New Fiction: ‘Commute’ by Andy Devonshire


Andy Devonshire

It took me a while to find a seat. The things above the seats weren’t working, and instead of showing which seats were available and which seats were reserved, and between which locations, they were all showing as simply ‘Reserved’. Really fucking helpful, that. I’d already walked more than halfway down the carriage before I realised this, but then all of the seats had been occupied by at least one passenger anyway. I try to avoid sitting next to strangers if I can help it.

Then I got lucky: a pair of seats, forward-facing, completely vacant, not even with anyone’s rubbish left on the seat or the pull-down tray / table thing. I took the window seat. I prefer window seats to aisle seats because in the aisle you invariable end up getting your toes trodden on even if you keep them under the seat in front. Otherwise, you get you shoulder knocked or your head bashed by someone lugging a bulging bag down the carriage. What to they think the luggage racks are for.

Still, I soon wished I’d taken the aisle seat and blocked off the access to the window seat. No sooner had I made myself comfortable and opened up my newspaper than some obese middle-aged hag with a bad perm plonked her immense arse in the seat beside me. She didn’t even fucking ask if it was taken. Just sat down, overhanging my seat by a good five or six inches, her upper arms as big as my thighs encroaching into my personal space. She was wheezing like a steam engine with the effort of simply getting down the carriage and sitting down. And she stank. I know, fat people always say that it’s a myth that fat people smell, and I’ll admit, not all of them do. But it seems that every time a wheezer parks themselves next to me on a train, they fucking honk. Even so, this one was bad.

I shunted myself over so I was pressed against the window, pulled my iPod from my pocket and shoved the phones deep into my ears before turning it up. Even then, the full-on metal racket of Ministry wasn’t enough to cover up the noise of her breathing. She pulled a Kindle from amidst the folds of flesh and I could see she was reading some trashy crime novel where the characters who work for CID have alliterative names. Probably some toss by Lee Child or another mass-production mainstream writer aimed at people with a reading age of ten. She was on chapter 85. I’m guessing they were short chapters, but even so. The physical act of reading was making her short on breath, and sweat even more judging by the aroma.

For a moment, I pictured the scene in which chapter 86 saw Brian Brown rocked up to find a fat, blubbery corpse lying on a station platform and their discussion as to whether or not it was murder or if the hulking beast had simply expired, her enlarged heart having given up trying to pump the blood round the miles of cholesterol-filled arteries, the strain being all too much. My mind began to run through the various ways I could do away with her and I found myself wondering which method would provide the greatest satisfaction. Part of me wanted to stab her, just to see if she’d deflate like a balloon when punctured.

The train arrived at my destination before I had the time to act on my desire to bludgeon her to death with my laptop or to ram her Kindle so far down her throat that she asphyxiated. I disembarked and couldn’t help feeling a bit cheated. Still, it was probably for the best.

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