lone gust of wind tosses an empty chip packet down the platform. As the
wind dies the packet comes to rest, balancing dangerously on the edge of
the platform. In an instant the gust is back and the packet is tossed over
the platform edge floating in a flutter of silver to the ground.
old grey speaker the distorted voice of Bob Seger floats loosely into the
lazy afternoon. The sun burns down from a clear sky, not allowing any
object to escape its intense heat; it pushes its fiery golden arms into
every crack and corner. As the small shrubs bend and wilt, tiny black ants
run wild on the concrete.
An air of
boredom and languor hangs like a hot blanket over the small uneventful
station. Four long concrete platforms lay side by side like unmarked
graves in a barren graveyard. Between the concrete platforms two weathered
tracks lay motionless on wrinkled wooden sleepers and together they bask
in the scorching midday sun. On the platform itself the heat seems to melt
the paint on the red and white benches. A faded station name is barely
decipherable under the mat of graffiti and scratched initials.
main entrance two rail employees reside in the office. Old white fans
speckled with dirt wobble and squeak in an attempt to stir the air in the
ticket office sauna. In the far corner one of the guards snores loudly,
his grease stained shirt pulled tight over his ample stomach. At the
ticket window a female guard flicks through the weekend paper, her
feminine features coarse from endless hours spent in the sun. Both appear
at ease with the dirty cluttered office.
far platform a businessman swelters in the baking sun, his dark suit
drawing and trapping the heat. Sweat beads in silver speckles on his
balding forehead and his heavy eyes squint to avoid the glare. On his lap
he nurses a black briefcase on which his fingers drum a nervous tune of
anticipation. He checks his watch for the second time in a matter of
seconds and his lips curse silently.
next seat a young woman lights a cigarette and draws long and hard.
Flicking casually through a magazine on her lap she pauses occasionally to
survey her surroundings from behind dark glasses. Appearing much more at
ease in the extreme heat she takes a bottle of water from her carry bag
and takes a fashionable sip. She replaces the lid slowly, flicks some tiny
flecks of fluff from her skirt and returns to her magazine.
entrance a carefree youth strolls in, pausing momentarily at the ticket
window to purchase a ticket. He then eases his way toward the platform
kicking a plastic bottle along the ground in front of him. As he reaches
the steps he hoists his leg on to the handrail and slides roughly down the
rail. His rubber-soled basketball shoes land with a soft thud on the
concrete and he collapses into the nearest seat as if the recent physical
activity has left him drained of energy. He has yet to be noticed by the
other occupants on the platform. After a minute of staring thoughtfully at
his feet the youth gets slowly to his feet and ambles toward the drink
of coins dropping alerts the others on the platform from their daze. The
young woman glances up immediately from her magazine and looks at the
youth without expression. The perspiring businessman takes a little longer
to respond and glances up to see the youth retrieving a can from the
bottom of the machine. A look of disgust passes over the manís face as he
takes in the long hair and scruffy clothes of the youth. The youth drags
himself back to his seat and proceeds to open the can. He raises the can
to his lips but suddenly stops and further to the disgust of the
businessman, takes a large portion of chewing gum from his mouth and
sticks it to the underside of the seat. The youth then raises the can to
his lips and takes a satisfying swig.
burns, the businessman perspires, the young woman reads and the youth
The platform clock reaches the hour and the drowsy station
begins to awake. Travellers have now covered the platform and an idle
chatter drowns out Bob Seger. The sleepy guard has emerged from the
station office and is looking less than happy at having to wave his flag.
He leans against a pole, sweating in the fluoro orange safety jacket he is
required to wear, and watches the smoke curl from the end of his
the train appears and its approaching presence sweeps the travellers from
their positions. The businessman grunts in relief and moves quickly to
stand at the edge of the platform in order to gain quick entry and a seat.
The young woman casually closes her magazine and puts it into her bag. She
draws the water bottle from her bag and takes a brief sip before standing.
begins to move slowly toward the alighting area of the platform. Excited
children eager for a glance at the approaching train dance dangerously on
the edge of the platform. Smokers suck desperately on their cigarettes in
an attempt to fulfil their craving for the duration of the trip. An
elderly couple stand in silence, taking time to enjoy the simpler aspects
of life, while words of warning flow from worried parentsí mouths. As the
train nears the stationmasterís voice booms over the loudspeakers
informing the crowd of the details of the approaching service.
youth remains seated, avoiding the physical strain of standing until the
last minute. He swigs the last drops of coke from his can, crushes it
underfoot, lifts his body from the seat and strolls toward the train.
now cling to their children as the train pulls into the platform. The
crowd surges foreword in groups around the opening doors. When a path is
clear passengers board the train.
businessman boards and his face breaths a sigh of relief. The young woman
boards, surveys the occupants of her carriage, sits and opens her
magazine. The youth boards last and meanders toward a seat.
end of the platform the guard raises his flag and signals to the driver.
The doors close with a hiss and the train lurches away from the platform.
When the noise of the train dies down Bob Seger once again drifts from the
old grey speakers. The few passengers who alighted from the train make
their way toward the exit.
platforms seem to relax after the flurry of activity. Between the
platforms the rails stretch in a confetti of cigarette butts toward each
shimmering horizon. The station once again sleeps in silence and the tiny
never resting ants run wild on the concrete.
afternoon heat fades a gust of wind sweeps the platform. On a bench at the
far end of the platform an old man whom everybody failed to notice cuddles
his whisky and tries to get back to sleep.