The station timetable noted the next suburban train to Grand Central New York at 21:15 from platform 8. She ploughed forward as speedily as she could in her heavy boots, sighing at people too slow for her pace, occasionally bumping them out of the way unapologetically. She surged forward up the steep stairwell to her final destination, platform 8. The platform live train clock read 21:13; the sound of New Jersey city traffic was drowned out by the sound of incoming and outgoing trains. A platform speaker was announcing weekend works which were barely audible.
The platform was reasonably quiet. Glaring around, she first noticed a young couple discussing some drab Victorian play. A stressed out stockbroker with his paisley tie hanging lose over his white shirt was struggling to explain some stock options to a client on the phone. She marched down the platform, past a mother and her daughter having an argument in Spanish or what sounded like an argument. 15 metres ahead she saw a woman, about 160cm, in her mid 30's, a little smaller but chubbier. She wore a dark business suit; her hair was completely covered and wore thick glasses. She stopped and stared at the lady whom was squinting hard trying to read the train information TV. "Rich, blind as a bat, weak bitch", she thought to herself giving a slight smile, with her stare not going off the lady.
Annette Greenmayer struggled to read the information TV in the dim lighting. She was relieved to decipher that it was not in relation to current trains. She got the strange feeling someone was watching her. She thought it was just nerves, she was afraid being out late at night. Though she was as much American as anyone else, some still glared at her like she didn't belong; she feared this was happening now. She turned away from the TV and looked out towards the bright lights of New Jersey City.
The sensation of been watched was getting worse, she was too afraid to look around and afraid of harassment.
The ruffian could sense the lady was nervous, "I don't care if she's not on my train, I'm getting the same one as her!" She began flexing her fingers and began to walk slowly nearer the lady.
Annette could hear heavy footwear slowly walk towards her causing the hairs to stand up on the back of her neck. She looked downwards, adjusted her glasses, checked the time on her watch and looked back towards to New Jersey skyline. Her heart began to thump faster. She was worried, people were not afraid to express their hate. The ruffian was 4 metres from her when the New York train rumbled in at speed with the brakes screeching so hard you would think they would break the sound barrier.
Annette was never so happy to hear a train. She entered the train; the immediate carriage was relatively quiet. Her heartbeat began to return to a normal pace. She slowly walked up the aisle to find a seat. She noticed an empty four seat section with 2 seats each side of a mini table. Gingerly she sat down next the window, resting her laptop bag on the table. She began to look out the window and go deep into her thoughts as the train began to roll off.
Her trance was interrupted by the sound of heavy footwear stopping. She looked up. A lady wearing a black spiked Mohican haircut stared down at her. Annette could feel her heart beat speed up again. She could feel the colour go from her cheeks and her arms began to feel shaky. The lady wore a gold nose ring, with 3 ruby ear rings in each ear. She wore a dark tank top with the words 'Possessed American Tour 2012'. Along both arms were several tattoos, with skulls on both biceps. Her blue jeans were ripped at the knees and were held up by a black studded belt. She sat down keeping her glare on Annette, whom nervously had moved her laptop bag onto her knee, the ruffian began studying the terrified Annette "expensive necklace and watch, gold rings, possibly money in the laptop bag, chubby, but not fit, not strong, bad eyesight, easy." She then lifts her feet off the ground and rests them on the vacant seat beside Annette trapping her in.
Annette looked down nervously; the ruffians left foot was rubbing off her right thigh. The ruffians stare never left her 'What am I going to do she thought as she tightened the grip on her laptop bag, she tried not to appear nervous, she stared out the window momentarily, then up the aisle, she thought about hitting the panic button but then, security would probably tell her off as putting your feet on a seat is hardly a security threat. She briefly looked across at the ruffian whom was staring her out of it, nervously, she tried to adjust her seating position, however the ruffians right foot dug into her thigh when she tried, she nervously twirled her necklace in her left hand and adjusted her glasses on her nose with her right hand "What will I do, I'm not a fighter, if she goes for me how do I protect my laptop but, which is more important my possessions or my well-being, I need my glasses anyways, I can't lose them. She adjusted her glasses again, briefly looked over at the ruffian whom had a smirk on her face as she glared, forcing Annette to look down ward.
"We're more alike than you think" stated Annette temporarily making eye contact with the ruffian.
The ruffian let out a grunt, placed both elbows on the table, placed her left fist in her right hand palm and leaned forward 'how's that?' in a deep New York accent. Annette leaned further back in her seat terrified of this bully.
"well we both like music!". The ruffian laughs sarcastically "So you're a death metal fan then mmmmmmmm?"
Annette places her left hand on her chest and begins fiddling with her necklace "I like classical, but it doesn't matter what you like because I reckon music does for us the same thing, it can help us when we're down, we may have different tastes, but we both no doubt appreciate the music talent of own tastes, I bet in death metal there are some real classic tunes you like, I would love to be able to sing, can you sing? My sister sings, she's very good"
"Nope" the ruffian was enjoying the torment, she eyeballed Annette whom was afraid to look at her "So tell me, how else am I like you?"
Annette looked down at her laptop bag and back up at a face glaring angrily at her. "I reckon we both get judged on our appearance without people getting to know us. The amount of prejudice and hate comments I get is just frightening. My community we stand out, easy targets. We're both different but in so many ways we're the same. When you've seen me you've judged me, likewise I've made a judgement on you, was that fair of me no!, was it fair of you to judge me either no!
The ruffian digs her right foot further into Annette's thigh, forcing her tighter into the corner of her seat. The ruffian pounds her right fist into her left palm forcing Annette to jump "So tell me, then what judgement did you make on me?"
Annette nervously played with her necklace with her left fingers, she gave a quick look around, no one was listening or maybe no one was bothered, she wasn't sure. "You have to understand, the amount of prejudice and hate comments I get is just frightening. My community we stand out, easy targets. We can get it from all corners of society. Imagine I was born in this country yet there are several parts of it I wouldn't be welcome or safe in, in fact even in the city where I've spent my whole life. When I saw you I was and still am afraid. I should feel safe in my own city and not frightened to be out at night in case I get harassed based on my religion." She looked around again to try and grab someone's attention but again to no joy. She grabbed a tight hold of her laptop bag to try and hide her trembling arms and also to try and avoid it being easily snatched, though she doubted she would be able to give much resistance.
The ruffian takes her feet off the seat, sits back, folds her hands and lets out a laugh "so if it's so unsafe why the hell don't you move scaredy pants?
Annette looked up from her bag and across at the ruffian "hate has followed us for generations, my family my friends, my work is here. I have bills too, Uncle Sam chases me down too, and I have problems like everyone else. "
The Ruffian puts her feet back up on the seat and her hands behind her head like she was in related mood "mmm what sort of problems has a lady in an expensive suit and expensive jewellery got mmmmmmmmmmm, tell me that much?"
Annette again looked around but no one was playing attention, she took a deep breath, she could feel her heart thumb. Her hands trembled a little. "My husband won't give me a divorce, he's blackmailing me!"
"If he's such a dick, why did you marry him?"
"We both knew each other growing up; we both went to law school. He was a little wild, my parents and his parents were friends, both parents approved. They thought I could quieten him down; we started dating, and then married. Unfortunately he didn't quieten down, he's not overly religious, I am, it's important to me!. I came home one night and found him in bed with another woman, so I kicked him out, it wasn't the first time he cheated on me but the first time I caught him at home with another lady. I told him I want a divorce. I'm partner in my parents' law firm. He won't give it to me unless he gets 25% of the business and buy him out of our apartment at current market value. I was due to have a meeting with him this evening, I had the Rabbi come along but the schmuck never showed up, an hour later he called me, saying he was cancelling. I told him the Rabbi was here to mediate but he laughed, didn't care". Annette eyes began to wet up and she wiped some tears away.
The ruffian began to feel empathy for Annette and removed her feet from the seat again "sounds like you're getting a raw deal there, don't take no shit!"
The sense of fear began to withdraw from Annette "My parents are prepared to give 12% of the business; I don't have the money to buy him out of the apartment. I may have to re-mortgage or just sell it. In order to sell it, I need agreement from him; I don't know if he'll do that for me. My parents tried to reason with him but he laughed them off, his own parents are taking his side, they say it's my fault. Am hoping the Rabbi can help, otherwise I'll never get his divorce, sometimes I think he's doing this to torment me".
The train p.a. announced they were approaching Grand Central and to gather up all personal belongings.
"I'm going on to change at Grand Central for Queens, will you be ok or do you want me to accompany you?" Asked the Ruffian feeling guilt for her earlier bullying.
"I'm going to Crown heights, but thanks, I've a short walk from the subway station then but it's not far and it's well lit up so I will be okay but thank you".
The train came to a halt. Both stood up and a lighted the train together. On exiting the train the Ruffian turned to Annette "I want to apologise for bullying you earlier, I hope your dick of a husband gets what's coming to him and maybe sometime I'll catch you at a classic concert"
"Sure, it's ok, that would be great!" states Annette both turn and go their separate ways, both different but alike in many ways.