I'm on the public train, headed for towards "home", to my sister's house and the chaotic company of her family. South Florida, flat, warm and dingy; I'll save my money, then move on.
Across the aisle, to my right, is an old black man, maybe in his sixties, with weary eyes, one sagging with fatigue, the other malformed from some accident or fight or disease in his life. He holds his train schedule with both hands and nods his head in sleep.
Behind me is a Spanish mother and her hijita. She is singing a lullaby to this black-haired child, too big to be held easily, but her mother cradles her anyway. At her feet is a large plastic animal cracker container, shaped like a teddy bear, full to its blue screw-on lid with fresh salsa. Cilantro leaves and tomato seeds scattered inside and I can taste the sweet, hot, earthy mix in my mouth. I envy her next meal at home.
In front of me, several seats forward, the same wide, wind-red eyes keep meeting mine and I wonder, 'Is that man crazy or tired or lonely that he stares at me so hard?' A quick look to check, yes, he is still staring. I say a quick prayer of thanks - this train is well occupied and lit.
In the seat just ahead of me is a middle-aged black couple. They fell asleep about three stations back, leaning on each other like a human teepee, her cheek on his shoulder, his head on her head. And so, with each jolt of the train, they absorb the shock for one another and sleep.
The old man with the weary eyes has developed a persistent scratchy grumble. He does not exert himself into a full cough. He has put his schedule away now, and I see how young his hands look. They are smooth, caramel brown. I wonder what occupation in life has left his eyes so used and his hands so young - a clerk, perhaps, a bus driver. The train stops. He gathers his packages and goes.
The man with crazy eyes is looking out the window now, hands cupped round his face to block the glare of train light against the blackness outside. He sits like a child, with his hand binoculars, just looking and looking.
My stop is next.