Stranger’s On A Train: Jai & Charlie

A plane flies overhead.
Charlie (28) snaps her thumb on the car keys. An alarm hiccups alive. Briefcase in hand, thermos in the other, she glances at her watch. She is already late. She swings open the stairwell door.
In the distance, Jai (34) runs at top speed, aware that time is also not on his side. He attempts to catch the door in mid – swing, but misses by an inch. His feet tumble over his duffle bag, he collapses over onto himself. Charlie glances through the side of her eye at the commotion behind her, marches forward. Jai catches the tail of her skirt through the glass reflection. He grimaces as he hears the patter of high heels furiously climb concrete steps.
At the top of the stairwell Charlie enters the platform to see an oncoming train. The doors open to release impatient passengers, she exchanges their sentiment whilst boarding, enters an empty car. Through the corner of her eye, she hears the familiar immediacy of steps. The train door closes, leaving Jai on the edge of Charlie’s heels once again UNTIL —
On behalf of Pearson International, we would like to apologize for the slight delay.
Charlie glances at her watch, taps her feet with impatience. The train doors slide open. A duffle bag skids onto the floor stopping inches from her feet. She follows the bag’s trail end to see Jai standing in the doorway, domineering. He staggers into the car, sits across from her. The train door closes. She turns her attention to the exterior view. Jai stares at her intensely. The train takes off; glossy eyes bore through the frosty vignette.
It’s amazing to see what motivates people. Why they do certain things…
(To Charlie)
…And not others…
Charlie shrinks deeper into her corner, back pinned against the seat; face pressed inches away from the  window.
Something simple, sincere like, holding the door for someone, that’s just, one example.
Charlie reaches into her briefcase, pulls out a pair of earphones, and places them in her ear.
Something like that could be good, don’t you think? Don’t you?
Charlie ignores him.
I know you can hear me, don’t pretend that you can’t because it’s —
(Sings at the top of his lungs)
Just the two of us, we can make it if we try, just the two of us, you and I!
Charlie rips the earphones from her ears.
I didn’t see you, alright.
Didn’t see me? Oh that’s rich. That’s textbook excuse for the visual impaired.
I meant what I said.
My footsteps echoed for more than a 100 feet. We were the only two in the parking garage. If you didn’t see me, you sure as hell heard me.
Okay, fine…I’m sorry.
Why would you lie? Have you got something to hide?
She inserts the phones back into her ear. Jai surveys her.
No bags, single, business attire…either you work for someone very important or you are someone very important. So lemme guess…
(Leans forward)
Are you a Doctor, professor? No, you can’t be. You’re lacking some very important accessories. No, hang on, that look…that venomous cold stare could only belong to the eyes of a lawyer. It makes perfect sense. You’ve got lies and deceit oozing all over you. I can feel it. Don’t deny the truth.
I haven’t.
You people are all the same, all snakes. I can spot your scales from a mile away. You slither in and out of people’s lives like champagne, while innocent -–
(Rips earphones from ears)
That’s enough!
His eyes linger on her legs for a moment; he shrinks back into his seat.
They don’t all look as tasty as you though.
Say another word and I’ll have you arrested for harassment.
(Advances, mocking)
– On what grounds?!
He laughs violently. Charlie whips out a can of mace from her briefcase, aims it directly at him.
(Raises hands in defense)
Whoa, take it easy bitch! I’m just dicking around.
(Slowly places mace back into her briefcase)
People have lost their lives, their livelihood, to men like you ‘just dicking around’.
(Eases back into seat)
And there it is Gents, — the iron clad spade of feminism.
Feminism; you can’t be serious?
Once dealt, the opponent must return to start and pretend this game, this charade we call ‘life’, no longer exists.
I carry this card for safe measure, for myself, for someone else, man or woman, whoever needs it.
Which man needs to be defended by the likes of you? I can only think of one type and they might as well be a woman.
You know you’re pathetic, and you’re lack of emotional intelligence is just, sad. It’s people like you that are the reason I became a public defender. People like you who seek compensation for blind affirmation without regard for anyone else’s pride but their own. People like you who make the world so much harder to live in.
They sit in their respective seats; silence ensues as their gazes are absolved by the blurring view.
It was a joke Lady. I’m sorry if you lack a sense of humour.
Charlie glances at her watch.
Hey, are you listening? I’m trying to apologize here.
I said I was sorry. Isn’t that what you wanted me to say, what you wanted to hear?
The train slows. Charlie rises, with one lasting look.
Words don’t change a thing.
You’re a lawyer, they must count for something.
Not as much as you want them to.
Charlie departs.
 Jai sits, slumped in his seat, exhausted from defeat.
— Charlie storms through the walkway towards Terminal 1.
The patter of her heels hitting the tiled ground echoes as the screen.

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