The Train Wreck

The Train Wreck

by Mel O’Drama

February 04, 2008

(orig. publishing data)


Three woman are having lunch at Rozay’s restaurant.

 “Veronica, you don’t look well, are you all right?”, Caroline asked.

 “I have these dull, throbbing pains in both my legs. I started getting them around 8:00 yesterday morning. Nothing’s wrong with them. I just feel slightly numb in both legs, like I shouldn’t even be able to walk. Strange.”

 The third woman, Gina, is reading the front page of the morning paper. “That saying, ‘about something being a train wreck’, really happened in Carterville yesterday, about eight in the morning.” Showing the front page to the other two, she remarks, “I’m glad I wasn’t on that train.”

Caroline, with a puzzling look, asks Veronica, “Weren’t you suppose to be on that train for your monthly visit to your folks in Carterville?”

“Yes, but a strange series of small events happened, and I missed the train. I always set out my clothes for the trip, the night before. For some inexplicable reason, I forgot to do it Tuesday night. You two know how flustered I get when my schedule is screwed up. Next, I burnt my bacon and had to make another batch. Then a button broke on the blouse I planned on wearing. By now, it’s 6:20. I decided I won’t make the 6:35 train in time. I called my folks and told them what happened, and I’d see them next week.”

 Caroline and Gina get up to leave. “Sorry we have to go”, Gina says, “Say ‘Hi’ to Sally for us.”

After they leave the restaurant, a man from the next table gets up and seats himself at Veronica’s table. “I heard your conversation, and   I’m embarrassed to say, it’s my fault that you’re so distressed”, he said.

Veronica thinks, ‘That’s a pick-up line I’ve never heard before’.

“You humans have sayings like ‘He dodged a bullet’, or ‘It wasn’t his time to go’. Those incidents that death or serious injury were miraculously avoided were not from blind lucky. They were orchestrated from above. I am called a ‘Custodian of Life’. Many people have events similar to yours. Something happened, and they missed their destiny with tragedy, without ever giving it a thought why things happened as it did. That’s because a Custodian tweaked some minor elements of the day affecting the recipient’s live only. Times and places were so slightly changed. As an example, a man gets a phone call just before leaving the house. It causes him getting caught at a traffic light, missing getting into a serious accident down the road. Stuff like that.”

“The train wreck did happen. If you had been on that train, you would have had both your legs crushed beyond repair, needing amputations. You were my first assignment, and I botched it up a bit. Not by much. Just enough to let you have phantom pains. My superiors are correcting that oversight of mine as we speak. Very shortly, the pain will abate. So will the memory of our meeting. Because the wreck happened without you in it, the conversation you just had with your friends here, will be different.”

Veronica says, “Even though I think you’re a kook, there’s no way I could forget what’s just happened!”

 “You will. Savor these few minutes, realizing a spiritual force saved you legs. Don’t try to keep the memory alive, though …. Let it go.”

 The Custodian rises from his chair and doffs his hat to her. He pays his bill and walks out the door, holding it open for a woman entering   Rozay’s. All the while, Veronica watches him leave with her mouth slightly agape.

Her friend, Sally, sits at the table. “Do you know that man who just left?”, she asks.

 “Never saw him before.” Veronica says offhandedly.

 “So, how are you feeling, Ronnie?”, Sally asks.

 “Great! Couldn’t feel any better. Everything is fine.”

 Sally says, “You were suppose to be on that train that wrecked yesterday, weren’t you?”

 “Yes, I was. A couple of small things happened, that changed yesterday’s schedule. Looks like I was really lucky to miss that train. It’s just one of those things, I guess.”

  © 2008 by James M. Britvich All Rights Reserved 


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