Jesse Goes To The City
By Serge Astapkov

Jesse rode the 4:53 train to the city. Three prep school boys wearing khakis, button-ups and ties sat in the double seat in front of him. Jesse overheard their conversation about girls. One boy said to another boy that you should text message a girl again if she does not respond to your first text. The second boy agreed and said, "damn." Jesse thought, "these kids have no game," as he looked out of the window. "Neither do I," he thought.

Jesse almost tripped as he walked up the stairs from the train platform to the lower level of Grand Central Terminal but ended up not tripping. He walked toward a nearby ATM. He smoked a cigarette and someone approached him asking to buy a cigarette from him. The cigarette he was smoking was his last cigarette and he had the crumpled pack in his hand because he was about to throw it into a trash bin. He held up the crumpled pack and then he threw it out.

At the ATM Jesse withdrew $100 dollars so that he could go buy a pair of pants and then do other things. He went to a newsstand on 3rd avenue and 44th street and bought a pack of Camel Filters which cost $13. He unwrapped the pack and packed it and then threw out the plastic and the two pieces of foil inside. He put a cigarette to his lips. A black man approached Jesse asking for a light. Jesse pulled out his lighter, lit his own cigarette, then gave the lighter to the man. The man said, "so what do you do? Do you fuck around with alcohol, with bud? Do you fuck around with coke?"

Jesse said, "I fuck around with alcohol and bud."

The man said, "I got bud, man, I got coke, I got crack, I got Xanax, Percs, whatever you need for the club tonight. What are you doing tonight? You going to the club? You going to the bar?"

Jesse said, "I am going to hang around. I need to buy pants first. There is a huge hole in my pants."

The man said, "well damn, son, at the club tonight, you won't need to worry about that. You could be up on Percs, up on coke, sniffing lines in the bathroom."

Jesse said, "I will think about it. I really need to go buy pants. I know where to find you."

The man said, "you don't need to find me, I'm gonna be right here."

Jesse walked toward 42nd street and 5th avenue. At the H&M on 42nd street and 5th avenue Jesse tried on two pairs of pants. One pair fit but was too long. The other pair fit but was too baggy at the ankles. Jesse was disappointed and left the H&M. Jesse walked up 5th avenue to another H&M 9 blocks away. Jesse found the exact pair of pants that he needed in the exact size he needed. He circled around three times before he found the fitting room because the entrance was in a far corner. Jesse tried on the pants and they fit exactly as he needed them to. He bought them. They cost $29.95 plus tax.

Jesse walked to a nearby Starbucks on 6th avenue so that he could change into his new pants. The bathroom was out of order. Jesse looked up another Starbucks on his iPhone and walked in its direction. On 6th avenue he saw Mario and Luigi. "They are just actors dressed up in Mario and Luigi fursuits," Jesse thought, "they are not the real Mario and Luigi. Maybe they are Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo dressed up in Mario and Luigi fursuits." Jesse also saw someone in a Dora the Explorer suit talking to children. If Jesse was not alone, he would have asked to take a picture with Mario or Luigi but it would have been awkward to do that if he was alone.

Jesse found the Starbucks. The bathroom was out of order. Jesse looked up another Starbucks. The bathroom was out of order. Jesse walked by a closed Starbucks on the way to another Starbucks where the bathroom was out of order. Jesse checked other Starbucks locations but either the bathroom was out of order or the Starbucks was closed. One the way to one Starbucks Jesse walked by where the man had offered him drugs before but the man was gone. Jesse finally found a Starbucks on 55th street and Lexington avenue with an open bathroom. Jesse changed into his new pants and put the old pants into the H&M bag. Jesse checked the time. He had bought the pants over an hour earlier and it took him that long to find a Starbucks to change into them.

Jesse left the Starbucks and threw away the bag with the pants. He posted on a private message forum on his iPhone. He smoked a lot of cigarettes and then he took the subway down to Union Square. On the subway platform, Jesse listened to street musicians play a cover of Cee Lo Green's song "Fuck You" and tapped his foot to it. A girl sat down next to him on the bench so he stopped because he felt shy and embarrassed.

Inside the Union Square station there was a group of attractive girls singing a song about God. Jesse only heard the words "God is an awesome man" but felt awkward and avoided walking past them. At Union Square Jesse sat on a railing and posted on the private message forum. Jesse's friend Steven text messaged him asking for a photo of New York City.

Jesse text messaged Steven a photo of the Nordstrom Rack he was sitting across from in Union Square.

Steven said, "nice rack."

Jesse text messaged Steven a photo of the open space on the northern side of Union Square, where he was walking.

Steven text messaged Jesse a photo of a website on his computer monitor. Then Steven sent a photo of a can of tuna, a photo of the tuna mixed with mayo in a bowl, and a photo of a sandwich with the tuna in it, and finally of the moon with the caption, "I'm a werewolf."

Jesse saw the same moon in New York.

He said, "I am autistic," out loud and nobody noticed or cared.

He walked down Broadway and thought about seeing The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. He thought the phrase "the girl with the dragon tramp stamp, directed by Christian Audigier," for several minutes. He did not want to see it alone on a Saturday night so he kept walking. He was at 3rd avenue and St. Marks Place. He posted that on the private internet forum from his iPhone. He walked to 2nd avenue and and did not want to do anything. He thought about taking the L train to Brooklyn but he did not want to do that either. He walked by a group of British people and one of them said to another one, "don't you think 'snog' is a gross word?" Jesse giggled. He thought it was a gross word.

He walked up to 14th street back to Union Square. He went into Whole Foods. He thought about stealing something from Whole Foods. He was too afraid to steal anything from Whole Foods. He thought about buying something from Whole Foods. There was nothing he wanted to buy at Whole Foods. Jesse left Whole Foods and walked down University Place. He considered a Jamba Juice smoothie but it was closed. He went into a deli and bought a Red Bull and drank it and enjoyed it. He smoked more cigarettes. He considered buying a taco but did not because it cost a dollar more than it would at his favorite taco truck in Brooklyn.

He text messaged Steven that he was drinking a Red Bull and also sent the same text to Brian. Steven said, "I also have a Red Bull" and Brian said, "epic bull." Jesse took the subway up to 42nd street. He bought two slices of pizza and another Red Bull from a 99 Cent Pizza place on 43rd street. He text messaged photographs of the 99 Cent Pizza place's sign and of his pizza to Steven and Brian. He drank another Red Bull. Steven said, "Are you drinking that Red Bull ironically? I can't finish mine."

Jesse said, "I like the taste of Red Bull."

Steven said, "ugh."

Jesse smoked another cigarette. He had seven cigarettes left. A man who might have been homeless came up to him and asked to buy a cigarette. Jesse said, "take one, I want to get rid of them."

The man said, "are you trying to quit?"

"No," Jesse said, "I just don't want to bring them home with me."

The man said, "you should just give them away."

Jesse said, "take two more" and the man did and thanked Jesse a lot and walked off. Jesse had smoked almost an entire pack of cigarettes.

Jesse had four cigarettes left. He smoked another cigarette.

He went into the train station. There were a lot of attractive people Jesse's age on Jesse's train taking the train back from the city to their homes in the suburbs. Jesse felt afraid because of how attractive they were. Jesse posted on the private message forum from his iPhone.

On the stop before his stop, he looked out of the train's window and saw two girls he had known in high school. He looked away really quickly and hoped they did not notice him. In his peripheral vision he saw them waving and pretended to text.

Walking home from his stop, he saw a stray cat.


serge astapkov lives in new york