It’s a Train Story
On a train a couple hours south of Eugene, Oregon heading to Los Angeles, only 26 hours to go. Since moving to Eugene from Corvallis, Oregon I’ve discovered the mythological Oregon that people of California spoke of in hushed voices. I’d already found the geography and the climate, but the missing variable that doesn’t exist in Corvallis are the people. The weirdos, the long haired freaks, the short haired punks, the colorful plumage that is Eugene. Sitting on a train plummeting south, this demographic had been distilled. An older man with a face of leather and sinew, sporting a mullet who was assigned the seat next to me decided that getting drunk and belligerent on the train was a splendid idea. He bestowed upon all who could hear the virtues of hard work and experiencing life to its fullest. Given that his orations were colorful in nature and language, and dubious in my opinion, a concerned mother conveyed her displeasure to the attendant. Our train sage was warned that his tone, language and frankly the veracity of his story were upsetting the other passengers and would he quiet down and do some fact checking. Unfortunately for us this did not transpire. Once the attendant left the car the volume slowly rose, and so had the profanity and from my observation the continuity of his story had become confused and the time line was jumbled. I believe in realizing he’d lost his audience and in frustration to this fact, removed his false teeth and threw them at the mother who complained earlier, hitting her in the back of the head. This act alone could be interpreted as indicative of a frustration all artists experience when trying enlighten their audience and feel the only act that will break them out of their malaise is one that shocks and calls into question all social mandates on etiquette. The train authorities didn’t feel the extreme nature of the act was justified citing Deontic logic and removed him from the car. At the next town (not train stop, just a town), ejected the gentleman with bags in tow from the train into the dark, snowy night.
28 hours is a long time and tequila is a strong liquor. I’d barely settled back into my seat when a long grey bearded man jumping from seat to seat made his way to the seat next to mine that had me been made available by the denture tossing sage. He asked me if a drank and I replied “many times and many things”. He pulled out from under his coat like a purveyor of fake Rolex's a brown paper sack containing what turned out to be a rather large bottle of fine tequila and offered me a swig or two… or three etc, etc. I obliged him and took a couple shots while he kept a keen if not slightly bleary eye out for the conductor. He settled back and began preaching the chemical, physiological and psychological virtues of some exotic strains of marijuana, his story complete with photographic evidence of his botanical endeavors. I commented I knew nothing of growing, he chuckled and we drank. A couple rows down and across the aisle I noticed a lady, thin lipped, wild gray hair and a ruddy complexion peering over her shoulder at us. I assumed she’d she finally worked up the nerve to do what it was she was working up the nerve to do and approached us. She asked with a toothless lisp “what’cha got there” and let out a cackle few people in the car weren’t shocked by. The grey bearded man replied with a toothy grin, “Tequila, want a hit?”.
It was at this point I began contemplating two things,
Number one: The probability of encountering two individuals on a train, one with no teeth to speak of and the other with enough teeth for the both of them. And if that would make them a rather well suited couple. I would soon learn that it does.
Number two: The statistical probability of alcohol not disinfecting the bottle of all communicable diseases. I would need another shot to really ponder these quandaries. Well like I said the first ponderance was soon answered and they disappeared into the dark recesses of the train leaving me in a slightly intoxicated if not nostalgic mood. I began waxing poetic in my head the fact I was on a train in the dark climbing into the mountains. I found myself staring out into the black with my head pressed against window looking towards the front of the train waiting for a bend in the line so I could see the column of cars in front of me. With the engines pulling this enormous load through the thick black ink of night, it’s brilliant head lamp slicing a swath in it’s path. Exposing the bare rock walls on either side where man and machine had carved their indelible mark into the land. The tracks snaking left then right then left and back, methodically like a pendulum counting down the miles. Not the best motion to experience while drunk.