Sunday, March 12, 2006

Eating Cheese at Bedtime

4:15 AM 3/12/2006

To Whom It May Concern:

I was on a train.

I'd been busy working at a computer. I'd shifted positions in the car to temporarily use a different computer for something related to what I was doing. The car was occupied, but not crowded. I was riding facing the left-side wall of the car, which was kind of an elongated computer bench with monitors at eye level. There was some conversation around me. I didn't engage in it, although I was part of the topic being discussed. I ignored everything but what I was working on.

The train stopped. Everyone got off. I stayed on board, and continued to work. The computer went into some long process that gave me time to relax. I got up, stretched, and wandered up to the front of the car. Looking outside, I saw people milling around on the platform. I took them to be the passengers who had just gotten off. I may have entered a control room on the train car. I could see out to the front and sides. The car began to move, slowly at first, but gently accelerating.

Cool, I thought. Hope those guys don't mind being left back there on the platform. Then I noticed the car was going through an area of much construction, most of it under the tracks, as the tracks were elevated, similar to the 'el' in Chicago. Most of the crews were taking their lunch break. They didn't seem to take any notice of the train passing by overhead. One guy was eating a cheese sandwich on white bread. The car had accelerated to a speed that was just above my comfort level, considering I could see out to the sides and in front, and what I saw didn't encourage me to have much confidence in what was holding up the train and keeping it on the tracks.

Suddenly the train took a siding by swerving to the left. It seemed that the construction under the tracks was less complete than it had been a few hundred yards back. False work was in place, but not much steel. Not even tracks. "What the hell? No tracks?" And then the car tilted down as it kept its forward momentum. "Oh, shit!" "It's a crash!" And, just as I thought that, it crashed into the concrete pavement of a lower level open platform type area.

It looked like the far end of a terminal facility of some sort, with the city scape of the surrounding neighborhood visible beyond a high chainlink fence. The car stopped abruptly after it had slid only a short distance on the concrete. I climbed off the train, thinking I should find my backpack with my camera in it.

A stocky gent in a blue suit came out of some double doors back up the platform a short ways from where I stood outside the car. He might have come down some stairs that looked like they could have gone up to the track level where the train had been running. There was nothing overhead. He came up to me like he was going to investigate something, but he didn't know where to start. "Is that your truck over there?" he asked, pointing to a contractor's pickup just inside the high fence. Everything was neat, for being along side railroad tracks. I don't remember many neat railroad tracks or neat rail yards. "No," I said, "I was on the train car." "You'd better write out a statement," he said.

I started to say something, like " any paper," or something else. I can't remember what. He said over his shoulder as he went back toward the big doors he'd come out of, "Something like 'To Whom It May Concern', something like that." He disappeared leaving me feeling guilty. I climbed back on the train car and found my backpack, and got out the camera. Keeping the pack, I got off.

Something else had happened before the man in the suit told me to make a statement. We'd looked over the concrete where the car had landed. It was deeply gouged, and a couple of ruts were scratched in the concrete, with loose rubble and dust piled aside the ruts. He said something when he saw the scratched concrete. I can't remember what. I decided to look for some paper to make a statement. I rolled over, and my feet hit the floor. It was dark, but the room was warm.

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