Tales from the Dining Car. Chapter 1.

(From my ‘travel blog’ series, documenting by trip from Toronto, Canada to Mexico City by land.)

He had shaggy blond hair that flowed out of his cowboy hat and piercing blue eyes.  He was clean-shaven, had a slender built and couldn’t have been older than 25.  He wore a stripped shirt that he tucked into his tight jeans held up by a black belt with silver studs and a massive silver belt buckle, and his voice came complete with a southern twang.  He was a real Texan dreamboat.

The Texan, and the man across from him, sat in the booth next to me in the dinning car.  They had clearly just met and were saving each other from the solitude of traveling alone.  The second man also had a southern drawl but was louder and wore a plain baggy t-shirt and jeans.  Their conversation was interspersed with long silences, silences generally interrupted by the second man, the not-so-charming Southerner.  He was either uncomfortable with silences or just accustomed to saying the first thing that popped into his mind.  He didn’t seem uncomfortable with the Texan, but just the opposite in that he seemed to be proud to be sitting with him.

The Texan’s role was mainly that of responder.  He didn’t say much outside of, “Yup. It’ll happen,” “What’s that now?” “Yes sir, it is,” “Yes sir, I do,” saying sir to someone his age or possibly younger. He was the strong and silent type.  Silent, that is, until the Southerner brought up the issue of sweet corn.

“How about that sweet corn?” he says.

“Well golly that fresh sweet corn is good,” said the Texan and jumped in his seat a little as he said it.

“Yeah, the first time I had it I thought, ‘Woo-eee this is good.’”

“Yeah, my momma used to scrape it from the cob and put it in plastic bags for us to take on the road,” said the Texan.

“Yeah, and you can sometimes put salt or a little bit of butter on it.”

“Yeah, you can do that, but you don’t need ta. It’s good on it’s own.”

“Oh yeah, it’s good on it’s own.  But sometimes it’s good to mix it up a little bit.”

“Well I don’t know, you don’t really need to mess with things if they’s good on their own.”

“Well no, I guess not, but sometimes, sometimes it’s OK.  It’s just not the same out of a can is it?” asked the Southerner.

“No sir, I’ll never eat it out of a can again,” said the Texan.

And on and on the conversation went.

Meanwhile, in the booth directly behind me sat a trio of people who had been drinking for a while and were getting progressively louder and more social with the rest of the car.  Two of the three where siblings, a Mexican man and woman.  They spoke very little English and laughed a lot.  They were trying to teach other passengers words in Spanish, and then would laugh loudly upon hearing them.  The third person was a white haired, elderly American man who spoke very little Spanish and wasn’t interested in speaking to, or looking at, anyone else in the car but the Mexican woman.

The American man spoke very little apart from the occasional “Si seniorita” and “Here in America we speak English,” after which the other two would laugh loudly, share a few English phrases and then continue their conversation in Spanish.  The American man sat there and drank, a lot.

The train stopped at St. Louis, Missouri around 7:00pm.  Most of the people in the dinning car got off to have a smoke, or went back to their seats leaving the dinning car nearly empty.  The conductor announced that we would be doing some engine checks and would be turning off the engine, and therefor the power, for some time.  Outside it was cold, dark and the rain was coming down hard.  As the lights went off, the dinning car was lit up by nothing but the streetlights outside and you could hear nothing but the sound of rain hitting the roof – a beautiful and apparently romantic environment.

Almost immediately sounds of lips smacking together filled the air.  Clothes ruffling, soft moaning and gasps for breath quickly followed.  Behind me, the elderly American and the Mexican woman were making out fiercely and their hands were wildly exploring each others bodies.  Only myself and one other woman were in the car, and apparently our presence meant little.

“Touch me here,” she whispered.  Soon the unmistakable sound of zippers on denim followed.  After some more ruffling around there was a long pause.

“We done need a hotel room,” said the man, in a sort of exasperated tone.

“I know daddy,” she said, “I know.”  The ruffling and heavy breathing continued.

It wasn’t long after this that I decided my curiosity had been sufficiently satisfied and I left the dinning car.  When I left I heard the man say, “Looks like we have the whole car to ourselves,” and I don’t know what happened after that.  I went back into the passenger seating area in the next car where I took my seat in front of the nice, modestly dressed Quaker family sitting behind me.  The women, as well as the young girls, all wore long jean skirts and high collared shirts while some wore bonnets on their heads.  They sat soundly, smiling and innocently staring out of the window.  I smiled at one of the men as I sat down.  He smiled back.

The power stayed off for a while.  I listened to the rain in St. Louis for a long time.

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