By T.L. Murphy
Frank can’t wait any longer. He stands up and squirms past the woman with the kid without making eye contact. Which way to the can? Oh yea, up there, past the old fart taking tickets. Frank shuffles up the aisle and shoulders past the conductor to the end of the car. Oh, thank God! Nobody in there.
He steps into the washroom. It’s tight and the train sways a little as it picks up speed. Frank reaches into the pocket of his leather jacket and pulls out a crumpled bag of white powder. He pours a tight pile onto the stainless countertop as he flexes his legs with the movement of the train. He pulls a painter’s razor out of the bag and slides the plastic guard off the sharp edge and begins to chop at the pile of powder and pushes it into a thin line. He tucks the razor away and slips a straw from his side pocket and bends over the powder.
The train lurches and Frank grabs for the edge of the vanity. His hand sweeps across the powder and pushes it over the edge of the counter. “Fuck!” he yells, and drops down on all fours, frantically fingering the powder into a pile.
A knock booms at the door. “Everything okay in there?” somebody says.
It’s the old fart.
“Yeah,” Frank croaks, “all good.”
Frank bends low with the straw. It’s very cramped in the washroom. His butt is jammed against the toilet and he can’t get his nose down close enough. He pushes the pile of powder into the corner, makes a line with his finger, leans over with the straw and snorts it up his nose.
“Ahhh…” says Frank. “Oh, yeah. That’s it.”
Frank stays on his hands and knees for a minute, his head hanging below his shoulders, feeling the rush of the cocaine. Then he stands up, slowly, pulling on the countertop to hoist his weight. He wipes his nose and brushes the countertop clean. Then he flushes the toilet and looks in the mirror.
“Jesus!” he says to the mirror. “You look like shit!”
When he opens the door and steps through, a young man is waiting in the corridor. He wears rimless glasses and a tidy cardigan.
“All yours,” says Frank.
“Thank you,” says the young man.
But Frank hovers outside the doorway. “Hey, this is the train to Kingston, right?” He points the way the train was moving.
“Yeah, you know, Kingston, Ontario.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” says the young man. “I’m going to Vancouver. It might stop in Kingston. I really don’t know.”
“Oh yeah,” says Frank. “I just thought maybe I got on the wrong train.”
“Oh,” says the young man, eyes fixed on the floor.
“Yeah, like maybe this was the train to Cape Breton, or something. You know, like Sydney. Who the fuck would want to go to Sydney?”
“I don’t know,” says the young man.
“Fucking shit-hole, that place,” Frank mumbles.
The young man looks up. “You missed some.”
The young man points to his nostril, then pushes past Frank into the washroom and slams the doors.
Frank sniffs and swipes his face. “Yeah. What a shit-hole!” he yells at the closed door.
About the author
T.L. Murphy is a carpenter, a skier, a published poet, a lousy gardener but otherwise, an all around great guy. If you met him you would come away thinking “Wow, ugly carrots, but what a great guy!” Whether that makes him a talented writer or not is hard to say but either way, he will still think very highly of himself. He lives in Canmore, Alberta, Canada, where it is cold as hell most of the time but he doesn’t care, he loves the cold.