In the meantime of the day, when the clock just doesn’t quite strike a primary number, Albert assumed a cup of Java into his routine. It sat before him, it sat beside him. It even sat between his legs. But when the clock struck four, the cup sat empty, save for a few charred remains of the day.
And so our common man took his common seat among the passengers aboard the yellow train for the north. And here, as he fiddled with his laptop zipper, our little man counted. Three, four, five…six- fields filled with a ripe brown that reminded him of his cereal.
New Forever Flakes…crispy even with a bowl of milk. The finest breakfast you’ll ever have…
“I say, do you mind?” a voice insisted, leaning forward.
“I do not.” And with that, Albert handed over a section resembling the Financial Times. He smoothed the front page, then folded it aright.
“No. Please don’t mention it.”
They stared and he stared back. He fiddled with the zipper, flipped his wrist- still not Five. A tray came forward, launched somewhere behind him, rolling.
“I say, a cup of that,” the voice demanded.
Stop the bleedin’ cart! Stop the bleedin’
“And you, sir?”
“The orange fizzy- you know.”
But before she could gather his euros, Albert twisted the bottle and drank a gulp. It burned with satisfaction, wiping away the dry coffee within his mouth…
“Yes. Thank you,” he managed.
Albert sat with his nose downward.
An unintelligible mumble squawked through the dingy speakers.
They’re drunk again. I swear it…I’ll tell Izzy. She’ll tell her brother, and then-
And who are you, you little thing? Can’t be more than twenty. Pretty though. If I were your father, I wouldn’t be letting you on trains-
“I didn’t want to bother you- but, you look sad.”
What a deduction! She’s a genius. Sad? I had my Lucozade, why would I be sad? Would you be sad if you had your Lucozade every workday on the train home?
“No…it’s all right,” Albert managed. “I’m quite happy. Brilliant in fact.”
And then, this dark eyed female actually smiled. I know, I know. She’s but twenty or twenty one I’d say, but…
“Al…Albert,” he creaked.
I hate to admit it, but she reminded me of someone. Now you may as well know that I enjoyed her company, just as I enjoy your company as you read this. But- and this is a serious but- she meant nothing to me. Alive in her presence- yes, but not a few sods burning the night away. I may think of you, dear reader, and ponder, what do you think of me?
All pretense lost, she launched out like a submarine. Her vocabulary was attrocious. Simply attrocious.
“Like you’re a real one, aren’t ya?”
She took a breath. Did I hear a wheeze?
“Sexy beast. What- God, you must be forty. But- my mam, she’d kill for a look at you.”
I swear I felt my-
“Do you mind? I’m trying to sleep!”
The Voice, interrupting this precious girl. Can you imagine? And, he smelled of brie. I know. I know- brie- is there any worse smell than that? A toilet perhaps?
“Yer a devil of a man,” Albert fumed. “You might sit elsewhere.”
The Voice rose to meet him. He reeked as his breath approached. But as he leaned forward to step out into the corridor…he saw it. A single old photo. Fallen on the floor. His shoe went to cover it, but Albert had seen it. The Voice shrugged, then scooted the picture farther back under the table.
He looked away. There was no more need to quiet him. He stared out the window.
I reached under the table with my own limb and pulled it backward. Reaching down, I held it firmly in my grasp…but not soon enough. Not when the dark eyed girl saw the image…
XXX XXXX XXX
I withheld part 2, as it is brewing in Museland, like a peppermint tea- strong but purposeful. I confess this is great fun, but I fear it is more serious an endeavour than I intended. Now it means something to me.
Again, I’d like your comments, insight, reactions, philosophies…