night train

train

Night Train

This is not the train I rode in on.

Those are not my original fellow passengers who are scurrying down the platform toward the taxi stand.

That man coming down the aisle sounding the dinner chime is not the conductor who took my ticket and then turned back the sheets in my Pullman berth.

This is not the destination he promised when he cried out, “All Aboard!”

***

In the box cars strung out behind this Silver Streak of rare fortune is a rough mix of Gypsies and Jews, underage boys from Guatemala and old-fashioned hobos. From up here in sleeping-car first class I can hear them rustling in their tattered wool overcoats, coughing roughly into the thick air, trying one last time to turn straw into gold.

The train pulls out of the station and gains speed, and gradually my face appears in the night window, a wavering apparition.

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