Mike

Mike brushed the hair out of his eyes and let it fall down the left side of his head where it belonged.  On the right side his scalp gleamed through the tightly shaved sidewall.  His parents were still irate over the haircut.  He didn’t care.  It was just another part of his new identity, freed from the bondage of expectations.

He stared at his image in the mirror, the black T-shirt pulled tight across his flat chest and abdomen.  It read “I finally discovered that the hokey pokey was not what it’s all about.”  He smiled.  It would give his mom something else to say besides, “Michelle, why can’t you just dress like the other girls?”

Mariano

Bits of trash, riding the wind, crisscrossed the METRO station platform, heedless of the human swell that awaited the approaching train.  Mariano pulled his hoodie low over his face, as much to avoid eye contact as to preserve what little warmth it provided.

Every day was a challenge for Mariano, running the gauntlet, worried he might be stopped by the DC police for no reason.  His employer had given the fake ID but a cursory glance.  It would never pass closer inspection.

From the corner of his eye Mariano saw the man in the dark suit trip and fall in what seemed a slow-motion pirouette. What happened next was but a blur. Mariano never heard the train’s horn or the passengers screaming.  He never felt the arms reach out to grasp him as he lifted the man from the track.

The train squealed to a stop and the crowd cheered as Mariano rolled over and caught his breath.  He gazed down into the face of the person lying beside him.  In an instant he knew he’d seen the ICE officer somewhere before.  The look of recognition staring back at him told him the experience was mutual.