Friday, February 4, 2011

Body... On the subway?

by Meredith Cole

Our assignment this week: Your protagonist blows a tire on a deserted road. When she checks for the spare, she finds the body of a young girl (mid-teens.) What does she do?

My sleuth Lydia McKenzie has found bodies in some unusual places. In my short story published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, "Exercise is Murder," Lydia found a body in the public swimming pool. In my short story "Out in the Cold" for the anthology MURDER NEW YORK STYLE, Lydia found a body in her backyard/alley. In both cases, she could resist getting involved. And I haven't even started in on the books. Amateur sleuths have a tendency to trip over bodies wherever they go, and Lydia is no exception.

Okay, so this is not exactly an assignment that works for Lydia, a New Yorker through and through. She doesn't own a car. She hardly ever leaves New York, and rarely goes anywhere that could be called deserted. So what would be the New York equivalent? I have to think about that for a minute.

And while I'm thinking about it, I might as well tell you what's been weighing heavily on my mind lately. I don't think you had to be a New Yorker to be appalled by the sudden number of YouTube videos uploaded whose genre could only described as "rats on the subway." Anyone who rides the NYC subway regularly can tell you that lots of rats live in the station. If you look at the tracks, they're moving all the time. But I have been fortunate to never see a living creature other than a person or a pet on a subway car. I did hear a funny story once about someone riding on an above ground train that pulled into a station. When the doors opened, a pigeon stepped on. He rode to the next stop and then calmly exited through the doors. I guess he was too tired to fly. But I digress...

If there was any reason to never ever fall asleep on a subway car, it would be just in case this would happen to you:

I have only one thing to say. Ick. And I'm glad I didn't have to ride the subway the next day after watching this video. The subway authorities claimed that it was a stunt and someone's pet rat. Baloney.

And then came another subway rider...

Just like the pigeon, when the doors open he gets off the train. Clearly he is a real New Yorker.

So that's what I've been thinking about this week. What was the assignment again?


Rebecca Cantrell said...

Fun post, but...ewww...

But kinda cool. It definitely livened up everyone's day.

And, no, I don't think that was a pet rat and a stunt.

What WAS the topic?

Kelli Stanley said...

Thanks for the fun post, Meredith!! :)

Maybe I watched "Ben" one too many times, but I thought the rats were kind of cute. Smart, too. And they looked cleaner than some of the other beings one encounters on public transportation!

That's not to say I'd want to ride with them every day ... I'd much prefer the pigeon. ;)

Meredith Cole said...

I was kind of channeling Shane today on my post, I must admit. He loved to put YouTube videos in his posts.

I think I would prefer to commute with the pigeon, too, Kelli.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

OK, I have to point out that pigeons leave you presents, sometimes in your hair.

It's nice when someone channels Shane, isn't it? We miss you Shane Gericke!

Meredith Cole said...

That's so true about the pigeons. They're referred to by city-dwellers as "rats with wings." But I still don't find them as creepy as rats.

Kelli Stanley said...

Seagulls and occasionally crows, too, Becks. Price we pay for not flying! ;)

In the course of researching something (what, I don't remember) I found out that much of what we know about birds in general comes from studies of pigeons--they're one of the oldest domesticated birds, from around 4500 BCE.

The common city pigeon is technically a Rock Dove, a wild counterpart to the domesticated version ... which has also been, of course, used as courier for messages since at least the Roman era.

Hope this makes you feel better when you see one in the subway, Meredith! I have no comparable data on rats, however. ;)