Somewhere in my head there is a train station, or rather, there is a concept of a train station that keeps finding substance in my dreams. The train line that it serves is variable; long, straight stretches of commuter rail
through thick forest, sliding along an eight-track weal driven through the earth. A subway system of near-infinite complexity, built entirely from Bezier curve
s with tracks narrow enough to jump across, and shallow enough to do so safely. A three-rail monstrosity slicing through mountains, supertrain
s of shining metal and worn plastic thrumming along their tracks with the wordless self-confident blare of kinetic energy
spun into traction motor
s and vaporized brake metal.
At some point in the dream I always end up at the station, and while I'm there I realize I'm dreaming. It's not lucid, though - I just realize that it's likely that this isn't real, but there's nothing I can do about it. I've spent hours there shivering in fear and cold, waiting for my pursuers or my connecting train, whichever arrived first, looking despairingly out at the impenetrable trees and the endless stretch of rail in either direction while sitting on a bare platform. I've crept into unknown depths of the transit system in between commutes, nodding to Tucker Mouse before moving into the drain pipe that somehow holds me, trains thundering by outside. I've impulsively thrown myself off the TGV in pursuit of a woman I haven't met, just glimpsed from behind, a knit beret resting atop perfect hair - only to realize as the train gathers itself up and erases itself down the track behind me that she's gone, and the station is empty.
Sometimes, when I'm drinking, I can find myself in the station. Crossroads of steel and tarmacadam, electricity plumbed for the taking into buss bars of rusted iron. Railroad ties both concrete and oil-soaked wood, sunk into the earth, fossils of the paleotransit age surfaced to teach us in their implacable manner. Spikes driven into the fabric of time and space itself waiting for the final train to vibrate them loose from their deathgrip on the earth ten, twenty, unknown years from now.
I sat on a park bench, once, in Madison Square Manhattan and drank from a bottle of Macallan whisky. My brother's bachelor party, begun early in the night at a high-end strip club, had alternated between strip joint and bar, strip joint and bar, moving down the layers of respectability until I found myself in Times Square around two a.m. in Runway 69 with a woman I went to college with (and had met on the street around midnight) sitting on my lap and conversing animatedly with the woman gyrating in front of the two of us. Things had got hazy after that, and when they'd next come into focus I was walking downtown along Park Avenue with a bottle in my hand and one in my pocket still wearing the black jeans, pocket T and navy blazer that I'd started the evening with.
I knew I wouldn't go home with her; she was dating a member of The Dead Milkmen at the time, and hell, can't compete with that.
At some point around Fifty-ninth street, I pulled a Newton 2100 out of my jacket and wrote seven pages of a novel I was working on, clicking it shut and stuffing it back into my pocket before finishing the fifth of bourbon I was holding and considering hurling the bottle out in an arc across the avenue that, I knew, hid the train lines of Grand Central Station beneath it. I tossed it instead into a trash can and swung downtown towards the railroad station to test its anchors in consensus reality.
The liter of whisky in the other pocket kept me through the tour of the Main Lobby and out into the cool air of early early morning again, down Park Avenue South. I think I made it to the bench at Madison Square that time before succumbing to gravity. A bit later, I was lying on my side with the mostly-empty bottle cradled in my arms singing sleepily to the various women I hadn't managed to bed in college; there was no pause, no stop, no slowing whatsoever. I felt my liver kick up into higher gear; felt the levels of toxins in my blood rise in a sharp increment as that abused organ shifted to yet another 'crisis level' of operation, ignoring ever-increasingly-dangerous substances just to ensure it managed to get the absolute worst I was dishing up. Good whisky, bad bourbon, worse vodka, I don't know what I drank or who I drank it with but the receipts from a string of liquor stores, strip clubs and bars found in my wallet the next week indicated the epic nature of the zapoi I'd set out on.
Party shrapnel, we'd dispersed to the four winds. I was woken by a police officer who wanted me to get off the bench. I yawned, handed him the empty whisky bottle (and he was surprised enough at my response that he took it, reflexively), tipped a finger to my forehead in salute and ambled off into the wan early morning light. On the way home I found an open package store and convinced the owner to sell me a fifth of something clear and horrible, from under the counter, and drank it walking towards Sixth Avenue. I realized in a distant sort of way that I'd never actually thrown up, and became somewhat concerned in the back of my gestalt about alcohol poisoning, but shrugged and figured that if I could still walk I couldn't be in that bad shape. I ducked into a Korean deli and bought a liter of seltzer water and downed it, to see if that would help. It made me severely nauseous for five minutes, then I belched massively and felt much better and finished drinking the fifth before firing it accurately across Seventh Avenue into a trash can, a throw I know there's no way in the seven hells I could make sober.
Found myself underground, sitting on a bench (again) watching subway trains rumble past me on the way towards the Bronx. Smelled the smells of the New York Subway. Thought about my life; pondered my situation, realized I was probably going to be leaving New York City, and recognized the station in which I sat, steel crossroads in tracery of squealing colored lines on a wallmap, trains staring impassively at me as they sighed to a stop and slid their gaze sideways to take me in as I slumped against the wall. I rode one uptown one stop, got off, and ascended into sun