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Timejacker #3-A
© 2023 James LaFond
California Zephyr, 9:30 A.M., Saturday, August 13, 2022
His favorite train was on layover in Denver. The stout middle aged black coach attendant, a woman who might have played a ghetto mother in a 1970s sitcom, watched him with some amazement as he walked up and down the forty exterior concrete stairs and stretched on the train platform. The younger half of the Amish contingent, 27 folks traveling together to Glenwood Springs, frolicked on the platform, the girls skipping and the boys and youths racing, passing him like ciphers of youth on the stairs of his accelerated decay as he tended to his mobility maintenance.
Tuckered out and gassed, he thought of that creep that bent the shelving back in 1998, a life away across the cracked rear view mirror of his failed existence, telling him that he’d either die at 56 in Baltimore, broken by work, or pass on the 60th doorstep in the Pacific Northwest, where he was scheduled to spend the winter, where he had almost croaked last winter.
‘The train is filling up and you have not decided on which novel, slacker.’
‘I’m feeling old, like Time has passed me by, or even worse delivered Her vampire kiss. I promised the three readers that read it to write one more Sunset Saga novel.’
‘Maybe a one-off time travel novel, with a criminal theme, like carjacking, but snatching people out of time instead of out of their vehicle.’
He was walking down the stairs—‘Maybe a train robbery, like snatching a train, and transporting all of these Amish to some post apocalyptic shithole world to work as slave labor for the last golden skin masters whose spics and hajis can’t keep the infrastructure running.’
He was now crossing the platform to the smiling attendant, ‘Imagine how terrified this poor woman would be of Randy Bracken. I could recycle that asshole character.’
Jamie sat alone in the worst seat on the train, the front seat before the door, which had no pullout table, which were attached to the backs of seats, and would remain noisy from the coupling clatter and half-lit through the night with the emergency light. Amtrak had made it clear these past few years that couples and families were preferred and that people traveling alone could be expected to be shuffled out of their seats to make room for those who had companions.
The Amish piled back on, and across the aisle from him, were seated Ken and Barbie Goldenskin, two fit, prime, light-skinned black folks, the man handsome and bald, the woman beautiful and tall. The man spotted Jamie’s ruck and asked, “Vet?”
“No sir, my brother, and a man I work for.”
“Sir, we’re new to the train, we were socializing with some nice [white] people and got separated by the seating.”
“Oh, we get slotted based on our destination. Amtrak is like a rolling hotel for human cattle. They load us like a grocery distributor loads a truck, loading last what comes off first.”
“Oh, yeah, it was like that in the Army.”
The woman hissed into his ear with disapproval and he asked, “Is there a place to get food and drink?”
She pinched his leg in objection. From long experience, Jamie could tell that Barbie regarded him with extreme distaste, aping her white patrons disgust and distrust of the unsuccessful paleface fallen from the privilege assigned his kind.
Jamie said, “Two cars up, there is a viewing car, open to all, with outward facings eats. In the bottom level is a cafe, beer, wine, microwave food, coffee.”
Ken shook his head ‘Yes,’ but did not dare speak another word to the white trash across the aisle in the presence of his mighty queen.
As the train rolled out, Barbie snarled, “Oh, this won’t do.”
The Chicago-based coach attendant, standing at the head of the car, asked her, “Miss, may I help with something?”
The younger, lighter, prettier, whiter queen accused her, “You all set us in the back car—I ain’t no Rosa Parks, but I can go there!”
Barbie was obviously incensed about being separated from the nice [rich] white folks seated in the next car up. Jamie had seen the four fat, middle aged white folks walking with their golden skinned pets, their guilt avatars on the platform, before being separated by destination and had thought nothing of it at the time. However, the scene now emerged as a good plot twist in his mind.
‘The ability to recall such trivial scenes, a hallmark of the novelist’s cringe-worthy art, I possess, forgive me, Lord, in Spades!’
The attendant tried to explain to the entire car that people were seated based on destination and that she was not the enemy, not the government, but just an employee. Her appeal was that of the unjustly judged slave, “I’m your friend, your attendant, I have your best interest at heart—you can come to me!” she pleaded.
The beautiful Barbie Goldenskin muttered something and the attendant shed a single tear and turned back, going through the coupling housing to the next car, the car Mistress Queen Barbie wished to be seated in, a slave taking refuge up the social scheme from the negating mob of masters downstream.
‘Exquisite,’ thought Jamie, ‘a realistic, sympathetic black character!’
Then the Conductor opened the intercom, made the threatening announcements that come at the outset of each new crew taking over the days long train. Smoking will be punished by being marooned alone alongside a railroad track in the middle of the wilderness. Going barefoot will result in amputation above the coupling. Drinking private stores of alcohol instead of purchasing $10 drinks will result in being banned from future travel on Amtrak. The mask announcements had been mercifully removed from the list of capital offenses.
This gave Barbie Goldenskin a handle upon power as she demanded, “Oh, I need to talk to him! Go find him, Baby.”
Ken Goldenskin, rose, cringed when he glanced down at Jamie, and headed dutifully forward.
Jamie looked away as not one but two conductors came to Barbie’s aid. The first order of business was aspirational credentialism, Ken and the conductors comparing law enforcement and military service and college degrees as well as football playing, to assure that they were on the same team. The entire time that this went in the new conductor was eye fucking Jamie as if he were a cop and Jamie was a bad guy.
Jamie, coward for the ages, looked hangdog away at the un-moving countryside.
Ken and Barbie Goldenskin got access to seating in the next car as two lone, working white men were bounced back into the Amish car.
To insure class segregation, the conductors returned, and the leader announced, “Passengers, this is a sold out train. We know you all want to see the beautiful Rocky Mountains. You will be seated in two hour rotations with these issued tickets,” he said, holding up pink seating slips of 1 by 4 inches. “All of those who would like to visit the viewing car, please raise your hand.”
Everyone raised their hand, including Jamie. The conductor in training, who also held tickets and who had been eye-fucking Jamie, looked away from him, as the conductor looked away from the two single white men of no moneyed account across the aisle. Jamie turned and noted that seven people of the 70 odd passengers, were not issued the tickets they requested. These were lone white men, all.
The message was clear, this was not their world. Jamie, a loser, quitter, coward and day-dreamer, did what he did best, but not good enough to keep a roof over his head, looked outside at the world passing him by and mused, ‘This is the perfect train for a timejacking. The crew is not sympathetic and the Amish would serve as useful slave stock for a reduced tech future.’
‘I should send Randy Sterling Bracken back in time to grab them, the entire train dropped into a reduced tech future!’
The Rain Check
‘Man in the Mirror’
uncle satan
menthol rampage
logic of force
dark, distant futures
time & cosmos
when you're food
broken dance
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