Thursday, September 24, 2009

Harcourt's Token Theorem (9.6.9)

Harcourt's Token Theorem (9.6.9)

Harcourt eats a sandwich sitting on a subway bench in the 14th and Union Sq. station. He's there all day and night, every day every night. He's not homeless, poor or incommunicative, not waiting for a particular train either. He's actually quite well off, a learned man with a Masters Degree in Astrophysics and Mathematics.
He owns a duplex on upper Park ave. which he now sublets month to month to some self important celebrity of the week chef.

He's made a fairly good amount of friends in this particular twist of the city bowels, some Homeless, some poor, some commuters. Strangers give him money and food. The familiars just food. He eats that, the money goes right to his subterranean pals. The Transit cops have turned a blind eye to him, because he looks "clean". In other words things are status quo with the quid po-po.

He often engages in engaging conversation with the station "roommates", regulars and passers thru, some of which (the roommates) have equal if not better credentials than him; just the luck of the draw that circumstances landed them there. The most common question Harcourt is asked is well, I'll let that one be your guess, I've no doubt you know what it is... Harcourt is pretty cagey about this topic and hurriedly though diplomatically evades it every time.

The mentally ill are somewhat different scenario, Harcourt gives off a sorta comforting vibe, enough so that there are really no issues when they're in his vicinity, hence, the cops don't notice them at those times either. odd.

Bathrooms are an issue. The police don't usually let the the dirty ones in the public toilets. Harcourt is an exception, but this is a privilege he doesn't allow himself.... Not because he feels an allegiance to his cohorts, but for fear of missing the trains. Am I contradicting myself, not really....

So he goes were all the others go. Disappearing into the darkness with a look of reluctance and fear, to emerge soon after exuding one of relief. Not just for the obvious reasons, uh uh, because no matter how much time one spends down there, once you've walked past those flickering fluorescent station lights into the dim dampness of the dirty tunnels, there's no knowing what you might encounter. Ask any of the "residents" (including Harcourt), and they'll tell tales that would scare a Navy Seal. Not so much those cops though, they just go conveniently deaf and arrest the poor souls, again, should they report what they've seen, or worse, experienced. Not good. Harcourt never complained or reported anything.

So Harcourt doesn't leave, no station bathrooms, dare he miss what he pensively waits for.

Harcourt came up with a theorem.... it's based on a sequence of events involving the trains that pass thru the 14th street station. You've got the "4","6", "L, "N" and "Q", they run pretty much all the time (unless the construction dudes are milking their union contracts), and then the "5" and "R" run during the day with the "W".

Now, to some degree, it wouldn't matter at all if he was there to see if his theorem was true, (you'll see why), but he felt, as a responsible scientist, he had to prove at least part of the equation so as not to leave it purely empirical: There was a connection between a seemingly common, though random, sequence of subway events and a newly discovered galaxy 1205 light years away, deemed m-467c6, soon to be renamed Harcourt's Galaxy. He had discovered it at one of the Mauna Kea Observatories in Hawaii sometime back.

The trains: It usually doesn't go this way, (well it usually doesn't follow any logic whatsoever) but if the L, N, W, Q, 4, R, 5 and 6 trains ran in that sequence, at anytime, m-467c6 would be safe from being sucked into the vortex of a nearby black hole. There was just no way of knowing when and or if this sequence would ever happen. Even Harcourt's advanced calculations could only approximate the chaotic NYC subway system's train schedule. So he waited. it's been quite sometime without a shave.

Sleeping was another annoyance. Not because he needed to stay awake, but because he was a very light sleeper to begin with. So he'd never miss a train for the noise. Ever heard the squeal of a NYC subway coming to a slow and agonizing stop? Maybe that's why there's so little glass (left) down there.

Harcourt subsisted on handouts, micro-naps and hope, hope that his theorem was correct, and correct as soon as possible. This was not even vaguely enjoyable for him.

The fatigue was too much. He fell asleep (rush hour no less), who knows how long it was, an hour, a day? Trains and trains and trains passed thru Union Square Station. Harcourt fast asleep dreaming of a safe m-467c6.

BLAM! He woke up in a shuddering shiver and a cold sweat. "Oh Shite!" He'd missed it. He was convinced he'd missed it. He became seriously suicidal. He was going to throw himself in front of the next train shooting thru. But yup, you guessed it. Around the bend the lights grew, brighter and brighter as the thunder of rusted rolling flanges on rail grew to a cacophonous din. It was an express train speeding it's way uptown. It was the the "L". Harcourt froze, for whatever reason, he couldn't move. Another train, the "N", then the "W", "Q", "4", "R", "5" and "6"!.

Harcourt backed slowly away from the yellow plastic caution strip. Quietly took a deep breath, straitened his tattered beige patch elbowed corduroy blazer, turned around and walked up the stairs and out of The Union Square Street Station.

He emerged in to a cool New York night. Parties, the the welcome smell of street food, restaurants and garbage. No goodbyes. No looking back, he never rode the subway anyway, felt it was too unhealthy.

Harcourt hails a cab, Tells the driver to drop him at Columbus Circle. It's beautiful out, he takes a quick gaze at the unusually clear starry packed sky. Walks slowly thru central park to his apartment. The chef, gone. He just so happened to move out that day. No trace of him except for a pile of rent checks on the counter, including first, last and security.

Harcourt drops his keys next to the checks, walks down his hall walled with galactic Hubble photos. To his room. Sits slowly down on the edge of his bed looks at the clock, !2 Am on the nose. Leans over and peacefully falls asleep in Kubrickian fetal position.

It'll be light years before we'd know if Harcourt was right.

©2009 Saphin All Rights Reserved.


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