Over the next few weeks, she was there every day on the platform alone.
Occasionally she would cast a forlorn glance towards the stairs, then toss her cigarette on the ground and roughly stub it out with the toe of her boot.
Crushing the doubt into the ground as if it symbolised something else.
I’ve no idea if she was expecting him to arrive or not but there was always a sadness in her face as if she was grieving for love now lost.
Briefcase man is at the door as usual, suited, solemn and far too self-important to smile at the ordinary people around him.
I feel sorry for him, doesn’t he realise that he’s just as ordinary as the rest of us waiting on the 8:45 train into town and plodding through a mundane day of work that we don’t really give a toss about.
Not one of his fellow travellers is here by choice. We sit at our desks and do what we have to, but half the time we are just killing time, chatting with colleagues, browsing the web, online shopping or maybe making up stories.
Personally I’d much rather be on a beach. But the beach doesn’t pay.
She sits there in the front of me now, her headphones leaking the wail of a rock guitar and the tinny sounds of cymbals playing a 16-beat bar.
I’ve no idea what it is, some grungy shit that takes too much effort to listen too and all sounds the same in the end.
Just another Cliché. Ker-ang!
The train is packed and we shuffled and squeezed into the last few seats in the small 4 seat booth with 2 seats facing front and rear.
It seems to be an unwritten rule that you don’t sit directly opposite the person in front of you. That in today’s world of constant electronic communication, where most people are looking at their smart-phone or mp3 player, that you avoid eye-contact at all costs.
The social norm is that the first person in the booth takes the prime seat at the window facing front, the second sits at the aisle side facing to the rear.
The rock-chic if you can call her that when she’s in her early 40s takes the other front facing seat on the aisle. For a moment, I’m tempted to stand, its only a 15 minute journey. But it’s easier to type if I’m sitting and there are more people coming behind me so standing will be a crush.
A few years ago, I spent the short journey from Alicante Airport to the plane home trapped on some glass-house of a bus with its windows locked and no Air-Con suffering the rancid odours of some woman who hadn’t washed in her week of Spanish debauchery.
I ask the student beside me if he will move his back-pack so that I can have the window seat beside him. He seems to be operating on some sort of time-lag and eventually looks up from his book and takes out his headphones. So I nod over towards the seat and take a half step to push past him, hoping he would take the hint and move his bag and knees to accommodate me.
Not with pleasure he wouldn’t.
He picks the bag up and lets out a sullen snort as he slides over into the window seat, dropping the bag on the small table as if whatever his problem is was my making.
Yeah yeah, been there did that.
I sat there and smiled, the guy was safely looking out the window, so I ignored him.
What was he going to do anyway? Say no? I think not.
I took a few moments to assess the carriage, another row of booths and then the back wall, all workers on the way to the daily grind.
It’s mostly blokes but I don’t really see them. Younger guys in cheap suits and over-gelled hair. Older guys past the pretending-I’ve-got-a-career stage, walking jackets and cropped hair to hide the grey, one guy in his early 50s with a tan and a suit, shaven head, bull-neck, looking fit for a man of his years.
He has a certain self-assurance about him, like he’s seen it all before, possibly ex-military. I don’t think he’d be the kind of guy you’d want to mess with on a dark night.
He sits there assessing the new arrivals as much as I’ve assessed my surroundings. For a moment we make eye contact and it’s gone.
I smile that someone else’s radar is as much switched on as mine.
I wonder how I look from his point of view, then if everyone is people watching or just the alert few on this short journey into the banal.
Then there are the ladies!
It’s funny how you see the same women most days, most even take the same carriage. They’re doing the same thing as me, getting ready for a quick exit from the crowded platform at the other end.
There’s the young blonde student, tall and pert, perhaps showing too much cleavage. Enough that I’d be telling my daughter to put that away or at least calling my ex-wife to have that difficult conversation full of trap-doors and door slamming sulks.
She’s lovely, but in a completely different market and far too young for me, so I look away before she catches me looking like some letching perv.
Then I spot her, classy red-lady, sitting in her usual place across the aisle, always at the first row at the back of the 3rd carriage. Always on the right hand side. The far side from where I’m standing waiting for the train to arrive.
If I’m absolutely honest with myself, I get on the same carriage deliberately.
Seeing her somehow makes my morning feel a little bit better, warmer even in the cold Glasgow air. Just a moment, a glance and the occasional smile and I feel alive.
Earlier, as I stood on the platform I wondered if she will be here today. Then I wondered how many of the guys around me were doing the same?
She’s 5’4’’, slim, pretty, early 40s. Her dark chestnut hair is professionally coloured and her nails manicured. No cheap bottle black for this lady.
She always wears red, always, but not always the same. Sometimes it’s a dress, or a top, today its her shoes, peep toed, leather sling-backs. a gold edge on her 3 inch stiletto heels. They look as expensive as her bag and her tailored business suit.
Somehow David Bowie starts playing in my head, “Put on you’re red shoes and dance the blues” I’d love to dance the blues with you girl!
Although I see her every day, why is it that I find myself looking out for her. But trying not to look at her? Occasionally we get up at the same moment and move towards the exit doors and I always let her go first, she smiles but we never speak.
I doubt that we ever will. It would just feel wrong.
But for that brief moment standing close to her at the packed exit door, as the train slows down into Central does feel like heaven. She smells like an angel or like babies. I know she wears Chanel, Allure I think, its strong and feminine and I could breathe her in all day long.
But now, she’s sitting in the opposite booth, diagonally opposite, reading her Metro and occasionally glancing around the carriage. I’m trying not to notice but I can see her with my peripheral vision or if the train is going through a tunnel, I turn to my right and can see her reflection in the window glass as its mirrored by the darkness beyond.
I have no-idea where she boards the train, but it must be early in the journey as she always has the prime seat.
But then I’ve no idea from where this train originates either. I just get on at 8:45 every day and its here, its always here heading to Milngavie via Glasgow Central Low Level.
Where it came from before here could be anywhere.
If I was going to be cheesy, it could have been heaven and she’s the angel.
But that would be crap and you would think so much less of me if I’d said that! 🙂
Red-lady is probably the same age as the rock-chic but so much more attractive to me in ways that rock-chic will never be. Although to be fair, I think rock-guy with his pony-tail saw it differently before he disappeared from the face of the rock-planet.
It is difficult not to make eye contact in this small 4 seat booth, people tend to look down or look out the window, anywhere except to be caught looking at each other.
The rock-chic is there in her normal black tee-shirt.
Normal in that it’s frequent, her regular garb. But Mega-Death or Def Leppard or some other band are not really acceptable attire in most office jobs, where some level of conformity is expected.
As a fellow rebel, I appreciate her two finger salute to the expected normality.
Good for her.
But something’s different;
At first I just thought it was because she was seated that the rolls of her excess body-weight were more pronounced.
But that’s not it.
She is much more rounded at the front and her bump is starting to show.
— To be continued.
For Part 1 click the link below