The Tunnel Man

Did you ever watch that TV show, Beauty and the Beast with Ron Pearlman and Linda Hamilton? Ahh, I am aging myself. It was one of my favorite shows back in the late 1980s, and I loved it for many reasons. I loved it for the purity of the romance between the two main characters. I loved it for the excitement of each weekly adventure. And I loved it, perhaps most of all, for the magical, under-world kingdom of the Beast in the bowels of the New York City subway system.

In some perverted way, I envied the Beast his cozy and seemingly safe home away from the fears and dangers of civilization. I often imagined how I might fashion my own underground refuge, how I would live and feel safe – something I rarely experienced in my above-ground life.
Today I can across this article about one of the last true tunnel dwellers, a man named Anthony Horton who died, consumed by flames, with his body found burned, deep, deep, deep in the tunnel, in an old crew room in the F-train tunnel at 63rd and Lexington.

He was a gentle man, so they said about him. He discussed art, and he drew, and he even collaborated on a book with a woman he met on the subway one day. He liked his underground life, even preferring it to the “normal” life above ground he tried once. He talked about his dog a lot, he loved his dog, and I can just imagine the two of them together down there, cozied up all warm together while storms – real and symbolic – raged above. But they took his dog away one day, and just thinking of it now makes me cry.

Said one who knew him: “He was kind. He was not bothering nobody.”

And yet, they took his dog away.