Time stopped as we situated our feet onto the moving escalator to enter the Metro Station. I looked behind, and saw the blinking streetlights, heard the monotonous cars, and wondered, would I ever be coming back up?
“Don’t be nervous now, I promise you are not going to die,” Jeremy said.
“I know. I trust you, jeez.” The blinking advertisements threaten me to go see 21 Jumpstreet. I’ll consider. I just hope there aren’t any drug dealers down here. Highly possible.
“I trust you, too,” he smiles.
“I’m kind of really excited, actually. I have this thing I kind of live by, basically I try to do something I’ve never done every day. And, I’ve never gone on the underground metro in Los Angeles. And I’ve never told someone that I find him sexually attractive and maybe we should hang out. And I’ve never been kissed like that before.”
“So a pretty big day for you, huh?”
“Yea, pretty big.” I grin.
“Now follow me,” and he takes my delicate fingers in his rough, large palm.
The station is pretty empty, and it’s oddly quiet. He takes out his metro card, and slides it. “You first,” he tilts his head.
“Really, do you want me to pay you back?”
“No, don’t worry about it.”
“Thank you.” And I walk through. He follows, and we go down another set of escalators. We are three levels under Los Angeles, earthquake hazard, or what.
We get on the red line, there are at least twenty-five people in the train. Who knew there was a rush hour on the metro in Los Angeles?
Our hands are holding on to the same pole, so close, our fingers are almost touching. I’m holding my breath, as we rattle under Sunset Blvd., and Melrose. His chest is resting on my neck, his nose in my ear, whistling a happy tune. And then, his left hand dangles and his long, thin fingers start to wiggle. He tightens his muscle, and begins to lift. I watch his hand, wondering what he is going to do with it.
The train jolts, and I feel myself tipping to the right. His left hand saves me, grips the narrow of my waist, and holds me up. I feel its warmth, and the safety. Wondering if he likes how thin, yet curvy I am, wondering if he wishes my shirt was on the floor, wondering if he likes being this close.
“Thanks,” I say.
“No problem.” He doesn’t let go. I lean back, into him, nestling into his collarbone.
I lift my lips to his ear, accidently, yet purposely nudging his cheek to whisper, “With you, I don’t feel so alone.”
He has a slightly confused look on his face, but it clears in seconds. His corners light upward, and instead of saying anything, he takes my hand. Squeezes.
The car halts to a stop. We get off, and stand holding hands, as the train whizzes by. The whoosh as it gains speed thunders in the cylindrical tunnel, my hair blows dramatically.
“You’re going to love this place, I swear.” He starts walking really fast, eager to get outside. We leave the underground behind, even walking up the escalator.
We step out. It’s dark, and there are translucent, wandering faces asking for change. There is graffiti on the floor and a stench of trash. The moon is poised on the edge of a metallic fence that encircles the square that has the words “Erishing Square” lit up, minus the “P” that should be there. Sketchy is right.
“Come on, it’s right over here.” He leads the way, his feet moving fast, his hand holding on tight. He stops walking, stands up straight, and throws up his arms, “ We’re here.”
A glowing yellow sign, directly above his arms in a noodley font states, Macncheeza.
“They have the best mac n’cheese, I swear. You can pick whatever toppings, and the size, and they make it. It’s genius. The owner was cousins or something with the guy who created Subway, or Kinkos, I can’t remember.”
I laugh, and ogle at the menu that is written in bold print and very efficient. “This is SO cooool! I have no clue what I’m going to get, I love everything!” My obnoxious flirtiness juxtaposes itself into the night, awakening the sleeping hobo who is propped up near the door in a rugged sleeping bag.
He holds the door open for me. “Do you have any allergies?”
“Is there anything you do not like on the menu?”
“Good.” Then he turns to the thin guy with lanky hair, a scraggly beard, and awkward wrists whose name tag says Tony in thin Times New Roman Font and has a small USC bracelet around his wrist, and says, “We’ll have one Daddy Mac Surprise, please.”
“A surprise. Nobody’s ever asked me for a surprise. I don’t want to make something you don’t like.” Erg. When people say that, I lose a little faith in humanity. I mean, we’re asking for a surprise, surprise us. Have fun a little! There are no wrong answers.
“We like everything.”
“Okay, one surprise coming up,” the cashier says.
“And just so you know, I love USC,” Jeremy says, “I was an English major.” Tony looks up startled, enthralled at the camaraderie.
“Me too, but focused in creative writing. What year did you graduate?”
“No way bro, me too! Woah, this is crazy. Let’s see, did you know Mark Wallace?”
“Mark Wallace was my best friend!”
“What a small world.” Tony then says, “Hey, I don’t know what you’re doing tonight, but there’s a poetry open mic tonight at the café across the road, Solar de Cahuenga, or as I call it Café Cuchara tonight, if you want to come. I’m going to be reciting some stuff.”
“That sounds totally awesome. Sammy, are you up for it?” He said my name, time to respond, as I had slightly fazed out due to the incredible scents and the fact that their bro- bonding is rebounding, and that I was struck by the fact that he looked so familiar, but I couldn’t say how.
“More than up, I’m on top of it. I’ve been there a couple times actually. It’s kinda my favorite coffee shop ever.”
“Super sick. Can’t wait to see you guys there, it starts at 8.” Then Tony took the Daddy Mac that he had been creating with all kinds of goodies, and tossed it into the oven.
“So, Tony. This is my first time here, any cool facts I should know?” He eyes popped up, probably because he thought I was the whipped, quiet, shy girl, not really one to start a conversation; he probably thought that was Jeremy’s job.
“Well, I think the most important thing you should know is that I actually just do this as a side job. I am currently creating my own Utopian Society. I have already designed the government and the economy. I’m now focusing more so on the details.”
“Woah, that sounds interesting. Like a sci-fi futuristic book on your philosophies on society, interesting.”
“Exactly! do you know a synonym for department?”
“No, no, not quite.” Then there was a loud, rather obnoxious tick. Tony jumped quite literally two inches in the air, rolled his shoulders together, clicked his tongue to the top of his mouth, and pulled out our surprise. He slid it onto the counter, “Bon Apetite.”
“Thanks,” said Jeremy, as he picked it up and brought it to our little table in the corner. We were both so hungry, that for those first few minutes, we just ate. Spoonful after spoonful of that miracle mac. We didn’t even know what was in it, but it was incredible.
“Gosh, this is so good,” I spooned into the conversation.
“Yes, gosh, I haven’t had macncheese in forever,” he swallowed.
“I know, I never used to get it at home. My Dad didn’t like cooked cheese and my mother was allergic to gluten, so no mac and cheese for Sammy.”
“Missing out. I had it almost every night as a midnight snack.”
“Midnight snack! Let me guess, you don’t sleep?”
He shrugged, and rushed his hand in his hair, while still scooping up a bite. “Well, I just had a lot of troubles falling asleep, so I would write and read and think. You know.”
“Not really. The minute my head is on the pillow, I can barely stay awake. I’ve always thought that the best things happen late at night, from 1oclock to 3oclock.”
“Some things do.” He took a bite and swallowed. I watched his lips, so thick, so full. “Tonight, you will stay up all night, and you will find out what happens from 1-3 in the morning, I promise you.”
I nodded, a cheesy smile dangling from my nose. “Yes. Yes. Yes. Have I told you that I like you?”
“Yep, you even told me that you wanted to have sex with me, but don’t worry. I won’t hold it against you.”
I shrugged and smiled awkwardly.