The three monkeys are reputed to hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil, but we—a band of writers—employ all our senses. We see, hear, taste, touch, smell and employ evil in our work.
As a city girl, my senses are engaged whenever I ride on the transit system feeling the heat of people jammed together during rush hour or the whack of someone’s backpack as the owner barrels past me. The icy breeze from air conditioning on a hot summer day or the slam of a stranger’s body against mine launched by a person who’s gotten up late and is determined to get on an overcrowded train.
Smell comes to the fore when the homeless need a place to sleep and have had no place to wash or a starving teenager wolfs down a hamburger complete with onions and a side of fries or someone who is standing much too close and had prepared and eaten a healthy Mediterranean dinner the night before and used a tad too much garlic.
I watch—fascinated—when someone late for work is able to make-up her face complete with eye shadow, mascara and pencil without putting one of her eyes out. Her lipstick—though I don’t like the shade she’s chosen—glides easily on her lips. As easy as an Olympic skater’s glide across the ice. Then there are dancers who stand on one hand, form pyramids and manage to swing from pole to pole without kicking in one commuter’s head. People absorbed in cell phones are everywhere—when I peek most seem to be playing the latest game. Others listen to music and turn off the world and sometimes the sound leaks out of their ear phones—and wakes the sleepers who have an inner alarm clock that will wake them when they reach their stop.
Singers, guitar and mandolin players and magicians who ask us to hold pieces of cord can be heard every day along with preachers practicing their chosen profession and beggars—the truly down and out and the professionals who’ve worked at gathering alms for years. Listening to conversations often introduces a new character or a sentence or two of dialogue and when I don’t hear the ending of a story, the line becomes part of a mystery to be solved or an ending to make up.
By the end of a long trip, my throat feels dry and I pop a mint offered at the end of a lunch in my mouth. The mint brings my taste buds refreshment and when I come to my destination, I feel I’ve put the ride to good use. Observations are stored in my brain and I’m sure will appear next time I need to recall an image, a sound, an odor, a sight, a taste or a feeling of revenge.