Platform

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A young man meets a guy while waiting for a train and a connection is made

Submitted: November 30, 2011

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Submitted: November 30, 2011

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The Platform

The platform was almost empty when Sean arrived. The morning rush was over and only the late starters remained, leaving plenty of bench’s free. Taking a seat on the closest one he put down the cup of coffee he had brought from the station café and pulled a book out of his bag, Irvine Welsh’s Filth. Before he opened it he glanced up and down the station, how depressing. Everybody looked the same, jaded. Unfortunately he knew that he gave off that impression as well. Two days beard, tired eyes and an aura that screamed “I’ve had enough of this shit” made him fit right in. Sipping the coffee he marveled at just how badly it was made, it was almost impressive. The coffee was a necessity for two reasons, the first being that it was ten o clock in the morning and he had been up until the small hours drinking himself into a happy place. A place that he had left the moment he woke up. The second reason was because this was Wales, and in Wales anything that can warm you up is never a bad thing. A voice came over the loud speaker announcing that his train was due in fifteen minutes. Plenty of time for a chapter. He was about to start reading when a voice next to him inquired,

“Is this seat taken?”

Sean looked up and down the platform at all the empty bench’s then to the stranger. All he wanted to say was why don’t you try one of the empty ones but instead replied,

“No help yourself”

The man took a seat. He must have been around fifty, his hair was retreating fast and his face had that worn quality that can only come from age or stress, Sean figured in this case it was probably both. The man was dressed in what, to Sean’s untrained eye, appeared to be a good suit with a plain navy blue tie and shoes that you could see your face in. 

“Are you a big reader then?”

He had to be a talker Sean thought,

“I try”

One word answers were the key to talkers; hopefully they get the message and shut up,

“I love the books, exercise for the brain, I’m Darren, Darren Thomas”

Darren offered a hand which after a moments hesitation Sean shook but didn’t comment

“I’m a big fan of Bruen, have you read his work?”

This was encouraging, Sean was familiar with Bruen,

“Yea, I’ve read some of his books, pretty dark stuff”

Could he actually enjoy this conversation?

“Huh dark, such is life uh … I didn’t catch your name”

“Sean, Sean Combs”

“Well Sean it’s like I’ve always said if you want light… start smoking”

Darren Chuckled at his joke and pulled a fresh packet of embassy number one from his jacket pocket, he took one out and offered the packet to Sean, who thanked him and took one for himself,

“I quit these things three years ago, doctor’s orders.”

Darren said this as he lit it. Taking a long draw on it and sighing as if a weight had been taken off his back, he then offered the light to Sean who nodded his appreciation.

“How come you started again?”

For some reason Sean found this man interesting or maybe it was just good to talk to a stranger about more than the weather or the latest news horror story,

“I just woke up and thought, what is the point, you know what I mean?”

Sean new all to well, for a long time now he woke with that exact same thought, but that was far to personal a thing to admit to a complete stranger so he just mumbled

“I guess”

Darren looked down the tracks searching for the train, with none in sight he continued to chat while Sean sat listening politely and smoked his cigarette,

“As I was saying before I’m a fan of Bruen’s books, they are very fitting for my life right now,”

Sean wondered what he meant by this. Drinking or death, he went with the former,

“You a drinker?”

This question took Darren by surprise and it took him a moment to reply,

“So you have read his work… no I’m talking about the morbid stuff, his dark take on life and death,”

So it was death after all, this was something Sean could relate to, that was the reason he liked the books to. The loudspeaker crackled again and proclaimed that the next train to Cardiff would arrive in the station momentarily. Darren looked around again and the started to rummage in his pockets and pulled out the cigarettes and his wallet, he proceeded to take all the money out of his wallet, about thirty pound and put it down on the bench using the cigarettes to stop it blowing away.

The train could be heard now.

Darren got up to leave without saying a word.

Confused Sean called to him

“You’ve left your money and fags”

Darren turned and a sly smile grew,

“You seem like a good kid, keep it and don’t feel guilty”

The train grew louder but still out of sight,

“I can’t, I hardly know you”

The smile disappeared off Darren’s face, a blank expressionless mask was left behind and he mumbled

“you know me better than you think, just look at the twenty,”

The train was just rolling into view.

Sean looked bewildered but said nothing. It looked like Darren was about to walk away when he turned back to Sean and completely dead pan said

“Have you heard of Schopenhauer… look him up, he once said  that there is nothing in the world to which every man has a more unassailable title than to his own life and person.”

What do you say to that? Sean was so dumbfounded that all he could do was watch as Darren walked away, as he headed for the edge.

The train was close now.

Sean rose to his feet and was about to shout but he was to late. As the train was about to go by Darren jumped into its path and he was gone. The piercing shriek of metal on metal sang out as Sean fell back to his seat. Lost, confused and shaken he could only stare at everything and nothing. Slow motion took over, people rushing past turned to a blur. It took him a few moments to realise that the world hadn’t slowed down, the blur was caused by the tears in his eyes. Fifteen minutes ago he had met a man and now here he sat shedding tears for him as a real friend would. Fifteen minutes ago the platform had been quiet, people content to enjoy the relative silence, now the crowds came, the macabre thrill seekers hoping to catch a glimpse of the carnage. Unlike the car accidents that you drive past, and can’t help but look,  though this was up close and personal, the little that was visible would stay with those people forever. Sean had no intention of trying to sneak a peek, nausea swept over him and he tried to get to his feet but his legs wouldn’t hold him. With no hope of making it to a toilet he simple leant over and heaved violently, throwing up on the platform. The retching wouldn’t stop even after the entire contents of his stomach lay at his feet. When it finally eased he couldn’t bring himself to look up so he sat with his head in his hands, barely noticing the sour odour of the bile.  Movement and noise surrounded him but he was closed off from it, his head simply shut down so it could comprehend what had just happened. This mental bubble was burst when he felt a hand gently grasp his shoulder but even this physical contact took a few moments to register. A policeman was looking down on him, pity in his eyes. Once the questions started they couldn’t stop. In a automated fashion he answered them, stringing his sentences together mainly on instinct like a morbid game of word association. Even as he was answering the routine questions he was aware that he was leaving details out, details that included pretty much all of his brief conversation. Partly it was because it didn’t really seem to matter, after all the man committed suicide so it wasn’t like there was anybody to blame but if he thought about it, and later he would, it was because he felt a connection with this man and the words he had spoken, a connection that was far to personal to repeat to a man who would never understand anyway. 

Sean was alone with this and it would stay with him for the rest of his life but he would never forget the connection that came with the tragedy, a connection forged in death.


© Copyright 2017 Birdy1987. All rights reserved.

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