Local train. Middlesbrough to Darlington. Noise cancelling headphones on, working like earmuffs, this train sounds like a bag of rivets thrown into a cheap washing machine. In front of me scruffy youth, whispy beard, greasy hair. Greaser nerd rather than greaser thug, headphones and laptop rather than headcase with lager.
Finger up nose, first knuckle deep. Look out the window. It’s not a crime, who doesn’t love a good dig now and then? In fact, thinking about it, my nose is itchy, maybe I should join in? Make a carriage feature of it. Resist.
Turn back. Hands conspicuously hidden. Suspect evidence disposal in progress. Some typing. Recall fact about keyboards containing inordinate amounts of germs. Shudder.
Can’t stop watching though. Subject has healing wounds all over knuckles of right hand. Perhaps he punched a guy? Fingernails are chewed and bitten, swollen at the ends. Idly rubs knuckle scabs. Sure. Check ‘em out. Make sure they are still attached, not infected, doing their job. Tendons in fingers tense creating a pincer - NO NO!
Furiously look out window. Crop circles of broken bricks. Scrub. Train lines. Don’t look back, don’t — glance back, exposed white meat, red leaking circle. MY EYES!
Back out the window. Must not look. Must not look.
Must. Not. Look.
I look. Fingers in mouth. Fingers out of mouth. Chewing.
He ate the scab.