Riding the Rails on the Edge of Night

As night encroaches on lonesome suburbia, I prepare to meet it. Placing all things in order, I head to the cabinet drawing forth a bottle, still half full, of sweet, fragrant cognac to nurse the edge of a passing day. Uncorking the spiced elixir, I pour it into a cheap snifter, returning the bottle to whence it came, raising the glass to eager nostrils, breathing deep. It’s warm, welcoming.

Walking to the condensed space of a whitewashed living room with yellow streaks of unknown origin or substance, I extinguish the lights,unfurling the shades. Taking a seat in one of the nearby chairs, I swivel it, facing it towards the sliding glass frame. I unlock this door, sliding it off towards the left, exposing the screen, taking in the coalesced scent of city and nature.

Plopping in the seat, I close my eyes for a moment, taking that first drink. Smooth liquid body greets tongue, cascades past teeth and gums, rushing to meet the wall of my throat. Wet fire flows into me, a sense of heat and weight at my core. It is delightful. Crickets chirp, singing praise.

I never feel more at ease than in the dark. I suppose I enjoy the anonymity of it all, that foolish sense of invisibility. Daylight brings out the anxiety. All those nameless faces melding into one titanic being of sociability. I’m not myself in these moments, something else entirely, a distortion I loathe and abhor.

It is the insipid mass: the face which indulges pleasantries and small talk, hacking out forced laughter like so much phlegm, an agreeable ponce resisting the urge to rock the boat and shake the foundation. He is meek and uninteresting. I cannot recognize myself in the light, but at night I shine crystal clear, alone with my thoughts, on the edge of dying day.

The chill is on me, yet I embrace it. Smoke wafts from some unseen direction. It stirs within me a sense of longing. Beyond the line of trees, out beyond blocks of houses, a train cries on. It’s somber, lonely tone draws me in. Images of escapist fantasy take root and project themselves.

It wails, a low hum rising high, reverberating across unknown distance. It is restless, desperate in its need to be known, acknowledged in the void. Like some metallic, wild beast, it speeds across tattered tracks at breakneck speed towards its destination. I hear my cry in its cry, see my ambitions mirrored in its pursuit of that singular goal.

Every exhalation released from its massive frame wells within me.

I also want to cry out in the the dark, to follow those tracks towards my destination. To be a barreling dynamo streaking past the pallid face of the cold moon. Aren’t we all tired of being passengers aboard another’s shuttle?

I imagine turning my back on everything, closing the door on this part of my life. I walk out behind that tree line and follow the cries as they echo out. I arrive at the tracks and can almost feel the heat radiating from a locomotive not far removed. Head shifting from one end of the tracks to the other, I stand in silence for a moment.

I consider what I value, who I am, where I want to be. Breathing deep, I capture cool air in my straining diaphragm. I hold it there, letting the pressure build to a point of discomfort and exhale. I open my eyes, following the tracks. With my destination in mind I head on, not certain of what I will encounter along the way, yet certain I will reach it nonetheless.

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