Standing in the subway station, people start to appreciate the place; almost to enjoy it. A boy looks at the lighting; a row of meager light bulbs, coated with filth, unscreened and bewitched to a yellow, stretched toward the black mouth of the tunnel, as though it were a bolt hole in an abandoned coal mine. Then he lingers, with zest, on the walls and ceilings, lavatory tiles which had been white about fifty years ago, and now encrusts with soot, coats with the remains of a dirty liquid which might be either atmospheric humidity mingled with smog or the result of a perfunctory attempt to clean them with cold water.
Above them, gloomy vaulting from which dingy paint peels off like scabs from an old wound, sick black paint leaving a leprous white undersurface. Beneath the boy’s feet, the floor a nauseating dark brown with black stains upon it which might be stale oil or dry chewing gum or some worse defilement. It looks like the hallway of a condemned slum building. The station is in full swing and the nasty stench of trash permeates the subway inside. Then his eye travels to the tracks.
The light grows brighter as the people lurches away from the dark. A momentary hush; the subway varies its rhythm obligingly for the people waiting. Two lines of glittering steel, the only positively clean objects in the whole place, run out of darkness into darkness above an unspeakable mass of congealed oil, puddles of dubious liquid, and a mishmash of old cigarette packets, mutilated and filthy newspapers, and the debris that filters down from the street above through a barred grating in the roof.