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There would not be any resistance if someone organized a plan to escape our situation.  We thought about it individually and collectively.  Scuttlebutt moved around the car and it was apparent that something had to be done sooner rather than later.  The undercurrent gained momentum, the whispers became audible.


The fellow next to me was, I was quit sure, a person to reckon when in his element.  Outside this car, on a dark lonely street in the early morning hours, I could imagine him to be my worst enemy.  A young black man, early 20s, shaved head to the top of the ears then a bunch of hair blossoming upward from there like a mushroom.  Self-tattooed on the neck, scared on the forehead, broad biceps flexing within the torn fringe of his shirt sleeves.  A second tattoo was mostly visible on the crest of his shoulder.  In a voice no louder than the six or seven people whispering about breaking a window and crashing a door, and spoken to no one in particular, this young man calmly cut off debate about our exit strategies.  “No one is going to kick out a window or break down a door, I’ll see to that” he stated.  “We got in here together and we will all get out together”, his voice firmed up.  “We don’t need a hero.  We need to stick together.  We are all Brothers, now.”  This young fellow momentarily took control of the rumors, the strategies and the single-minded nature of our developing plan, however desperate.  As the smoke built, we were fast becoming a pretty pathetic group.  I preferred his comments verses 'every man for himself'.  A young black woman to my left spun around a stainless steel pole, smiled, then chortled, “You all his gang, now.”  And so I understood, for the next half hour we became each other’s keeper.  To execute a plan to get out individually, we would need to go around, over or through this young man.  And that wasn’t going to happen right any time soon.    


Just then, a turban wearing transit worker walked through our car with a purposeful stride and without a bandana.  He held a key in his hand connected to a thin chain wired to a few dozen more keys on his belt.  He looked official to me and that was our first sign that someone who knew something about subways was taking charge.  Probably sensing an impending mutiny, the operator of the train called for our attention on the intercom.  He said the train would be reversed toward the station.  No one heard the details of his plan but they went on for about 20 seconds, as we turned to each other repeating, “What’d he say?"  All I remember was, “If you would all sit down and hold on tight.”


A minute or two later, the train began a series of crashing like lunges back toward Wall St. Station.  We didn’t hit anything but the engines revved up and the train made powerful and sudden lunges of maybe 50 to 100 yards each.  There may have been six of eight of these over twenty minutes.  Three of four minutes separated each loud revving and subsequent lunge.  Soon we were close to the dim light bulbs shinning through the smoke and thick dust.  The train reversed to a position where the end door of the end car was opposite the platform.  Before we parted, I shook the hands of the young man, the young girl and the woman without a slip.  The entire train empted through that door, single file, calm, collected, no screaming, no pushing, yet very scared.  We all got off together.  When we stepped onto the platform we went from he frying pan into the fire.

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