"The Last Train"
by Jim Workman
I gaze down Pennsylvania Station’s long corridor. It reminds me of a giant throat and smells as if all of New York is exhaling at once. The soldiers are standing in pairs clutching their M-16s in one hand and a Dunkin Donut in the other. Their camouflage fatigues make them stand out. I board the last train to Ronkonkoma then everything goes dark as we slide under the river.
The clackety clack of the rails becomes hypnotizing but no more so than the utility poles outside the window: the endless line of midnight wraiths pretending to guard Long Island’s life-line to the City. The gentle swaying of the car lulls me to half-sleep.
“Bethpage” The conductor sounds as if his nostrils are frozen together.
I remember this stop one year ago today. I was forced to deboard the train with hundreds of upset passengers - until they heard the news. There had been an “accident” at the towers.
“Farmingdale” His nose hadn’t defrosted.
I had woken up to the smell of coffee that fateful September morning and read the love note promising a better evening if I was up to it.
Firemen from this village had died trying to save my Emily. It wasn’t enough.
“Ronkonkoma, end of the line”: my stop.
Finally home, I inhale and think I catch a faint wisp of her perfume. But it’s a lie.
I still sleep on the couch and never make coffee. Never.