Hanging On: Thirty

According to Matthew, he slept in the chair under the window all night long and, amazingly enough, the rifle hadn’t fallen from his lap. Prior to his sudden awakening, he’d been having a dream in which he was employed by the railroad as a cook on a passenger train. He was only able to recall the very tail end of this dream experience, but since it’s occurrence was so coincidently timed, he thought he ought to add it into the story as a pertinent matter of course. Here then is his dream as it was handed down to me. In Matt’s own words:

I was working alone as a cook in the back of the caboose. The sun was just beginning to rise, and the train seemed to be moving down the tracks at top speed. I was wearing a long white apron over my clothes, and I was standing over a hot stove with a spatula in my hand. I appeared to be making a whole bunch of breakfast. A large skillet of scrambled eggs lay before me, and there was a tall pile of fried bacon off to the side. I remember hearing the muffled scream of a woman, and I raised my head to look towards the front. There was a window in the door, and through it I could see the car ahead of me. It also had a window in the door, and from what I could tell, all the seats were taken. I mean, the car was full. There were even people standing in the aisle.

Next thing I know, here comes some man in a gray business suit pushing his way through the crowd. He seemed to be in a hurry. Once he got to the back door, he opened it towards him, and as soon as he’d made it to the step outside, he quickly shut it behind him. Then he lowered his head a bit to look back through the window. I figured he was being chased. He didn’t look for long, and then he turned around and started to make his way carefully between the cars. About two seconds later, he stepped up to my door and rushed in, but he spun around and slammed the door so fast that I didn’t get a good look at his face. The sharply dressed man bent down again to look through the window before he turned around. I was pleasantly relieved to see that it was only Luke, but I also remember being concerned for he was certainly in a panic. I’d never seen him look so scared. Funny thing was, he didn’t seem at all surprised to find me standing there.

“He’s after me!” he yelled as he continued in haste towards the back door. “Who’s after you?” I asked. “The murderer!” he cried. “Oh, crap!” I remember saying, and then I looked through the windows again, but I didn’t see anyone coming. Luke opened the door to go out, but then then he stopped and hesitated, as if he wasn’t sure about the action he had planned. “Do you have a gun?” he asked. Well, I didn’t know. I checked my side for a pistol. “No, I guess not,” I said as I scanned the room for a rifle. “Where’re you going?” I asked him. He looked at me in all sincerity, and with a very serious tone to his voice, he replied, “I’m jumping off this train, and if you don’t want to be killed you better come with me!” I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Luke wasn’t waiting around for me to make a decisive move. He swung the door open and stepped out onto the platform.

I looked back towards the front and through the windows. The aisle had been cleared, and everyone was sitting quite still in their seats. Not one head was turned, they were all looking forward, and then the door to the passenger car slowly opened all by itself. No one was there, and the door stayed open. Nobody looked, and no one got up to shut it. When my front door began to open, I remember thinking, “Run for it!” but my feet wouldn’t oblige. My attention remained frozen to the scene straight ahead of me. I watched the door swing open, but there still wasn’t a soul to be seen. I tried to move my legs again, but they were unresponsive. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the empty entryway. The next thing that happened was so downright impossible that I’ll never be able to forget it. I still have a hard time explaining it to myself.

As I looked towards the open door, my view through the space inside the frame began to blur. All else in the room remained clear and stayed in focus. It was just the air right there in the doorway that was being distorted. A split second later, that fuzzy bit of space began to swirl within itself. Gradually, but quickly, a form began to take shape. Shortly thereafter, I could see a vague outline of a tall human figure wearing a wide-brimmed hat. It only took another second or so for the figure to finish materializing, and then I was able to tell for sure who it was. It was the murderer alright, and he was dressed all in black, just like I’d seen him the night before.

After the killer had completely appeared out of the thin dreamy air, I was finally able to see his handsomely featured face, which didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of his menacing look. Oddly enough, even though his whole body was standing there in the doorway, he wasn’t all there yet, so to speak. I mean, he didn’t come to life right away. He just stood there stiff as could be, and stared straight ahead without moving a muscle. It was only then that I noticed he was holding something in his hand, but this something didn’t materialize in time with the rest of his figure. It took a little bit longer to put itself together, but soon I could tell exactly what the thing was. It was a knife! But it wasn’t just any old knife, this was a white-handled dagger with a long double-edged blade.

The blade began to glow, and the man opened his eyes. The glow grew hotter and brighter, and as it changed from red to white, the killer stirred to life. He looked at me in jest, and put a mischievous grin on his face. Then he raised his arm and pointed the knife at my head, and blinded my eyes with a bright shaft of light. Instantly, I felt a surge of energy course through my body, and shoot on out from the ends of my fingers and toes. How long he held me there in suspense, I don’t rightly remember, but eventually he removed the light from my eyes, and right away I could see fine again. First, I looked at his sinister smile, and then I looked him straight in the eyes. He tilted back his head and let out a laugh, a terrifying laugh. It was more like a roar actually, a roar so loud that it drowned out the sound of the train as it rolled down the tracks.

To tell you the truth, that scared the crap out of me, and that was all it took to set me free, apparently, for without my command, my hand dropped the spatula. Then all of their own accord, my legs decided to move, and my feet took off for the door. I could hear his steps as he closed in fast behind me. I ran out to the platform, and there was Luke hiding off to the side. “Are you ready now?” he asked me. I quickly nodded my head in agreement. He says, “I’ll go first to show you how this is done. Hit and roll! Do you hear me? Hit and roll! Now, watch.” Luke jumped off and away from the train, and when he hit the ground, he rolled about a dozen times. Then he got up on his feet, and waved for me to come on. I hesitated ever so slightly, and then I felt that hot surge of light piercing into my back. I took the leap right then and there, and when I did, I jumped up and out of my chair. My rifle went flying through the air, but before it had a chance to land, I heard my wife screaming my name at the top of her lungs.


14 thoughts on “Hanging On: Thirty

  1. Spin~

    “Skating away on the thin ice of the new day,” says Jethro T.

    Hit and spin~

    Like a Saint! Life’s a Brees.

    Dodge and weave~

    “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” says Mohammed Ali

    Become the dream~

    This noose looks very becoming on me, and I suit my necktie.


  2. No one is going to spin you to the ground, Unc.

    Not that I’m calling you a twister………
    I was out walking the fields a couple days ago. It was basically a still day but no sunshine. Quite spontaneously a llittle twister of dead leaves took life just to my left, crossed my path and died just as mysteriously.
    Would you believe I actually said a cheery hello to the little guy!

    I’m so glad it never took me by the throat!

  3. No one is going to spin me, Ed?

    How about a twirl? Or a couple of 360’s?
    Can I undo a twist or a spin at this point? I mean,
    I’m calling this story a hand-me-down, and that makes
    Matt looks like a fabricator here, perhaps. I wonder
    if he didn’t make up this dream after the fact,
    just so he could play a bigger part in the story.

    Someone’s playing G-O-D here.
    Lie, lie, lie, lie, lie…

    I wanted it to be a prophetic dream,
    and Matt played G-O-D first, when (as I was told)
    I’m supposed to be the ONE doing all the god stuff.

    Who is Heaven’s fixer-upper anyway?

    No, Heaven never needs a face lift.
    There is no ‘up there’ from there.


    You still have leaves blowing around?
    Don’t you have snow all winter long?

    Your dancing ballerina ghost was a guy?
    How could you tell? Then you changed it to an ‘it’.
    See! I’m not the only one doing this.


    A cheery hello to you, dear friend!

  4. Can a tree have the flu?

    Can a limb blows it’s nose fifty times a day?
    Can an old stump have a sore, dry throat,
    and a thirst can’t be quenched? Cough…

    Yes, it can.

    One flu over the cuckoo’s nest,
    and the cuckoo sneezed on me.

    Uncle Tree

  5. Dang!
    That twister bin done took you by the throat!

    You take care…..some elderberry wine, honey and extra vitamins D and C might help. Dang!


  6. A little sympathy for Uncle Tree…
    Thank you!

    Advice wise…
    I’ll leave the wine for ol’ Rainbow Eyes Jr.

    No thoughts on Matthew’s predicament?

    I haven’t even started Thirty One.
    Haven’t felt like it.

    One of these days, I’ll find the gumption again.
    Until then…

  7. I’m glad I caught you by surprise, bro!
    And I’m certainly happy to hear that you’re
    going to start reading this story from the preface
    to Chapter One, and on and on and so forth from there. 🙂

    You have me wondering if it was the same stabber,
    and the same dream over and over again. That wood be weird.

  8. 3rd paragraph “Next thing I know, here comes some man in a gray business suit pushing his way through the crowd” when people these days here the words gray business suit they are not picturing the proper attire for the times.
    The rest looks good, as soon as you get what you wanted to revised let me know and I’ll reread. One step at a time it will come together.

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