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One Last Train
By Tony Cox


My bro Erek wasn’t looking good. The purple skin and assorted scabs gave the appearance of one who has been running a marathon through blackberry bushes.

I was now living in Portland, and he had lost everything he had up in Seattle. When I went up there to pick him up, we stepped into a bar downtown for a drink. After sitting down, he cursed under his breath, and told me “This was a bad place to stop.”

Motioning over his shoulder, he said “My chick left me for that fuckin’ clown over there.”

I looked, and sure enough, standing there was a clown, painted face, wig, big red nose, big shoes, the whole shtick. That moment will forever be burned in my memory. “I’ve already beat him up like five times.” He sadly stated.

Erek lost his job, apartment and woman all at once. We’ve both been there a few times, but this time was different. We were getting older. I tried convincing him to stay with me. I could get him a job at the distribution center, working at the milk plant. Easy work and good pay. I had 2 babies and a wife at the time, but she liked Erek and agreed he could stay as long as he wanted. He was having none of it though.

“I want to just ride the rails one more time, get away from the big cities and the heroin, and maybe after I do that, I’ll come back and stay with you.”

Somehow I knew he wouldn’t come back. He was getting too old to be a homeless junkie. I could feel the loss of hope in him. He’d quit heroin enough times, he knew there’s no happy endings with the shit.

After a week together, he said it was time to go. “I’ll go with you.” I tell him. “One last ride together, I’ll jump off in Salem or somewhere close, and get a ride back. I have friends from work driving up and down I-5 all night.”

The place to hop out was down by Milwaukie, across highway 99E from the Acropolis strip club. There’s a hole cut in the fence there, and a good place to jump on southbound trains.

We end up drinking at the Acropolis until about 11. The last train out was due around midnight, according to his sources. My wife was gonna be pissed off when she finds out I hopped a train.....

After a little bit of drunken fumbling, we finally found the hole in the fence. Erek slipped through with ease, but I ended up getting stuck, and shredding my clothes. I’m like six foot two, and built like Babe Ruth. We both laughed at my fat ass, and compared my situation to Winnie the Poo and the honey tree.

After settling in to our little nest in the grass by the tracks, my friend pulled a half gallon jug of Jameson’s from his pack.

“Goddamn man. We’re traveling in STYLE!” I exclaimed.

Fast forward a couple hours, and I wake up alone, with a note saying sorry, but I left without you.

I talked to him on the phone the night he died, about a month later. He said he loved me, he was sorry. He was crying. Cell phones being what they are, I couldn’t make out much more of what he said before he cut out. He was found splattered on the tracks in Rawlins, Wyoming. His friends argue about whether he got in a fight and was pushed, was pushed off in his sleep, rolled off in his sleep, or accidentally walked in front of a train.

Let the World Fend for Itself

Big Ron's Baltimore: A Working Man's View of Urban Blight

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1983487988/ref=sr_1_2/146-5426057-9834066?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514930203&sr=1-2

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078S2CVBP/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514974087&sr=1-1&keywords=Let+the+world+fend+for+itself%2C+kindle

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BobJanuary 14, 2018 10:37 PM UTC

Another enjoyable vignette, thank you.

It would be helpful for readers to make some explicit connection between "Tao of Tony Rooster" articles and those penned by Tony Cox. It's not a given that new readers will understand they are one and the same and they might miss out on some lively writing.