American Stories. Boomer Episode 4 by Dewey Edward Chester. Enjoy your day, Yareah magazine friends. Art is Everywhere!
For hours I lay awake, then fell into a troubled sleep. “Follow me up here—-!” this White woman whispered in my dream, then she ascended a staircase. It was midnight and she carried a lighted candle. The flame cast eerie shadows along the walls.
I followed this White woman….right to the very top.
“You insist on knowing the truth about us?” she asked, then showed me another place and time.
I woke up, conscious of shadows sweeping my mind.
I lay still in bed, listening to the outside world. Thunder and lightning had erupted into a rainstorm. The window shutters flapped back and forth with bangs, as a breeze whipped my house. I placed my hands over my ears and began to shake. I was crying, pulling the blanket up close. I heard Laura’s whispering voice: “Mi-chael! Mi-chael!” But Laura was dead, years ago.
Yet she stood next to my bed. I felt her hand in mine.
My God! Shall I dream of her, always? Then her hand was gone…sliding in shadow, quickly away.
By degrees, the forms and colors of things in my room returned with creeping dawn. My mirrors returned their mimic life. My curtains were where I left them. Nothing had changed. Today was Sunday: Game Day.
The alarm clock sounded with a ‘Buzz.’ I wondered if that was part of my dream, but it wasn’t. I struggled to get up and turn the clock off.
Damn! I thought. It’s seven O’clock. I’ve got moments to get dressed and catch that train. Can I make it? I’ve got to try! Brush your teeth. Comb your hair. Tie your tie. Don’t forget your briefcase…Now run, man, run!
I reached Union Train Station —- the place where journeys begin. I paused, marveling at the giant Doric columns, the huge round clock, and the mythological sculptures.
Inside, a mural depicted constellations. There were huge waiting rooms, marble floors, and enormous ached windows that bathed everything with bright yellow sun.
As I ran along, perspiration covered my forehead. I felt damp and cursed myself for ruining a fresh shirt.
I reached in my pocket and shoved money on the glass counter. The conductor asked: “Ticket?” and tore off a little blue stub.
I heard someone call out: “All Aboard!” So I dashed toward the steps. But no one was there! The steps were empty! I was late for the train….but it disturbed me that no one was there.
I started down the steps slowly, and then walked toward the platform.
Suddenly, other people rushed up —- pushing right past me, as though I was an upright pole in the water. These people were rushing toward that window that swept against the roof. Was I prepared to follow?
As a boy with my mother I had come here to meet my first train. My mother told me she’d been deceived by trains.
“….And the worst thing about Romance, Michael,” she said, “it will leave you unromantic.”
I was now on this platform, waiting for a train. But what if Mother was right? What if something failed? The train would plunge aimlessly through a crowd….splashing blood! An engine gone mad, leaping out to astound the world. To astound the world, again!
My Mother’s thoughts were vivid in my mind. Her gestures expressed how her meaning was conveyed. Was romance that way? A crashing train?
The train to Pittsburgh came in and rolled beside the platform. I boarded and sat close to a window. The train engine started up then lurched ahead with a groan. The cars began to sway, as the train gained speed. It stopped off in Shadyside and I watched a few people get on. Then I saw a beautiful White woman who reminded me of Laura. This woman wore a brilliant red sash tied tightly around her waist. She sat next to me and together we rolled through a very dark tunnel, and then stopped for a different crowd.
The doors of the train slammed shut, the train groaned again —- lurching wheels scrapping railroad track. We moved faster, passing other platforms where people were waiting for other trains. Then we rushed headlong through time and space.
A stranger leaned down near my shoulder, his eyes drooping, said —- “My name’s Stewart, and yours?”
I replied, “Michael Stahr,” then turned abruptly to look out the window. Dew was on the ground. Fog was thick — but in the distance was Pittsburgh’s skyline.
“Michael Stahr?” the stranger repeated. “Aren’t you Pittsburgh’s Quarterback?”
“Yes —-!” I began. But this stranger interrupted me, “I hope you win!” He offered his hand to shake, as the train crossed a wooden bridge.
I turned toward the window, when suddenly this Pittsburgh man revealed to me, a secret —- “Look not too long at fire my boy,” he said. “When breezes blow never turn your back. Accept the first hint. Those who glare at you at midnight, in the morning will fade away. There is wisdom that is woe, my boy. But there is woe that is madness. Look to the edge of every playing field, where the young ones spill their blood. They start with battle cries, and then away they all run.
“My boy that is how this game is played. Away they all run, to play another game.”
The stranger named Stewart rambled on this way, until I was bored. I dreamed of climbing some very steep steps. But fog was blocking my vision. Do you love me? Do you love me? I repeated in my mind. What was love, at best? Was my Mother right about romance? Would it leave me unromantic?
I was ashamed. What happened to Laura Ellis made me shudder. I crushed her memory beneath my feet. Nothing could alter blame!
I dropped my head and peered into the fog. The air was cold and black. I was black and cold. Would I always feel this way, about Laura? Would I always blame myself?
I climbed to the top of the stairs, leaned far out —- too far…..and a breeze began to blow. I balanced on the edge. “Do you love me?” I heard my Mother whisper, then I fell off….down among the millions of stars, and there was no one but the wind…and I felt so alone.
I was aware of the stranger, Stewart, and the fact we were riding on a train.
“—-There is risk in playing games, my boy,” this stranger named Stewart was saying —- “in the end, they scream for blood!”