After the attack, Noel's mornings were filled with dread as he turned on the morning news, learning that similar attacks had happened since his own. His psychiatrist urged him to start facing his trauma head-on by taking walks and using the subway again. The world had taken a different shape, and the once familiar places seemed treacherous.
His psychiatrist reassured him that his attack was random and wouldn't happen again - except it did. Two years prior, he had been walking down the street in Harlem when he was punched in the right eye, knocked to the floor, and winded. This attack, however, did not make the news. The police merely took Noel's statement and requested he signs an affidavit.
As we stood in solemn contemplation, the gravity of our situation became apparent. We searched for words to articulate how we felt about our world, its violent tendencies, its cruelty towards our community, and the unjust terms we are often left to burden.
"The one who did this, I don't think he had mental issues," he started, pointing at his scar. "He knew what he was doing because it was timed at the train's stop. In fact, it (happened) inside the train. So when the train stopped, he did it and walked outside."
Despite the perpetrator being behind bars when I captured Noel's photos, he was not arrested immediately; only after a few days was he apprehended for taking part in a robbery. He pleaded guilty to the theft but refused to accept culpability for his actions against Noel. His lawyer even made a plea to have the motion dismissed.
While entirely tragic and unacceptable, the most lamentable part of Noel's story is when no one dared help him.
Despite the severity of his wounds, he was left to suffer in solitude.
After the initial slash, his cheeks were profusely wounded while his hands were the only forte between his blood and the floor, yet nobody on the train dared to step up or call 911.
Once Noel stepped out of the door and onto the platform, no passengers or janitors raised in his defense.
It took another five minutes until someone finally called 911 and another ten for the cops to get there.