I. Back On the Train
I want to say it was about five years ago when I took my first actual train. Instead of road tripping it to (“no sleep til'”) Brooklyn, I decided to take the train. To my expectations, it was everything one could imagine. I wish I could travel by train more often.
The other novel I am not working on was started on that train ride. When the story is finally completed, hopefully within the next decade, it’ll be a traditional haunted house story, alluding to the type of story we have grown to love/hate throughout the length of literature. Chris Van Allsburg and Stephen King are the two inspirations to this story, focusing not on scare tactics and gore, for their recognition of science fiction and mystery. I had the idea for this novel a while back, but never put words to paper. It’s funny how thoughts are finally jump-started.
Train rides are not a forgotten mode of transportation, but mobility is never first considered. To fly, or not to fly? It’s a different type of road trip. There is no responsibility of having to drive. You can kick back and rest easily, especially when comfort is compared to a plane. You can read or write without worrying about becoming car/bus sick. You are simply enjoying the trip, looking out the window, and admiring the landscapes.
Travelling by train is romantic to me. I don’t know if it’s the history of actual train transportation, literature (fiction and non-fiction) I have read, or train sequences from movie/show references. A train has been the focus of dimly lit dinners, mysterious encounters, and (everyone’s favorite) murder mysteries. Let’s not forget James Bond battling Jaws. There is that cognitive delight that cannot be explained, and it shouldn’t have to be. The train ride is what it is, simplisticly so.
While recently watching The Tourist, staring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie (an unlikely pair, indeed), my love and fascination with trains was justified. I loved the movie, and the setting being Italy partially backs the reason. I don’t care if you, my readers, did not enjoy the movie or opt not to see it. You should see it; it’s a personal recommendation. Anyways, the Depp-Jolie encounter takes place on a train, travelling the Italian countryside en route to Venezia (Venice). After personally taking a train to Venezia, this struck a chord with me. I didn’t have the same entriguing encounter to lead to a certain romance, but I did spend quality time with my cousin, Adriano. The romantic encounter was with Italia, herself.
Before I stray too far, Depp and Jolie proved themselves as skilled actors. The Tourist had a classic movie feel to it, quality characterization and development, and no obsurd special effects. In this film, Depp has the appeal of a Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, or Cary Grant; he is as diverse of an actor as one can be. Jolie is wonderful, subtle, and has that classic beauty to her. I don’t approve of the relationship with Brad Pitt, because her being single would be most fitting; it would add to her aura as an actress. I don’t wish anyone to be single, it’s just that take in regards to her.
Who wouldn’t want their own train sequence?
Like I said: Who wouldn’t want their own train sequence?
Man and Woman from different places board the same train. Their seats are in the same car, but not across from one another. That’d be two obvious. However, the cliche would be to have them in the same car, but in the same aisle and numerous seats from one another. Of course, for comic relief, either individual could have someone in the seat next to them.
We’re not going to subject either to that. We don’t need the stereotypical, snoring obese person or the smelly overbearing talker. The two focused characters are simply traveling. Woman headed to the city and Man is headed to visit family to attend either a funeral or a wedding.
Scratch that. Those ideas have been done before. Woman is going to be traveling because of business. The funeral-wedding scenarios deal with emotions, opposing feelings, one celebrating birth of a union and the other celebrating departing from life. We do not want to stereotype Woman with those overbearing feelings, because we know she is emotional; we don’t want to make her seem dependent or week. This is why Man will be attending a family reunion upon the baptism of a new family member. This will take place in Westchester.
Westchester: it’s close enough to the city, but still a comfortable distance away to generate a puffy “What If?” motif. That, of course, generates later on in the story.
How to Man and Woman meet? Man will be in the back of the car, and Woman will be in front. Face it, women will always end up in front one way or the other. Either could pass the other on their way to the bathroom, but if the bathrooms are on either end of the car, it wouldn’t work. Man would never meet the eyes of the other, because of positioning. Woman could meet the eyes of the man, returning to her seat; however, due to the distance, the glance would only generate a slight smile void of intrigue.
Woman drops something: a thermos or an apple. It’s been decided: an apple. It rolls toward the back of the train, stopping two thirds of the way between her and Man. On the apple’s journey, it clips the foot of another gentleman sitting in one of the seats between Man and Woman, but closer to the woman and precisely equadistant in relevance to the apple stopping towards the man.
We need parallels, people.
Woman looks below the seats and then over them, switching back below once. She will ask the gentleman about her apple and he will say it his his foot, but he won’t think twice about making a huge effort to obtain it for her. Man overhears this and looks under the seat, spotting the apple before obtaining it. They two meet half way and they acknowledge each other. Man makes quip about not dropping her apple. Woman puts her hand to her ear and through her hair, smiling. They return to their seats.
III. Intermission, I Think…
Here is the instance where stop writing, and I realize I made a mistake, asking myself what the hell I was thinking. I had the end of this planned out in my head, but now there is a continuity issue. Woman will be going to Westchester, and Man will be going to… Long Island, specifically Nassau.
Then I stop, thinking I have a better idea. I do. So, we are scrapping that last paragraph and continuing on with what was previously written. I will have Woman go to Nassau. That’s my gift to all my Long Island friends.
Seriously, what the hell was I thinking?
IV. Continuing On…
Due to the time proximity being close to dinner, Man walks into dining car after Woman. Man does not know this, because he was napping when she passed by. Oblivious to noise around him, his ear buds were in (listening to Jack Johnson–yes, Ryan, I took your idea from our earlier conversation in the day), and Man/Ryan (it’s official, I’m calling him “Ryan”) did not see Woman walk by. Due to his napping, Ryan did not see Woman stop abruptly as she passed by, look down at him, and hesitate in tapping him upon the shoulder. Disappointed with not convincing herself to wake Ryan, her smile fades and she walks to eat.
Just as Fate should have it, Ryan wakes up minutes later. Looking over the backs of the seats, he does not see Woman’s head, thinking she is probably napping. However, the thought crosses his mind that maybe she departed the train. However, Ryan was hungry and walked into the dining car for food.
Ryan sees Woman, and she sees him. Their eyes meet. They smile. The offer to join each other is put out there. I will let you be the judge of how that goes down. However, they enjoy each other’s company for dinner as the sun sets below the horizon.
The remainder of the trip, the two sit together and explore conversation. Ryan gets up to leave and the screen splits, watching his progress getting off the train and her leaning her head against the window. Ryan looks up as the train passes by, waing to Woman as she waves back. The only thing they exchange are first names.
The screen splits again: Ryan stands on the platform, looking down, dropping his bags, seemingly exhaling a sigh of captivating disapointment; Woman, doing the same, fogs up the window. As Ryan realizes he doesn’t have his train ticket, Woman notices it on the floor by her feet.
There’s the beginning of your story. Boom.
V. Back to Reality
This train ride wasn’t anywhere near this.
The train to Yankee Stadium was a nice, quick shot without the formality of a nice train like in the passage I B.S.-ed with above.
The ride home was more interesting. The From train ride was 15 minutes longer than the To train ride, which allowed my family, sitting in silence, to pick up on the quirks of those around us. The woman in front of my mom and next to my dad, was on the phone, explaining how she had just come from the doctor. My mom, looking painfully as she bit her lip, exhibited great restraint to not grab madly for the hand sanitizer.
Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to sit in front of two lunkheads, attempting to make conversation the way normal people do. You have to give them credit for elaborating sentance structure, but it was hard to decipher grammar amidst the profanity of F’s and S’s. The conversation was hard to forget; it went something like this:
DuMass #1: What f*****’ stop are we going to again?
DuMass #2: Terrytown, man.
DuMass #1: Yeah… That’s right. What are your plans today?
DuMass #2: Ah, f*****’ I don’t know. You?
DuMass #1: Ah, you know. I gotta go to the gym and s***, and then I gotta get some f*****’ laundry done. I gotta eat, too; I’m f*****’ starving. Self-improvement Sunday!
DuMass#2: Haha, yeah! (Takes phone call.)
DuMass #1: Who was that? What that your girl?
DuMass #2: Yeah. She wants me to go to the store.
DuMass #1: Yeah? What for?
DuMass #2: Dish soap.
DuMass #1: Dish soap?
DuMass #2: Yeah, f*****’ dish soap.
DuMass #1: Ah, dude. You know what you f*****’ do? You take a sponge that’s in the water, and you f*****’ wring it out into a container. That s*** will last you two months. You only need a little bit.
DuMass #2: Yeah.
DuMass #1: Who keeps your place clean?
DuMass #2: She does. I mean, I help out a bit, too.
DuMass #1: Yeah? It’s f*****’ tough man. I just let s*** stack up, man. It’s too hard to keep up with that s***.
At this point, I had to simply ignore them. My head hurt.
Now I need to take a break… Part Two is coming soon.
I play with words and invisible objects.
A mind, a pen and a piece paper have the best relationship ever.
"Remember this--if you shut your mouth, you have your choice."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald