“Bro where u @?” Joel sends a text to Ethan.
“@ VSR…BSRY…BART.” Ethan cannot stop his fingertips from shaking. His hand, whole arm, body are vibrating as fast as the thump in his head. He feels nauseous and his diaphragm jerks. Acid burns the back of this throat and it’s all he can do not to throw up on his self. He holds the hiccups back.
“BART dwtn, still? Bro?” Joel replies.
Ethan wipes his forehead on his jacket sleeve, but the sweat just smears. His face goes cool as the blood drains out of it and his diaphragm heaves again. A round bench encircles a column on the BART platform. It’s empty, so he sits down, facing the tracks. Sweat is stinging his right eye, but he taps out; “No Ashby E.vile eta 15.”
“Here son, just in case.” An elderly woman sits down next to him and unfolds a wrinkled plastic bag and hands it to him. Pharmacy is printed in bold blue letters across its width. “I won’t need it tonight.”
Ethan takes the bag and holds it over his mouth. Calm down, he thinks to himself and breaths slowly into the bag. It’s not real. It didn’t happen. This is a dream. Calm down. He burps, breaths, and his diaphragm wretches. Ethan vomits into the bag. A sticky puddle of stomach fluid flows down the side to the bottom. He has not eaten since lunch, and it was on the run at the Far East. He looks up from the bag and the kindly stranger is gone. A man in blue button down (untucked,) jeans, and running shoes stands at the edge of the tracks. He is staring at Ethan. His diaphragm pulses again and he heaves into the bag.
People sitting close on the bench stand and move off toward the track. He takes several deep breaths and puts his nose in the sack again. He dry-heaves. Ethan leans back against the column. The cold concrete feels good against his clammy neck. He is a ghostly white, but can feel warmth coming back into his cheeks. He closes his eyes and relives the past two hours. If only I had stayed home. I should’ve known better. Why is my will so weak? What the fuck am I going to do? He feels a tap against his knee.
“Are you OK?” A BART police officer is bending over him.
Ethan opens his eyes and stairs at the officers face, is this it? Does he know? “It must be something I ate.” Sweat forms on his forehead.
“Do you need an ambulance?” The officer asks.
“No, no, officer. I just feel really sick to my stomach.”
“Do you have any ID?” The officer asks and steps back with his baton still in reach of Ethan’s hands.
“Yes. It’s in my wallet,” Ethan reaches behind him.
“Slowly.” The officer tenses up.
“OK.” Ethan slowly pulls his wallet out of his pocket, and takes out his ID. The officer takes it from him with one hand will maintaining a strong grip on his nightstick.
“Just sit back for a moment, sir.” He says. The officer move the ID to the same hand as the pacifier and pulls his radio handset of his belt. He clicks the activation button, “Officer 475, location Ashby deck, ID check.”
The radio is silent for a moment then emits a loud squelch, “475, go ahead.”
As Ethan raises his head, as the officer listens for complaints or warrants. He shifts his wait from foot to foot, but maintains a formal readiness stance, towering over Ethan.
The radio squelches, “negative, over.”
“Okay, over and out,” officer replies to the dispatcher. He puts Ethan’s ID in his top right shirt pocket, returns the handset to his belt, and asks, “have you been drinking tonight, sir?
“No, not yet.” Ethan’s color returns, but he breaks out into a full sweat. He wipes his brow on his jacket again, but can feel drops forming under his scalp.
“Not yet?” The officer asks, as he looks Ethan over.
“I am suppose to meet friends at a loft in Emeryville for a party. We’re playing board games all night.”
“You seem to be sweating a lot, are you on drugs Mr. Evans?” The officer asks and two more BART patrolmen arrive on the scene.
“No sir. I don’t feel good. It must be something I ate. I am just going back to the city.” Ethan takes a deep breath.
“What’s up?” One of the new officers asks the original. The other keeps his distance and talks on his radio.
“This guy was leaning back here, white as a ghost. He’s thrown up in a plastic bag there,” he points his baton at the bag. “He says he’s not feeling well; “”must’ve been something he ate.””
“Really? Any priors?” The second officer has different bars on his sleeve epaulettes, and his tone, his interaction is formal. He must be a supervisor.
“No, no warrants or complaints.” The first officer says.
“Mind if we search you and your bags, sir?”
“Is it really necessary?” Ethan sighs.
“We’ve been alerted to contraband and weapons on BART, sir. It’s for our protection.” The supervisor says. “Could you please stand.”
“I’m no criminal.” Ethan stands up and wobbles on his legs to the left and right a bit. The officer steadies him, looks straight into his eyes, and deeply inhales.
“No sign in the pupils,” the first officer says. He puts away his nightstick and the supervisor takes his off of his belt. “Please remove your backpack and sit it on the ground. Then, hold your hands out to your side and spread you legs like this.” The first officer demonstrates the stance.
“Do you have anything that is going to harm us, sir, like a knife or needle in your pockets? Anything we should know about?”
“No sir,” Ethan takes a deep breath and sits his backpack down on the ground next to his nylon bag. He holds his arms out to his side and widens his stance.
The original officer starts at his neck then pats his way down Ethan’s body. He checks inside his legs and around his ankles. The officer puts his hands in each pocket of Ethan’s coat, around his waist along his belt, then all the pockets of his jeans. The officer retrieves a set of keys, a phone, and Ethan’s wallet. “Okay, Mr. Evans you can sit down. Please cross your legs at your ankles and sit on your hands.
Ethan is puzzled as he sits, “cross my what?”
“Please cross your legs at your ankles, like this.” The original officer demonstrates the position. “Sit on your hands, palms down.” The officer turns his hands over and puts them behind his legs.
“Oh,” Ethan complies. He takes a deep breath and leans back against the pillar.
The officer hands the keys, wallet, and phone to the supervisor, and then bends down to search the other too bags. The phone rings and vibrates, and the supervisor turns it over in his hand.
“WTF, WTH, 20?” Joel sends him a text.
“It’s Joel. He wants to know where the fuck you are?” The supervisor chuckles.
Ethan shakes his head. He replays the stabbing at the last station in his head. Do they know? Can they smell it on him? He shutters.
The original officer looks up at him. “Are you Okay, sir?”
“Yes, I just feel sick.” Ethan bobs his head and closes his eyes. The incident replays again in his head.
The officer pulls the bottle of rum out of the backpack and shows it to the super. “The seal is intact.”
The supervisor shakes his head up and down. He keeps his eyes on Ethan as he twirls his nightstick. The original officer pulls out Ethan’s change of clothes and pats them down. He pulls out the toiletries and checks each bottle with a sniff from the lid. The officer puts everything back where he found it and moves to the bag. He pulls out the bottle of Royal Crown Cola and the orange. “I’ve never had RC before,” he says and laughs. He checks the seals and puts
them back in the bag. “One of the bottles looks likes it’s hit something.” He says to his supervisor.
Ethan opens his eyes and leans forward, “someone stepped on it downtown.”
“Hum,” the officer says, “your might want to open that one slowly.”
Ethan shakes his head and leans back against the pillar again.
The original officer stands up, and the supervisor gives the wallet and keys to him. He hands them to Ethan. “You can put those back,” he says. The supervisor replaces his baton on his belt and grabs his radio handset. He turns around and joins the officer that was accompanying him.
“Where are you headed again?” The original officer asks Ethan.
“I was going to Emeryville for some board games and rum. I think I’ll just go home instead.” He says.
“I think that is a good idea. You do not look good.” He replies and hands Ethan his ID. Ethan looks up, and the officer offers his hand, “I appreciate your patience Mr. Evans. We’ve had a busy night tonight.”
Ethan opens his eyes and shakes his hand. “No problem.”
“Are you sure you can make it on the train?” The officer asks him. “I can get you a ride?”
“No, no, I’ll be Okay in a moment.” Ethan says. “I just need to get home and get to bed.”
“Okay. Well thanks again sir.” The officer bends down and picks up the sack of puke. “Do you think you will need this again?”
Ethan opens his eyes for a moment and shakes his head no.
“I’ll take care of it for you. If you need any help later, please fill free to call me.” The policeman hands Ethan a card with his name, badge, and phone numbers on it. He turns and walks away. I’ll give him 30 minutes and check back to make sure he gets on a train, the officer thinks to himself. It sucks to have to search someone who is just having a bad night, but we can’t be too careful.
“Thanks.” Ethan shouts.
The officer waves but does not turn around.