Divine Subway Intervention

By Bub 

Bill waited at the Monroe Street subway platform. He'd gotten off work early to go to a dentist appointment on the Northwest side of the city. The platform was relatively empty. An older gentleman resembling Columbo approached. He stood next to Bill, waiting.

"Jeez, I love the subway, you know?" The old man said in a Peter Falk voice while leaning in Bill's direction but without looking toward him.

Bill shook his head in agreement glancing at the old man slightly, unsure if the man was addressing him. There was no one else in proximity.

"Yea, subways are a terrific way to get around underground. In fact, you could say they're the best." The old man said leaning toward Bill again, this time giving Bill a sideways glance at the end as though the last statement was meant as some kind of test.

Bill caught the old man's glance, nodded again, and said "Yep."

The old man smiled, still hunched toward Bill, and stuck out his hand for a shake. "The name's Marion. Marion Miles. You know a lot of times when I tell people my name they say 'Marion, like a girl?' And I say, 'No, Marion like John Wayne'."

Bill shook Marion Miles' hand.

"You a fan of The Duke?" Marion asked.

Without waiting for a reply Marion continued.

"You know, The Duke, now HE was a big fan of subways. Used to ride 'em everywhere when he was underground. Of course, they wouldn't allow horses down in them tunnels, you see."

Bill pursed his lips, pushed out his chin and raised his eyebrows. He shook his head in acknowledgment the way you do when you hear familiar words but have no idea what they are supposed to mean when put together in that particular order.

"Yea, no horses down here, no sir," said Marion, "Of course you could probably get into one of them giant caverns they got down south on one. But why would you want to, I mean, everyone knows the best way to navigate them is by underground canoe."

Bill glanced down the track to see if the train was arriving yet.

"Yes sir, my pop used to tell me, growing up, he'd say, 'Son, subways are the underground canoes of the future.'"

Marion paused briefly in deep reflection.

"He'd ALWAYS say that, even when it wasn't particularly appropriate. He'd get this real distant look in his eyes. 'Dad, you coming' to my baseball game this afternoon?' And real wistfully, 'Son, subways are the underground canoes of the future.' ... 'I love you, dad.' ... 'Son, subways are the underground canoes of the future.'... Strange man he was."

Bill made an uncomfortable face that made him look as though he was trying to eat his own smile.

"Ha! That's a joke, son. My dad never really said that. I just thought I would tie those two disparate ideas together in an absurd context for the sake of our amusement. But, yea, subways are the best I tell ya."

Bill laughed nervously. The subway approached.

Marion lit up. He held onto to his Fedora and his trench coat began to flap in the turbulence. "Eh, this is great aint it!!?!" Marion yelled.

The train came to a stop.

"Oh man, what a world young man." Marion said shaking his head in awe and disbelief.

The subway doors opened. Bill got on. Marion stayed back on the platform.

"Hey fella," Marion shouted, "underground canoes of the future..." and made exaggerated pointing motions toward the subway.

The doors shut. As the train took off Bill watched in wonderment as Marion disintegrated into the air.

Bill never took the subway again.


  1. haha. i wish my subway rides were like this! 'subways are the underground canoes of the future.' so true.

  2. I loved this. I laughed so hard at the ending. I would wear a t-shirt that said "Subways are the underground canoes of the future," but then again I wear a t-shirt that says "Dollywood" frequently. So don't think of me as a fashionista.

  3. I will look at subways in a whole new light now. Fabulous.

  4. This has happened to me several times while riding the "F train" in New York City.