The Red Line Inbound, Six Miles from Boston

I sat on a bench at the North Quincy train station, awaiting the train and passing the time by reading a paperback short story anthology bought for a quarter at a library sale. I looked up as an old Asian man limped by. His right leg was bent permanently at the knee. Even when he stopped for a moment to catch his breath he looked in motion, on the verge of motion, and I wondered idly what he could be running toward. The train was nowhere in sight. A young boy, ten or so, his grandson maybe, followed behind waving an open newspaper with both hands. The newspaper was not written in English. The boy’s gesture reminded me of an old Buster Keaton gag where he keeps unfolding and unfolding a newspaper, four times, five, six, until you think it can’t get any larger, it isn’t possible, and he does it still one more time, the unfolded paper now the size of a dressing screen and obscuring the length of his body from hat to shoelaces. I grinned, and the old man nodded to me as they passed.

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