Tagger by Wendy Broffman
Tagger, on the subway heading to Quincy between Broadway and JFK. It's about 10 or 11 pm. He jumps back into the car and sinks onto the bench next to the door, hunches down into his sweatshirt, rests his backpack on his lap. The car is almost empty. Most of the passengers cleared out at the last stop, giving Tagger opportunity to add flourishes to his mural. Right before the door closes, a pregnant woman steps into the car, weaving as she tries to support her swollen body by holding onto the pole by the door. The car takes off.
Across from Tagger -- a middle aged woman with a metal pull cart filled with articles of clothing. She makes occasional comments to no one in particular. The only other occupants are several teenagers huddled together giggling in the corner seat at the rear of the car. Before the pregnant woman can move to a seat, she lets out a cry. Tagger looks at her pale face, travels to her swollen belly and then to her feet to see a puddle of water form on the floor. Tagger leaps up and helps the woman as she sinks to the floor. The baby won't going to wait. Tagger asks the woman across from him to call the driver on the intercom, but she just doesn't get it. The kids in the rear are now sitting wide eyed and frozen. He yells at them to make a call on the intercom to the driver to stop the train and call for medical help. One of the girls jumps up and makes the call. Tagger holds the woman's hand until the train pulls into a stop. The baby's head is crowning as medics move onto the train with their equipment to take charge. Tagger pulls his sweatshirt up around his head and slips off the train with his backpack. He pulls out spray cans and writes a colorful Happy Birthday! onto his mural.