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Pre-reunion transit

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I woke up with a stir, feeling my surroundings shake before gaining a smooth sense of momentum.

"We are now leaving Paterson, Tennessee. Our next stop is Garfaulk, Indiana, which is a smoking stop. ETA is 23 minutes. I would like to repeat that our next stop is Garfaulk, Indiana which is a smoking stop. ETA 23 minutes."

Still a long ways to go to Chicago, but at least I'm out of Mississippi. Last I remember, this thing kept stopping in dust-filled town after dust-filled town, watching the stretch of farmland pass in between stops until everything became a haze. ... wait, how long have I've been out.

I check my watch. 2 hours.

Not enough. At least I'm out of Mississippi.

I look to my left and that little boy playing a game on his Nintendo DS. Cute kid, minds his manners, not overly chatty, totally unlike the two teenage chatterboxes behind us, which were his two cousins. I usually don't mind any background noise, I usually hate silence, but their ability to talk about the most mundane topics can try a man's patience. Celebrity gossip, fashion tips, twenty-something crooners, anything that occupies the brain of teenage girls.

If it wasn't for the teeny-bopper flick that was playing in the lounge car a while ago, I wouldn't have two hour of peace.

... If I sit through a few more seconds of this drivel, I may have to get testy, and the a lecture from their careless parents is the last thing I need right now.

"Mind if you scoot over a bit, kid? I'm heading out." I asked my seat buddy, who paused his virtual adventure and retracted his legs to allow me some room to pass. "Thanks."

"You're welcome, sir." he replied, a modest smile on his face. Boy, THAT'S going to fade once he hit twelve. Once I got into the aisle, I stopped to get a small travel bag from the top compartment and made my way towards the front, the rapidly passing trees trying it's best to hide a disappearing sunset through the windows. As I make my way down this small rubber tile passage, making my way through rows of slumbering, chattering, reading, doodling bodies seated in thrones of gray faux-velvet.

After passing through a pair of metal sliders, I found myself into the lounge car, it's brown reclined leather chairs aligned angle or pointing straight towards the moonlit countryside. As I make my way to the small staircase leading to the snack compartment, I pass a couple of college kids playing spades for nickels, Derek, an old man I had the pleasure of conversing at a smoking stop in Jackson, reading USA Today while relaxing in his seat, and a little girl dancing in her seat with earbuds on while her mother sat beside her reading a saucy romance novel.

In case you haven't notice by now, I am very observant in nature.

Making my way down to the snacking compartment was a challenge in itself, with an unforgivable narrow stairway with carpeted walls in attempt to somehow make the ascension/descension somewhat elegant. As soon as I made my way down, the sound of the wheels speeding on the rail grew slightly louder, but somehow felt a lot smoother and peaceful. Out of curiosity, I pulled out my cell to see if I can make a call to Jan.

No bars. No signal. Doesn't surprise me in the slightest, the only thing I can do is hope that the next town is advanced enough to have a cell tower mounted on a nearby barn. I placed it back in my pocket and glanced at the menu.

$3 for a Hot Dog
$4 for a Cheeseburger
$2 for soda
$3 for beer
$2 for chips
$4 for pizza
$2 for a ham/tuna/egg salad sandwich

Hmm... unless McDonald's starts expanding to the rail circuit, this train got the food market set. I figure that every here just basically costs a dollar; the rest is just a fee for the clerk to microwave the stuff for you as well as place everything in a cardboard tray. Still, I can use a light dinner.

"May I help you sir." said the middle-aged clerk with a smile, the name 'Dennis' dangling from his navy blue vest.

"I'd like a burger, a 7-up, and some Sour Cream chips." I replied, fishing my pocket for my last $20 bill. I thought for a second about changing my mind to a beer, but I'm too much of a soda junkie to deny my primary urges.

"$8. And everything will be ready in about 5 minutes." Dennis said as he cut open a vacuum pack containing the burger. "I saw you get on in New Orleans. So where's your final stop?"

"Chicago. Going to meet up with the wife."

"Ah!" Dennis said, punching the numbers on the microwave while preparing a tray. "Vacation?"

"Sort of. Kind of in a transitional period. She accepted a job there a couple of months back and I'm trying to get my job to transfer me."

Dennis whistled, laying a small plastic cup full of ice in a small compartment with a 7-Up can next to it. "Must be painful for you."

"It is... but I maybe heading up there in a next few months, just haven't given a exact time table yet."

Dennis simply nodded as the nuke box beeped. He placed the now warm sandwich and chips into the large compartment in the tray and smiled. "$8 please."

"Oh, right..." I said and I hastily hand him the bill. "I'm just lucky enough that the job gave me some time off, you know."

"Believe me, I've been married 21 years and have been working the rails for 10. I know this all to well, my friend." The clerk said, handing over my change.

"You must be really lucky."

"No. Just really hard work." Dennis smiled. "Enjoy your meal."

"Thanks. It's nice talking to you." I smile back and grab my tray, leaving Dennis to the next customer as I make my way to the nearest empty table.

After sitting, I pull out my cell and lay it next to the makeshift tray and decided to take in the sights passing by. It was a full moon out tonight and the train seems to be passing by a set of woods for the moment, seeing massive silhouette of trees whizzing by at 30 mph. The passing plant life hypnotized me, my brain filled with a familiar, looping melody followed by flashes of memories. One in particular was my last phone call to Jan the day before I climbed aboard.


"Why the hell would you want to take a train here?"

"Hey, I always wanted to try a train ride. Beats rushing from gate to gate to reach a connecting flight just to pile into cramp seats."

"It's also much slower, honey. It'll take a day to get to the city rather than just a 3 hour plane ride."

"Honey, it's only 18 hours. Besides, I need the time to relax, babe."

"Can't you just relax once you get here?"

"I have all the intentions of doing just that. But some much needed solitude would do me some good... away from the apartment at least. Who knows, I might find some inspiration on the rails."

"...Inspiration to do what exactly?"

"I don't know. Write something. A story. A poem. A song. I'm feeling a bit creative."

"NO! No poetry! I consider it a weapon of mass destruction."

"You didn't mind that one poem when I proposed to you."

"That's because I was distracted."

"... now I'm hurt, you meanie."

"I'm sorry baby. I'll make up for it when you get here."

"Is that a threat or a promise?"

"Take it as you will. I love you."

"I love you too."



A passing crossing light snapped me out of my haze, my tongue layered with the taste of meat and cheese. I look down to see a half eaten burger, and opened bag of chips, and a cup of melted ice. I smiled to myself, mentally patting myself on my back for going through with this trip. My eyed lazily wandered around the yellow tabletop before stopping at my cell phone.

Which displayed two bars. And a text message.



    Musician, Historian, and Stalker Extraordinaire

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And? AND???!!!

Geesh, man, you had me hooked and then you end it like that? What's with these modern writers?! OI! :rolleyes:

Really great job on this. Like I said, you had me hooked. :thumbsup: I just don't like dangling like that.

Kung Fu Jawa

Kung Fu Jawa

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I know what you mean. This on just flew by, but what did the text message say!?!!

I really loved the aside to the reader:

In case you haven't notice by now, I am very observant in nature.

Your descriptions were great and the flow was superb. Even though the guy was a little perturbed at the beginning, the closer he got to Chicago, the happier he became. I think that's the point of the story, and why it's okay to end it where you did. We feel his happiness to get that message because of its source. Good work.

I hope he doesn't have to sit next to Owen from Lady Guenivere's story.



    showing all my haters love

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this was really good but im mad too that it stopped where it did. ;)



    I am groot

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CLIFFHANGER! Man. At least my story had some closure ;) A good read, and like KFJ said, it's flows quickly. I especially enjoyed this line:

A passing crossing light snapped me out of my haze, my tongue layered with the taste of meat and cheese

I can't count the number of times I've been woken up by a stray light with the stale taste of the food I just ate in my mouth. An enthusiastic :thumbsup:



    Supra-Awesome Badass PIE Pimp

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This really flowed well for me. I love the whole food commentary. :lol: You're a man after my own heart!

Good story dude! A very nice debut of your writing skills (here anyway, of course I have read your work on other boards) Next time don't take so long before posting your writing! :rock:



    Taking on the world with an innocent smile

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Woohoo! I think this is the first piece of writing I've seen from you in about five years, maybe more! (Storygames don't count ;) )

I really liked this piece - I certainly learned a lot about the US rail system from it! It seems so different from ours, and I never really thought about it before. It was all the little details that did it :thumbsup:

I hope she appreciates him ;)

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