Excerpt from a short story

The train was perverted. Boarding it was like stepping onto a porno set. The aisle carpet and window curtains were the bright red of cabaret lipstick. The seat upholstery featured key-sized flamingos and peacocks without negative space, entangled in accidental sex positions. Each row, without middle armrests, was in essence a loveseat, bent on forcing strangers closer together. I needed to hold my suitcase in front of me and sideways to fit it down the aisle. Every step it tapped my legs while my briefcase ricocheted off my hip and the sides of seats and its strap weighed a blood-flushed impression onto my shoulder.The cart’s final row had two open seats on my right and a couple of little old ladies on my left. I thought the design team had made a mistake; there was enough space to fit another row and then some. I’d have plenty of legroom, but be missing a lunch tray and seatback pocket and facing a blue wall. The little old ladies had white bouffant hairdos that resembled cotton candy, and they chatted about childcare.

“She will never be allowed to open a preschool: her house is filled with gluten!”

Stowage was a shelf with a metal rail meant to serve as fencing to keep luggage from falling out. I stood on my tiptoes, trying to push my fat suitcase onto the shelf through the gap between the metal rail and ceiling. Behind me this beautiful eccentric chose to wait rather than shimmy passed me. Her irises were the neon green of colored contacts. She wore a spiked dog collar for a headband, clips of skulls and crossbones in her lavender-dye hair that went straight down her back. On her neck was a tattoo of a naked woman wearing a pirate hat, with a sword in her hand, parrot on her shoulder, and sprinkle of gold coins on her boobs.

She cleared her throat in a comically fake way to get my attention.

“Let me give you a hand.”