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Copyright: Fred Robel, and Fritz365 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Fred Robel and Fritz365 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

One Day On a Train

I met you on a train
Though our eyes they never locked
Hands that never touched
Thoughts that probably went in wildly different directions

You had a briefcase that was full to bursting
Or perhaps only had a few things in it
Which were disorganized into haphazard piles
Leaving corners of papers sticking out
For myself and the whole world to see

One was a child's paper
Labeled as 'Second Grade English Quiz 4.2'
With a red B+ marked diagonally in the top margin
Owned by someone named Susan Z******
At least I think it was a last name starting with Z
And I couldn't make out the rest of it
With my cursive reading skills so rusty
And child Susan being overly messy about writing

That Z could have been a cursive Q as well now that I think on it
Those thoughts making me peer sneakily at your face
As you sat watching the world blur on by us in the picture size window  between us
Little crow's feet crinkling the corners of your eyes
The left a little more moist than the right
And a lock of slightly curled brown hair drifted down across your furrowed brow
A soft diagonal across the parallel lines

Was Susan your child?
I wondered
Almost asking it aloud
Before composing myself by fiddling with my pocket watch
Yes, quite right, almost exactly ten minutes since the last time I checked it

But then another thought happened by
Saying that perhaps you were the sort of person who carried their own second grade quiz paper around with them
However after careful sideways glances
I decided you weren't the type

With that question dealt with
My bored eyes flicked to the window
Noting the passage of Hog Slaughter station
Marking the halfway point in my commute home
Before questing their field of view towards your elbow
Where it rested upon the cheap grey plastic interior that passed for decor in mid-grade public transit these days
Up the worn nondescript sleeve of a tan overcoat that cloaked you in mystery
To your shoulder
Where a large single button hung on for dear life with one remaining loop of thread
Doing nothing really to prevent the epaulet from flying about in a fashion faux rage
Were it given the slightest provocation by wind or movement

I thought I should tell you that the button was likely about to fall off
And the words were in my mouth just about
When I ate them
Awkward adverbs and all
Swallowing them whole into the silence

A particularly rough grade crossing rattled your briefcase
Which drew both of our attention
Me taking bets with myself as to whether it would fall over or not
You obviously concerned that it might
Seeing your Isotoner gloved hand grasp the top firmly
Rotating it slightly on the floor until it was in perfect position to grasp with your legs
One worn brown boot on each side
Topped by muscular calves that disappeared long before the knee into the dark mystery of that overcoat curtain

I couldn't draw my gaze away from the papers once again
Trying to make out what the new ones I could see purported themselves to be
One was clearly a receipt
From a deli that I happened to know had the best fresh baked bread sub sandwiches in the city
The date showing that you'd been there in March
Of what year or exact day I'd never know
Hidden as that information was by the tightly closed lips of burgundy leather

Staring intently at another bit of paper that was sticking its tongue out at me
Where there seemed to be a bit of logo that was legible as belonging to a life insurance company
I became aware of two holes being burned into the top of my head
Your eyes were tearing into me
Picking through my memories
Trying to determine what type of person this was that was showing such interest in......

Oh my god, she thought I was staring up her overcoat!

I quickly looked straight down and bent over
With a slight groan as if in minor pain
I untied my left shoe and slipped it off
Wiggling the toes clad only in a well worn navy blue office issue dress sock
Letting a little bit of air in between them
While rubbing my heel lightly

I felt the twin lasers of inquisitional accusation rotate away from my hidden red face
As you looked away in disgust from my foot display

I slipped my foot back into my shoe and picked up the newspaper
All in one staggered motion of thoughtlessness
Of slapping out the paper and a crinkle crinkle of aimless page turning lingering embarassment

Hidden from my view
The scenery outside stopped and started
Lurching the seat beneath me
My gaze flicking around the page
First a house fire in the local news
Only one survivor
A child who died from the smoke
Her name was Susan

My face went white and I dropped my paper 
A question determined to announce itself to the rail carraige this time for certain
But the scenery was speeding by again
Without you to gaze out at it thoughtfully now
Nothing to indicate that you were there but the quickly flattening out slight indentation in the old cheap seat cushion

I met you on the train
Almost touched your hand and said hello
Almost knew your story
And still look for you every single day