After All These Years
By: Paul Beckman
I almost passed my father on the subway (#6) this afternoon. I was moving—making room for the influx when the line stopped with me looking down at him. He was wearing a Yankees hat, a parka and scuffed work boots. He was holding a worn briefcase. I hadn’t seen him in more than twenty years, only in the newspaper. He has his picture with his column: Tell Ben a Secret. He looked up at me and I knew he had no idea who I was. I knew it was him a man sitting next to him said, “See you Ben.” Also, I have his picture on my mantle with other keepsake pictures. The seat next to him vacated at the next stop and I took it.
He didn’t bother looking up when he said, “You’re missing your chance.” He had a Kindle in front of him as he spoke and could’ve been reading but my imagination went into over drive. “After all these years,” he said/read and never changed the expression on his face.
He got up when the conductor announced Astor Place next stop. He walked over to the door and stood waiting and I went to the other door. I watched him get off the car and I did the same. He turned and followed a lady back onto the same car. It reminded me of a Gene Hackman scene in The French Connection. I stood watching him as the #6 rolled on towards Brooklyn. He had his head turned down looking at his Kindle as I stared at him.
He was right in what he said but he made no move towards me either. He missed his chance. I wondered if he was on the 6 heading towards Brooklyn each day at this time and if I’d leave work early once again to find out and if I did would I start a conversation.