Last week, Senate Minority Leader and Brooklynite Chuck Schumer called out U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his claim that New York is “soft on crime,” saying, “we’re a safe city… I’ll be happy to ride the subway at 4am with Jeff Sessions.”
While most publications stopped coverage there, there was one lone Brooklyn blog brave enough to keep pushing, even if it was in the form of satirical, unauthorized fan fiction: Us. Shortly after Schumer’s statement, Jeff Sessions accepted the challenge (in a dream I had) and today we present a rare (because it’s made up) account of the soon-to-be-legendary 4am subway ride between Chuck Schumer and Jeff Sessions. Enjoy.
It was a warm spring night, the kind of New York night where there’s magic in the air, where anything can happen. It was such a night when Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions met at the 207th Street A-train station in Inwood, Manhattan, determined to ride all the way to Far Rockaway at four in the morning to prove or disprove the safety of the Metropolitan Transit Authority.
“I’m surprised you showed up, old man,” scoffed Schumer. It was his idea, this 4am ride, a dare that grew from a piece of rhetoric to defend the city — his city.
“I never — I say, I never turn down a challenge, Chuck,” said Sessions, a man of 70, up hours past his usual bedtime but determined to see a city of crime for himself, to get a win, to prove something, anything to the world, to himself.
The doors swung open on a Far Rockaway-bound train and the unlikely pair boarded, took their seats and began a period of uncomfortable, indignant silence.
“Lotta garbage on this train, Chuck,” said Sessions.
“This isn’t about trash, Jeff,” said Schumer. “And besides, I only see one piece. One old, racist piece.”
“You take— I say, you take that back, you liberal, big-city—” began Sessions, only to be cut short by the shushing of a young nurse, trying to catch a few final moments of peace and quiet on her way to work.
“Sorry,” mumbled Jeff and Chuck, over each other and then sharing a grimace, as if even the sentiment was too much to share.
At 125th, following station after station of bitter eye contact between the rivals, a Mariachi band boarded and began a rendition of “Cielito Lindo” perfectly timed to the length of the park. As the nurse and other riders rolled their eyes and inched away, Jeff and Chuck both leaned in and tapped their feet.
“Mariachi fan?” asked Sessions, a little embarrassed upon noticing Chuck’s interest.
“Yeah, I guess you could say I’m a bit of a Mariachi-freak,” said Chuck.
“Hmmm. A Yankee Mariachi-freak, I didn’t know there was such a thing,” said Sessions.
“Only in New York,” they both said, over each other.
“Doesn’t change anything, Jeffrey,” said Schumer, returning his face to a grimace. “If the worst thing on a 4am A-train is a little Western Mexican folk music, then I think I’ve proved my point.”
“We’ll- I say, we’ll see,” said Sessions.
At 59th, the band moved to the next car and a few early bird commuters filed in. Sessions gave up his seat to a mother and child and moved to stand in front of Schumer.
“Do you want to sit down?” Chuck asked.
“I’m only four years older than you,” Sessions answered, defensively. “I’ll stand.”
“Suit yourself,” said Schumer, crossing his legs.
“But I— I appreciate the offer,” said Jeff.
At West 4th, a group of young men with a boombox boarded and began shouting “showtime” to anyone who’d listen.
“What’s happening?” asked Jeff.
“It’s showtime, sit down,” said Chuck, patting the newly vacant seat at his side. “I want you to be safe, not get a boot in your face.”
Jeff sat down and the show began, legs flailing, hats flipping, bars turned to gymnasts’ poles. The two were mesmerized.
“How do they do that, Chuck? How do they make their arms and legs move like that?”
“I don’t know, Jeff. Nobody knows.”
“Only in New York, huh, Chuck?”
“That’s right, Jeff. Only in New York.”
As the showtimers moved on, Jeff and Chuck stayed seated next to each other.
“Oh,” said Jeff, “Should I move back across the aisle?”
“No, Jeffrey, that’s alright. You know… maybe we’re not so different, you and I.”
“Now, I don’t know about that. We’re from two different worlds!”
“No, it’s true! Sure, we’ve got our differences, but we both value common courtesy, we’re both Mariachi-freaks, we’re both wealthy, old, white, male politicians.”
“Well, when you put it like that, Chucky— I mean Chuck!”
“It’s fine, Jeff. You can call me Chucky.”
Just then, as the train passed over the bridge into Brooklyn, Luther and the rest of the leather-clad Rogues rushed the car.
“WARRIORS, COME OUT TO PLAY-EE-AY,” shouted Luther, leader of the pack.
“We’re going to Rockaway, the Warriors are from Coney Island,” explained Schumer.
“Oh,” said Luther. “Sorry to disturb you, have a lovely rest of your night, Senator.”
And so passed Luther and the Rogues, followed by the other gangs: The Furies, the Boppers, the Hi-Hats, the girls from Girls.
“No crime?” asked Sessions, accusatorially, once they were all gone.
“Are you safe or aren’t you.”
“…Those were real tears that day, Jeff.”
“I know, Chuck. I know.”
Growing accustomed to Chuck’s company, Jeff nodded off. Seeing this, Chuck gently nudging his unlikely companion until, realizing that it wasn’t worth the fight, he gave into sleep himself instead.
“—Far Rockaway, Mott Avenue, this is Far Rockaway, Mott Avenue,” said the familiar voice of the train announcer, startling Chuck awake.
“Far Rockaway? Jeff! Jeff, we’re here, we made it!” said Chuck, shaking Jeff awake.
“Huh?” said Jeff. “We’re here? And I still have my wallet and everything. Well heavens to Betsy, Chuck, a challenge is a challegne and I suppose you were right, Chucky. We made it safe and sound. You win, old boy.”
“No Jeff,” said Chuck. “We both win.”
And then, sticking out his hand for a shake: “Friends?”
“Friends,” said Jeff, shaking Chuck’s hand. “…So what now? We get out and call a cab?”
“I suppose so,” said Chuck. “…A cab back to our lives.”
“…Our responsibilities,” said Jeff, sighing as he stood up and walked towards the door.
“Wait,” said Chuck. “Maybe it doesn’t have to be like that, Jeff. Maybe… We don’t have to go back.”
“You don’t mean?”
“Yes, Jeff, I do. I do mean. Let’s just keep riding. Back and forth, back and forth, you and me. Best friends… forever.”
“I don’t know… can we do that? Can we just walk away… ride away?”
“Only in New York, Jeff.”
“Only in New York,” they both said.
“Jinx,” they both said.
“You owe me a coke,” Chuck said.
“Better than a Pepsi,” Jeff said.
And the two shared a hearty chuckle at the expens of the PepsiCo advertising department.
A few moments of calm, companionable silence later and Jeff, unaccustomed to late night adventures, nestled his head into Chuck’s shoulder and Chuck laid his head upon Jeff’s and the two drifted gently back to asleep, 100 feet below the city, below their families, below the Trump Administration.
And so they rode on, subway cars against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past, never to be heard from again.
Or, that’s how it might have gone down, anyway.