ginny and alex ride the train

Posted: May 21, 2012 in Travel
Tags: , , , , , ,

Ginny and Alex boarded the 16:25 train from Leeds to Manchester with sodded reassurances that anything was tolerable for 60 minutes. Ginny wore crisply pressed jeans, a torso hugging top boasting a vision from a Peter Max nightmare, and makeup liberally applied in the quest to accentuate her lively nature. She looked ever the part of a 30 something with money to burn and not a care in the world. She willfully neglected the voice in her head reminding her that when she was actually 30 something Thatcher came to power.

For his part Alex mimicked Ginny’s air of the idle rich, favoring smart trousers and a designer shirt which nicely offset the “Sahara D” weekenders on his rheumatic feet. He sported a black fedora reminiscent of Bruno Mars. Alex ignored the inconvenient truth that he was more a contemporary of John Hurt or Michael Gambon than Bruno Mars. Alex never actually noshed around with Hurt or Gambon – he was too busy perfecting his tut-tuts and too-whos to consort with actors – but he liked the association. He appreciated their air of respectability, but was not particularly fond of the age similarity. Donning the Bruno Mars fedora wrapped Alex in an illusion that fooled only himself.

Ginny and Alex chose not to travel in first class. An hour with the rabble every now and then was a useful reminder of their standing. It was a fine way to reconfirm their suspicions about the unfortunates with the certainty of those who have everything and know nothing. Yes, riding with the lower classes was a noble and fine way to spend time before returning to their life of noontime martinis and afternoon brandies.

The train left the Leeds station a few minutes late, but what does one expect from the rails? Ginny and Alex found a four-seater and co-opted it for themselves. If someone needed to sit they would certainly have the courage to ask, would they not? Courage is a hallmark of their people. Look at Churchill! There was a man who fortified his courage through a sustained mission of alcohol dependency. He did for scotch what the long-lamented Princess Diana did for fashion. They appreciated that.

The first stop was Dewsbury. The train waited the required time before continuing towards Huddersfield. From Huddersfield it was a straight 33 minute run into Manchester. Ginny reached in her purse and reassuringly slid her fingers along her pack of Dunhill Blues. Alex blathered on about last night’s party at the Rowan’s country estate outside of Harrogate. Ginny and Alex were, as always, perfectly alone while together.

Outside Dewsbury the train stopped. Ginny looked at her watch. 38 minutes from Manchester, if one could believe the times posted by First TransPennie Express. She felt a mild, but very distinct, twinge of panic. “What do you think has happened?” she asked Alex.

“Can’t say,” he replied. “Seems as if we stopped.”

“Of course we stopped. The train isn’t moving,” Ginny said tartly. “Do you suppose we will be stopped for long?”

Alex pulled his glance from the repurposed factory outside to Ginny’s sunbedded face. For the first time he noticed her eyelids did not fully cover the whites around her irises. She looked like a terrier who supplemented every meal with amphetamines. “I have no idea,” he drawled. “I am not the engineer.”

Ginny made a sound which rested squarely between a sniff and a snort. She reached into her purse and extracted a cigarette and silver lighter. “We have already been sitting here for three minutes and I should like to smoke this.” Alex looked at the cigarette which was the width (but a few millimeters longer) than Ginny’s leathery middle finger. He was about to respond when the train’s intercom system crackled.

“Sorry for the delay. It seems as if a huge fight has broken out at the Huddersfield station. It has spilled onto the tracks. The police have been called and we are waiting for them to arrive and clear out this disturbance before we continue. When we have additional information we will let you know. Once again, sorry for the delay.”

Ginny jolted up as if plugged into a socket. She scanned the car. A hoard of revelers crowded about the rear doors, apparently undisturbed by this interruption. She looked to the front doors, saw a clear path and hit the aisle, cigarette and lighter providing much needed ballast. She passed a couple poured into a two-seater – obviously American with their suitcases and Coca-Cola attitude – and reached the doors. She scanned the perimeter and mumbled aloud about opening the doors. Unsuccessful, she returned to Alex.

“I do think I should be able to open those doors and hop down to the tracks,” she said, her voiced pitched higher than before. “Surely, there must be a way one could do this.”

Alex agreed. “I would think so, but you can never tell with the rails.”

The conductor walked by and Ginny stopped him. “What is the problem? When shall we resume moving?”

“I dunt know,” he wearily said. “I dunt have a crystal ball you know.”

Ginny ignited. “We can’t bloody well sit here all day. We have a plane to catch! Tell me when will we start moving!”

The conductor stood firm. “I dunt know. The police have to clear the tracks. We wunt move until they clear the tracks. Surely you can see why we wunt move until then.”

“I can’t sit here all day,” Ginny reiterated, wagging her unlit cigarette like a switchblade.

“I say, she should just use the toilet,” Alex offered.

The conductor shook his head. “No smoking is allowed on the train. If she smokes in the toilet the detector will trigger and we will be delayed even longer while we wait for the police.”

“I have human rights,” Ginny shrieked. “I am a lawyer and I know my rights! I’ll sue you!” The collective blood pressure within the car rose in conjunction with the conductor’s. He thought about the steady salary and relative ease of his position before replying in a flat tone, “No smoking. I’ll see what I cun find out about the delay.”

Ginny huffed as the conductor slid away. She returned to the front doors. By now all ears were tuned in, including those of the cheerful American couple. She fiddled about for a minute or two, accentuating each attempt to open the doors with “I should be able to go the tracks if I want” or “Surely they must account for these situations” or “This is bloody ridiculous!” before finally giving up and venturing to the next car.

The conductor returned during her absence and spoke to Alex. “I might be of some assistance to you. I received information. What time does your plane leave Manchester Airport?”

Alex looked past him as if he were a ghost. “Tomorrow morning,” he said. “Our flight is tomorrow morning.”

The conductor paused for a moment to let everything he suspected crystallize. “I see. Then I suppose this information is not needed.” He thought about adding a “Good day, sir” but his better judgment won out.

Soon after the train started moving. Apologies were made over the intercom, all the way into Huddersfield where Ginny was first off. Alex leaned against the train doors and watched her disappear into the station. He wondered about the wine list at tonight’s restaurant. The buzzer sounded signaling the doors were about to close. He remembered the Saint-Emilion served at the Rowan’s and regretted not having a fourth glass. The train doors tried to shut, but Alex distractedly kept them open. The buzzer sounded again. Alex’s thoughts drifted until Ginny reappeared. She breezed past him back onto the train, a trail of burnt tobacco following in her wake. The buzzer sounded a third time and Alex stepped away.

Rules have a place in society. They were made for those unruly sorts who needed discipline. But for Ginny and Alex rules were more of a suggestion, a small guide for those rare times when indecision muddled their brains. But indecision never occurred on a train, least of all when riding in coach.

  1. This is fantastic, John! I thoroughly enjoyed riding the rails with these two. You pull off the omniscient voice beautifully. Seamlessly, even (as I recall the conductor’s entrance and exchange with them).
    😉 I can only imagine the exchange that prompted such a colorful piece!


  2. I like this very much – an excellent piece of writing, so many wonderful lines and the characters are so well drawn I feel like I was sitting in a nearby seat watching and listening.


  3. So funny. I love this. I’m missing London and taking jaunts from the city.


  4. sparklebumps says:

    Are you gloing to come back with an English accent?


  5. Are you part of the couple with the Coco-Cola attitude?


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