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The policeman stepped into the subway tracks to retrieve an orange. Dust and iron puffed around his fresh black boots. The orange was lying against some hefty bolts and the fine coat of soot left a smudge on the orange’s otherwise perfect skin. I think it was a navel, not a tangerine. He rubbed the orange against his upper lip. The others on the platform seemed to avoid watching him. Their eyes probably saw the orange too, though their minds saw nothing. He rubbed the orange and its gray blemish transferred easily onto his thumb. The smudge didn’t care where it went, only that it couldn’t be destroyed.

“Get out of there!” I yelled to the policeman. He looked mad and gentle. The policeman’s jaw flicked to the side, flicked to the side, as if he was chewing something.

“Get out of there!” I yelled as if he hadn’t heard me. I began to chew like him; my jaw flicked to the side, flicked to the side as I imagined the sweet taste of the orange.

“It’ll be fine,” he said. His jaw flicked to the side, flicked to the side. He was still rubbing the orange with his thumb. He held it up, right by his temple, right beside his flicking jaw, and then he bit it. He bit right through the skin and the pith and orange liquid squished over his chin and sprayed his face.

“Is it safe?” I yelled.

His jaw stilled. Without swallowing, he said, “No it’s not…” He let the words fade into the tunnel, and then he laughed.

“No it’s not,” he repeated, louder, laughing. He laughed his thunderous laugh with a mouth filled with orange pulp, and I bet someone standing on the same tracks in the next station in the next town heard the echo of his voice, and it boomed right through them.


Scott Lambridis’ stories have appeared in Storyglossia, Black Static, received the Leo Litwak award in Transfer, and are forthcoming in New American Writing.  Scott is the founder of, and while completing his MFA at San Francisco State (where he received the Miriam Ylvisaker Fellowship), he’s working on a novel about the scientist who discovered the end of time. You know, the usual. Read more at


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