There was a peculiar fellow on the 8:16 today. He was a big white guy, around 6′ 3″ and 220. He wore the geeky horn-rimmed glasses one tends to associate with psychos, and he had a blackened tooth on the side of his mouth.
I first spotted him when he stopped in the small alcove near the door that heads to the next car, next to the 1 3/4-seater. He stopped, put his bag down, and searched frantically for something in his wallet–presumbably a ticket. He seemed overly agitated, and I moved him out of the file of Ordinary Commuter into another file marked Person of Interest.
I sort of forgot about him as I lamented my dubious judgement in grabbing a window seat in a four-seater, and my foolhardly thinking in predicting that both the seat next to me and the seat across from me would remain open (seat next filled in North White, seat across filled…tightly…in White Plains).
The nervous guy had left the door alcove area, but then returned, trying the door between cars and failing to successfully get through it. (It was not locked.) He looked more agitated. He spoke hurriedly to the person sitting in the 1-3/4 seater; I don’t know what was said. The man wore a wedding ring, which led me to think he was not psycho. Then again, if we can borrow a hackneyed ’80s sitcom convention, maybe it was married life that pushed him to psychocity.
The man then disappeared down the aisle again.
Around this time, other people too had moved the man into their Person of Interest file; perhaps it’s the glut of terrorism stories in the news these past few weeks. There was the casual glancing around the train, to see who might be a potential ally should the man go crazy. The man cattycorner to me was an older fellow with a bad gimp; he wouldn’t do much good, but his cane, sitting on the seat between him and the woman who’d squeezed in across from me, might come in handy. That’s the way you think when you’re squeezed onto a train with a potential psycho and no way out.
The man walked past us a third time. Eerily, he’d removed his jacket and was wearing–yes–a long-sleeve camouflage t-shirt. He was murmuring to himself and pacing nervously. He bent down and fished something from his bag. I looked across the aisle and saw three men of about 40 who were friends; they looked healthy and alert–good allies, just in case.
The agitated man stood in the entrance/exit train vestibule as we approached 125th. One of the three men across the aisle trained a careful eye on him. My back turned to the vestibule, I watched my commuter colleague for clues.
Thankfully, the psycho guy jumped off at 125th. A dozen people on our car followed him out, relieved to see his back.
I could see the guy on the platform. He sprinted into an elevator, slamming into a huge black guy who was trying to get out. Once inside, his arm crept outside the elevator, his fingers frantically slapping at the buttons on the outside wall, thinking this was perhaps the first elevator in elevator history where the riders select their floor with buttons placed on the outside of the car.
The doors shut and the psycho man was gone from our sight.