Stillness

All the great outdoorsmen I have been privileged to have spent time with over these many years, share a common thread to their approach and thus to their sporting success. Amidst those cherished times spent together deep in the woods, stalking elusive fowl or gently approaching a slow moving stream populated by a lone sipping trout, it is often in the calm of the quiet that a suggestion is whispered and trust is shared.

 

Sitting then long ago with my ex-army friend, behind a fallen tree beneath the damp cool canopy of the forest, I saw nothing. No birds, no squirrels, no chipmunks…no deer and certainly no turkeys – just small black annoying flies. It was then, after a sip from our canteen, that I was taught and trust was shared.

 

He told me in the calmest whisper, to stay entirely still and just wait, observe. The seconds thus accumulated as I breathed softly through my nose so as not to ingests the flies, looking downrange at the stillness before me.

 

It was like being in a trance, albeit disciplined at first, all senses acutely aware in wait. Suddenly, subtle slight movements in the silence to my left slowly altered the prism to which I viewed …. then again farther down to the right, beyond and near.

 

My focus shifted now with speed and my eyes danced in a subconscious way as the forest floor before us became all alive with moving life. He besides me lay frozen still, rifle raised and zeroed in on the tiny head of a distant Tom . . .yet he never took a shot.

 

 

I stand this evening in wait of the 5:35, leaning still against the station wall in absent reflection amidst the routine confusion and hustle all around me. I am drawn again to the memory of the woods and the revelation of awareness. Here in this crowded station, it looks conspicuously normal and in the minds eye, accepted and possibly even overlooked.

 

Until it isn’t.

 

On the far side of the platform four officers have convened, a small huddle with muted urgency. The tallest, a slim officer with sandy hair wearing the stripes of a sergeant and a mustache, is directing the hushed conversation. He has pulled out a sheet of paper to share with the other three. One produces his cell phone to take a photo of the paper while the others study and nod. Two reverse and calmly re-enter the station while one walks my direction stealing glances at his photo as he looks about. The tall sergeant repeatedly swivels his head while speaking left into his shouldered radio. His hand covers his lips as he speaks and I cannot read what he says. I think our eyes make contact but he looks on, after only the briefest pause. I remind myself that I am observing a seasoned observer and look away. Two more officers now move up the platform each holding a folded sheet of paper and enter a boarding train. As they walk by, I can just make out the bold letters reversed in the officer’s hand just above a what appears to be a black and white photo: DETNAW.

 

Strolling out onto the platform now, I canvas the entire yard. The tall sergeant’s gaze has followed me as he is now speaks on his cell with his right while listening to the radio in his vacant left ear. I am witnessing a subtle sweep operation in search of a fugitive and none around me even seems to notice – bringing my thoughts abruptly back to the solitude of the woods and its silent parallel.

 

My train now is boarding and an extra officer stands beside the woman checking tickets. Another officer has appeared in the door behind me and walks nearby. I have seen him before and spoken briefly once, when I thought I saw something suspicious. He has a powerful build but a boyish face and an efficient, polite manner about him.
I take the moment to ask: “excuse me sir, do you think it would be helpful to share the picture ? With others . . . the public ?” His alertness is instant and his attention entire. To his hesitation I add: “or perhaps it is too early for that . . “ To which he nods and replies: ‘ . . yes, I think it is. . not yet – but thank you.’

 

As he turns right towards the sergeant and I step straight towards my train, my imagination is spinning the possible scenarios being played out here and they shall consume my thoughts the whole journey home.

 

 

 

 

Sent from 📞 🚂. . .

 

 

© All rights reserved 2018

Author: Breck Masterson

Tales From The Rail is a collection of short stories revealed in observation during a commuters journey across this land. Most, if not all stories are based on what actually happened or at times, surmised to what might have happened. . . Granting on some occasions, levity to the mundane. Enjoy!

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