Stops

24Jan11

The marigold light overhead encaged with protective bug wire. The plexiglass windows on all four walls, scuffed by years of abuse from listless teenagers and smattered with tattered stickers. Black marker graffiti scribbled haphazardly in the corner.

The young ethnic woman in black trench coat and pink scarf, sitting on the bench, torso hunched her knees, wailing into her cell phone, “Why does everyone blame me? All he does is drink, drink, drink all day and nothing happens! I’m trying to be a good mother and try to do the right thing, but why is it I’m the one who always gets punished?”

Yes, I was at a train stop.

Another microscopic cell in America.

Train stops, bus stops, any waylay in the thoroughfare of America is where the nation’s downtrodden, forgotten and lost congregate. Those who don’t have a place to be, aren’t in a hurry to get there and can’t afford to be anywhere.

A boxer from Davenport on the Greyhound to New York City. Once fought for the Gold in the Moscow Olympics, now too punch drunk to hold a job, face and fingers too gnarled for anyone to care.

A drunk Hispanic angel balancing on the San Diego local bus, sermonizing his love for Jesus, receiving an “Amen” from his white brother seated at the front.

Two brothers stranded at the Denver terminal, overstuffed Army duffel bags in tow, searching for a place to smoke so they can forget they don’t know where they are going and don’t know what is waiting for them at the end of the line.

Now there’s this poor Jane waiting for the Amtrak in Hammonton, New Jersey. Asking a stranger for legal advice because he wears pleated pants and carries a brief case.

As she talks on the phone, her words become fewer, and her sobs grow furiously. More plaintive with each measured interval.

A faint whistle signals the coming arrival of the train. The headlight appears like the North Star, the harbinger of continual night and unceasing despair.

The passengers file outside the hut as the train slowly reaches a halt, metal doors unfolding.

The jilted mother steps on the train.

The stranger waits to see where she sits, and purposely chooses a different car, afraid she will ask him for money.

Another stop in America.

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