The Traveling Men

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Commercial Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This short story is about a character named Teco, and a train ride he has that is a vision that prepares him mentally for the truth & as well as eventually for his death. Enjoy!

Submitted: August 16, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 16, 2015



The Traveling Men

By Dante Castro What you are about to read is the story of a traveling man, a man in search of questions and their answers. If lubrication was the catalyst for the mouse and its escape from the glue-trap, then this train ride and the events that occurred upon its deck were the catalysts to unlock the truth in Teco’s mind. Enjoy.

Chapter One – The Catalyst

Teco stepped into the subway. It was not his first time traveling but for sure it was his last. Teco surveyed the inside of the vehicle and considered it safe, yet uninviting. The shade of the windows began to darken as the train picked up pace. The colors in the wall seemed to sink with despair and he was reminded of his current state of affairs.

"I must be a fool. There is no way this is going to work out." Teco thought to himself. "I have given it away... and for what?"

"What is troubling you young man?" Asked an older gentleman, who hung his head in the middle of his chest. (In truth he was not much of a "gentleman" per se, for his raggedy clothes reeked more of "beggar"). Regardless of the man's appearance however, Teco felt he could trust the man. Something about his appearance made him warm inside, almost as if he had met this person before.

Breaking the silence of their thoughts, Teco spoke: "It's a story I've written." "What's wrong with the story?" asked the gentleman. "There isn't anything wrong with it. It just isn't perfect,” remarked Teco. Lifting his head for the first time, the beggar asked: "Perfect? Why would you want that?"

Teco was not pleased with having to answer such foolish questions. "Why would I want my story to be perfect? Well... I want to be pleased with my self and my abilities. The ladies love it too I guess... there's nothing else to it really."

"The ladies do love perfect..." mumbled the old man. "Had a fair share in your past old man?"

"Fair share?" The gentleman got riled up. "I probably deserved more than I got to tell you the truth, but I couldn't find peace in being slowly strangled to death by a female. If I could have been anything, it would have been a gladiator. I definitely would have done that. The smell of fresh blood on the ground and the sound of clashing steel combining to form the pure energy of adrenaline pumping through every vein in my body."

Teco looked at the man with little enthusiasm. "I'm not scaring you away am I?" asked the old man. "No you're not, but I have yet to understand what you are trying to tell me.” said Teco.

With his eyes firmly shut, the old man spoke solemnly. "I am the failure you see in your heart. I am the dreamless misery that may be your future. Remember that line. All I can tell you now is that you must walk down this train and attempt to leave it. Until you do so, you will not be able to make sense of anything.”

Without talking to the man again, Teco got up and walked towards the front of the train. "The kinds of lunatics they carry in public transportation are absurd." Teco thought to himself.

Teco continued to walk up to the front of the train. Every step was like a dream. He walked through one cabin, opened the door and walked through the next, perfectly identical in creation. He did this again... and again... and again. Then one more time to be sure.

He continued until he finally stopped, sat down again next to the strange beggar, and asked him a question. "Did you put something in my drink?" The old man tried opening his eyes.

"What?" "My drink. When I wasn't looking did you put anything in it? I can't get out of the train."

The old man finally lifted his eyelids, and from there Teco stared straight into the center of the man’s flowing brain. The sockets of his skull were wide and gaping, and the blood rolled rapidly over the creases in his face. He put a hand on Teco’s shoulder and gave him some necessary advice. "Only you can answer your questions Teco. Only you."

Teco jumped in the air, and almost as if by instinct he grabbed the man’s head and slammed it up against the wall. The old man's blood spilled all over Teco's hands as he held the beggar's face in place. The blood rushed to the floor and rapidly began to fill the train.

"Tell me what is going on! Tell me now before I kill you!" Teco screamed into the man's deaf ear. The old man's voice gurgled as he spoke. "Teco… the way things are going, you are going to kill yourself before I kill you. Unless you leave that up to me… whereas I would still be technically correct.”

Unfortunately for Teco, the madness of his current visions made it difficult for him to understand the old man’s previous words. The blood was reaching the men's chests; the thick liquid foamed and crawled up the windows of the train as the world outside spun and spun. The gentle side-to-side lull of the train became an earthquake of fantastic proportions. Blood sloshed across the top of the windows as the old man and Teco struggled to stay alive in the gurgling concoction. Just as the last bit of train was flooding and their last breaths were given to them, Teco shouted in despair:

"For my questions, only I know the answers!"

The eyes of the beggar appeared again and the blood began to drain rapidly from the train. The liquid slid through the cracks in the windows and spilled out on the passengers ready to board the train at the station.

"For your questions, only you know the answer. This is true. But do you know god?" asked the beggar as he stood up.

Teco smiled at the man and watched him walk to the swinging door of the train. "I don't need to know god! I know myself!"

The old man spun around to stare at him with the empty sockets that were once his eyes. "Don’t be so foolish, for you have not found yourself yet! One day you may find what you search for, so that you don't end up like me. For now, you will have to continue your journey on this train. My stop is here." The last words of the old man were finalized with the slamming of the train door, and what followed was the twisted descent of Teco's train straight through the gates of epiphany.

Chapter Two – A Process of Reactions

The blankness of the door stared Teco in the face. He was facing a difficult derivation. The voice of the old man truly spoke to him, though only in the last unbelievable minutes. If the blood hadn’t been spurting all over him, he might have missed the hint! The old man was the outcome of his pathetic life! It was his own blood that was flowing through the train a minute earlier. Wherever this train was going he was staying on it, for he knew that the visions were far from over.

Teco looked over his left shoulder and saw a man approaching him rapidly. The cool black “brotha” slid over to his side, said “Whatsup?” and extended his hand to give “daps”. Teco raised his arm in the air and clenched the man’s hand at a forty-five degree displacement from the “usual”, executing a smooth A+ “dap”.

Staring in silence at his eyes, the black man got up and walked in front of Teco. His motions seemed inquisitive and threatening, provoking an instinctual caution in Teco’s heart. The black man surveyed him for a few more awkward seconds, and Teco began to feel concerned he would not pass for authentic. He knew that if this man had something to say, he would listen well. His last encounter proved to be very worthwhile.

“What’s da dizzle wit ya ass boy? You trippin on some ish or wat? ” (Translation to Proper English: “How are you doing sir? What the dickens is going on? Gee Golly.” Teco ignored the man for a moment and laughed silently at the clever translation of his words.

The black man spoke to break the awkward silence. “So whats been happenin’ to you man? You look all shook up...”

“Ok, first of all… you asked me if I was “trippin…” which I’m not… but I just saw something wild go down! I mean… this train was flooded with my blood a minute ago!”

The black man raised an eyebrow.

“Now wait… I’m not done! I know things like this only happen to men who take trips. However, they are not traveling men. Me and you… we’re traveling men. We seek our own answers right? No foolin’ around!”

“If you think I fit your definition of ‘traveling man’, than you do not know me well. Do you see this book I hold in my hand?” Asked the black man as he shoved it in Teco’s face.

Teco found it very difficult to focus on letters an inch from away from his face, and also found it very difficult to not see the book he was asked if he could see. “Well you’re kind of sticking the damn thing in my face. At least let me look at the cover right.” Quickly removing the book from sight, the black man spoke. “Sorry, I like to share my book, it is the one thing that can give me my answers.”

Teco countered: “No it’s ok, really… it’s understandable that…” “How understandable?” the black man interrupted.

“How understandable? Well let me tell you how I got this figured. What I mean is that if I was able to find all of my answers in the words of a book, then that would be awesome! Right? Why wouldn’t I want to give other people the knowledge that I have to share?”

The black man spoke with a huge smile on his face. “You got it bro! Then wouldn’t the absolutely most logical thing to do be to just take a look at my book?”

Teco smiled back. “Yea it sounds logical enough to me.”

From below the seat the black man retrieved the very old book. The appearance of the book was quite heavy, a subtle illusion formed by its dark and rugged outer core. The black man laid the book closed in Teco’s palms. The lightness of the book made Teco feel warm and carefree.

“It is my Coremega.” spoke the black man.

“That’s funny,” thought Teco, “I thought it would be…”

“The Koran?” The black man spoke for him, “Yea, see that’s what you one minded fools don’t know! This book was passed down from the ancients, whose stories have been treasured for centuries.”

Without opening the book, Teco took a quick look at the outside. The shine of layered gold on the rims of the pages took his eyes away from the horrid materials that covered it.

“And what are these ancient ancestors of yours called?” Teco asked, half mockingly and half seriously.

“What does it matter what they’re called?” retorted the black man, “I honestly don’t know anymore. All I know is that their words are truths. Their words are the answers to my questions.

Teco had now grown extremely interested with the contents of the book. It tempted him with answers, meanings, and reasons, but before he opened it up he asked the black man: “Would you trust the words of someone you’ve never met before?”

“Sure… I guess it sort of depends…” responded the black man.

“Would you trust those words over the words of someone you’ve known since birth?”

“Guess not,” answered the black man, “but what does it matter?”

“What matters is who I’ve got to trust now!” shouted Teco, “Because right now it’s you versus me and the image of my failed life!”

A trickle of blood ran down the left eye of the black man.

“Right now, things are not quite what they seem to be.

Your answer is in the book.

Open it.”

Thick hesitation rolled heavily over the thoughts of Teco.

Remembering the conversation he had with the black man, Teco asked: “Didn’t you say that it was your answer in the book?”

The black man grew greater with each breath. He spoke firmly.

“Yea and didn’t we already go over the fact that it’s all completely logical? It can provide you with the answers!”

Teco started to get what was going on and it was time to get off this train heading nowhere.

“I missed the part about it all being logical. You said something quick and clever, and for some reason I let you run with your mindless words. Now… let me tell you exactly what is going to happen. You are going to try to get me to open this book. Once the book opens, something happens that all of a sudden makes me realize that I cannot find the answers the same way that another finds his own.”

The black man’s clenched his teeth in rage. “How did you know!?”

Teco laughed hard and loud. “Well, like I said I’m a traveling man. I met a gentleman earlier today on this very train, who, unfortunately for you, was far more interesting than you are. Plus, he laid it all out fairly simple.”

Teco paused, delighted with his exaggerated dramatics.

The blood dripping from the black man’s eyes reminded him of the Gentleman he saw earlier. The key turned in his mind. “Wait… it’s you! I mean… it’s me! You said it yourself! Only I can answer my questions. Only I!”

With a sinister grin on his face, the black man stood before him.

“Didn’t I say it was all very logical? Though I don’t think you’ve grasped the full concept…”

The black man gave way to his final performance. Foaming with rage, he ripped the book out of Teco’s hands. With all his might he pried open the golden pages of the book, shielding himself from the beast within, and leaving Teco in full range of its blast. The pages of the book were desolate and empty, but they burned with the power of a thousand suns. The light pierced through the eyes of Teco, hitting his head against the window of the train. In Teco’s temporary blindness he saw the black man screaming and hunched down, facing away from him. Teco threw the book aside and went to help the black man. When the black man turned around, Teco knew this was God’s doing. Over his eyes settled a steaming black liquid that burned through the sockets.

He let the black man’s body fall to the ground. The black man’s body, like the body of all others on a train, rose through the air and disappeared forever. His book was nowhere to be found, his family was nowhere to be seen, and his words were nowhere to be heard (except for in these pages… lucky for him!).

Chapter 3 – Separation

The darkness in the glass faded away and the train arrived at its final destination. Teco couldn’t help but thinking about what the black man was pondering in his last moments. For him, “My god…” was a pretty decent guess.

Teco got up, walked to the front of the train, and stepped out. Just the way it had suddenly appeared, the train vanished and slowly the world became normal once again. The birds flew amongst the bees, the trees swayed with the grass, the smoke flew in the air, and Teco’s old English teacher walked up to him.

Teco rested his hands on the Teacher’s shoulders.

“Mr. Andrews! How have you been doing? Have I got a story for you! I figure I’ll write about it, you know?”

“What is it about?” asked Mr. Andrews.

“Well, it’s sort of about finding my own way… and it’s sort of about being at peace with myself… and I guess you could say it’s about trusting myself and my intuition. I want to show how the belief in god and belief in self are just two different methods to derive the same conclusion.”

“Conclusion?” asked Mr. Andrews with dreadful anticipation.

Teco did not feel like treading lightly.

“Yea, the conclusion to this story. The same conclusion that provides ecstatic epiphany to some, and heavy hearts to others.”

“I don’t understand!” shouted Mr. Andrews.

“I cannot explain it any better words than the ones I have already chosen,” said Teco, “My path is like that of the Shepard. I choose to go where I may, not where others wish me to go. Of course there will always be boundaries and limitations for the real Shepard, but in my mind I am able to escape even you!”

Mr. Andrews clenched his teeth and twitched his eyes. What had once been the face of Teco’s English teacher was now wiped clean and began erupting in wild distortions.

In the blank face of what had once been one man, rose two. The gentleman beggar occupied half of his face, and the black man occupied the other half.

The black man spoke first: “So what was it that you thought I would be saying in my last moments?”

Teco was afraid to answer, so the black man reassured him.

“It’s alright… you were really on the button with this one.”

Realizing that the black man already knew the answer, Teco only thought to himself: “My God...”

“Do you remember what my last words were?” interrupted the Gentlemen.

“Only you can answer your own questions…” Teco mumbled in solitude.

The distinct separation between the Gentleman and the black man quickly disappeared and the mirror image of Teco stood in front of him, staring into his mind.

The image spoke to Teco. “Now… you’re looking at a man who in his last moments believed in answering his own questions, but still believed in answering the questions through god.

“ The mirror image of Teco slid the barrel of a gun into his mouth. “These will be your last thoughts, have you come to a conclusion yet?”

Teco whispered, “What you said before you put the gun to my head…”

“The thing about believing in myself and god at the same time?”

“Yea… well I figured it out. Like you said before, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether I’m telling it to myself or whether god is telling me it. What matters is that I have been occupied believing in something. I am a traveling man, and it’s what I do. I have drowned so deeply in my questions, that I feel the need to go somewhere else to answer them. The traveling man knows that one day you may take a train east, and another day you make take it west. Eventually you just end up where you started and you’re all alone asking yourself questions.”

“With a gun pointed to your head.” Added the illusion.

"True… true… but why the gun? Are you trying to make a dramatic ending of this story?”

“Now didn’t I just tell you, that you are a man who in his last moments believes in answering his own questions by himself, but still believes in answering them through God?

“Yea… and I told you I’ve got it. God is one of infinite methods to achieving enlightenment, and if God doesn’t work, we can fall back on something else.”

“That makes no sense! So why did my eyes burn? Was it not a method to achieve enlightenment? Why was I punished?” Ask the black man.

“The truth is in why we ask “the questions”. I would have not known why if you had not been blinded. Though you went to your death blind to your own words, the words of god still propelled you from the burden of life and it’s incessant questions.

“And I?” asked the Gentleman.

“Well, your death proves that the change in method did not affect the outcome. Though you passed away indifferent to the ways of God, it made no difference. You were also propelled beyond the burdens of life.

Now… I’ve answered your questions, so let’s talk about the gun. What’s with the damn gun man?” “I told you what you would think in your final moments. Don’t tell me you didn’t see this coming! I gave you fair warning! Just relax, because after this nothing in this world will matter. It’s just you and god my friend.”

“I guess that’s what it took to get me here.” “My point exactly… …My point exactly.”

The End

© Copyright 2019 Dante Castro. All rights reserved.

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