Renewal or Regret?

Cono, age eighteen, travels back home to confront his father.



Getting on the train, I’m thankful it’s not crowded. Too many people too close to me is something I’ll never get used to. I find a seat toward the back like I always do. A back up against the wall is a back protected. I need to see what’s going on around me at all times. And like always, when I hop on a train, I hope that my head is still attached when I get to where I’m going; not like our friend, Wort Reynolds who hopped on that train to Clyde Texas, the train that grabbed his head and kept right on going.

         “Ticket please.”

            I turn my eyes from the curved tracks outside my window to the ticket taker. Handing it over, I watch him punch the hole without even looking into my eyes. How many years has he done this, I wonder, and does he like the shoes he’s wearing?

         Home, a place that’s sometimes as hard as cement that you can’t pull your shoes out of. Nevertheless, that’s where I’m heading.

            My ears focus on the sound of the train’s idling, but eager-to-go engines. Where the hell would I be today if I didn’t have those railroad memories chugging along with me, some good and some anything but?

         Just as I’m feeling comfortable that I won’t be crowded, I feel something settling into that worn seat next to me, making itself comfortable but making me anything but. It nudges me. I ignore it and then tell it to go away. It doesn’t listen. The memories want me to pay them a little attention. I know this train is about to pull out. I know this train is taking me to Temple. But my mind and my uninvited seat companion start to take me somewhere else, somewhere I’ve already been before, somewhere I don’t care to go back to. It starts speeding me down the track a lot faster than this train is accustomed and a whole lot faster than I can put a stop to.

         The first memory is safe. It makes me wish, “If only it could have all been this easy.”    

         But past wishes were reserved for the other folks with good seats.    

         Not for me.


Renewal – Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper

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