August 6, 6:34 p.m.
N Train – Times Square to Atlantic Avenue
A woman in a lycra shirt, long sleeved, is bent at the knees ruffling through an overstuffed backpack in the middle of the car. All the seats are taken, and none of the gentlemen seem inclined to make room for Kate, which appears to be her name, if the faux diamonds encrusted tricep-high on her left sleeve are to be believed. She pulls a paperback copy of Emma out of her backpack after considerable searching, and stands to grab the handlebar while straddling the pack.
It is with almost Austenian poetry that she finally snares a seat next to a man holding a copy, also paperback, of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in his lap. He has black hair indistinguishable from his black beard, and at the moment is paying little attention to his book and more to the gal on his right arm. They joke quietly into each others ears, smiling frequently, whispering sweet, possibly Romantic nothings. They kiss, a lot.
The pair depart at Canal St., and a slight Asian woman takes the seat, turning the literary coincidence into a sitcom as she opens US Weekly to the Red Carpet spread. In a deference to progress, our Emma reader, Kate, pulls out her cell phone in preparation for the 90 seconds the train will spend in T-Mobile’s coverage area over the bridge. She leaves a white piece of paper, folded in half, to mark her page. She listens to a voicemail.
Meanwhile, the Asian woman has maintained an assassin’s focus on her magazine, pausing only briefly to tear a “Save 50% Off The Cover Price! Subscribe today!” postcard from the pages. There’s an eclectic mix of reading elsewhere on the train: two Metro New York’s, an anime comic book, Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle, a book written in Japanese, a Post, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, a book about investing, another with Tom Clancy smirking on the back in a red mesh baseball cap, aviators, and a bomber jacket, a Village Voice, and one New York magazine, held open to the listings section. Returning below ground and out of range, our girl opens her book back to page 72, probably reading about Emma screwing everything up. She recently bought the book for $4.95 from Borders. Unless she’s a subscriber, the Asian woman paid just four cents more for her magazine.