I drove up to the train station and parked my car. Usually, it's fucking difficult to get a parking spot at 6:00 in the evening. But today, the Gods smiled upon me. I found one right next to the station waiting area.
The sky was overcast. The air was so saturated with moisture that one would be reluctant even to flare a nostril in the fear that it would disturb the delicate atmospheric equilibrium and start a downpour. I looked at my watch, I still had 10 minutes to kill. I opened the door and raised the stereo volume. Clapton was on. Layla, the mellow version. I wondered why I had never bought that album. I resolved to correct this deficiency in my music collection as soon as possible.
Waiting always makes me restless. To me, life consists of 3 parts: the part when you are doing something, the part when you are on your way to do something and the part when you are waiting to do something. I have trouble handling the waiting part.
I had forgotten to bring a book again. I rummaged through the junk on the backseat for reading material. As usual, the only thing I found was my trusty friend, the Rand MacNally road atlas. I have had it for 6 years now. I haven't had any use for it ever since I tore the Pennsylvania page. All it has been used for since then, is as a companion during these train station waits. I opened up the page on Idaho. I had watched Napoleon Dynamite the previous day and I wanted to see if there really was a town in Idaho called Preston. Sure enough, there was. Keeping the atlas on my steering wheel, I looked around.
I saw a tall American teenager standing by the station with a rucksack. He appeared to be not of these parts. His ambiguous position with respect to the railway track made it difficult for me to guess whether he was waiting for the train, or for someone to pick him up. He was looking at me with sporadic interest. I closed the atlas and placed it on the passenger's seat, not wanting to look like a tourist. After all, this was my domain, my hood.
There was a girl, dressed in pink, walking around the platform, speaking into a cellphone. She looked worried.
A beat up Corolla rolled up into the parking lot and stopped in front of the tall American. The door opened and a shapely blonde female, looking strangely incongruous with the dilapidation of the car, walked up to the guy. She had the deliberate walk of a woman who knows that wherever she goes, she is going to commandeer the gazes of all those around her. As she made her way to the guy, hips swivelling, hair waving around in a lazy arc, I noticed something I haven't seen ever since I arrived in this country. It was, what could only be described as female ass-cleavage. I was entranced. However, it was not to last. Pulling her shirt down, she cast a supercilious look behind at me as if to say, "I hope you enjoyed it brown boy, but your time's up", and proceeded to envelope the waiting teenaged guy in a bearhug. I wasn't sure if I had enjoyed it or not. What I was sure about was that the near future held plenty of sex for the couple. Gobs and gobs of it. The two of them got into the car and drove off.
Deprived of ass-cleavages to look at, I started noticing other people in the vicinity. There were a couple of kids, possibly in their mid-teens, who looked like they had missed the 80s hair metal boat and caught the next one. One had hair painted red, the other was wearing a black t-shirt with some kind of a musculoskeletal inscription upon it. Both had rings embedded in various parts of their body.
I could see one of them sitting on the pavement with a rolled up newspaper over his mouth. I wasn't sure what he was up to, so I lowered the volume of my stereo to find out. He was doing an amazing impression of a race car revving up. Probably the best I'd ever experienced.
The girl in pink standing on the platform was looking at the two with a bit of trepidation. I could have told her they were pretty harmless, but girls will be girls. Another car pulled up, someone stepped out, was kissed goodbye and left. Just another itinerant. By this time, both the metalheads had aquired rolled up newspapers of their own and were duelling it out on the street. Every step they took closer to the girl in pink, caused her to look more worried. Amidst the battle cries, blood, gore and shards of flying paper, I looked at my watch. The train should be arriving anytime now.
Weary of their fight and possibly having reached a compromise, the two metalheads were now concentrating their attention on the free newspaper dispensers scattered around the platform. Having decided to live an unsheltered life no more, one of the metalheads was trying to cram himself into one of these. Various methods were tried, head first, legs first. With his friend pushing and prodding, the metalhead finally achieved his objective. However, their ecstasy at their success was short lived.Yielding to gravity, the newspaper dispenser, along with it's cargo flipped over, spilling it's contents into the street. The resultant crash made the girl in pink jump. She had wandered out upto the far end of the platform. She was almost crying now. She was still speaking on her cell. I wondered if there was anyone on the other end of the line.
Just then, a clang clang clang signified the arrival of the train. The blue and silver Amtrak locomotive made it's way to the station and squealed to a halt. I was ready to go home. I had beer on my mind.