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On The Subway
by Albert Russo

Opposite me, a mastroiannic character settled with all her parcels - they didn’t contain any presents, I can assure you, more like knick knacks for an evening picnic in the Bowery.  She had the bust of Oinka the rhino and her face was daubed in a higgeldy-piggeldy fashion, like someone had given her regular knocks on the elbow while she was trying to apply some makeup.  What she had on resembled a wraparound quilt which had probably served as a nest for mice in the late 1890’s, with glass beads and mica chips sown around the threadbare patches of silk or cotton to give it a touch of ... originality - more like an antique mirror that broke into a thousand tiny pieces, scattered all over.  Right above her ankles, which had the consistency of Parma ham, you could see the lace trimmings of at least three petticoats, don’t ask me what color they were, and underneath all of it, galoshes which could have fitted King Kong.  In the jungle, she would have given a heart attack to the hungriest tiger.

She’d goggle at me, huffing and puffing like an otary - I didn’t say ovary, you pervert, an otary is a bloated seal - that had just bumped into the wreckage of the Titanic, licking her mustachioed chops every once in a while, which, by the way, were tainted in mauve.  Then, luckily for me, she recognized a passenger who had just gotten in, a little lady who wore a fur hat that covered her ears and a brown winter coat enhanced by a fox collar.  For her sake, I hope that they were both fake.

“Oh, but that’s my sweet Rita, what a nice surprise!” the otary exclaimed in a loud voice, while she pushed her immediate neighbors away to make room for her friend.  The lil lady remained dumbstruck like she’d just met the abominable snow woman.  Then, recomposing herself, she tried to step back, but the otary began to pat the empty space next to her insistently and the lil lady whom everyone was now staring at had no choice but to take the offered seat.  And clacking her tongue, the otary said:

“I don't know if it's those subway lights - I hardly ever take the subway, it turns people into potential criminals - but you do look a bit green. Have you been ill lately?"

The lil lady was so embarrassed, she probably wished she were a snail that could shrink back into its shell and disappear.  I must admit though that those two made a very strange pair.  

The otary went on, talking in her booming voice as if they were all alone.

“Have you heard about those two thugs burglarising the apartments of little old ladies and abusing them?  They've been on the rampage for several weeks now and the cops can't get their paws on them.  You'd better watch out, they're supposed to be operating around your neighborhood.  Hope you won't be the next victim.

From the author's GOSH ZAPINETTE! series (10 episodes) published by (India)
Excerpt from ZAPINETTE GOES TO NEW YORK (ZNY) by Albert Russo