One too many nights hearing:
“I’ve spent too many years living like this.”
“I always let you say whatever you want, and I bite my lip, not this time!”
Just before she calls me a loser she reels it back in.
Why is today different? I don’t know. I pulled my old man’s coat out of the closet and put it on. It did right by him during the depression, it only seems right I wear it now.
As I walk out the door, I hear:
“Take your shit and get out!”
I left it all. The coat on my back and $200.00 on the Visa.
I stood in front of the ticket window at Union Station for a few minutes. Finally, I said:
“How far away can you take me?”
“Straightaway or connections?”
“I’ll take it.”
“A room or just a seat?”
“It’s a forty-hour ride.”
“Does Ricardo still work the café?”
“I have no idea, sir.”
I have twenty-three dollars to my name, a forty-hour train ride, but I’m free.
I met Ricardo in the late 1970s, early 1980s. When I was down on my luck, he’d give me food and booze and inventory it as broken or spoiled. Once on board, I found him in the café.
“Another one kicked you to the curb, Ray?”
“How’d you guess?”
“The old coat and no luggage.”
Ricardo kept me company for my four days. Occasionally he let me sleep in the employee bunks.
Like Lou Reed once said:
“There’s a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out.”
The train kept rolling.