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Dox
By Gaslight Chapter 2
Union Station, Portland Oregon, Thursday, 5:00 P.M., October 17, 2020
Thirty hours on the Coastal Starlight train and he hadn’t seen the coast once. It was a fine ride, much better than, than what—what is that ache?
Dox was out of sorts. He had adopted a new identity, even legally got his name changed to Dox Smith two years ago, after he lost his job for posting his political views on social media. Before he even bought a backpack or a train ticket he got his name changed, a man with no history in a nation that hated him could do little worse than a change of name.
Ever since the train hit Oakland he’d had this terrible ache in his right hand. His paranoia about the virus had kept him out of the bathroom except for right after the steward cleaned them. He went nowhere on the train without his rubber gloves on, even washed the rubber gloves when he was done in the bathroom.
Is that why his right hand ached so much, because he was wearing these gloves? Then why not the left hand? Maybe because it was smaller—he was right-handed after all.
He would have to make his way through another train-side homeless camp as a lone hobo, just a little guy and he was highly reliant on his right hand for working his knife. Big tweakers had their own canes and bats—and he had his aluminum bat sticking out of the top of his rucksack. But it was the knife that kept them off a man and preserved a little fella from a homeless woman’s raped fate.
The train was winding along the Columbia River Gorge in its gloomy, rust-tinged majesty. The hand was driving him crazy. He had to take a look and headed down to the bathroom. As it happened, one of the aluminum doors in the 2-foot wide metal hallway was rattling open and he ducked in, found paper towels, pulled the door shut and locked it with a paper towel, disposed of it and then gingerly peeled off that black plastic glove.
A black shadow streaked by his right eye and another by his left. Each time he tried to follow their progress he got a sick queasy feeling in his shrunken gut. Almost 60, after a life of work, and here he was, alone on the rails like an A.D. 1900 hobo, but minus all of the prospects…noting but lame old age looming grey before him…
No! No!! What the hell?

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