Avatar Review
Issue 13

Prose: Evan Retzer

Catching a Train

“We could never be in a monogamous thing, you know that, right?”

“I know,” confides Lenore, delivering that bittersweet glance she gives me. She giggles. “Now let’s go catch the train.”

We race down the grassy hill toward the track. The summer breeze is a subtext we barely notice.

“You know what ‘catching the train’ means, right?” Lenore’s voice, conspiratorial.

I am thinking of Hendrix, or Miles Davis, shooting up dope and amphetamines until the brain explodes in endorphin rush and castrates the consciousness into the Buddhist elysian fields. I’m not sure. “No, what?” Catching up with her.

“Means suicide.” Recovering her breath as we reach the bottom where the sand from the tracks eats at the grass. She smiles. “Jump in front of the train.”

“Yes, let’s.” We might as well. It’s nice to be with someone who cares about anything; even suicide.

We linger for a moment by the curve of the rusted track. There is no train.

I smirk. “Of course there’s never a train.” There is silence for a moment. Then, a baby blue kiddie train emerges from behind the tangles of ungroomed vegetation, on its own little circle course following the interior of the park. I gauge its speed: it’s running at—maybe—5 miles an hour. The baby train is loaded with scattered suburban families coming from the zoo. They are talking to their children, and their voices sound patronizing. The train’s putt-putt crawl and sudden appearance is our bitter irony.

She turns and walks left down the track, grabs my hand, the both of us stepping cautiously one foot after the other along one rail of the big track, her hand – grasping mine – trailing behind her. When the big train comes it will be like a body shaking heroin rush, the half gram of china white, uncut, that finally does the trick and sends you to a place from which you can’t come back. The loud, shuddering noise emanating from inside the skull. The warm rush as your body is carried away and your insides melt.

We are like the metal of the tracks: rusted, solemn, falling apart, real.

“How was jail?” I ask.

“I had the largest cigarette ration in my cell block, so I was sorta a kingpin.” Lenore laughs. “I had all the cheese and desserts on our block every meal.”

“When I was in for shoplifting, I watched them trading cigarettes under the door to the next room for little baggies of crack…”

Lenore laughs again, that little tourette’s hiccup of hers, the blink of her left eye. “I got to shower with whoever I want.” She pauses. “I mean, it’s not like guy’s prison. I picked who I wanted to shower with each day. Then we usually fucked, finger-fucked each other deep.” That’s one way to get along, I muse.

The track leads to the abandoned house she wants to show me. She had said she wanted to take pictures.

We are walking between the iron rails on the wood planks, her arm slung around my shoulders; I find my own falling naturally, snug, around her waist. “You don’t keep many secrets?” I suppose. Lenore laughs, her eyes piercing.

We are almost to the house, when she abruptly stops. “There is one,” she confides after a puff on her cigarette.

“You don’t have to tell me, I understand… we can just go to the house.”

She stares at me dead-on, pointedly. “Can I trust you?”

I feel warm, and squeeze my hand back around her waist. “Don’t know… can you?”

“Seriously.”

“Of course you can.” Really. I know she knows it. She can feel the sincerity in my aura.

She lets out the held in breath, begins:

“I was friends with this guy Trig, and his wife, Nancy – she was kind of a psychopath. Trig had been making his move on me all night, but I was—” pause “…skeptical you know, since I was sort of friends with his wife. So, later in the evening, we had gone back to Trig’s and we had a couple drinks, my little sister called me in hysterics, because she had just got back in town, and—she’s kinda schizo, well, actually she’s a diagnosed schizophrenic and she needed me—so I’m telling them, you know, like ‘I’m gonna go.’ And Nancy, she had taken some of Trig’s pill stash without asking him, Trig didn’t know—oh, Trig used to get methadone, oxycontin, and valiums, he kept them in a wrapped up grocery bag on the mantle—so Nancy’s like, ‘No, I’ll go. Trig obviously wants you to stay here with him. I’ll go.’”

We kick our way through the brush toward the house Lenore wants to show me.

“So, I can’t let her go, and ruin Trig’s life. And I can’t leave to go help my sister because his wife is all upset and thinks we’re fucking. Which, I’m not saying we were.”—another tourette’s tic—”I’m also not saying we weren’t…”

Lenore smiles conspiratorially and I continue paying my rapt, listless attention. Her hand around my shoulder brushes my hair almost imperceptibly. I notice it.

“Later, Trig’s wife passed out from the pills she took, in the bathroom. At this point, Trig realized she took the pills, and um… you know those plastic ties they used to tie industrial packages, the ones that loop around—” She gestures with both hands.

“—and lynch like this—” completing the gesture.

“Ya. I tied her up to the bathroom plumbing with those, like this—” holds her hands up, wrists out “and took her clothes off!”

The steps to the old house creak as we make our way to the door with the busted open lock.

The look Lenore gives me is tinged with the slightest trace evidence of fear. We stop on the peeling grey paint of the rotted front porch.

“So I went and got a dildo out of Nancy’s dresser, and raped her. It went on for about an hour.”

After a momentary loss for words, I ask

“Well, did she get off?”

Lenore’s eyes roll back, she remembers. “…eventually. When she woke up, we pretended that it had just started. She got into it, not surprisingly.”

I am trying to envision the scene. The decomposing house around us feels comforting.

“Sometimes I wonder if she isn’t going to remember one day, and call up the police; I’d be in jail for rape…” Lenore stutters.

“I’d say she hallucinated it,” I reply. “If I were asked. After all, if you believe the Buddhist perspective, everything we perceive in this world really is…”

The light shines through cracked ceiling supports, and Lenore puts her arms around me.

The dust of a left behind life entwines around us, and the doomsday prophecy of our existence is tangible, reassuring; a haze like stale crack smoke and lost forever memories—

“a hallucination…” I murmur, as she pushes me onto the decaying subfloor.