November 22, 2007

As yet the Station is deserted

This is another seminar piece. In keeping with my usual ineptitude I got the task wrong again and didn't stick to the story generated in class by handing around the paper 'consequences' style. Instead I took the first sentence only and the ending is a sentence from one of the stories on the handouts. It generated into a bit of a cheesy spy-novel esque piece. My attempts to keep in with the tone of the ending I had chosen meant that the story formulated itself around the exercise rather than any burning desire to explore or interest in the subject matter generated. As such I am not particularly proud of the results, but it was still an interesting experiment.

The train waits at the platform, but as yet this station is deserted. It is nearly always empty at this hour, a small indented pause before the storm of commuting chaos. The rumble of distant passengers, arriving in their taxi’s and cars, is almost audible over the quiet hiss of the waiting train, but as yet the platform remains bare and still. I watch over it like a ruffled crow, hunched over one of the Victorian walkways, my elbows propped up around my face on the iron rail. The train waits. Its doors are open but noone alights, and soon, if anyone does decide to emerge, they will be lost among the approaching surge of passengers. Already people are beginning to rattle up the stairs from the ticket machines to cross the bridge over to the empty platform. I can hear the wheels on their little suitcases and the slapping of briefcases and coats against their hurrying legs. I can smell the makeup of the women. Once again, as always, noone arrives to meet me from the northward train, and I shuffle discontentedly, only turning to walk away as the platform becomes flooded by travellers who begin jostling onto the carriages. I hunch my shoulders about myself to shrug off the cold that has penetrated me during my daily vigil.

Noone looks at me as I slouch off the walkway and down onto an opposing platform, that is empty except for pigeons. With a cursory glance about me I crouch, swing my legs over the lip of the concrete ledge, and jump down onto the track. I land cat like and unnoticed on the filthy gravel and stride quickly away from the station, following the metal rails till I pass beyond the service vehicles, the heaps of sooty sleepers and old rotting carriages and further still. I lope past the graffiti scrawled brickwork that shore up the banks where the line cuts through small hills. I am unconcerned about trains, having done this enough times to know the departure times of every service. After a while I come to the back of some warehouses. Striding through some more weeds, there is a hole in the netting fence to my left, and I slip through it. The unravelled wire catches at my tatty coat and I flinch angrily at the contact. Out of habit I check my pockets for my valuables, a sweaty sheath of documents, a grotty mobile phone that he gave me with a crack through the casing, and, wrapped preciously with my little packet of drugs, a small film case swaddled in selotape.

Some of the documents are letters concerning this innocuous little package, which I have never seen inside, carping over and over about its importance in the grand scheme, in the plan. Most of these correspondences are old now, months old, and every morning I wake up I tell myself that if no one comes on the train, it will be my last trip to the station. The petty cash sent with the letters, which are fewer and farther between now than they have ever been, is barely enough to sustain me. To subsidise my lifestyle I pickpocket half-heartedly, but both the degrading day to day realities of my life and the ridiculousness of my assignment are beginning to set in like dry rot. Few people notice me at the station but those who do assume I am a trainspotter. The task would be better if I had any interest whatsoever in trains, but I have never held much stock in such things. I prefer organic things, breathing things, like racehorses and women. My current squalor offers me few of the latter, however, and the ones I can afford I am repulsed by, just as they must be repulsed by me. I pause and take a piss against the fence I have just crawled through, a dangerous and ostentatious act, but no one is watching and I have grown bored of caution. I remember the first time, as a prim and goofy youth, that I had urinated outside. It was on a drunken night with new made friends, who seemed so excitingly boorish and streetwise. I had tinkled nervously up the wall of the estate agents I had been working at, fresh from university, with a pocket full of ambition and daddy’s money. I zip up and melt away into the scrubby undergrowth of a track-side wasteland, cussing under my breath at another failed trip. Whatever faith I had in the cause, in the mission, has long since been lost to inertia and doubt, and I continue now only as life affords me no other choices. Perhaps one of these days I am going to get a letter signed by A.K (as he, of course, liked to sign his letters), telling me that the whole fucking charade is over, that my time of reckoning has come.

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