Clickety- clickety clack the iron wheels were singing on the rail and the undercarriage moaned with volitional parts screeching and cracking under the labour to get a good smear, slowly running rhythmically in sync with the old engine in front.
The pace accelerated and I imagined ten thousand horses running wildly through those steel valves.
With inflated cheeks they let off steam through their nostrils, puffing and galloping fiercely in the misty night out of town.Clicket-clickety clack their steel hooves raced on the frosted rail and I felt invigorated by the sound.
Hanging half way out of the window I looked back to the village and it was burning with an eery red glow in the rising mist. No it did not burn to its destruction like doomed Sodom in the Bible because these railway folk merely and punctually lighted their barbeque fires on a Friday evening. Red faced men sitting at their fires in camping chairs drinking tall glasses of brandy staring into the drunken dead night.
Ankle swollen pregnant women were washing the blood off the meat dreaming thoughts of one day just leaving with an old suitcase. Leaving half Witt gossiping, snot nosed crying kids and the toiling life of splintered nails and detergent dry skin.
They were cursed all right with defeated burning hell inside them. The Men were confined in their skulls, job descriptions and the bushy perimeters that demarcated their mundane hum drum subsistence. It was the pagan fires of offering speedy heart attacks and liver smudge to Bacchus and other carnivorous gods.
I pulled myself back into the compartment and closed the window. The cabin light was still off and I tried to dose off when the small narrow door of the compartment door opened. The fluorescent light of the passage outlined the long thin body of a person shouting in a nicotine rasped voice “tickets”
The conductor reacted before I could move and switched on the light, with quick eyes he scanned through the space. He seemed disappointed when he could not find any illegal activity. Looking sullen and with eyes boxed deep into his head he asked again “T-I-c-k-e-t”
Feeling startled and uneasy with the man I jumped to my money bag and removed my tickets. I handed over the ticket to him and his hands stroked over mine and felt it to be bumpy with arthritis. His eyes it seemed inspected every detail of the ticket and then he said with his eye brows that seemed super glued to his face.” This is an airplane ticket to the Congo”
Feeling embarrassed I said “Shit sorry Mr.Conducter I gave you the wrong ticket” Dreading his enquiry I grabbed the airplane ticket from him and searched for the train passage.” So you are on your way to the Congo “he said with a remarkable shift of mood.”Do you know that there is a civil war raging there-Nigger killing Nigger” He grinned with that well known smile that the Police gave before they started shooting at the rioting crowds with rubber bullets.
I felt reluctant to tell him and said “here sir, your ticket “I think he could pick up my tension and he remarkably changed mood with a tight lip turning around shouting out of his chest “Tickets!!!”
I closed the door and double locked it with the chain and turned off the light and felt safe, invisible and wondered why my mother never came to say goodbye.