The hours spent at the office layered each upon the last like a grey snowfall that simply would not end. Each daily journey to and from his current outpost was a rushed coordination of logistics that leaned heavily on chance, sprinkled with a dose of luck. The latter of which he believed a distant fable. The inconsistency of the railroads reliability often delivered him late to frustrated management, thus forever suppressing his already paltry wage. This coupled with struggles to put food on his family’s table and pay bills built over time that no honest man could ever re-pay, had him strung tight behind his fatigued demeanor.
He drifted off to the familiar rhythm of the train lurching forward and accelerating beneath him, in a fitful doze slowly consumed by whole silence. The motion of the great locomotive was a hypnotic elixir that relaxed his weary and worn soul. He felt the acceleration of its decent, the quiet transverse over plains, felt suspended and weightless crossing long narrow bridges high above deep dark canyons forged by the rivers of time. He heard the deceleration, felt the slow ascent push his head softly to the chair, he felt the cog.
‘Karten aus, lass mich deine Papiere sehen!’
‘tickets out, let me see your papers!’
The train slowly climbs the steep mountainside attached to the cog, much like a rising roller coaster. His seat appears reclined as he looks about. Outside, the last shafts of sunlight illuminate snow covered peaks far above a tree line, that has quietly fallen away.
demands the young conductor staring down at him.
He fumbles through his satchel for his ticket, his papers and passport. The figure of the conductor before him grows larger and more intimidating with the increasing incline. He has broad shoulders, a square jaw and piercing blue-grey eyes. His eyes are arrogant and hold a disdain that have already concluded and confirmed guilt.
The man can sense the stares of others turning around and although it is quite cool in the rail car, he is perspiring. With a noticeable tremble, he hands his papers up to the conductor dressed in all black.
The train moves higher to the sound of the cog but it cannot keep pace with the vanishing light.
‘..ihre papiere sind nicht in ordnung..’
‘..your papers are not in order..’
‘Nein, du wirst bei der nachsten haltestelle ablegen un an die station melden!’
‘No, you will de-board at the next stop and report to station!’
There are many eyes upon him now and the shirt beneath his coat is damp with sweat. He tries to comprehend in a language he is not fluent, just what he is hearing. His stomach has knotted and his head shakes in an attempt to defend and explain. His arms, he cannot move his arms and his entire body seems strapped to the seat by a powerful weight of gravity. He strains to protest, but no sound travels further than his throat and none reach his lips.
To his left out the window, the sunlight has somehow escaped over the mountains leaving only the chasing darkness.
Paralyzed now in abject fear, his head drops back to the right and those across the aisle grin at him in wickedness and laugh aloud in a toothless curdled siren.
The train has leveled, left the cog and silently pulls into a deserted dark station. . .
“hey fella, wake up, this is your stop: Kingston – you almost missed it.”
The man bounds from his seat, ashen, squeezes the arm of his everyday conductor and says: ‘thank you’ three times, in quick succession.
On the platform, he pauses to breathe the warm Spring air deep into his lungs, looks to the stars and thanks his Blessing to be home.
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