It Started with the Nikes

It started with the Nikes.

There’s an electric kind of urgency to London during rush hour. In that twilight zone, you become faceless and nameless, a top of a head, an obstacle for the latecomer who never quite makes it through the closing doors of the departing train. I welcome that tranquil insignificance. In the carriage of a thousand anonymous, you are free to care a little less about the over ground world, free to relax all interest in anything in particular.

Imagine my surprise when I, during one of these hazy commutes, found myself interested in something in particular.

Across the carriage, behind, through and around the anonymous, I saw a pair of shoes that I rather liked. They were Nike Air Max 9.0 trainers, they were a screaming red, and they were exactly the same as those I was wearing. They were crossed, left over right, with mild arrogance.

I searched for their resident, and I couldn’t find him at first. I met many an insipid eye before I found his. They were dark and they smiled at me, without his mouth.

I looked away, edgy suddenly. I had never seen eyes like it. I stole a look back at him and found everything about him to be imposing: his height, the angle of his jaw, the illegible expression on his face. He was five feet away from me, but he was suffocating me.

So quickly it winded me, our eyes touched again. They stayed touching, like lips touch, past Farringdon. The carriage ejaculated a few commuters at Moorgate. They stayed touching, like hands touch, past Liverpool Street. And the carriage purged itself of all those that didn’t matter for anything.

As the car rolled and plunged in tunnels, so did we. His hands were in my hair, and on my back, and under my shirt. My hands were on his neck, in his trousers, on his lips. And we moved together all the way to Mile End.

Neither of us spoke. Neither of us closed the five odd feet between us. I alighted, alone in the hot chaos of our fictional encounter.

I never saw him again. And to this day, I’ve never been touched like I was touched by the guy across the carriage in the Nike Air Max’s.

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