Drama on the 19th Street Platform
“Don, I need to talk to you. Can you give me a few minutes?
“Of course, Jess. But where are you? I thought I heard a train’s horn, like on the El.”
“That’s right. That’s where I am, on the 19th St. station platform. On this December early evening, around 6:30, it’s already dark and it’s almost deserted.”
“So, what are you doing there, Jess? Who are you meeting?”
“I’m not meeting anyone. That’s why I needed to talk.”
“OK, Jess, I can come. But you must have a reason that you are there!”
“No reason. Nothing is reasonable any more. That’s why I’m here. The express comes right through this station very fast. I’m sure it will be fast enough.”
“Jess, you aren’t making sense. I know you would have been shaken up, since your mom died so suddenly, after such a brief and painful illness; but we’ve talked about that. Life can be that way.”
“I don’t care about life any more. Don, I think you’re the only person I care about; or the only one I know who cares about me.”
“Then, Jess, just wait for me, right there where you are. Don’t think too much about it. Don’t make yourself think much about anything. Wait for me. Watch the trains and the people, and I’ll be there in no time at all.”
I hung up. This was very troubling. I got quickly to my car, started the engine, and pulled out, heading for that rather distant 19th St. station, wondering, thinking and not really thinking.
It seemed to take forever — or only a few moments — and the station was there, all its lights lit up. I found a place in the parking lot that was already emptying.
Across the street I ran, and up the long flight of steps to the station platform. Where would I find Jess, and how would she be?
Just then I heard the horn of the approaching express, still a block or two away. I reached the top of the stairs, stumbling on the last step, as I was already scanning the platform in the uncertain light of the early December evening. Almost no-one in sight.
Then, just as the headlight of the oncoming express train appeared, down the gleaming rails of track I saw a figure, just one alone, at the far end of the platform. I ran toward her, as she moved, uncertainly, to its edge, above the tracks.
It was Jess. I reached her, seized her in my arms and dragged her backward; even as the first car of the express went rushing past.
“Oh, Don! Oh, Don!”
It was all that she could say, getting it out with a sob, as the train’s clattering roar went by.
Author Notes: At age 103, after publishing nine books, Don Fletcher is writing flash fiction and short prose pieces.