By Missing Philadelphia
At pretty much the same moment I glanced down and noticed that somewhere I’d picked up a splinter in my thumb, another short burst of diesel bells clanged, my train slowed down, and we entered the tunnel that would end at Penn Station. A girl asleep in a window seat slumped and sprawled such that her right hand was thrust out across the traveler beside her and was pointing toward the aisle, this right hand all-told as fine a target for lime-marmalade smearing as God ever put on the planet. However, I kept standing and shuffling toward the exit, ignoring the thumb and the hand, but emphasizing to myself over and over that I should have gotten off in Philadelphia.
I hope everyone can understand that by missing Philadelphia, I never had a walnut-size beryl or heavy peridots laying on the floor close to my feet and beckoning me to stoop—to bend down—and pocket them as I waited in line for a soft drink at the 30th Street Station. There would be no Pennsylvania woman behind me, punching out of her T-shirt and bulging over her pantylines, and wearing a bandore, too. That is, no big-lipped girl so physically proximate as to keep telling my crinkled brain that the obvious differences between heaven and earth are “fucking fiction, dreamboat, fucking fiction.” Yeah, when I missed getting off the Amtrak in Philadelphia, I missed me a goddamned freighter-load, there’s no doubt about it. I missed things I don’t see how I’ll ever be compensated for.
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