Busy People (May 2013 Story of the Month)

by Jamez Chang

Forward of the morning, your hand let go of mine, overtaken by rush-hour trampoline, caved heads bobbing. Through cinderblock tunnels, they pushed past you like cloak-dust, as you sat whimpering on the ground, thin piston hiss asking strangers to churn you steady, but their growl-gnaws kept on racing. Inside a subway corridor, their ceiling beams had sent its message: "Busy."

Under rusted scowls and unplugged stares, their ear-buds fed higher rhythms intravenously, oblivious to a frightened child left out of place, a father reaching through thick crowds to find you, walking right past you underground.

In the subway corridor, you heard them slither through turnstiles, "amusement-park rides," I once said, and you were scared, staying crouched-down crying, and that's when she told you about The Busy People.

"The Busy would wait for their trains on a platform rumble—and the reason they wouldn't stop was not because they didn't care, but because they were sad, only lining up for a slower retraction. And it's not your fault you have a slick grip, your arms—just not strong enough yet, for now, just too little," I imagined she'd said.

Churro dust sprinkled down, and that's where I found you, comforted, beside the cart, by a woman in alpaca, she stood beside you when others didn't, hands cradling two sugar stick wands, and she pressed your cheeks with those sticky napkins, dried your tears with flicks of fairy dust, and the porcelain placard nailed above her head in steel would always read "Times Square."

BIO: Jamez Chang's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Underground Voices, FRiGG, Prime Number, Gone Lawn, Melusine, and Poydras Review. After graduating from Bard College, Jamez went on to become the first Korean-American to release a hip-hop album, Z-Bonics (1998), in the United States. He currently works in the video game industry in NYC. Visit: