Riding the #1 train home late at night is usually fine. Some drunks, but for the most part they pass out without puking or causing trouble. Friday night, I was halfway home when my car was inundated by a group of about 10 twenty‑something black guys. Lucky I saw them when they piled in. I could’ve been in a deep nod or blasting a jam all up in my earholes. If I looked up and saw them suddenly, I would’ve jumped for sure. Probably bump into one of them and that would have been it.

One of them notices a guy sitting across from me. I got the feeling that one of the group had trouble believing he actually ran into him. I didn’t know if this was going to go south so I turned off my Ipod to listen to the exchange. Suddenly the group surges towards the guy. Now I can’t even see the dude they’re talking to because this one brother was big and wide, and damn near stepping on my toes.

Between the “youknowwhatI’msayins” and the “myniggas” I gathered there was beef between one of the group and a dude the passenger knew. It was a tense few minutes and ordinarily I would move to another seat at the other end of the car. The big guy was looming over me and I had no where to go. I had the feeling, “Excuse me, I need not to be collateral damage” wasn’t going to fly.

One of the guys in the back of the pack was all for beating the guy up just because it was Friday. Another said no, wait until 137th or 145th St. We were around 110th at this point, and I hoped hard this situation would not boil over. The passenger eventually convinced the gang that his involvement with the person of interest was minimal but would probably kick his ass, too.

William Stephenson

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