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Banbury Cross

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Post details: Midnight Trains

Midnight Trains

A subway car after midnight is like a Hogwarts Express. Strange things can happen.

Once I was returning home from the city on the last train of Washington's Orange Line, which is around 3am on weekends. I sat next to a man from Midwest, who was trying to sell me a soy bean field behind his barn in exchange for an immediate cash infusion directed conveniently into his wallet. It was once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in agriculture, but I foolishly declined. On another occasion, I had the whole history of New York Mets explained to me in great factual detail and illustrated with animated gestures that faithfully depicted some of the greatest swings seen at Shea Stadium. All that without a single hint of encouragement on my side and meticulously spread over the 25 minutes which it took to chug from Metro Center to the West Falls Church station.

The crowning moment of my past-midnight rider career occurred a few months ago when I took a seat opposite to a pair of lovely young ladies, probably interns, one blond and one brunette, whose cheek colors were pink and light green respectively. At Rosslyn, the brunette half of the duo figured out that the unhealthy color of her cheeks must have been a result of some vile power struggle between alcoholic beverages and mayonnaise products taking place in her stomach. Without interrupting her sentence, she motioned her friend to step out of the car. Once outside, she promptly approached the short divider lining the wall of the station and nonchalantly regurgitated the feuding food factions into the crevasse between the divider and the wall. Acting with the routine swiftness of Nascar mechanics, she completed the cleansing procedure before the train doors closed, so they both had enough time to return to their seats, the brunette in a visibly pinker state. They regained their composure and picked up the learned gabfest wherever they left off as if besoiling a public place was an integral part of every young lady's early morning hygiene.

See, late trains are not populated by your usual standard edition people. By the time midnight strikes, normal people are already safely in their normal homes, tucked in their normal beds and dreaming their normal dreams. Midnight trains are prowled by special species, by beasts that have tasted the flesh of night, now sprawling across the rows of double seats and slowly digesting their pray, with blood still dripping from their newfangled vampire teeth.

You may see wildly disheveled characters with oily beards, whose mere presence at the Thanksgiving table would cause massive loss of appetite, you may see corpulent ladies with make up turned into highly abstract paintings that would leave Kandinsky gasping for air, you may see comparative alcoholics scanning the horizon with their foggy periscopes, fully convinced that they are on their way to the North Pole in a sleigh train pulled by Rudolf the Red Nosed Reinbeer.

And then there are the casualties of war. Wretched souls whose ill timed slumber carries them well past their intended destination. They are the angels of midnight trains - for theirs is the Kingdom of Terminal Stations.



Comment from: Judy [Visitor]
Honza- What a great selecion of topics you have choosen this time. Just what do you mean by "those who travel the trains by night are not normal people"....does that mean I am corresponding with an abhorrent individual?? I hope not. I do so love your blogs.
Permalink 10/06/09 @ 11:28

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