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Posts Tagged ‘train’

I visited Gen in her half asleep Carolina town and as many times as I could flick her ear while she cooked some down home sweet potatoes for me, or woke up to tea already made and house slippers she let me borrow lined up next to the bed, as many times as I half saw her in a fog of semi-consciousness in an early morning getting her shirt on for work as I fell back to sleep, I couldn’t help but to be anxious to get back to New York.  

The night I left, she opened a bottle of wine and we talked until we lost track of time and ran to the car, and she stick shifted us however fast she could to the train station.

We pulled up just as the train 10:55 train was pulling out.

“You ever been to Richmond?” she asked.

“My roommate said it was terrible.”

“With any luck, we won’t be there long,” and she sped off down late night roads, brights on saying You can’t miss this one, right?  

She went 90 for 180 miles in a 1989 Ford Tempo with no rear view mirror racing north parallel to the tracks.  

“It’s got a next stop, right?”

“No idea.”

We got there as the same 10:55 train was pulling in, I jumped out, grabbed my bag from the back, started running.  She grabbed my hand, pulled me over and kissed my cheek, flicked my ear, and told me to get out of here.  

I got on the train and watched her leaning against her car waiting for the train to pull out of the station.

“This girl’s all right,” I said.

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“What do you think you’d call that?” I ask my nephew.

“I don’t know, a horn?” he says putting together a Lincoln log cabin.  

There is a train far off that you can hear every evening when dusk sweeps in, the time before dinner is cooked, after you have the lake water showered off and the canoe is put away, the time that everyone is ten pages into the next chapter or five moves in each to the chess game, another log just got tossed onto the fire and the crickets have just started singing.  It’s then that you hear the train.

“No,” I say.  “Horn is too harsh.  It’s softer than that, more nostalgic, like a remembrance of something lost.”

He stares at me blankly through his thick kid glasses, his hair sticking straight toward the ceiling, lake water and sand still there.  “You’re right.  It’s not a horn,” he says.

“Not a horn,” I say.

“It’s a choo-choo.”

“Yeah, a choo-choo.”

And he’s back to his log cabin as the train is far off and fading.

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We were piled three high on the sleeper train, six in a cabin.  The Russian up top went to bed right away and the Italian and the Argentinean couple went to go have some snacks in car number eight.  This left me with the lights off with the Ukrainian man.  

Him :  Are you French?

Me :  No.

Him :  British?

Me :  No.  American.

Him :  American, eh?  I visited Los Angeles.  The women were alright.

Me :  Yes, the women are alright.

Him :  Do you know what the say about Genoa?

Me :  They say lots of things, I imagine.

Him :  They say it has the most beautiful beaches in the world in Genoa, that the water is always warm and refreshing in Genoa and that the lemons are always ripe.

Me :  People say everything and nothing about most places.

The train had followed the coast and our window had a constant horizon, blue and more blue during the day but it was dark now and the moon bounced off the Mediterranean.  I took a sip of water through a provided plastic straw and he put his hand over his mouth to cover a wide smile.  

Him :  In Genoa, there are the most beautiful women.

Me :  They say that about most places and I still haven’t seen them.

Him :  Yes.  But in Genoa, they say you can call anyone any time during the night and they’ll answer.

Me :  What?

Him :  It could be three a.m. and if you want to talk to someone on the phone, you can just go right ahead and call.

Me :  Any time of day?

Him :  You just dial the number.

Me :  Sounds like heaven, Genoa.

Him :  Heaven indeed.

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