It’s a little after five. Wednesday night. Tomorrow’s New Year’s Eve.

Quitting time.

Everyone is rushing to get on the train at West Fourth Street. Streets of Manhattan are crowded.

The platform downstairs is crowded.

Seems like everywhere you turn, it’s crowded.

The Brooklyn-bound F-train pulls in. Across the platform people heading uptown are standing waiting for their train. Seems to be a delay but you can never hear what the announcements are telling you.

Packed, back-to-back. No chance for Billy to get on.

Downtown F sign

Gotta wait for the next train.

“I should’ve taken a cab home,” he mumbles to himself. He has a pocket filled with cash. Today was payday.

Despite it being cold outside, the platform is hot.  Seems like West 4th is always hot.

“I should’ve jumped on the A-train and taken it to Jay Street,” he thinks to himself. But he realizes that may not have been a good idea. Last time Billy took the A-train he got into an argument with someone.

Another F-train pulls in to the station. This one is less crowded then the last train. Billy gets on and he’s on his way home. Of course he can’t get a seat so he stands against the door.  It’s been a long day. He started at seven this morning and went all the way to four-thirty. Billy’s an iron worker out of Local 40. They take two coffee breaks which last ten minutes and have a thirty minute lunch break.

Billy’s guys head to the Blarney Stone around the corner from the site for lunch but Billy sits on the bench outside the basketball court at West 4th street. He watches bad basketball.

“You fucking guys are all ball hogs, pass the God dam ball!” he screams out to the guys playing pick up ball.

No one said anything back to him. Would you? Billy’s a big dude.

Thirty minutes later the F-train pulls into 15th street. Billy noticed a few stops before a lot of people got off at Smith and Ninth.  He found that unusual.

“Red Hook must be jumpin’,” Billy thinks to himself.

After stepping off the train Billy climbs the steps to the street taking two steps at a time. His head is down. He’s got some extra juice.  Work boots laces untied.

Before Billy goes home to his wife and two kids he stops off at Farrell’s. He rents a five-room, railroad apartment on the avenue for $2,400.

He sees his boy Johnny standing on the corner of 16th street and ninth avenue holing a container in his right hand.

“Yo Johnny, what’s up bro?”

“Nothing much man, just having a cold one before I go home.”

Johnny lives down on tenth avenue. He’s divorced with two kids. His wife is now dating a body builder from fifth avenue. She bugs him for child support.

Billy slaps Johnny five and heads into the bar.

Farrell’s is crowded. Pretty common for this time.

Eddie is behind the stick. He knows what Billy wants and begins to fill up a container. Billy pays, grabs his beer and walks outside.

“Who ya like tomorrow?” Johnny asks Billy.

“I like Michigan State with the points,” he says.

“I’m down a lot, gotta get a winner.” Johnny informs him.

“Take Oklahoma over Clemson,” Billy suggests.

Johnny looks at Billy then takes a sip of his beer.

“You sure?” Johnny asks?

-Red

Hoops135@hotmail.com

 

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