My dad's face wasn't normal. His usual excited look was replaced by a look of fear and desperation. He quickly grabbed a roll and shoved it into his mouth. His eyes looked like two black holes that reached deep and pulled out some kind of primal fear. My mother, brother and sister were out of state for a school field trip. Their bus had broken down, so they said they had to stay the night in a hotel. My mother had left some pasta and dinner rolls to tide us over until morning. She was an amazing cook, I even looked forward to eating leftovers of her cooking. My father was a defense attorney in the city, so he would usually have to drive a good thirty minutes to get to work. Today, the car was in the shop, so he had to take the red line train to get to work.
I looked at him with a concern look and faintly asked, "Are you alright, dad?"
He looked up and stared into my eyes. His black hole-like pupils sent a shock through my body.
My father said, "My son, you have no clue what I have seen. I was waiting in the station for the train, when this man came up to me. He was an older man, and was wearing a nice suit. He had a cardboard sign around his neck that read: 'Praise Christ, His name is blessed' and a picture of a cross under it. I had heard him screaming from the entrance to the station. He had this thick accent... it sounded African. The man was repeating the exact same thing over and over, Praise Christ! Praise Christ! occasionally stopping to talk to people. He walked up to this younger couple and began to yell about how Jesus had given His life for us, and how we didn't respect Him anymore. I thought it was sad..." my father's voice trailed off.
We had never been an especially religious family, but we would occasionally go to church to please my grandparents. Hell, I'm leaning towards atheism these days. It probably had something to do with my dad going to a catholic school. He went to one of those schools you hear about, the ones where the nuns would bash your hands with long rulers if you spoke back to them. Ironic, in my opinion. Trying to get kids to believe in God, but pushing them farther away with every hit. He cleared his throat again and started to speak.
Next he went up to this Muslim woman, who began to scream at him when he came up to her. Most of the people in the station thought there was going to be a fight. This punk standing next to me began to laugh. Skateboard in one hand, iPhone in the other, and a beanie on his head. I scolded the kid for laughing, but before I could say anything, the train arrived. I picked up my brief case and walked on. Nothing really peculiar happened on the ride there, besides some woman with her kids and a dog on her lap. The kids were pushing the dog into their arms and trying to get it to stop barking. Who the hell brings their dog on the train anyways? The next stop, I got off to transfer to the orange line. As I was about to go down the stairs to get to the next station, the African preacher was there. This time he was ranting about how people didn't care about children anymore, and then went on a rant about abortion. The man obviously had a screw loose, but it was just weird seeing him again. This time he was different though. His once chiseled hair was now longer, he had a beard, and his suit was now a different shade of grey than it was before. This time he was even more angry. I hadn't even seen him get on the train to get there."
I was now wondering if the story was going to stop or if he was going to keep going.
I went on the next station, and got off. This time, there were only two people in the station. There was an older woman and an older man. The woman was sobbing into the man's shoulder. He looked forward at an ad for Burger King. The man began to drool and the woman started to cry even harder. Then the preacher was there again. He ran up to them and started screaming at them. He was vicious. He screamed at her about how the president was the Devil, and how she was a demon for voting for him.
He continued to scream at her until the train arrived. I got on and took a seat on the almost empty train. A man in the corner kept coughing for the entire ride, and the preacher had boarded the train this time. He stared at me the entire time. Just looking at me with a stern look on his face. His face was now cut, and he was wearing a winter jacket. The sign was still around his neck, but now it was wet. The ink dripped down the sign onto the man's boots. The man looked older and even had a limp walking off the train. I got off too and walked quickly to the bus to get home.
My father's hands were now in his hair, he was looking down with awestruck eyes.
I got on the bus and this time, the preacher was there again. He looked like a ninety year old man, and was in hospital gown. He was carrying an IV bag that was directly into his arm. It was pumping some kind of black liquid into his veins. The only other passenger on the bus was the same dog from earlier. It was barking at me this time, and looked rabid. The bus ride felt like an eternity, and when we finally reached my stop, the bus driver passed it. I walked to the front of the bus to ask him... but his face. His was void of any facial features, only flaps of skin covering where the mouth, nose and ears were suppose to be.
His eyes were still there, though. His green eyes looked like he was afraid. An upside down cross was carved into his face. His look was the only thing I needed to see to know that something was wrong. The doors opened and I sprinted away, not looking back. Every time I reached a new street, I saw him there with the dog. Each time, his body more decayed, and wearing a different outfit. I finally got home and came in to eat dinner.
This was insane. Had my father snapped? I looked at him, confused, and begged him to tell me more, but he kept staring behind me. I told him that we can get him help, that everything will be alright. Everything wasn't going to be alright. Nothing was going to be the same now. My mother would be left alone with me and my siblings. What were we going to do for money? My mother stayed at home, she hasn't had a job since I was born. My father began to say something.
"Son, everything will be alright, but-" he looked directly behind me and tears came out of his eyes. I asked him what he was trying to say, but he ignored me.
"Believe me when I tell you that your mother and I love you," my father said. I began to cry too. I told him how much I loved him and mom and how everything will be alright. He lifted his hand, signaling me to stop talking and said in a faint voice:
"Son... he's behind you."
Written by The Damn Batman