The previous day had been so hot that I surmised that when the trains were that afternoon, two hours late . . . all the engineer crews had quite likely and simply just climbed out of their steaming hot drivers seats, said: ‘the heck with this’ . . .and went towards cooler shores.


Later only, did I confirm such might have indeed been the case:
‘No crews to move the trains from the yard . . .never seen anything like that in all my forty years. . .’’ remarked a tired and frustrated conductor at 19:22 EDT.


This afternoon however, the thirty six hour cycle of stagnant air that had risen the humidity to such a suffocating level, sweltering a city that appeared suspended in smog, was beginning to waver. The upper hand of pressure permeating unstable thermal activity, was beginning to exert its rightful control.


While there was no wind as yet, enormous cumulonimbus shapes formed unreachable mountains in the skies to the South and West, insidiously sucking warm liquid vapors off the oppressed canals, estuaries and waters surrounding this once vibrant metropolis.


Roughly a half hour from our boarding time, these magnificent clouds that seemed to reach dizzying azure zeniths, had far dwarfed the tallest buildings and had by a compass, surrounded us all.

Then, having apparently fulfilled their vast propensity to harvest and store such humidity, a certain capacity was satiated. The resultant bold, broad uplifts at once hesitated, dissipated and left powerful cool downdrafts to descend rapidly beneath.
On the platform, such was most welcome. The wind swirled with speed and swiftly removed hats and blew open the quite loose fabric worn by most. It brought smiles, embarrassed ‘whoops’ and laughter to those caught off guard . . . and there was a long pleasant moment . . . before the first raindrop.


When it came it was sudden, just after a brilliant five-way fractal flash of lightening illuminating the entire Western sky. The thunder was deafening and defeated our senses, for we were soaked before we knew it was raining.

The wind came now from the South, warmer, but the rain pelted our faces cold from the North and West. Confusion rose in the rapidly reduced visibility of the platform. In the new darkness faces were captured in worried frame: a repeating staccato of lightening, wind, thunder and unrelenting rain.


The all familiar announcements, to our drenched ears of: ‘Boarding, the 6:48 to Wickford Junction, track five..’ and ‘Be vigilant..if you See . .’ was slow, slurred and mechanically distorted. . .as if lightening had just struck and mangled the wires . .


By me now, our conductor has moved first and directly into the driving wind and rain. His weighted bag full of wet papers, ticket stubs and solid keys are kept to his aft, as he leans into the wind:

“Get these people on the train, let’s go now.”

Most hesitate, but I quickly follow and encourage others my way. A wet pilgrimage then crosses the fifty or so feet to the cover of the platform where our steel albatross sits in wait, to carve us home.

Out of the wind and rain, we sit in our seats in a shivering exhale, as the train slowly slides in solitude out of her berth and towards the tunnel connecting this station to a higher ground beyond.


It is very slow going at first and only when we see dim green foliage on the other side, does our conductor reach for the PA microphone and speak in an assured calm tone.

He informs that the rapidly building water at the station was quite likely to have filled the tunnel past the eight inches allowed and delayed us . . . .most indefinitely.


There is warmth in the cabin now and more than a few claps and cheers. Folks also hear that there is a cafe car just three cars back and the spry, spring for such. Others await the conductor to check our tickets and give him a heartfelt thanks.


Only later, home and eating a hot meal, do I read that the Sox game was long rained out and much of the city was this cool evening, flooded.




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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