Monday, February 7, 2011

Riding the Rails: Part Four

(Snowscape with Cows, Montfoucault;  Camille Pissarro; 1874, High Museum of Art, Atlanta)

I hear people talking out in the corridor.

It seems to be a mixture of Spanish and French.

With just enough English thrown in to make things comprehensible.

The voices are not happy.

The warden is fielding questions and doing his best to keep the troops from revolting.

Sun is pouring into our cell from the tiny window over the sink.

My watch says 12:30.

Hallelujah, I have actually been sleeping!

For probably a good six hours - maybe more.

The fog begins to clear from my brain.

I realize that the train is not moving.

One glance out the window tells me that we are not in Paris.

I gaze over at Tara who is reading.

Matt is not in our cell.

Neither is Bob.

I ask Tara, "What is going on?"

She answers, "Something happened to the train last night. That's why we're stopped on the tracks."

I waste no time giving her a detailed rundown of my harrowing night.

Tara replies, "That must have been scary. I didn't hear a thing."

"I know - all three of you were sleeping like possums in a hollar."

Our cell door opens.

Bob and Matt are back with the latest news from the front lines.

Matt says, "They've locked everybody in on the train."

I stare at him incredulously.

"WHAT did you say?" I ask.

"They've locked us all in. Nobody is allowed to get off the train. The warden says it's for passenger safety."

"Is that right? How very thoughtful of them!" I say sarcastically.

My patience is growing thin.

In fact, it's downright threadbare.

I realize that I've got to get out of this cell right now.

I open the door and push myself into the corridor.

People are wandering through the car sharing bits of gossip.

Then I spy the warden.

Someone stops him and says, "I just heard that the dining car has run out of food. Is that true?"

"Yes, sir, it is true. But we are doing all we can to solve the problem. We will let you know when we have further information."

No food?


Let's see now........

I learned a few minutes ago that I am a prisoner on this train.

Now I discover that I've been upgraded to starving prisoner status.

Instantly, my mind goes to work: "You've still got the chocolate truffles in your carry-on."

I snicker to myself, "This is exactly why I never go anywhere without my stash of chocolate. Maybe I'm going to die on this train. The odds are mounting in that direction. If that happens, may my last breath on earth reek of chocolate!!!"

I turn and stare out the window of the corridor.

I'm looking at a snow covered farm bathed in French sunlight.

It is a picture perfect scene.

There's just one little problem.


I should be in Paris eating chocolate croissants under the Eiffel Tower.


I should be in the Louvre staring at Guido Reni's rapturous painting: "Christ Giving the Keys to Peter."


I should be eating a to-die-for veggie pizza at my favorite neighborhood restaurant in Paris - Pizza Pino - complete with a maitre d' dressed to the nines in a tux and black tie.

Later, I should be walking along the sunny Seine River, gazing at the noble Notre Dame in the far distance.

But I am not doing any of those things.

Reality sets in as Bob joins me at the window.

"It's a beautiful morning, isn't it?," he asks.

"I guess so," I answer grumpily.

He adds, "There's not much we can do to fix this situation so we might as well enjoy what we can of it."

"Oh, give me a bloomin' break!" I think to myself.

I hate people who are always looking for the silver lining in the middle of a tornado-type cloud.

I'm not a positive person and I'm proud of it!

I love to dwell in negativity.

I always prepare for the worst.

Then when the worst happens, it's never as bad as I thought it would be.

That's what I call positive thinking!

I look at Bob and whine, "The only thing I want to enjoy is the beautiful city of Paris!"

He smiles at me and says, "And you will. It's just a matter of time."

My mouth falls open in disgust, "Time??? Hey, we're burnin' daylight here! And I'm old. I don't have that much daylight left to burn!"

I decide to continue bathing myself in a boatload of self-pity for several minutes.

There's one thing I'll say about the Bobster.

He knows when to back off.

EXACTLY when to back off.

And why shouldn't he?

He's had plenty of practice.

In fact, he's made a science out of the art of backing off.

Living with me will do that to you.

Besides, he happens to enjoy living.

Which is more than I can say for myself at this particular moment.

I stare out the window and think to myself, "As soon as we get home, I'm going to start a new organization called 'POSITIVELY NEGATIVE THINKERS.'

And guess who will be in charge?

That's right!

Little ole me.

There will be a new world order.

Only negativity will be allowed to exist and flourish.

Oh, and all of you unwashed masses?

You will please refer to me as your QUEEN.

Let the nightmares begin!

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