Changed by Mechanical Sounds & Black Smolder

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
Four different people, four different lives, but in the end all of their lives came together. This story tells about the last day of a musician, a homeless guy, a drug addict and a hit man for the maffia. They were all headed to New York City for different reasons, but their faith was the same.

Submitted: November 13, 2009

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Submitted: November 13, 2009



New York train crash kills 86
ByVan Loy Nick
PublishedMay 12 2008
New York Times
From that day on, Monday the 12th of May, will forever be known as Black Monday for the people of New York City.
“It was total chaos, dead bodies were everywhere. Injured people were trying to get away from the wreckage. The only sounds we heard that day were sirens of ambulances and fire trucks,” said the NYFD captain.
“A loud crash was all I could hear and black smoke was all over the place,” one of the people living near the crash site told the New York Times.
A devastating day it was, not only for the survivors of the crash, but for everyone of the United States of America. The crash, which occurred just outside of New York City, has been said to be the worst U.S. rail tragedy for 13 years. The head-on collision caused two trains, a passenger train and a freight train, to derail. A number of casualties were treated at the scene, while most of them were airlifted to the nearest hospital. The NYFD spokesman has confirmed 86 dead and at least 149 injured. But the fear of the death toll rising is still there.
Though a thorough investigation of the exact cause of the crash has yet to be completed, the National Transportation Safety Board blames a human error. Although it seemed that the passenger train had already caught fire, just before the collision.
Tuesday, May 13

Chapter I Homeless ‘till I die
Although it seemed like any other ordinary day, the life of Andrew would soon drastically change. Of course Andrew wasn’t aware of this particular fact, so he did what he usually does; absolutely nothing. Andrew recently lost his job at the plant and therefore couldn’t pay his bills anymore. First they cut off his phone, then his electricity and his water. After a few more weeks of unemployment, he wasn’t able to pay his rent anymore, so he got evicted of his small apartment in Philadelphia. So for the past few months, he has been living on the streets. Which wasn’t exactly easy in Philly; that time there were gang wars going on, a lot of drug dealers were wondering the streets. All kinds of criminals were out on the street during nightfall.
But all of that didn’t discourage good old Andrew. Andrew had always been a big fan of the blues, not only of the music, but also of the life of the bluesmen. After his eviction, the only property he had on him was his worn out guitar and a suitcase. Being a fan of the movie crossroads, he decided to become a hobo, one who wanders from place to place without a permanent home. As a teenager, he often took his friend with him on one of his road trips. They would hop on a freight train, and Andrew would play his acoustic guitar while his friend was playing the harp. But when he was about 20 years old, the railroad police had caught him and that was the last road trip he took. That was until now. After all his misfortune in the city of Philadelphia, he decided to try his luck in New York City. Since he had no money, he had no other choice then to hop trains again in order to get there. But hopping trains wasn’t as easy as it was when he was a youngster, so he had to be extra careful. He was able to hop trains from Philadelphia to East Brunswick without any problems. But he almost got himself caught by the police on his way from East Brunswick to Newark. At that time, that seemed to be the biggest problem for Andrew. But little did he know that once he hopped the train in Newark, his life would radically change… for the worst.
Since the incident with the police in Edison, he decided to play his guitar in Newark, so he could pay for a train ticket to New York City.
He only had 2 more hours left to get the rest of the money; he only had raised about half of the amount of money needed for the ticket. That was until a young man showed up, carrying an acoustic bass guitar. He took a seat right next to Andrew and took out his bass and just started jamming along, playing the blues. They started talking about their daily lives; actually they were singing about it in their songs. They kept this going on for at least an hour and a half. But then the young man stopped playing in the middle of a song and excused himself: “I’m terribly sorry, but I have to go now. I still need to buy a ticket and my train leaves in an hour.”
Andrew completely lost track of time, he hadn’t had this much fun in a long time. But then the young man made him an offer, which Andrew never saw coming.
“You know what? I’ll pay the rest for you train ticket. You made the past hour and a half really fun for me, and I like to thank you for it. I needed that; this night hasn’t been the best night of my life so take this.” After he said that, he handed Andrew the rest of the money and then took off. After a few seconds, he disappeared in the crowd of Newark Station.

Chapter IIMusic ‘till I die
The band Adam played in had a show in Newark. The younger brother of Adam had arranged the gig in his small bar downtown. The band wasn’t famous, probably because they mostly played experimental rock music, and the people of New York weren’t used to it yet. The gig was around 5 P.M., but Adam went to Newark a lot earlier than the rest of the band. His girlfriend had taken a day off, so they could spend the day together. Adam hadn’t seen his girlfriend in a few days, because she was always busy working in the hospital. A few days before going to Newark, Adam had given his girlfriend a new purse, one he modified. He put some logos of her favourite bands on it, like the asterisk from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. By now she wouldn’t leave her home without it, it was the most precious possession she ever got from Adam. She almost didn't want to leave for Newark, because she couldn't find it at first.
They were on their way to Adam’s restaurant. Actually it was his parents’ restaurant. Newark was the hometown of Adam and his family and his father inherited the restaurant from his father. So they were always hoping that one day Adam would take over the family business. But Adam was always more concentrated on making his living with music, but so far that hasn’t been really successful. He had been in three bands before starting this one, hoping that this band would make it big time. So now his parents’ hope lied within Adam’s older brother, since his older brother had opened a bar downtown.
While they were on their way, they passed a small alley. Some graffiti on the wall caught Adam’s attention. It took him a while to realise it was his. He used to hang around in these alleys together with his younger brother, talking about music, politics, and other stuff. Sometimes they would paint their ideals on the walls, like their political beliefs or music quotes. It was one of those music quotes that caught his attention. ‘We all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun’. John Lennon was their main influence, especially Adams’.
When Adam and his girlfriend were finally in the restaurant and ordered their dinner, Adam had something special in mind for the love of his life. It may sound a bit cliché too most people, but Adam had a ring hidden in the dessert. That’s one of the reasons why he had taken her to his parent’s restaurant; he wanted to propose to her in front of his family and friends. The moment the dessert cart was at their table and she took her dessert, Adam got up and sat on one knee in front of her. He had a whole speech for her, but he ended with the words: “Baby, will you make me the happiest man in the world and marry me?”
You could see on her face that she sure was surprised. But without giving a proper answer, she just said sorry and ran out the restaurant.
Adam was devastated about what happened tonight at his parent’s restaurant, but that wouldn’t keep him away from the show. Because music is something that could heal all of Adam’s wounds, no matter how deep they were.
Most people could sense there was a problem with Adam, especially the other members of the band. They knew there was something wrong, but Adam didn’t tell anything about his personal life, to no one, not even his own family. But despite Adam’s problem, he gave the best show of his life; he put all of his emotions into his music, the good and the bad. He actually felt a bit better while playing his bass and the power in his voice was incredible. But afterwards, all the bad emotions came back, like they had flown out of his body on stage, but now came suddenly crashing back. So without saying goodbye to his friends, he took his acoustic bass and took off. He knew that his friends would take care of the rest.
He decided to go straight back to New York, this place had too many bad aura now. So he took off, straight to Newark Station. He hoped that he could catch a train to New York immediately, but faith had something else in mind for Adam. On his way to the ticket boot, he saw someone, who looked like a homeless guy, playing acoustic blues. Without thinking, he took place right next to him and took out his acoustic bass and started playing along. Adam could really understand the blues that time.

Hit man charged for gang-related homicide
By Dylan Avery
Published May 09 2008
Philadelphia Enquirer
Mason Barrera, a mob hit man, is being charged with murder and firearm offenses in the killing of a local grocery dealer in Jefferson Square Park.
The victim, André Prates, has been identified by police as a member of Philadelphia’s most violent drug organization. André was on his way to work, when he was surprised by Mason in Jefferson Square Park.
Eye witnesses say that Mason didn’t hesitate and shot André the moment he laid eyes on him. The Philadelphia police department confiscated half a kilo of cocaine while investigating Andrés grocery shop.
A U.S. anti-drug law officer said they were investigating drug trafficking from Mexico to Philadelphia. And that Andrés grocery store was one of their targets. This murder caused a big break-through for them. Philadelphia was only a pit-stop where the drugs were being processed here before being shipped to New York.
Mason Barrera is now in custody but soon will be relocated to New York where he will stand trial for homicide.
Saturday, May 10

Chapter IIIDrugs is what got me killed
Ethan’s life hasn’t been exactly easy. His father left his family when he was only two years old and his mother died when he was twelve. Around that time his aunt and uncle took him in their house, but that didn’t go well either. His aunt was a well-known alcoholic in town. Fellow AA-members described her as a lost cause, someone who can’t stop drinking and eventually will drink herself to death. His uncle may have been the worst for him. He was the only one who caused both psychological and physical damage to Ethan. His uncle wasn’t an alcoholic like his wife, he just found it amusing to beat other people up, without caring if they were family or not. And his aunt couldn’t do anything about it, because she was always too drunk to know what’s happening around her. At the age of 16, Ethan ran away from, what other people would’ve called home. He lived on the streets for a few months before he made some friends. Although you wouldn’t exactly call them good friends, they were the ones responsible for Ethan’s drug addiction.
The only good thing they did for him, was giving him a roof over his head. Ethan and his so called friends were high all the time, so no one would hire them. So the only thing they did was sit at home, sniffing cocaine and listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
But a drug addiction costs money, so they had to figure out another way to get their fix. That’s when they started mugging people on the street, but later realised that most people didn’t carry that much money in their wallets. So they started breaking into other people’s property too.
Over the past few years, some of his friends OD’ed, while others were arrested by the police. So Ethan ended up all alone again, with no clue what to do next. One day, when he was walking around at night, he saw a big mansion, with no lights on. High on cocaine, he couldn’t think straight, so he decided to rob the place. But what he didn’t know was that the mansion belonged to a big Philadelphia drug lord. It was true that security wasn’t as tight as always, but they still caught Ethan. The drug lord decided not to kill him, because he knew that Ethan was one of his customers, so he thought of another solution. First he hesitated a bit, because he knew that Ethan probably couldn’t pay him back, but then granted him the loan anyway. Because if he couldn’t pay him back, he’d have a better reason to get Ethan killed. He offered Ethan the choice, either he could take the money, or he could take the drugs, equal to the money’s value. Of course as a drug addict, Ethan didn’t think it through and took the drugs. That way he committed himself to a contract to pay the drug lord back in three months, without even knowing what he had gotten himself into.
In the third month, Ethan started to take fewer drugs and started thinking things through before he acted. He knew that his deal with the drug lord was a bad mistake. He hadn’t left his house in a few weeks, since he still had all the drugs he needed. So he wasn’t able to collect the money to pay off his debt.
“There are only two ways out of this,” he said to himself. “Either I end up dead immediately, or I try to get away and die another day.”
Ethan chose the last option. He knew he had to go somewhere crowed, so it wouldn’t be easy to find him. He decided to drive to Trenton, and from there on he would take the train to Newark and then to New York City. He sold some of his drugs so he could pay for train tickets in Trenton. He also bought some new clothes, because he knew that it would be easier to find him in his old clothes. His journey to Newark went without problems, but once he got at the train station, unforeseen actions had cost him his last money. He still needed to buy a ticket to New York, so he thought of doing the only thing he was good in, he decide to mug someone outside the station. The person that first caught his eye was perfect, a young distracted woman, not paying attention to her possessions, which caused her to be his perfect victim. It seemed like she was looking for someone. But Ethan didn’t care for all of that; the only thing on his mind was taking her purse, a black purse with a logo of his favourite band on it: the asterisk of the RHCP.

Chapter IVMurder is what got me killed
It was the first time Manson actually ended up in jail. Usually he’s the best in what he does, but no one knows why that target was different from the others; why Mason was so worked up about him. Normally he takes his time with his targets, he waits until they’re alone, so that they aren’t any witnesses. But this time, he shot him as soon as he caught his eye.
He didn’t go to jail without putting up a fight though. After he committed the crime, he fled the scene, causing a massive manhunt by the police. It may have been one of the longest, most spectacular chases in Philadelphia’s history. “If I’m going down, I might as well get my name out there, you know”. That must have been what he was thinking while he was cruising down the interstate. His arrest had caused two car crashes, which even killed three people. If his car hadn’t run out of gas, the police probably wouldn’t have caught him for days.
Mason was sitting in a typical interrogation room, a room with nothing in it but a table and two chairs. And one wall that was covered in what seemed to be a mirror, but anyone knows that people are watching this room from the other side of that mirror. For safety reasons, Mason was handcuffed with one hand to the table. The detectives didn’t want to take any chances with him, being a contract killer after all. Of course, they all knew that Mason was a contract killer for the mob, he had been the prime suspect in a dozen other homicide cases, but the police never had enough prove to set him behind bars.
They let him sit alone in that room for nearly two hours, when finally two detectives entered the room for interrogation. They asked the normal questions, like: Why did you kill André Prates, who gave you the order to kill him, why was this case different than your other murders, etc. With that last question they tried to make Mason confess the other murders, so they could finally close those files too. But Mason was practically a master at answering that kind of questions, he had seen his share of interrogations before. And as a hit man for the mob, he knew he had to keep his mouth shut, or he would be dead in a week.
They didn’t succeed in making Mason confess the other murders, but they had a lot of eye witnesses in this case, so they had enough to put him behind bars for a very long time. There’s no chance that any jury would let this man walk freely after his trial, which was due in a week.
The week flew by, at least for every one else besides Mason, the week seemed like a year for him. There was a whole routine worked out for him, as soon as he woke up he was brought back to the mirrored room for another interrogation, which lasted about 3 hours. After they fed him lunch, another interrogation was planned. After his dinner, which you could hardly call a dinner though, they gave him another interrogation for dessert. This went on the entire week, but of course, a lot can happen in a week…
In the past few days, most of the witnesses took back their testimonies, for no reason. But when something like that happens, you can be quite sure someone approached them to drop the case, or change their testimonies. Those men would do anything to secure themselves, even if it meant to kill Mason.
In the end the case against Mason was dismissed due to the lack of evidence and testimonies. Even though the police could have held him a couple of months (at the least) for the traffic violations he committed during the car chase, he got away scot-free. The people Mason worked for had hired him the best crime lawyer there was. And although they were almost certain the lawyer would win the case, they slipped the judge a bribe too. Just to be on the safe side, you know how it is with that kind of people.
On his way out of the courtroom, Mason took a seat on the stairs outside the building, trying to light a cigarette. He could see two men approaching him, all dressed in fancy new suits. Immediately he knew what business they had with him.
“Already? And here, of all the placed you could have chose, why here?”
The two men looked at each other and grinned. Without saying a single word, they handed Mason a small envelope.
He knew he couldn’t refuse the envelope, so he snatched it right out of their hands. You could see mason was upset with the fact that the two men approached him right outside the courthouse to give him his next target. And to think that this was the place where he just got exonerated for his last target.
Inside the envelope were a photograph and a small biography of the target. The photograph showed a man, probably around his late twenties. The eyes of the man revealed the fact that he was on drugs. Actually, his whole appearance gave that away. His eyes, his messy hair, his posture, everything gave it away. After he memorised the photograph, he put it back in the envelope. When he was finished memorising the photograph and biography, he had to burn the envelope. His contractors insisted he would do this, in order to burn the trail that could lead the authorities to them. So after memorising the photograph, he started reading the biography. On top of the document he saw the man’s name: Ethan Fields.

Chapter VTrain crash is what got me killed
None of the eighty-six people that died that day, had imagined this was how their day would end, how their lives would end…
Andrew was sitting in his seat, next to the window. He’s been hopping trains for so long, that he grew custom to the view outside. So he insisted on sitting next to a window. On his face was a big smile. Never in his life did he think they would sell him a train ticket. But then again, if someone has the cash for it, how can they refuse, no matter how bad the guy looked.
His guitar case was neatly stored in the seat before him. That way, he would always have an eye on it. He got so attached to that guitar over the years, that it would kill him if it ever got stolen.
When he was just about to doze of in his comfy chair, he heard someone putting his baggage next to him. He was surprised to see it was Adam’s guitar case.
Of course Andrew asked Adam to sit next to him. He really enjoyed jamming with him, and besides, Adam paid for his ticket to New York.
“I see you’re going to New York too? Why didn’t you tell me that earlier? We could have travelled together if you wanted to.” Andrew said to him when he was putting away his luggage.
“I know,” he said, “but I had a lot on my mind. I’m sorry about that.
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Women, I don’t think I’ll ever understand them…”
Meanwhile in another compartment, Ethan was almost asleep in his seat. Thinking that this will all be over soon. All that running had made him tired. All he wanted to do for now, was sleep, sleep all the way to New York.
His peaceful rest was suddenly disturbed by a gentle touch on his shoulder.
“Is this seat taken?” said a women’s voice.
The woman didn’t even wait for Ethan’s answer, and she put away her bags and took a seat right next to him. The woman was a real beauty though, everyone in that compartment noticed her beautiful looks, and so did Ethan of course. You could sense all the jealousy of the other men in there. They were all jealous of Ethan because the woman decided to sit right next to him, instead next to them.
“Hi, I’m Caitlin.” The girl was trying to start a conversation with Ethan, which he didn’t think was ever going to happen. So it took him a while to answer the girl.
“I’m Ethan, nice to meet you.”
In the next half hour, they both knew significantly more about each other. Never did Ethan think he would ever meet a woman that was into the same things as he was.
“Could it be? Could I really have a chance on a happy life after all?” was all that was going to Ethan’s head that time.
Apparently the woman was on her way to New York to become a teacher in high school. She just graduated from college and one particular school there, had asked her to come and work for them. And in these times she just couldn’t refuse. She knew it was hard to get a job these days. The economic crisis had an enormous effect on the job market, so she already decided she would take the first job that was offered to her.
While they were talking, Ethan noticed Caitlin had put her hand on his knee. At first he didn’t know what to do, it’s been a while since he last felt a girl’s affection. Not a lot of women were turned on by a drug addict you know.
But he decided to just go for it and he put his hand on hers and they both started smiling. Ethan was planning on trying to kiss her, but just when was trying to make his move, he noticed a man in the back the wagon. That man kept looking at him as if he wanted something from him. His face looked very familiar to Ethan, but he just couldn’t place it in his mind.
A few moments later, that man stood up, put his newspaper on the nearest table and started walking towards Caitlin and Ethan. When he was still a few seats away, he started reaching for something in his jacket. It took Ethan a while to notice he was reaching for a gun. That’s when it hit him. He definitely had seen this guy before, in the drug lord’s mansion. If he was not mistaken, it was Mason Barrera, the lord’s personal hit man.
It seemed that some other people had noticed the gun too and started screaming. Mason had taken out his gun and pointed it directly at Ethan.
Adam was already starting to doze off. The movement of the train always made him sleepy. Of course Andrew was used to the movement of trains; he has experienced his share of train rides before, although this must have been the most comfortable one of them all. But old habits don’t die that easily, so it didn’t take long for him to take out his guitar and started playing the blues. Adam noticed the sounds coming from Andrew’s guitar, and wanted to get out his bass too. Except his guitar case was neatly tucked away behind Andrew’s belongings. Being too much of a burden to take it out, he just decided to take out his blues harp instead. Even though he doesn’t play it that much, he still carries it along all the time. Like I said, old habits don’t die easily.
After jamming for a while, Adam wanted to check his cell phone. He heard it ring before, but he didn’t want to take the call during his jam with Andrew.
He reached for his jacket, and took out his Samsung. One new message was displayed on the little screen.
He recognised the number of his girlfriend. If he had known it sooner it was her, he probably would have taken the call. He really wanted to know the reason why she left him at the restaurant. And he also wanted to apologise for proposing to her, maybe it was too soon.
He dialled the number for his voicemail and some female computer voice said he had one unheard message:
Hey Adam…
I really feel bad the way I left you earlier tonight. I don’t know what came over me. I guess I was just surprised by your proposal. I really didn’t saw it coming. You know I love you and you mean the world to me. For the past few hours I have been thinking….
Maybe you’re right. I really do want to spend the rest of my life with you by my side. So I’m sorry I didn’t give you this answer a lot sooner, but yes, I really want to marry you.
I hope I’ll see you at home later tonight.
I love you…
After Adam had listened to his message, he fell quiet for a while. He couldn’t believe what he had just heard. First his girlfriend left him at the restaurant without even a word, and now this. Of course he was happy, but he still couldn’t believe it.
Andrew noticed something about Adam’s mood. But before he could ask him about it, the sound of a gunshot filled the room. Almost as a natural reflex, they both ducked under the small table that was between them. Because of the gunshot, most people thought someone pulled at the emergency break, because they could’ve sworn they heard the noise of the train’s breaks. At least that’s what people thought at first, but all of a sudden the wagon started swinging over the tracks, as if it was going to derail. Not a few minutes later, a small series of explosions followed…

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