The worst storm of the winter was blowing across the prairie. The snow had been falling all day and a thirty mile an hour wind was rocking the train. As we watched the empty street, a lone man in an overcoat approached the train.
He was hunched down inside his coat trying to keep warm. It was impossible to tell his age. He walked slow and careful to avoid slipping on the slick street.
I wondered why he would be walking the street in this storm? Did he have a purpose? Was he homeless looking for shelter?
The old man across from me echoed my thoughts. "Damn, I'm cold just looking at him," he continued.
The young man sitting next to the old man lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply and blew the smoke across the open train compartment and into my face..
Damn, I thought. How did I get stuck with a smoker? I hate smoke. I hate smokers. They are all so god damned inconsiderate. I just knew inside of his mind there was a great big fricking grin as the smoke drifted into my eyes and my lungs. If I had any guts I would throw him out of here. But, I didn't have any guts. I kept my mouth shut.
"Maybe he's the grim reaper," the smoker said
The old lady sitting next to me wasn't afraid to speak her mind . That's why I love old people. They have no qualms of saying exactly what was on their minds.
"Do you have to smoke that filthy thing in here?" she said.
"Fuck you," the smoker snarled. "There is no law against smoking so I'll smoke any god damned place I feel like it.
"Find another compartment," the old lady said. She was completely calm. She never raised her voice. I admired her ability to state her belief in such a calm manner. I knew that if I were able to summon the courage to say something I would scream at him.
He took another deep drag on the cigarette and blew the smoke directly at the old lady. This time a grin did appear on his face. His eyes were cold and I thought that maybe HE was the grim reaper.
With the grin still smeared all over his face he said, "and you are going to do what?" The smoke curled from his mouth and he actually laughed.
"Nothing," the old man said. "She is not going to do anything. But I am"
"Just what do you think you can do old man?" the smoker said.
The old man pulled a small snubbed nose revolver from his pocket.
The smile faded from the smoker's face. "Hold on old man," he sniveled. "I'll put the damn smoke out."
The train began to move.
"That won't be necessary," the old man said. "You can take your cigarette with you."
"OK," the smoker retreated. "I'll find another compartment."
"No," the old man said. "You are going to get off the train."
"Jesus," the smoker said. "The train is moving."
"That's correct," the old man smiled. "You had better hurry before it gets going any faster."
The old man pointed towards the door with his gun. The smoker got up and left. The old man followed.
As they left, the man from the street entered.
"Is this seat taken,? he asked.
"No." the old lady smiled. "Sit down."
"I almost missed the train." the new face said. "It's damn cold out there. I pity anybody stuck outside in this storm."
posted for Thursday Tales and Sunday Scribblings
Posted by George S Batty