Sunday Scribblings: "I Just Don't Get It..."

I just don’t get my mind, on occasion.

The Thing About Trains

At first sight of the flashing red of the railroad crossing lights, my mother guns the Buick as if red suddenly meant haul ass instead of halt.
She grips the steering wheel, fingers in all the grooves and she’s holding on tight. So tight, that her cuticles under the French manicure are drained, white as bone. She leans into the wheel, licks her lips and huffs breaths through flared nostrils.
We’re barreling toward the intersection – I put a dampish hand on the dashboard as fear tingles up my spine - when the white-and-red crossbars drop and mom is forced to break hard. The Buick stops short, the brakes sending the hulk into waves, standing still.
She throws herself into the seat, lets out a whistle and releases herself from the seatbelt. She adjusts the cream cardigan sweater, picks off a fuzz ball, smoothes the fabric over her shoulders and turns to me and smiles, weakly.
The whistles from the diesel locomotive pierces the air; there’s pressure, a downdraft as the four-engine head of the freight train begins its rhythmic rumble past us. I look up and the conductor gives me a wave, hits the whistle again, three short bursts, one long.
I turn back to my mother, who is busy transmogrifying.
Her button nose has elongated into a mash of scarred cartilage and ropy snot hangs from it, collects in the heavy mustache and beard that’s she’s developed. Her shiny black hair has fallen from where she tucks it behind her ears and it hangs gray and stiff. Her hands, once so delicate and white as to highlight the blue of her veins, still clutch the steering wheel. They’ve gone mannish, rough; tanned wrinkled digits, like grilled sausages. Her cracked nails are packed with dirt and grease and bushy hairs sprout from each knuckle. Her breasts are gone; the cardigan stretches over a gut that’s being pressured by bottom half of the steering wheel.
The train rushes past, the engine’s whistle begins to wane in the distance. The click of steel wheels on steel track hums in my ears; the heat is unbearable. My mother’s scent of baby powder and lavender hand cream has been replaced by an oily odor of cooking fires, grain alcohol, hand-rolled cigarettes and the remains, the faint memory, of long-gone-past filling station soap-and-water bath.
I open my mouth, but the gag reflex is overwhelming; all I can mutter are gasping gacks that rack my shoulders.
“Oh, would you please relax?” she says, her sweet, lithe voice overlaid with that of a gravelly-voiced old man. “Be patient dear, this shall pass.
“Besides, that train’s going way to fast to hop, anyway.”


Uncle E said...

Dude, if you were a chick I'd have to say you were suffering from the Electra complex!
That absinthe must have been some good shit!

Tumblewords: said...

Wild stuff, here! Fun, but wild.

Granny Smith said...

I don't get it... But I enjoyed it!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

That needed more time in your subconscious? Really?

Actually, I'd like more of these people, but something longer might ruin the rhythm you've got here. I'm just intrigued by these people.

svojoh said...

I thought I was going to bust a gut laughing so hard at the beginning. That was excellent TO THE END! I felt so there! God, You need a vacation...

Anonymous said...

LOVED it ... had a few of those moments myself ;)

Tim said...

Enjoyed this quite a bit. Like how grounded in realism it is right up to the word "transmogrifying" and then goes all haywire. Kudos. If I may make a small suggestion, perhaps consider another title, thus not tipping your hand in the slightest about what's to come.

ThomG said...

Tim, you are absolutely right. I just didn't know what to call it on Sunday. Consider it fixed.