In what may be the first in a series, "A Tale From The Tobu Line"!
The Last Train
It was my own fault, I should have checked the surroundings before throwing myself
into the seat, but it was the last space available on the last train out of Tokyo on a Friday night, and the other tired worker bees would have shown no mercy if I had
So I plonked myself down in the middle of the row. As soon as the train lurched away from the platform, the sleeping salaryman to my right sat bolt upright, raising his head from the seat wall on the opposite side, then plonked it lazily down on my shoulder.
"Wake up!", I silently groaned to myself under my breath.
He did not.
It was an express train, meaning it only stopped at major stations until it reached the extreme boondocks. Those who lived at the smaller stations would have to change to a local train to complete their journey. And since it was the last train of the evening, anyone who missed their stop would have a long walk, a taxi ride, or a night in a cheap hotel ahead of them.
I looked at my bedfellow, and realized that I recognized him. People are creatures of habit, and tend to board the same train at the same spot every day, as I do myself. So there were a few faces on my daily commute that I had come to know, and one of them was resting on my shoulder now, his alcohol-soaked breath wafting over me like a nerve gas over a battlefield.
"Wake up", I willed him, staring fiercely at the thinning hair atop his head.
He did not.
Thirty minutes passed, as I distracted myself with Twitter and email. As we
approached my station, I started planning how to extricate myself from his loveless embrace. As luck would have it I didn't need to; a sudden deceleration at a level crossing threw him
momentarily upright, so I took the opportunity to stand up. He started to tilt over again, but without my shoulder to catch him he recovered just in time, and repositIoned himself on the seat
wall on the other side.
The train stopped, and I stepped out onto the platform. As the doors closed, I looked back at him one last time, smiled, and whispered:
"Wake up, Asshole! It's your stop too!"
He did not, and the train carried him off into the night.
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