(excerpt 6. If you missed the previous installment, scroll down the blog to catch up)
When I answered the knock at my basement door the lights were on and the cellar was brightly lit. I was surprised to find at my portal the detective from the show I'd been watching. I invited him in and when I turned around to give him the grand tour, I found myself alone at the entrance to a train depot with a wide open meadow behind me. The tall, yellow grass waved in the breeze under a clear blue sky. The endless stalks of wheat rose and fell, like a rolling tide, as the wind gently caressed them. The gabled red-stucco facade of the station contrasted starkly against the cerulean sky and flaxen field.
I walked through the front door, up to the ticket counter, and purchased a passage to Alaska. Out of my peripheral vision I noticed a suspicious character. He was a short man with dark glasses which were partially blocked by the fedora, which he was never without, that was tilted downward. I turned back to the teller to receive my ticket and change. With a wink and a smile she sent me on my way. I was captivated by her long blonde hair and striking blue eyes.
The boarding platform, just outside the back door, was covered by a small roof which extended to the edge of the tracks. Black clouds overhead dumped buckets of rain on the tracks and the field beyond. Splinters of lightning crackled all around. I glanced at my ticket. According to the scheduled departure time and my watch the train should've already arrived, but there was no sign of it. The air was bitterly cold and the wind blew the stinging rain under the overhang, soaking my face. I sneezed and when I opened my eyes the train was there, stopped right in front of me. Faceless porters guided people onto passenger cars to my right and left. I noticed the name emblazoned above the door in front of me: The Imagination Express.
All of the passenger cars were divided into small private compartments that accommodated four people in two facing bench seats. I found an empty chamber, parked my caboose, and hoped no one would disturb my solitude.
The benches were covered in luxurious burgundy velvet that yielded gently beneath me as I sat down. I leaned against the high, sloped seat back and folded my hands across my lap as I prepared to close my eyes for the long journey ahead. A large window afforded a grand view of the landscape that would soon be whisking past me while I slept.
When she poked her head in the doorway I groaned selfishly, hoping she would take the hint and continue on her way. I only wanted to rest on the long trip to my new adventure; I did not want to have to engage in polite small talk. Either she didn't hear me or she assumed I had a medical condition because she came through the door anyway. Her long legs ascended gracefully up from the floor and disappeared into the long blonde hair that flowed down her back like a flaxen waterfall.
“Is this seat taken?” she asked in a sensual voice that turned my insides to warm apple cobbler.
I shook my head to indicate it was not.
“I'm Janelle. What's your name?” She extended her hand as she sat down across from me.
“Parker,” I said as I shook her hand.
“That's an unusual name. Are you an unusual man, Parker?”
“I don't think so,” I replied.
“Where are you headed?”
“Alaska. I just got a job working on the pipeline.”
“Ooh, that sounds exciting.”
“Hardly, but in this economy you gotta, you can't -- sometimes you have to take whatever's available until the thing you want comes along.” I was having trouble organizing my thoughts; every time I looked into her eyes those deep blue pools put me in a trance.