Inside My Head

the literary rantings of Angie Frissore

Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Part 3

I was snapped back to reality by the sound of screeching brakes, as the taxi driver recklessly navigated his way through stop and go traffic. I glanced around at the surroundings, noting the increasing number of adult video shops popping up everywhere. Ahh, Dallas’s scenic side.

I quickly shoved $45 into the taxi driver’s hand as he pulled into the train station, relieved that I had not decided to attempt public transportation. Across from the Amtrak platform was the DART, Dallas’s equivalent of the MBTA. Only the DART made the T back home look like an outright luxury.

I waited outside the station, realizing that I had absolutely no fire with which to light a smoke. After a few minutes, I successfully found someone with a lighter. I hated traveling for one reason: I always smoked too much. It was my number one time-killer, and I usually ended up at my destination a hyper, shaking mess.

I hadn’t been outside the station for more than ten minutes when three different people approached me. One wanted train fare. Another, a smoke. I knew better than to give into these people…they were like feral cats. Give them something and they will never go away. The third person, however, took the cake. When I refused him a cigarette, he asked for change for the payphone. I told him I had absolutely no change on me, so he asked to use my cell phone. Overtired, hungry, and irritated, I simply laughed in his face.

“Yeah, cause that’s a wicked good idea,” I snapped at him, stubbing out my cigarette. “Sorry, but I’m just not up for giving chase when you try to run off with it.” I loved the depraved naivety of the South.

I entered the train station to be met with news that our train was now two hours delayed to a freight train derailment in San Antonio. Clinging to the good vibe of knowing I would be resting my head with The Southern Man that evening, I settled down into a bench to re-read Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary.

A toothless old man, dressed in Amtrak gear, approached me as I sat silently.

“Ya know young lady, you gotta be careful with some folks ’round here…you see that gal over there?” He asked, pointing out a thinly-framed woman who was meandering about the lobby.

“She’s always in here panhandling and asking for money. You just be sure not to give those folks anything!” he advised.

“Don’t you worry sir,” I assured him. “That’s not how we roll in Boston.” Why did I become such a Masshole the further away from Boston I got?

A young kid, probably no more than eighteen or nineteen, was sitting in the station restlessly. I couldn’t help but notice he was watching me, as every time I looked up I could see him staring at me, shamelessly. Next to him was a suitcase which was obviously his mother’s (or at least I hoped, given the bright flowery pattern it had). Rookie, I thought to myself.

I smoked about five cigarettes, ate two packages of flattened Fig Newtons, and used the world’s sketchiest public restroom six times by the time the station attendant addressed the collective mass of passengers who had gathered at this point.

“I’m sorry folks, but I’m being told that the train ain’t gonna be here till at least seven,” she announced, surprisingly with an air of sincere pity. Seven was the original time I had been due to arrive in Bossier City.

Seven o’clock came and passed. Still, there was no sign of a train. Those of us waiting for the train began placing bets.

I called The Southern Man.

“Abs? Hey, what’s up? What’s the deal with the train? I’m looking at the website right now,” he answered. I crumbled at the sound of his voice.

“I can’t take much more of this,” I complained. “I’m starting to think there IS no train….this is like some kind of sick sociological experiment just to see how we all react.” My long day and irritability was clearly manifesting.

He tried to keep me calm, and we decided to take whatever action we could to make this easier. The original plan was to take the train into Longview, where a bus would take me to Bossier City. Instead, we decided that The Southern Man would meet me in Longview and we would simply make the drive ourselves.

Rumors were flying that the train was now well out of San Antonio and just might arrive after all. We gathered outside on the platform, giddy with anticipation. For a crowd who had been forced to wait for over four hours in a run-down building with only a vending machine, the mood was surprisingly upbeat. I even managed to find out that a fellow passenger grew up in Cambridge.

I soon noticed that Captain Ladybag was lingering rather close to me, seemingly anxious to strike up any conversation he could. Soon, we were chatting politely and sharing our frustration over our wasted afternoons. Confirming that he was a mere 20 years old, I couldn’t help find his flirtatious attempts rather cute, kind of like a stray puppy. The train finally arrived, and we waited as made its way past us up the track in order to get on a different track.

We boarded the train, finally, Captain Ladybag politely asked if he could sit next to me. Having had my heart set on an undisturbed, iPod-induced comatose ride to Longview, I forced a smile and offered the seat. I came to find out he had been a Marine, and he was on his way home to Monroe after spending the weekend with some friends in Dallas.

 

After awhile, we headed off to the lounge car, as I was desperate for both caffeine and a drink to calm the nutcase within me. I grabbed a Bailey’s and coffee, and we settled back into our seats, making small talk and comparing Texas to Boston (which I challenged him to find any comparison) until the train stopped in Monroe. We said our quick goodbyes and wished each other well.

With my travel companion gone, I pulled out my iPod and settled in for the remainder of the trip. Only an hour now; soon the stress of the day would be instantly dissolved and I would be wrapped in The Southern Man’s arms. It had been too long.

Somewhere along the way I had fallen asleep, as the next thing I noticed was an Amtrak attendant gently waking me for my stop in Longview. I sprang to my feet, and tried to be patient as the handful of passengers ahead of me left the train. With a quick glance of my reflection in the train window, I stepped off the train and looked around for the one face I wanted to see.

There he was, standing just to the side of the crowd who’d gathered, waiting for the train’s arrival. For the first time, his usual calm demeanor was overshadowed by his own obvious excitement, and I ran to him.

As he swept me up in his arms, nothing else existed. We stood there, with him holding my 5’4″ frame, locked in a passionate kiss which consumed us both until it was interrupted with the sounds of several “Awwwww’s” from the crowd. Suddenly the past eight months had faded and I felt as though I had never left his side. He grabbed my bag with one hand, and my hand with the other, and we made our way to the car.

 

“So what do you feel like doing?” he asked excitedly.

“Nothing….anything….everything,” I said wistfully. “I’m here with you….and that’s all I need.”

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September 9, 2008 - Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , ,

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