There is a flash of light; I sit confused and light headed. I have to knock the cobwebs out of my head, such a fog. This takes a minute. I realize that I was lying down sprawled across a few hard plastic seats. Peering around, I notice that I sit on a moving train but I have no idea where I’m going. The train car jumps like they all do while traveling their routes, I bump my head then sit up, rubbing the area that will have a sore spot soon enough. I can’t remember anything about my life but I know other things.
It’s a commuter car, no passengers with me; it seems to have been in service awhile. Decorated graffiti walls, chairs show signs of wear, metal railing rattles, and windows covered in years of dust and film. It’s dark outside of the train car only because I’m in a subway system, public transportation, not luxurious accommodations here. I am just glad that it doesn’t smell like urine. Lights are weak they flash, or more to the point, strobe. Over used fluorescent bulbs, transportation department is getting every minute of life out of them, flickering. It seems that red illumination comes from the emergency lights as well, they seem to alternate. It doesn’t strike me as a pressing issue.
I see that I’m wearing regular clothes, the style I normally wear I guess; tee shirt under a green polo, jeans, sneakers, and a light black jacket. Nothing seems a miss to me for now except I don’t know how I got on this train or where it’s headed. I fix my messy black hair, moving it out my eyes in a sweeping motion. Well, whoever is messing with me didn’t shave me bald or leave me with some God forsaken weird hairdo.
I decide that I won’t get any answers here. So I stand up and hold onto the metal rails, the train seems to have sped up a bit, the bouncing is rougher with more unpredictable jumping. An eerie buzz coming from the old lights, some crackle and popping as well, a few lights are out and I see sparks. I lose my hold of the rail and fall back into my seat.
“What the Hell?” I said to no one, words escape my lips. I gather myself from the unexpected tumble. At least I was close to seats and didn’t fall to the metal floor to add more future bruising to me. I look around at the advertising to see if I can figure out where I am or at least what city I am in. I see various ads for cabs, plays, rental cars and department stores. None of this helps because all of them are national brands. I don’t know of all the cities that have subways or trains. I barely watch the news because nothing good happens in the world any more. It’s everyone for themselves. That sucks.
“Hello………… Is anyone around? Anyone else riding this train? I yell to no one. My voice echoes off the metal walls.
Scratching my head now, I feel the fog still but it’s clearing up. I sort of stretch my body. I don’t know how long I’ve been here. Was I drugged? Robbed? Raped? All the life changing or frightening scenarios run through my brain as I check for my wallet. I find nothing, patting myself down checking my jeans and jacket. “Ughhhhh.”
“Tickets, have you a ticket, sir?” I heard a deep voice just from the other side of the car door in the next car. The voice was slightly muffled and competed with the overall noise pollution.
I can see two bodies close to one another, a person giving up a ticket it looks like. Then suddenly train car jumps, unbalancing me, I fall to my knees with a thud. While on the ground the lights flicker from the front of the car, bright white light that almost blinds me. One, of the men, is gone now. Why was that flash of light so bright? I figure that much of a power surge should pop that light bulb, guess not. I rub my eyes with both hands and try to collect myself as I regain my composure and reclaim that seat.
“You don’t have to pray to me. I’m not that guy. “A good sized man with olive complexion stands at the train car door. He’s wearing heavy duty blue khaki pants, a tan work jacket and the same colored cap, no logo. He unloads a hearty laugh at his own joke.
“Looks like I was praying but I wasn’t. I’m just trying to figure out a few things. Where I am? How did I get on this train? Where is it going? You know simple and logical thoughts. Do you have any answers for me, buddy?” I frustratingly say to him.
“Well, good, sir. Think it’s a prank? Are you drunk? Maybe you’re hung over? What about drugs or mushrooms? Those things can mess with a person’s mind you know. What’s the last thing you member? What’s your name?” The man said with a name badge that reads. “C. Haron.”
“I woke up on this run down subway car about five minutes ago. I’m completely groggy and out of sorts. I’ve checked my empty pockets so there is no wallet or ticket. I don’t know what to do now. Can you help me? I don’t have a ticket or even a way to pay for one.” I rebut.
“Let’s start at the beginning. What is your name, sir? Can you at least tell me that?”
Mr. Heron walks towards me in a calm fashion, it’s almost like this isn’t phased. This isn’t his first experience with a weird situation. I’m getting to my feet with a slight grunt, I’m sore from the couple of bangs to my body, so I can talk to him eye to eye. It doesn’t feel right sitting on a chair as you plead for help from another person, that’s just not right. We both stand at about six feet in height; he’s just a bit plumper than me but not fat. He reaches into my jacket inside pocket and searches. “Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes or in this case another’s hand……..well, lookie here, it’s a wallet. Guess you didn’t search all your pockets, sir.”
“I checked there already……..” My words fall off as he hands me a black leather wallet from inside my jacket. Guess I missed that. I take and open the wallet looking over its contents, no money, few credit cards and a license. It’s worn down and faded I can’t make out the state that issued it or my address but the name is there. “Jimmy Foxx.” I keep looking, but no tickets; I check all my pockets again without avail. I lift a credit card in the air. “At least I can pay for a ticket and we can go from there.”
“Sorry, hot shot. We don’t take credit cards. I know at most rail systems a guest will pay to enter and it’s over with ride as many trains as you like until you reach some destination. Here we do things a bit differently. It’s a different kind of currency.” Mr. Heron boasted.
“I don’t have a pin number for any of them anyway? I can’t remember any important details.” I say.
“I’m not saying that you look down and out but you are. Like I said we have another way of dealing with this kind of situation.”
“Look, you aren’t going to touch me or blackmail me. What is your supervisors name and number?” I demand thinking he’s trying some funny stuff. I’m confused and irritated now. My hands are searching for my phone. Now, just like the wallet I can’t find it. “Ughhh, damn it. Not again.” I whisper.
“Take your time. We have some, believe me, we have plenty of that.” Mr. Heron suggests as he places his burly hand against my jacket, over the same pocket that had my wallet in it.
“Well, you’re pretty calm. I will search again……slower maybe. I am the one who is a bit overwhelmed here, you know. For your information, I checked that pocket all…….ready.” My voice trails off as I feel my phone and remove it from my person. “Well, I press the power button on the side to my phone just to get challenged by the security screen. “I don’t know the numbers to the pass code. This sucks. I can’t remember anything.”
“It happens a lot more than you know the confusion and not remembering.”
“I just don’t get it.”
“It seems like you are not going to call anyone to tell on me, that’s reassuring.” He says.
“This has to be some kind of trick. I’m not falling for anything here.” I state.
“Tell you what. I’m gonna head back towards the front of this train. I will send my boss back here to talk to you. Sounds fair?”
“Yeah, sure. That will be good, Thank you.” I reply as I sink back onto the hard seat beat down with frustration.
“Well, I have to move on now. It was a pleasure to meet you. You know what? It shouldn’t be too long before you get speak with my boss and all of this plays itself out. Where ever you end up, you should have something to drink and eat. That always clears up my head.” He walks to the front of the train car, moving the door, taking a step through. “Have a good time.” He waves before he closes the door and moves on. “Tickets, do you have your tickets?”
I sit and wonder, what happened to me. I try to replay my most recent memories but I can’t. Hell, I can’t even remember any childhood ones. Parents, brother and sister, do I have them? Pets? Schools? Did I have a girlfriend, fiancé or wife? I have this wallet but it tell me who I am but am I sure. My face is on the license as I stare into a reflective flat piece of metal, yep, that’s me. My breathing becomes heavy with frustration. Blood pressure is probably higher as well. I sit there with my fists balled up like I’m ready for a school yard fight with all the students looking on, about to face a bully who has bothered me for years.
“Ok, ok, relax, staying tense won’t help.”I have to let it go, relax. My body eases, tension going away. Rubbing my hands together gently, I try to focus. “What’s that guy say as he’s rubbing his ears to calm himself down? It’s a pretty good catchphrase. That cop movie, the bad guys always mess up. It’s their choices and actions that doom them. “I say to myself, no one else is around to listen to me anyway. My hands are now rubbing my ears, why not? It can’t hurt, trying to hypnotize myself to clarity I guess. “That’s it……. I remember now.” I do more rubbing on my ears because this seems to help some. “Wasabi……….wasabi.” I knew I would remember. Felt good repeating those words and rubbing my ears. “Wasabi……….wasabi.” Perfect, that’s the start of the memory train coming back. I have a good feeling.
“Hey, what are you doing?”
Embarrassingly I’m not alone again I realize, dropping my hands slowly so I don’t appear to be a lunatic on a train. I need some answers from my next stranger.
An innocent looking teenage girl asks me, she walks in the train car and merrily sits close to me. Her bright colored outfit breaks up the gloomy surroundings. “I want to see my grandma. It’s been awhile. My mom is too busy to take me so I decided to sneak away to go see her. This is an adventure for me. I love grandma’s cookies, so much sugar and deliciousness. Lots of love, she gives me tons of love.”
“It is nice to meet you. Glad to see another face.” I welcome her.
“Yeah, that ticket guy is a bummer.” She mocks him some. “Where is your ticket? Where are you going? What’s your name?” She breaks character to be herself once again. “Who doesn’t know that stuff?”
“I don’t know some of that. My license tells me that my name is ‘Jimmy Foxx.’ But, the rest I don’t know. The ticket guy, Mr. C. Heron, he found my wallet and phone in my pocket. I swear that I checked them, all of them, all of my pockets. It’s like it was placed there as if he were a street magician. It’s so confusing. I mean. How does a person not notice a phone and wallet in the same pocket?”
“Well, my name is ‘Angelica’, the last name doesn’t matter. A girl can’t be too careful. Social media stalkers, the news feeds are flooded with weirdoes and kidnappings, shootings, and other horrible things. Let’s talk about something else, those thoughts weird me out. I prefer to go by ‘Angel.’”
“Yeah, I’m amnestic right now.” I say.
“Oh, is that contagious?” Angel moves away.
“No that just means that I can’t remember stuff right now. Hey, well, technically that’s a memory.”
“Yea, that’s great. I hope I’m helping some.”
“You are. It’s nice to have a pleasant someone around during a confusing time like this.”
“I have a question. Do you remember why you were rubbing your ears and saying ‘Wasabi?’ Maybe you have sore ears? Were you thinking of sushi? Wasabi is used on sushi rolls and it’s too hot for me. Lord, it’s too hot. Could it be a memory of watching some food show or channel on cable? I like those shows.”
The train rocks hard again and bouncing some than usual, emergency lights are flashing red, braking off and on, throwing us around some. “Oppsie, sorry, I know I’m not supposed to take your name in vain.” Angel apologized.
“Who are you talking to? We are alone. Is that just something you do? I try not to swear myself, however, I think of them as sentence enhancers. It eases my conscience. Hahaha. There are guidelines and then there are commandments. But, getting back to your question, I was doing all of that because I saw it in a movie and that was supposed to relax the character.”
“Was it working?”
“Just started as you walked in, I hadn’t enough time to find out if it was real or not. That’s an experiment for another time maybe as soon as I get off this God forsaken train.” The train car bounces rough again for a few seconds. “The good lord does test us from time to time. I do say ‘I’m sorry for that bit of blasphemy.’” I spread my hands wide to ask forgiveness.
“Enough!!!” Shouts a man walking into the nearly empty passenger car, he is a bigger man like the ticket collector dressed all in black with a trimmed dark beard. “The girl comes with me!!!”
Angelica moves to sit by my side cringing in fear. “I don’t want to go with him. He’s mean and always making me do things, a horrible…… horrible man.”
“I don’t believe we have met, good, sir. I don’t think the little lady wants to go with you. I ask myself ‘Why’, is there a problem?” I ask the man in black. “What’s your name by the way?”
“Cypher, my name is Cypher. It happens to work very well because I solve problems, like this for instance. The little woman needs to go with me and you are slowing that down. Time is money. Ever hear of that?” Cypher responds a bit bothered.
“My new friend’s name is ‘Jaime Foxx’ and he’s gonna protect me from you.”
“First off, I think my name is Jimmy Foxx.” I raise hand then extend my index finger to sort of exaggerate my point. “Mr. Jaime Foxx is a big time talented actor. Do I seem like that kind of guy? I probably do……. But……. I’m not that particular guy.” Two fingers in the air now. “The girl stays with me. She doesn’t seem to like you or your bullying ways. She stays with me. Unless you are family, then I don’t have a legal leg to stand on. Are you her father or an immediate family member?”
“I’m growing tired of this ‘CHARADE.’” Cypher says dramatically as he flexes to pump himself for an altercation like a bouncer getting ready to throw an unruly patron out of the establishment.
“No, he’s not a family member. He’s a guy I know who just pushes me around, he aggravates me and others. Just because he’s over six foot, weights 250 pounds, lifts, and knows most of the MMA stuff Cypher thinks others will always do what he wants or get a beating.”
“Can we talk this out? I mean why do we have to fight? We can be reasonable here.” I say.
“Don’t worry. With a name like ‘Foxx’ you should be tough. Working in a zoo has to make a person strong. Look at everything they do and lift.” Abel states reassuringly.
“No backing out now, Socks. It’s a beating time unless you hand over Angel to me now.” He huffs and puffs, throwing heavy first in the air getting himself psyched up for the beat down he sees in my future.
“My name is Foxx, not socks, Cypher, don’t disrespect my name and you, Angel, stop it. You are confusing strong farm hands with zoo keepers. I’m not a hulking figure with crazy secret strength. I’m not a superhero. This probably isn’t going to end well for me and he will still take you away. I have an idea. Maybe the ticket man will be able to save you. Hide you someplace on the train then allow you to escape to the authorities. Yeah, sounds like a plan?” I say with a pretend brave tone.
“I tell you what. I will ask you a few questions and we go from there. The more you miss the more of a beating you will get. Answer none right and its going to end up a really bad time for you. “Says Cypher.
“Ok, we got this.” Responds Angel.
“You are not on his team. He has to answer these questions for himself. You are gonna come with me either way. Trust me. These won’t be secret behind the scenes kinda questions like where is the ‘Arc of the Covenant’. Who owns the ‘Spear of destiny’? Anything not well known, we can start with easy questions and then just make it tougher like a game show. So, let’s do this.” Challenges Cypher.
“Awww, that’s not fair. I’m a really good guesser. I got this.” Angel quips.
“If you answer one time for Jimmy then that will be a forfeit for him and then its ‘go’ time. No bending this rule.”
“What about hints? That’s not answering your stupid questions. I can do that. It’s a free country.”
“Not one word.” Cypher says emphatically.
“I can grunt or make some noises. Well that really won’t help.” Angel innocently implies.
“If he’s talking to himself and I hear anything that lets him know that what he’s said is the right answer. It’s over. One hundred percent done and then we go to the combat part of this whole thing. I can be fair. This is just a short waste of time and its getting me madder and madder.”
“Oh, you don’t know what’s coming!!!”
“I got you!!!”
“Shut up, I’m the one who has to do this and you’re making it worse for me Angel. The both of you are bickering like children as if you are a spoiled brother and sister needing to dominate the other in a spectacle for your parents. Angel, you sit in a seat behind me so I can’t get any help…… as if I really needed any. I’m also confused. Why are these just going to be religious questions? I want worldly knowledge questions as well if not all. Ok, got it? I’m playing along. Ask away.” I move Angel to her place in a chair behind me. She folds her arms and looks at me with a cute grumpy face. I give her a wink as if to say, ‘I got this.’ Angel doesn’t seem impressed as she rolls her eyes as I turn to face my proctor.
The train car bumps and sways as usual. Cypher eases up a bit, places one hand on his chin in a ‘thinking man’ pose takes a few moments to gather himself. “Let’s see………Easy at first then harder.”
“Come on, let’s do this.” I boast.
“Here we go. It’s gonna be a rapid fire quiz. Let’s see how well you do.” Cypher states.
“Good luck!!!” Angel cheers on.
“If a plane crashes on the American/Canadian border where do we bury the survivors?”
“In the home country of where ever the citizens come from. Incredible.”
“Bury them, the survivors in their home countries?”
“Are you for real?”
“Yep, that’s my answer.”
“That’s wrong, Are you serious? You can’t bury survivors, Jimmy. Ughhh.” Angel bursts out.
“Second question. Ok, a math question. How many times can you subtract 5 from 20?”
“Easy, its 4. Yep, like I said easy the answer is four.”
“Nope, you can only subtract and number from one just once because now the number has changed to another number. So it’s only once because the number subtracted four from twenty becomes fifteen. It’s not how many times 20 is divisible by 5. That would be four, different question.”
“Dude, you need to think before you answer. These are trick questions. Bury survivors……omg.”
“Ok, here we go another math question. An eighteen month old baby is how old in years and months.”
“That’s easy. Here we go. Twelve, then with each number a finger pops up; thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen, perfect no problem. The answer is two and a half years old or to the lay man two years and six months old. Haha. Take that!!!” I burst out full of pride.
“Ok, well, that’s a second wrong answer.”
“You have got to be kidding me. I watched your thought process there. That’s just scary, buddy.” Angel says in disappointment.
“I’m not good at math. I think you could sense that. Give me a few biblical questions. I got this.” I say with stress.
“How many disciples were there in the bible?”
“How many commandments are there?
“How many animals of each species did Moses take on the Ark?”
“Two. That one was the easiest questions. Take that.” I exclaim.
“You got them all wrong. This is incredible. How is that even possible? Twelve disciples, there were Ten Commandments, and Noah made the Ark. You can’t be this bad, wow. You are zero for five questions.
“You are gonna get a beat down before I take Angel with me.”
“Oh, my, please do something. Even if you get all the remaining questions right I have a feeling you won’t get enough right.”
“How many birthdays does the average person have in their lifetime?”
“I would think the average life span is getting longer, we live about 75 years on average now thanks to modern medicine, women live longer than men so the number is higher. An educated guess would be seventy five.” I strongly believe that number has to be close.
“Oh, my, this is just not gonna end well.” Angel drops her head into her hands. I can’t tell is she is crying or just breathing heavy.
“The answer is one. A person is only born on one day, everyone each celebrates their same birthday every year on the same day. Leap year is a trickier conversation, too complex for this group right now. Haha.” Cypher sarcastically states.
“Please, Jimmy, just fall down and get this over quickly. I will go with Cypher. Now I’m wondering who reminds you to breathe. Who helps you do any and everything? How are your shoes not Velcro? “Angel says in despair with her voice cracking in fear.
“Ok, Cypher, I have a question for you. We go double or nothing. You get one wrong answer and we are back to scratch or even. If you really think you are such an intellectual giant.
“Bet. Ask away. This ought to be good.”
“How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?”
“How much wood could a woodchuck chuck? Are you serious? Well, I did take the bet and I believe it is seven hundred pounds because a wood burrow is about that. So that is a scientific answer.” Cypher confidently answers.
“As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck, If a woodchuck could chuck wood. Ha!!! I got you, Mr. Smarty Pants. We are now even.”
“Ok, well it’s time to go to the next level. We throw down now. Winner gets Angel. I know she’s coming with me. You have no chance frail man.” Cypher boasts.
“I’m over all of this, this whole scene. You aren’t gonna take the girl. I don’t care if you outweigh me, probably fifty pounds of muscle more than me, have a longer reach, and more stamina, I have heart. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog. I’ve done some wrong things in my life. It’s embarrassing. I will lay down my life for this teenager.”
“You don’t even know her. Why take this beating. Letting you know once we start I won’t stop. I have rage issues. I can’t promise how this will end for you. I’ve blacked out in fights before. Are you sure about this?” Cypher asks as he seems to swing his arms to warm up again, crack his knuckles, pushes his chin to crack his neck. This is a man on a mission to hurt me now.
“Angel, when he charges me, and I have a strong feeling he will. As he engages me, throwing punches and probably a few kicks I want to see you dash past us. I want to know that you will make it toward the front of this train. I need to know this before I end up in a chokehold and pass out. Go to the ticket collector maybe he can get you to safety and then maybe the police at some point.”
Angel smiles, “Thank you, this is extremely brave and a selfless act of kindness.”
“Let’s go, buttercup!!!” Cypher loudly talks to intimidate me some. It’s working as he approaches like a bull towards a bullfighter. “Here goes!!!”
“Stop this right now!!!” The ticket collector yells as he steps into this train car, he closes the door behind him, securing it. He walks to us combatants just before the first punches were to be thrown. Angel was making her way around the train car getting ready to make a mad dash like we planned.
“Awe, come on. This was just about to be decided.” Cypher lets out in disappointment.
“It has been decided already. Self sacrifice is a trump card and he played it.” Mr. C. Heron walks to me, pulls my jacket open and reaches into the pocket what hid both my wallet and phone. “Besides that, he made the boss laugh, a good deep hearty diaphragm kind of laugh. That’s hard to do these days.” His fingers wiggle some while searching a few second then comes out with a white ticket. “Looks like you made it to the promise land called ‘Heaven.’” With a snap of his fingers both Angel and Cypher begin to fade away.
“Bye, see you up there.” Angel says.
“You did good, Mr. Foxx.” Cypher states not nearly as angry as before.
“Here we go……..” Mr. Heron spread his arms open wide and the lights in the train car all get blindingly bright. White out.
The white light dissipates to a normal illumination for a nice sunny day. I’m standing in a courtyard with a fountain and some statues; we are overlooking an angel city. Everyone has wings, floating in Roman-looking togas and flying by going who knows where. Everyone looks so peaceful and relaxed.
“You will find loved ones, relatives and make new friends. This is the perfect place to spend eternity.” Mr. Heron says to me. “Are you ready to get your wings?”
“I prefer Buffalo or garlic sauce.” I sit on the lush green grass and lift up my hands to my ears.
“Not chicken wings, clown. That was funny. What are you doing now? I don’t know what to expect from you so far. This should be a fun place for all of us together.”
“Wasabi……….wasabi.” I knew I would remember to do this after I got off of that train. “I’m pretty sure that I’m saying the right words. I don’t care if I’m not.”
“Well, Mr. Foxx, your memories have been restored.” He taps me on the head with his fat sausage fingers. A light flashes on my forehead. “There you have knowledge and peace.”
Memories fill my head in a flash, full of joy. I remember my parents, relatives, friends, and casual strangers. I know where to go now to see all of them to catch up and make new memories. I spread my angelic eagle-like wings, with a motion I lift off to enjoy my new life here in ‘Heaven.’
About the author
Writing is a release, an explosion of freedom to create. I like the stories that keep you on the edge of your seat while comedy slides in at the correct times. Enjoy drama, action, human interaction, contrast, comedy ,and overall ride.