the switchblade. Gleaming white, oyster-like handle. I slowly, casually, moved my eyes higher to meet theirs. The travelers.
“Yea, my father is a cop. He works Coney Island. Tough dude, too.”
I could see progress. It was working. I was calm, collected. Solid delivery. It was all in the delivery. The belief. The get over, over was in the belief. Then delivery.
He can’t get over, over.
Shaking, sobbing. Slobbering. Strengthening the travelers. Crawly traveler fingers working toward the knife.
“So your daddy is a cop, huh,” Traveler #1 snickered.
I maintained my composure. Surprisingly calm. Living in the moment.
“Yes, a good one. For years. He’ll be waiting for us at the station.”
In my mind, “dad” became, he WAS: Roy Scheider in “The Seven-Ups.”
Then it happened…
An over, over.
1). Decide. Now. Right Now. Who Get’s Over, Over: – Life will overwhelm you. Ride over you. It’s a bitch traveler. We are travelers. You’re a traveler. Looking to get over. But who gets over, over? Who wins? You must. Size up your overs. They are in your life now. They’re there every day. A mindless boss is an over, a partner who saps your strength, a person who says they care, then they don’t, the guy who cuts you off in the parking lot. All travelers. Your mind is the ultimate traveler. Ready to knife you unless you can get over, over. Until you can convince it not to. True belief. Cool delivery. Think ahead. Work backwards.
Analyze a situation from the conclusion you seek and work backwards to create steps to get over, over. Oh, you’re in for a mugging. You can’t avoid it. It’s ok to be Michael. To wobble. To sob. Until it’s time. To turn it over. In your mind build the over, over muscle. Keep fighting. You will die without the over, over. Or face a life worse than death. Always afraid of the travelers.
2). Someone is going to get hurt in the over, over. Blood will spill. Your blood will run because you ride both tracks. To and from your destination the travelers await. You must board the train knowing the over, over is a healer. You’ll live to ride again. More aware of travelers than ever before. Cold shadows – warm now. You’re behind the over. You’re strong enough to get over, over. What’s in store for you on your next trip? Your next business venture? Failure is an over. How do you get over, over to succeed? How will you climb the carcasses, ghosts of past travelers?
3). Get over, over your financial derail. A mistake you can’t get over. Because you make the same mistake consistently. You sit on losing investments thinking they’ll “come back.” You can’t get over, over. Intel was at 90 bucks a share in 1999 and it’ll over, over at 100 again. Your cost basis is a traveler. Anchoring in on the price you paid for an investment is a mugger. It robs you of money. Instead of experiencing the cut, the blood, you sit and wait. Forever. When the money could have been over, over in a winning investment.
Michael was crying. Still.
“And what about you fat ass? Is your dad a cop, too?” Traveler #2 laughed. Directed his question. In Michael’s face.
“No,” Michael said. My dad is in the army. And he taught me something.”
Suddenly, Michael was standing. He grabbed the knife handle sticking out of Traveler #1 pants. Out of nowhere. Suddenly. He had the blade exposed in a second. Moving it rapidly, slashing at the cold shadows.
Red. Traveler #1 – Cut. Shocked. An over, over.
More red. Traveler #2 cut. Slashed on the forearm. More over, over.
Even. More. Red. In the over, over I was cut. Below the right ear. Blood will indeed spill in the over, over.
The wounded travelers fled. Gone. Michael was shaking. He dropped the weapon. I didn’t know. His dad taught him how to fight. How to disarm. The crying was a tactic for Michael. He was working backwards, acting vulnerable. Until the over, over.
“Did I do good? Your talking gave me time to think.”
I hugged him until we reached our destination. The candy. The rides. The happiness in the over, over.
We create fear.
You can feel it coming.
We are the travelers.
You are the over.
Disarm the travelers.
Feel fear move on.
Watch it flee.
Embrace it on the next trip.
You’re now over the over.
And a great ride ahead.