The Train: Part Five.

by | Oct 13, 2023 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

Brett sat quietly, seemingly contemplating his last comment. Suddenly, he snapped out of his brief trance.

“So, love number two, Angela. We were together for two years. I must say they were the best years of my life, eighteen to twenty, the world at our feet. We were full of life enthusiasm and curiosity; you have it all to come young fella.”

“What happened? Why only two years? Did you break up?” Ron fired questions at his companion, keeping one eye on the time. It’s suddenly struck him at that point what was actually going to happen in less than twenty minutes…more like fifteen, now. He calculated the time it would take him to complete the shortcut. Not enough.

The two new friends sat in silence each deep in their own thoughts.

“A crazy motorcyclist that’s what happened. One of those delivery guys with the huge orange cube on his back. Angie stepped into the road, to allow a woman to pass in an invalid scooter, straight into his path.” The tears returned and Brett lowered his head placing his hands over his face. “Two weeks in ITU before her parents turned off the machine I tell you man she looked as beautiful then as the day I met her.”

“Oh my god Brett! I’m so sorry,” Ron gasped for a second time. He dreaded the next question that paused in his head and it’s resultant answer.

As if anticipating the boys anxiety, Brett rubbed his face with both hands and turned to him. The grin he gave was superficial but well meaning. He changed the subject and the emphasis onto his diminutive friend.

“You have someone at home, right? Someone who is unwell?”

Ron’s young mind took another jolt. How did this stranger, from the other side of the world, possibly know this? It was his turn to fight the tears as the backs of his eyes stung.

“My mum has cancer. Somewhere below. Dad said she’ll not be around for my birthday which is in two months’ time.” He took a deep breath and stifled a sob.

“Interesting,” Brett uttered. One word, plain, without emotion. Ron couldn’t work out this big man. He cleared his head and allowed the question to rise like the head of a pimple.

“Tell me about number three.” There, it was out, he thought. He would gladly trade a clip from George Morton for an extra ten minutes with his friend.

“Ah, number three, the beautiful and exotic Samia, the one that got away. Brett’s countenance took on that of enchantment. The spell was still in his eyes.

“What do you mean got away so she didn’t, erm,  die?” The boy regretted his last words, but that particular spot had been squeezed.

“No, my young friend, she is very much alive. Depending on which way you look at it. There’s life and there’s life; as you will, no doubt, find out in your own precious existence.” The bewitched look lingered on Brett’s face.

“What happened? What do you mean by there’s life and there’s life?” Ron was desperate to know the rest of Brett’s story. He checked the app. Another delay, another ten minutes. At this rate, the northbound train would pass first. He communicated the information to his friend.

“God does indeed work in mysterious ways. Here he is adding time onto my life courtesy of LNER.” He laughed this time with a deep humorous guffaw. Oddly, Ron pictureed a defiant criminal, standing at the gallows savouring his last few moments on this earth. He shivered and involuntarily. “Unfortunately she had to choose between one life and the other she chose the one that didn’t involve me.”

The to friends day in silence again, the time was tangible, running away like sand in an egg timer. Brett slapped his hands on his knees again and his young friend jumped.

“I have to go. I’m already late for school.” Ron rocked a couple of times and pushed himself to his feet. “Will you be alright?” The next few moments shook the young boy and would remain with him for the rest of his days

“Please stay for a few more minutes. It will be worth your while and that of your mother. First of all, take this.” He pulled a small velvet bag from his coat pocket and loosened the string, tipping the contents onto his open hand. “Be sure to give this to your mother and ask her to wear it for me. It belonged to my own mum. Will you do that for me?”

Ron gazed at the gold chain from which hung a ruby the colour of the hawthorn berries that surrounded them. It was the size of his thumb and set in a gold surround. Brett poured the chain back into the bag and pulled the string tight. He handed it to the boy. Ron took it without question, giving no consideration to his mother’s reaction.

“Finally I want to tell you about how suicide affects the train driver. Imagine someone standing at the station platform. The train pulls in and that person leaps in front of it. How do you think that affects the driver? Not to mention the fellow travellers, both on the platform and in the train.” Brett hesitated to allow his young companion to take in this information.

“Now consider this. A driver is speeding along at eighty five miles an hour on a sweeping bend such as this.” He glances in both directions indicating the curve of the track in front of them. “He spots a dead cow on the track, no obstruction, no hazard. The driver radios it in to have it collected. Everybody’s happy. Now, my young companion, it’s time for you to go.”

With that, Brett stood up towering over the boy. He unfolded the material that had been beneath him. It turned out to be a black and white cow costume matching the head which lay by the track. “Go now! Go! You don’t have much time.” He shouted at the boy then smiled and winked.

Ron turned and hurried back in the direction from which he had come, without looking back. As he reached the road, the delayed eight thirty from Edinburgh to King’s Cross thundered past in a blur of red and grey. A deep feeling of emptiness enveloped the young boy as he headed to school the conventional way. He pushed his hands deep into his coat pockets feeling the softness of the velvet pouch in one. At the same time, he thought about the beautiful watch wrapped in his shorts. He decided to skip PE and turn up for history. Nothing big George Morton could subject him to would compare with the feeling he had at that very moment.

1 Comment

  1. Ken Childs

    Fascinating

    Reply

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