Saturday, June 9, 2012

knocked all out of habit

"It's so much easier now, you see, that the ghost trains are running a more consistent schedule. Why, years past we'd be out waiting with the new moon, and even though that was the scheduled night, why, any little alteration would delay things like you wouldn't believe. There were plenty o' times we were left stranded all night, had to wait for the next new moon, and like as not had to find a new city to wait in. The trains were temperamental like you wouldn't believe."

"Wait, so there's a schedule? You're here for a final destination?"

"No! Don't answer!" my niece interrupted, "We don't want to know where we're going until we get there."

Margie winked at me, but before either they answered my question or offered more clues about where we might be going, someone else arrived in our compartment. He looked like one of the dwarfs taken straight out of a picture book or a costumed actor from a stage set. Everything about him was stereotypical, the green wool vest and the pointed brown beard, and he looked up at the children and set his satchel on the lower berth. I couldn't tell if he spoke loudly enough to be heard accidentally or not, but his "Ack. Foreign travelers. Wish they'd go back to taking their own trains," was unmistakable. He propped his head on his bag, sprawled across his berth, and the smell of whiskey permeated the air. I hoped it came from a flask, and not that he reeked of it naturally.

In the skin of a lion / by Michael Ondaatje

sunshine + rain, but no rainbows