Ears (Un)plugged

by Rebecca Jane

Two prosperous businessmen boarded the number 3 subway train that was heading downtown — unfortunately, due to track repairs, this train that usually ran express was making all local stops which disappointed nearly everyone on board, making each one slightly irritable. To escape the discomfort of a slow train, every passenger, not including these two well-heeled gentlemen, plugged some kind of portable media device into their ears: a shaggy NYU literature student was absorbed in listening to Jim Dale narrate the latest Harry Potter book; a laid-off Con-Ed meter reader was idly fondling the central click wheel on his device, listening to some eccentric punk selection; a Yoga teacher was falling asleep to a fusion of Western club mix and Indian tabla; and a Big Nick's pizza pie man was bopping to the latest sounds of the urban underbelly. With all these transit passengers absorbed in their own separate worlds of audio indulgence, the two well-heeled gentlemen felt at ease discussing what many every-day music-burners might or might not identify as "suspicious activity," depending on their individual political leanings and private fetishes. The two men each carried a briefcase containing huge sums of money they'd made off a criminal Chinese Imports Ring that sold imitation Crest toothpaste and fake Viagra in the U.S. In tones that could only be described as far cries from "hushed," these two men openly discussed plans of how they were going to transport the money to friends of theirs who live in Pakistan. Now, anyone on that train who was even half listening to these guys' conversation might have jumped to the conclusion that these men were investing in some kind of terror plot, and the eavesdropper might have reported what they'd heard to local officials; however, no one heard a word, which leads to one big question: if a potentially criminal plot is discussed within ear's reach and no one hears it, will that plot, or any plot, inevitably succeed?

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Rebecca Jane, author of Tourist Trap, writes fiction.