Not magical, quite the opposite really. He brings no talent to the train’s platform, no wonder to the busy passengers’ hectic lives; he is forgettable. In the competition of the crowd to keep eyes from touching others, he goes unnoticed, hidden behind intent stares at remarkable subway poles.
Greasy grey tangles hang limp on the bones of his face. His nose, crooked and long, is halfway hidden by a grey mustache to match. A blue velvet snuggie his cape, a wooden cane his staff.
He sings quietly to himself, keeping rhythm with the cluh cluh sounds of the car on the tracks. Ears listen paper thinly as he gets louder and more confident. Ipods dilute his lyrics. A young boy glances at him from around his mother’s shopping cart, captivated, and does such a strange thing – reckless almost.
He starts to sing along.
An old woman’s eyes emerge from behind a newspaper. Four friends put down their pizza in unison and their heads turn towards the duet. A man with a bicycle moves one pole closer. I feel it first in my lungs, then my heart as it beats faster, then my throat as sound prepares to burst from inside me. Others too have similar expressions, as if something deep within them just detonated.
“The next station is York Mills. York Mills station.”
The man with the bicycle looks out the blackened window reflexively. The old woman checks her watch. The subway car is defused; the sound diffuses throughout the whole space until not even he is singing. The spell broken, I keep my mouth closed until Eglinton.