Jarrett wakes with the disorienting sense that he has missed something, that there has been some lapse and he must try to figure out what’s gone wrong. Passengers are wearily lining up in the aisle, jostled by the accustomed roughness of the old rails. The street and buildings out the window are upscale, mildly forbidding and unfamiliar, especially when compared with the ones he had headed past a thousand times. Dusk is coming fast and the whole thing has the feeling of a hoax, as in the movies when the villain slips a tranquilizer into the detective’s drink. The train is slowing down, clambering into some anonymous depot.
This hasn’t happened since he was a young man, when sleep would come upon him like an irresistible temptress, even with the prospect that he would keep going and going into terra incognita. He wonders if he has been snoring or worse, muttering nonsense which Blair insists he sometimes does, yet with the demeanor of someone completely lucid. Somehow he has hurtled four or five stops past his own, straight into the secluded, clubby territory of the north shore. It is as if he has crossed a border, passed without fanfare into another country. He hurriedly grabs his monthly ticket, raincoat and valise, and now sees the sign he has landed in Kingston.
The station is one of those quaint, square buildings with carved wood benches that was probably erected in the thirties. There is a chalkboard listing the cost of snacks in a ﬂorid script, along with a drawing of a cup of coffee, its wispy smoke caught in a spiral. There is a framed map of Midwestern routes, an antique clock with Roman numerals, and a rack of faded books that have been offered to pass the time. Everyone who disembarks the 5:49 trudges up from the culvert where the tracks lie, forty or ﬁfty steps to the level of the street, probably rushing straight for home.
December 20, 2017
The editing and proofreading and thousand other things that go into putting a book together are thankfully finished and my story collection Home and Castle is at last coming out in early January. (see www.snakenationpress.org for the Editor’s statement and further details). Most of the stories in it were originally published in literary journals such (…read more)
THOMAS BENZ graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame. He recently won the 2017 Serena McDonald Kennedy Award for a short story collection called “Home and Castle.” The book is to be published by Snake Nation Press in the fall. In the last several years, he has had fifteen stories (…read more)