Cold day

An early morning, the cold October wind has passing straight through my jacket. I arrived a little late to jump in the 7h05 train, but I was the first in line where I expected the trains’ entrance to show up on its next passage.  Every morning, I tried to be straight in front of the door.  Hopefully, I would be lucky enough to find an empty seat and catch a little more sleep until I get to work.  On that particular Tuesday, it didn’t really matter, I wasn’t sleepy, I was simply going to the office, walking on auto-pilot.  A breeze caught me by surprise like a cold direct punch on the nose.  I frowned and turned my back to the wind.  Slowly and at a regular pace, people started to regroup, forming little packs, like penguins do to shield each other from the wind.  I noticed a few familiar faces, unknown people with whom I shared the same train, all strangers and that was fine by me.  I’ve never felt like talking in the morning, I prefer it quiet.

The man next to me whore an old hat.  I’ve always taught it was a little weird to see someone wearing clothes that didn’t match their age. I am no fashion expert but neither a woman in her sixties with pink hair nor this young man, early twenties, suited with an Elliot Ness hat. I saw him stretch his left arm and took a look at his watch.  Three people imitated and looked at their watches; out if curiosity, I reached into my jeans pocket and pulled out my cell phone.  With a flick of my thumb, I flipped it open. Within the following two minutes, the train should be in front of me.  I stretched over the tracks and looked to my right.   The expected train was heading our way.  I turned my back again as another draft of wind was preceding the train.  The loud noise of the braking system filled my brain, overpowering all my thoughts.  Although it wasn’t a pleasant sound, the removal of all what was going on in my head was some sort of relief.  The braked hissed, the train stopped and released one last pressurized sigh.  Straight in front of me, the two doors separated.  I climbed swiftly up the stairs of the 7h30 train.  The first seat beside the door was available; I sat down, placing my small handbag on my laps.  I unzipped my jacket, closed my eyes, trying to catch up some minutes of sleep, hoping that the weather would be nicer on my way home tonight.

The bell rang, the doors closed, trapping all the passengers inside.  The train initiated its forward motion, the wagon interior door slid and shut in a clap.  The same clap as my hand did hitting the snooze button.  “Come on, get up sleepy head, you’re gonna miss your train.” shouted Allison from the kitchen. I never understood the why she always talked so loud.  I didn’t bother most of the time but when it’s late or very early, I just didn’t get it.  She probably woke the whole building.  Was she this loud  that to induce some compliance in me ? My dad was always yelling and I hated that. Was she trying to break me? Was it some  way of enforcing the authority she imposed on me. “Just another day”, I thought to myself with a sigh.  I sat on the side of the bed, my head down, passed a hand through my graying hair.  I stared mindlessly at my sleeper; they were in the exact same place as I left them the night before.  I noticed the color was now matching my hair while in the kitchen, she was still loudly expressing her opinion on the news.  “Just shut up.” I mumbled.  I was not really listening to what she was saying, her voice seemed like a distant noise, like a radio playing in an empty house. I reached out and grabbed my clothes from the top of the drawers and got dressed.  Plain gray pants, dark socks with diamond shapes, vertically striped shirt.  It didn’t took me that long but for some reason she seemed in a hurry.  I was placing my tie when she popped in to the bedroom door frame telling me that breakfast was ready.   She was smiling proudly, how proud can someone be for such accomplishment.  Her brown hair were tied in a ponytail, no hair misbehaving, all perfectly placed.  I dragged myself to the kitchen table, apprehending the long minutes I’d have to listen to her rant about thing that were meaningless to me.  My plate was on the table, fork and knife at the correct position.  Two toasts, already coated, were placed in the same position as yesterday morning. I was eating the toasts with peanut butter and banana and couldn’t help but feel sorry for her.  How down must one be to get so much happiness from grilling toasts. Half of the breakfast was already down my throat when I noticed she was listing the chores on her schedule for today. I vaguely recorded something about picking up stuff at the dry cleaner, the grocery, some laundry.  My eyes went focusing back on my plate.  Her hand on my shoulder startled me.  I raised my head, the train was filling up again at the Sunnybrooke station, a pregnant woman politely requested my seat, a hand on my shoulder.  I glanced at her oversize belly that she was rubbing and looked back at her. I blushed and apologized for being a day dreamer. I quickly grabbed my bag and stood. She sat and smiled back at me.

More people came in, crowding the place. I was standing near one of the wagon’s end.  Most people were crowding the middle to exit more quickly at the Central Station. The seats were placed back to back, creating sets of 4 peoples facing.  Curved pipes were attached to the back of the seats allowing standing passengers to grab on something or for the lucky ones like myself today, to lean on it. With both elbows clinched, I rested my head in my hands.  I looked back up at the mirror, the redness of my eyes was clearly showing my lack of sleep. My hair was a mess, clear reminder that I didn’t dry it before going to bed last night after the shower. I turned the faucet on and replaced my hair with some water. From the kitchen or the living room, she was still talking.  Through the door, I couldn’t figure what was her concern.   “I don’t care”, I mumbled to  myself.   The ceiling fan was buzzing just loud enough for my hearing to be confuse.  To be very honest, I even was appreciating the noise barrier.  My brain gave up trying to understand, it was relaxing.  I was rinsing my hand, passing it through my hair, repeatedly, mindlessly.  “Are you even listening to me ?” she shouted as she opened the door violently, without even knocking.  I didn’t need much privacy but I hated when she did that.   I turned to her.  My face was probably red, my pressure on the rising, my blood heating in my veins.  She seemed furious as well.  The look on her face was quite a contrast with the pyjama she was wearing; a worn out, washed out, pink bunnies filled, cotton outfit.  I took a deep breath and walked pass her toward my winter coat. She pushed me, I turned my head to give her another mean look, a stranger was passing behind me as the train was filling again.  Anger dissipated immediately, I looked through the wagons glass, Station Du Ruisseau was written on a dock.

More newcomer, more people filled the wagon.  Every morning looks like the preceding, such proximity always made me a little uncomfortable, a bit invaded.  Instinctively, I patted for my wallet,  I made sure I had my quatuor each morning before leaving the house. Money in my left pocket, my cellphone in my right one, office pass in my jacket,  my keys… Humm my keys were nowhere to be found.  “Damn keys!  Where have I dropped those ?”, I mumbled.  Allison couldn’t help but notice my anxiety and I felt her eyes never left me.  Her voice, ever present, commenting on my habits of leaving them at random places, how she always finds hers, that I should use the hooks she had me installed two years ago.  Cheap hooks, screwed to a small piece of wood, painted. The kind of kit she probably found at a Dollar store.   I stormed the kitchen table, looked on each chair, still no keys. My office desk only had my computer, some papers and a few blue pens in a silver metal mesh pen bucket. My heart was racing a little faster as I shuffled carelessly the piles of paper. Still out of luck, I slammed my fist on the desk, cursing.  I turned around swiftly and came face to face with her, a large  Blistek coated smile shining.   I knew precisely what she had in mind.  I was always searching my keys and she wasn’t.  She felt she was better than me.  I had enough, I had to go in a rush as the trains parking space was filling up pretty quickly each morning.  I picked my spare house and car keys. I opened the door.  The cold draft caught me by surprise, I shivered as the air flew around my ankles on the wagon’s floor.  “Station Canora” said the trains’ controller through the speakers.

The door’s alarm rang for the last time.  I rested my head on the metal bars, closed my eyes.  A couple of people were talking loud behind me.  A woman started to laugh.  I couldn’t believe it.  My damn keys were in the door’s lock, outside.  Allison was laughing. Loudly, exuberantly, without any holding back, shamelessly. I pulled out my keys, they were cold, I slid them in my jacket’s pocket.  I turned to my wife, she was still laughing, almost crying.  And I was the center of this private humiliation.  My heart slowed down as I closed the door before me.  I felt something inside of me changed, like all the love was drained.  I felt cold, inside and out. My ears were buzzing, I could see that she was laughing but I couldn’t hear her voice.  Time seemed to slow down.  My hand reached for the bucket where the long umbrellas were resting, my finger curled on one of the handle.  I drew a Louisville Slugger and took a good swing towards the jaw that stopped moving. The emotion in her eyes had shifted.

The train entered the tunnel, traveling through Royal Mount before its final destination; Central Station.  Few lights were flashing, joined with vague images.  The discussions went quiet, as if everyone’s watching my wife died on an old stop motion movie.  She lifted her left arm to protect herself, I felt the bones break on impact.  I swung again as she turned around to flee.  The wood made solid contact with the back of her skull.  She fell to the floor.  I looked at her, searching for emotions, they were nowhere to be found.  Except maybe a little relief but no real joy.   We were both motionless, me looking at her while she was looking towards the kitchen where the phone was resting.  I could possibly describe this moment as an instant of serenity.  After a few minutes, I dropped the baseball bat in the fireplace.   I picked a cloth and wrapped Allison’s head in it.   I took her in my arms and brought her downstairs.  She didn’t seemed heavy in my arms,  I delicately placed her in the freezer and closed the lid slowly.  The buzzing in my head was easing.  I was feeling peaceful, the house was quiet.   The train stopped.  Standing peoples were pushing each other to get out as quickly as possible.  I got out on the dock and waited a moment.   I didn’t feel like being rushed today.  The crowd was not evacuating as smoothly as usually.  The controllers were verifying each and every passes.  I could also see, in the distance, a duo of policemen patrolling.

I slowly walk the stairs, I took out my Opus card and waited in a relative line.  My heart started racing as my turn was approaching.  The woman in front of me got busted.  The surveillant took her aside, to my right.  This city is so eager for money, each and every penny counts and if they can charge you a hundred dollar fine, you bet they will.  I was going to make my way without verification when I got grabbed by the arm, to my left.  A tall brunette with a ponytail, all dressed in the official uniform was requesting my card.  I gave it to her, apologizing.  I couldn’t look her in the eyes. “All good” she said, giving me my pass back. “Have a nice day”.  I started walking toward the office.

Entering, the cafeteria to grab a coffee, I ran into Mike.  We spoke a bit, he said he noticed that I’ve changed in the last few weeks.  My heart rate went up a notch.  “Yeah, you’re smiling more these days”.

I told him I became a fan of baseball.