Once Upon a Train…


The train slowly gathered speed as it pulled away from the station. The sound of the wheels rattling against the tracks was something she found soothing. It established a kind of rhythm that, at least momentarily, drew her thoughts away from what she was leaving behind. From what had happened there.

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Signs of Life

Signs of Life_resize

I don’t always find her. And the where of her is unpredictable. On those occasions when I don’t find her, I never know whether it’s her choice to remain hidden or whether she has simply abandoned certain places, finding them unsuitable in some way. The first time I found her always comes to mind with the kind of clarity attaching to events that reshape our lives in some fundamental way, as if the experience is permanently housed in its own moment of brilliant light where every little detail is illuminated. It was like that.

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Up There


The gloom began to fade as early morning sunlight filtered into the underground station.  It crouched on the far side of the tracks and waited for the first of today’s crowd to come streaming down the moving walkway.  It liked watching the crowd, the constant flow of shapes and sizes and colors.  It liked listening to the drone of the crowd’s constant chattering and muttering.

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Bagging It


“I have all these bags,” she says. “From all these places.”

We are sitting in the courtyard outside the Zenlight Coffee Shop, enjoying the morning sun and sipping our coffee drinks. Mine is an Americano, hot water and espresso. Hers is fancier, flavored syrup with espresso and lots of swirly whipped cream on top. The courtyard is set back from the street, bordered by planters filled with the burgeoning foliage that our subtropical climate nurtures everywhere. Through the open metal work of the round table top, I can see a small lizard clinging to one of the curved legs.

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“I don’t belong here.” This is what I say as Jack pours ketchup on his fries. He gives me a look and picks up his beer. “I can’t get out,” I say. “Really, I can’t . I don’t know how.”

Jack is not a handsome guy. He’s about my age, 50 or so, but more wrinkled. Creases abound on his round face, becoming deeper when he concentrates or when he is annoyed. He is annoyed now.

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Duets, 1979

Alan and John are swapping stories about Vietnam when I notice Ann Foster lumbering in our direction. When Alan and John reminisce, they tend to fade away from other people. They don’t notice Ann as soon as I do. They don’t notice when I stop listening to them and start watching her. Ann is an incredible figure by anyone’s standards, at least six feet tall and fat, a Sumo wrestler kind of fat. Today her shirttail has come untucked and dangles, wrinkled and dejected, below her gray polyester jacket. Her short, red hair is creased and matted on one side as if she just rolled out of bed. She holds her textbooks in front of her like a shield. I know from experience that she is heading for the seat next to mine and wish I could occupy both seats simultaneously.

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Trailer Trash

Once Upon a Time

“Trailer trash!” It’s what my mother used to say. People who spit on the sidewalk or threw trash out car windows were subject to such immediate judgment. So were those who neglected to say “Sir” and “Ma’am”. And those who talked loudly in the cinema. As well as those so crass as to mop up runny egg yolks with toast while eating in a public place. Continue reading “Trailer Trash”

A Bit of Orange

Once there was a place where harmony reigned and everyone lived in peace. The hares were at peace with the hounds, the bears with the salmon, the egrets with the fish and so on. No one was hungry because there was no need to eat. No one fought because there was room for all to live comfortably. No one ruled because rules were unnecessary. All lived a peaceful existence without the need to know if what they felt was happiness or not. Continue reading “A Bit of Orange”

Revenant Town, Part 1

“You’re old!  You’re not supposed to be old.”

The voice came from somewhere above me, its tone plaintive and confused.  I was on my back in the grass.  Wet grass at that, though I had no idea whether the moisture was from dew or a recent watering.  In truth, I had no idea where I was.  I slowly opened my eyes, brushing the dirt away from my lids as I did so. Continue reading “Revenant Town, Part 1”