In Between Forgetting To Die.
There he was. I would recognize that red, velvet lined guitar case anywhere. I removed my hand from over my mouth and felt an involuntary twitch in my top lip. I felt the train lurch underneath my feet and then jerk me back. I swallowed hard and felt a dry lump form in the back of my throat. My head began pulsing like a beating drum as I counted how many rows he was in front of me. I whispered out loud
“one..two..three..four..five.” The cold air from the train cooling system kicked back on and circled my face. I began to quickly grab my things and wait for the portly man standing at the front of the train to give the passengers permission to exit.
Finally, the lights flashed on and illuminated the train compartment and people started standing up and began talking to each other. Dozens of conversations swirled in and out of my ears from the passengers surrounding me. People talked on and on about what they were having for lunch, and reminded each other not to forget certain items on the train. I could hear the monotonous tick of my wrist watch slowly seep deeper into my temples. Observing more than a hundred exaggerated yawns and stretches from the people surrounding me only ignited my frustration. Finally, the train attendant’s voice came booming over the loudspeaker like a medieval trumpet instructing everyone to exit the train. My mouth opened and when I closed it my jaw ached as I tried to keep my focus on the guitar case. I saw the case being removed from the floor in the isle, and thrown over someone’s shoulder. The passengers began to march like ants towards the front of the train. Scrambling out of my seat I tried to push through the people in front of me, but their feet were like cement attached to the floor boards. I bumped into a bald man who rubbed his shiny, rubbery head and scowled at me with disgust. I still had my eyes glued on the guitar case, until a woman in front of me propped up her child onto her chest blocking my view. I trudged through the isle of people back to my seat and stood on top of the bouncy cushion.
“Mike!” I yelled and clapped my hands together a few times trying desperately to get his attention. The women’s baby boy in front of me turned to look at me and dropped the pacifier from his mouth. He let out a shrill cry and the mother glanced toward my direction. I looked forward. No guitar case. I lost him.
When I finally reached the train exit platform I felt a strong hand clasp the back of my shoulder. My heart sped up and I whipped around only to realize it was the chubby Train station attendee I saw earlier. He grinned at me through his full red mustache of coarse pine needles.
“Hey there, pretty lady. You forgot this.” He handed me my red bag and began to play with a toothpick in his mouth. I grabbed the bag without looking at it and said nothing. As I turned around, I heard the man shout, “I hope you find what you’re looking for.”
We all fall down in life at some point. My life operates like a never-ending roller coaster, and I am the only one on the ride. My free time is usually spent in my bedroom underneath my covers. To avoid life easier I took my seclusion a step further by tacking dark blankets over my bedroom window.
For weeks I had been trying to get a hold of my older brother to ask him for advice. My brother cared about me, but had a bad habit of being unavailable. He’d graduated from Auburn University in Alabama three years before. About two years after he graduated, he decided to move back home to Louisiana, and I was ecstatic. My brother and I are very different. He was the typical Alabama country boy through and through. As long as my brother had access to barbecue, beer and anything involving the use of mud he was happy.
When I finally got home, I plopped onto my bed and reached to grab my TV remote. When I switched on the TV, the screen was white and frozen. I got up and hit the top of the TV a few times. I thought about how my brother’s solution to fix all forms of technology was to beat it up a bit. I almost laughed out loud when the TV began to make a sizzling, popping noise similar to the sound of making microwave popcorn. Not really too concerned about watching anything specific on TV, I gave up and pressed the power button off.
Setting the remote on the night stand, I looked over at my brother Mike’s picture. The silver frame holding the photo gleamed in the lamplight. He was twenty-six in the picture and looked like the human version of a Ken Barbie doll. The picture was taken Christmas morning in Disney World about five years ago. He looked happy. I threw the covers over my head and closed my eyes. I thought I heard it begin to rain outside as I drifted off to sleep.
When I opened my eyes, I decided to inspect what time it was by ducking my head under the blankets covering my window. It was dark outside and strangely quiet
“Hey, crazy girl. Look what I got!” I wiped the condensation from my window and saw my brother Mike. I was happy to see him, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the shiny red car he was standing by. The red sports car was gleaming and looked like it was painted with red, shiny nail polish. Immediately I pictured the car as a showcase prize on The Price is Right. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Vanna White appeared as Bob Barker’s voice would say, “you’ve won a beautiful red sports car!” When I released the ridiculous grin from my face my jaw was aching. I unlocked the latch on my window and opened it a crack.
“Is that why you were on the train today, to go pay for this?” I laughed with my eyes and whispered, “You lucky bastard. What year is it?”
“C’mon, silly girl, let’s go for a ride. By the way, what the fuck is up with your window? Are you and Davy Crockett holding down the fort at the Alamo in there?”
“Fuck you, I will be down in a sec.” I laughed and stepped down. Before I closed the window I heard my brother say, “Don’t forget your coonskin cap. It’s a little chilly out here.”
I snuck out my backdoor and walked toward my garage. My brother was leaning on the side of the garage with one leg crossed over the other smoking a cigarette. He was sporting his usual weekend outfit which consisted of jeans, a t-shirt and his signature red leather jacket. I always thought he looked ridiculous, but he thought he looked like the cowboy version of James Dean. Before I knew it his arms were around me, and I could smell cigarettes, cinnamon gum, and the faint smell of his deodorant. My brother always said he hated cologne, but always bought the strongest scented deodorant he could find. When I was little I always told him he smelled like a pine tree.