An announcement that train service would be restarting momentarily drew more noise from the gaggle of honking geese and buzzards in the station. I took my leave. I went for my cigarettes, in my car, and tried to calm down. I didn’t go to the station house on my way back; I went straight to the platform, but it did me no good. The “experts” herded out there as well, just in time for the loudspeaker voice to announce the next train coming through wouldn’t be stopping at several intermediate stops between SmallTownVille station and the next stop, Bison Orchard. This set off a new wave of grumbling complaints about Bison Orchard, how “dey” (the train company) kissed “deir asses” and such.
At least outside, I couldn’t hear them, and their irritating nose-oriented voices wouldn’t echo. I climbed onto the train, and prayed still more. I didn’t know what to pray for anymore.
The train rickety-rocked down the rails, past one intersection, then another. I knew the next would be the accident site. Well before my train reached it, the triple engines of the freight came into view. My heart sank. Three engines. A big freight. Before the first engine, men in neon yellow and reflective-stripped vests waved flares, took photographs with large black cameras, and milled about. I looked through the windows opposite me, and the blazing lights of emergency vehicles splashed over rain-soaked streets and bounced from windshields of cars held back or detoured.
Train car after train car rolled past my window. Stacks of truck trailor boxes piled atop one another rested on the flatbed cars. Slowing to a crawl, my train eased through the crossing, the gates down, red lights blinking emotionless warnings.
The “experts” across the aisle from me muttered “JEEZUZ” and “OhmyGAHD” and other such ejaculations of horror. I caught sight of a piece of the vehicle’s wreckage, just a glance, but what I saw iced my blood. An unrecognizable lump of ruined metallic shrapnel, like the branches of a twisted, ancient bramble, stabbed into view from the back of a flatbed tow truck, and part of the dashboard, remnants of what may have been something expensive and foreign-built, but I could see the seats, the interior of the car, and my brain jarred, that’s not right, something’s not right, who’d have the top down on a convertible in this weather? That’s wrong, it can’t be right, there’s something —
The roof of the car was missing. The car had no top, at all.
I couldn’t look anymore. I turned away to stare at the freight cars flashing by, my commuter transit gaining speed as it cleared the accident site.
I’m not sure that image will leave me. I got to work about half an hour late this morning, and still haven’t shaken the image. I’ve written this, and done several other things that are actually work-related, and yet … there it is, burned on the screen of my mind, so I can see it even if I turn my brain off.
And I’ll pray again. I’m not sure what for this time.