Thursday, August 15, 2019

Short Story: A Peculiar Kind of Train Station

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By. Jessica B. 

    
          The train station looked ordinary enough as Amanda and Mark Hemming drove up in their old, green jalopy. They were headed to Clarksville for Amanda’s sister’s wedding, but their train at the other station had left without them. They drove to a filling station to look at a map and found another train station. A weather worn sign hung over the train depot, stating simply Rigby and Co. Railway.  
“Looks a bit run down,” Amanda remarked, opening the car door. She stepped out, careful not to let her bell bottom blue jeans catch in the door and adjusting the collar of her loose white blouse.    
“As long as, the train’s fine.” Mark opened his car door and stepped out. He moved around the front of the car and over to his wife, who was carrying a red suitcase. “Shall we?” They headed into the lobby, which was buzzing with people, and quickly got into a ticket line behind two elderly women.  
“I don’t suppose you have any bread, do you, Margot,” asked the stouter of the women, who was dressed in an old-fashioned green dress.  
“Sorry, Norma,” the other answered, running her bony hand down her tattered blue dress. “But President Roosevelt seems positive we’ll get out of the Depression alright.”  
“He’s too positive. He has the money for train tickets, we barely do. But I suppose he’s right,” Norma sighed. “You know they’ve sent Richard and Bill away to one of those camps.” 
Amanda and Mark exchanged looks. They didn’t know of any economic depression. In fact, President Nixon said the economy and the country was better than ever, except for the riots. That was another thing, they thought, who had Margot said was President? 
“Excuse me, ma’am,” said Mark. “Who did you say is President?” He must have heard wrong.  
“Franklin D. Roosevelt.” Margot turned to face him. “It’s a nice change from Herbert Hover.”  
“Say.” Norma had turned, too. “Those are strange clothes you’re wearing and your hair’s a bit long, too, dear”  
Mark looked down at his bell bottom jeans and black belted sweater. He touched his lightly flowing, shoulder-length auburn hair.  
“Don’t mind her,” Margot said. “I don’t believe I’ve seen you two before though.” 
“Our train in Clarksville left without us,” answered Mark.      
“Next,” called the ticket master from his cage.  
“I hope we’ll see you and your brother again later.” Norma moved up in to the cage, Margot at her side. Mark and Amanda did not correct them. They were husband and wife.  
 After Mark and Amanda had bought their tickets, they settled themselves down on a moth-eaten bench. A young African American couple sat not too far away, on their shabby blue suitcase, under a faded sign that read Colored Only. The woman shivered and whispered to the man, resting her head on his shoulder. He wrapped both his arms around her waist and kissed her. She rested one of her hands on his and with the other reached up and stroked his face. 
“What the heck do you think you’re doing!” an elderly man screeched, hobbling over to the couple. “Blacks can’t be kissing in public! And you aren’t even married!” 
The woman raised her head from her lover’s shoulder as he removed his arms from around her waist.  
“Sorry, sir, very sorry,” said the young man, rather scared. “It won’t happen again, sir.” 
The elderly man hobbled away, muttering about what would happen if he caught them again kissing. The young man slipped his arms back around the woman, who exchanged a worried look with him. He glanced around to make sure no one was looking and quickly kissed her.  
    A few minutes later, an old-fashioned train rumbled up to the platform. 
“Blacks in the back car,” called the conductor. The African American couple rose, the man picked up their bag, and headed for the train. 
“First class in the front car,” the conductor shouted. Amanda and Mark rose and started towards the train. The train corridor was rather dirty with peeling, cream paint and moldy dark carpet. They finally found a compartment that didn’t smell so much like rotting cheese, but still had peeling paint and torn leather seats. They sat down. 
An hour later, the train stopped with a sudden jerk that woke Amanda, who had been asleep against her husband’s chest. “We haven’t reached it yet, have we,” She yawned, sitting up. Mark looked at his watch; 12:30.  
“I don’t think so. I wonder what’s happened. I hope we didn’t crash.” 
“Let’s wait a few minutes.” Amanda yawned again and leaned back against Mark. “Maybe it’ll start again.” 
  The minutes dragged by and the train still wasn’t in motion.  
“Darling.” Mark nudged Amanda, who was asleep again. “I think we should go see what’s happened.” 
 “Hmm.” Amanda sleepily sat up and stretched.  
 They set off down the train corridor, encountering no living thing but a few large gray rats. There was nobody to be found at all and so they stepped outside, feeling totally bewildered.  
They found themselves in a thick forest with only the company of woodland animals.  
“Hello,” Mark yelled into the night.  For a second the only answer was the hoot of an owl as it flew past.  
“Who’s out there,” called a scratchy male voice.  
“Hello?” Mark called again, glancing around. An elderly African American man stepped out from behind an oak tree.  
“What do you think you’re doing out here at this time of night?” 
“We were on this train.” Amanda glancing at the train behind her, which looked as if it could have been there for years.  
The man laughed warmly. “That train hasn’t run since 1932 when it crashed.” 
“But,” Mark started to protest. 
“No, I’m sorry, but it’s just been sitting there for 39 years. You couldn’t have been on it.” The man shook his head. “I’m Remus Porter. Where you headed?” 
“To Clarksville.” Amanda answered. 

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