Prompt Images

Brooklyn Junction, end of the line. The colorful advertising posters of his youth—Rockwellian scenes of white kids enjoying a Coke, a tuxedoed Bond with bikini clad women at his feet as he angles a silencer-tipped Walther PPK suggestively, the Marlboro cowboy—are peeling and stained. A homeless man begs for small change. Garbage is strewn on the tracks. Behind him, its doors close with a whoosh as the A Train prepares to depart.

He ascends the subway station staircase and emerges on Flatbush Avenue. 

The potato knish shop should be just off the top of the stairs; it is not. The laundromat, supermarket, bagel store; all gone. The five-and-dime Kresge where he sheltered from rain waiting for the bus to get deeper into that part of Brooklyn that had no train service is also gone. The ramshackle newspaper kiosk where he bought the Post for a dime—2 cents more than the News but with the superior sports section—still stands. It is unstaffed, shelves devoid of any product to sell, no Times, Post, Daily News, gum, LifeSavers, Playboy, Newsweek, Enquirer, Zagnut Bars, or Parliaments. No Leave-A-Penny/Take-A-Penny plastic tray.

Confusion tentacles inward. He walks toward an idling bus and asks the driver if this is Brooklyn Junction, knowing full well it is. She looks him up and down, then again, taking more time to assess whether he is worthy of a response than the simple one word answer takes to utter.


She swivels her head forward, flicks a lever, and the door clatters shut, punctuating her disdain.

He turns to find the broad expanse of the Junction gone. 

He is at the head of a wide cobblestoned alley—dank and shadowed, wet newspapers stuck to one wall, garbage cans askew on the other. He notes imperfect circular holes in the wall that open to blackness.

Is this the future? The past? Is it real? Is it a conduit? His face is clean shaven; he has worn a beard for decades. He sees perfectly yet his glasses, worn a lifetime, are gone. He pats his stomach, surprised to feel it taut and flat. He moves with the grace of a 20 year-old. Neither his knees nor heels hurt. He was 65 years old… is 65 years old. He considers these contradictions his mind ticks off in turn and the more correct question forms: when is he?

He moves through one of the alley’s black holes. A 1967 Plymouth Fury is poised on its roof, the NYC police logo upside down on the crushed front door. The wreck rests in a boulevard he recognizes as Ocean Parkway. Two tow truck drivers are in conversation about the removal of the garbage truck that had been the dance partner for the battered cop car.

The time traveler wanders a few steps beyond the accident’s debris and launches his Uber app. 

What is his destination? He knows where he is—but not how he got here. Should he go to the condo in downtown Grand Rapids? He remembers well the address—1616 West Monroe—but does he still live there? The Chicago place? Wait, has he ever lived in Chicago? Five years ago, in The Village? Back to ‘80s Detroit? ‘90s LA?

He ponders; the uncertainties unsettling. His place changes and the need to decide is removed. He is not in Brooklyn anymore (Toto). He is in the passenger seat of his brother-in-law’s Tesla. Eugene hits the brake pedal hard as the light turns red outside Wrigley Field. There is not another car on the road.

He looks in the back seat. It is filled with three travelers in time he knows by heart. When are they from? His wife of 41 years sits in the center and against a vast back window incongruent with the layout of any sedan in production.

She is radiant, 19 years old, the teenager he met a million years ago. But, but… he is 65. Their son sits beside her. He is perhaps six, stocky and smiling, just as he remembers him. But she should be nearly 60 and their son, 30. He is not in the right timeline.

The third member of the trio is an eldritch conglomeration of Eugene’s four sons formed into a single child who sits hard against the car door.

He blinks. His son and Eugene’s amalgamated son are joined by a third child—his daughter—appearing as toddlers in the Tesla’s rear window that has become a monitor. They are playing an age-old child’s game, Ring-Around-The-Rosie. They are in tattered clothes blanched of their once bright yellows and exciting reds. Now the hues merge into a sickening mélange the color of bloody piss. They are dirty, underfed, too small.

Nazi soldiers appear from stage left and toss the children as if they are pillows into the waiting maw of a freight train door.

The traffic light glows green. Eugene floors the accelerator and the Tesla rockets with instant torque. He turns from the atrocity in the back window, eyes riveted forward.

Wrigley Field, a neighborhood ballpark, is miles from the Dan Ryan Expressway, yet here they are, merging onto its on-ramp. The car speeds to 50, 150, 200 MPH. There is a knot of traffic snarling the road. They approach it at a velocity inconsistent with life continuing.

“Don’t worry. I got the new LIFT feature on this beauty,” Eugene explains.

A second or two before the inevitable accident, the command, in a tone flat and unconcerned with impending doom: “Lift.”

The car cants upward at a 45-degree angle. In moments, the Ryan, filled with cars, is a hundred feet below. They are flying above the jam, bounded on either side by what looks like the Golden Gate Bridge’s towers and suspension cables. The challenge of city driving takes on a new dimension as Eugene manipulates the vehicle constrained in its flight not by the left and right of the Earth-bound road, but by up and down vectors. Eugene’s front seat passenger stomps on the Tesla’s floor, engaging a phantom brake pedal.

Another shift. 

He is not in the Tesla. He is not on a dystopian Brooklyn street, though there is a pissed off Uber driver looking for him there.

A mustachioed visage envelops his consciousness and he jerks toward nothingness, a feeling of permanence, weighty and of moment.

He hears Led Zeppelin; pipers calling him to Heaven.

And, he hears Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers: “You can stand me up at the gates of Hell…”

His years congeal into a singularity that conveys the route he took. He is enmeshed in an immersive awareness, a rapid action re-telling of his life, a recitation of actions and consequences, deeds and debits. His life careens by and he tries to keep score to justify the choice he wishes to make and that Mr. Moustache is inviting: Zeppelin’s pipers or Petty’s hellscape?

The video presentation of his 65 years ends. The veneer of choice? An illusion. He is led forward… and beyond.

Brooklyn Junction… end of the line.


Dan Farkas

Dr. Daniel H. Farkas is a molecular pathologist who has published extensively and spoken on the topic internationally. Dan Farkas, on the other hand, is an itinerant New Yorker living just outside The D. His joys in life come from creative writing, photography, the music of his youth, his wife and kids, and sometimes the NY Rangers. #LGM

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