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▶  More from Blog Author's Notebook Harm City to Chicongo
‘Your Stop, Sir’
8/11/2020 8:40 P.M.
As with virtually all Amtrak employees, as soon as they find out you have a ticket and are not a homeless squatter on federal property, they are very nice. The young fellow smiled at the pretty ebony breeder with her screaming baby and playing toddler in the cradle seats before me [4 facing seats reserved for families during the Shamdemic] as we finally neared Joliet from Chicongo, the sun having just slid a bright orange below the trees. Electric Dan had informed me that tornadoes had felled trees and knocked out power, probably accounting for the track maintenance that had held up the train.
As I readied my rucksack and took up my T-cane the baby finally waned silent, looking up at me with a look that bespoke of a dawning horror, that such pallid apes prowled the nighted world. I smiled to her brother and stepped to the door and the baby resumed her screaming as the mother rocked her indulgently on her knee.
The town was eerily dark and the train platform was surreal. I kicked myself for having remained glassed and hatted instead of switching to the eye patch. My dark vison had been disabled and I cursed myself gingerly as I crept down through the darkened bowels of the station beneath the train platform. The train station is designed very much like those in New Jersey, the platforms being raised, instead of those in Pennsylvania and Maryland where the platform is at street level along the tracks and the access ways have stairs leading down rather than up.
This was the perfect place to get mugged—but what a peaceful town. The lights were out all along except for a police SUV lit up under the train overpass across from a minor league baseball stadium dedicated to some financial institution I think, sporting a nice clock.
I called Electric Dan, we triangulated, and as I exchanged my glasses for the eye patch I saw a pickup truck “as old and creaky as its owner,” roll around into the cross-street parking lot and relief flooded me, to meet another kind soul tossing an economic flotation device into the hollow waters of the downside of a life.
The sky was pleasantly steaked above, the breeze cool and the motorists so courteous that we negotiated the exit of the town without the aid of traffic lights despite a healthy number of vehicles rolling around in the wake of the recent tornados. Trees were seen occasionally down, already butchered into unoffending brush piles, the skies wide and open after the greenway and concrete tunnels of Pittsburgh, fields increasingly around as a human newsletter blown on the American wind was once again picked up from the gutter by a hungry mind.
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