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The Remains of the Night

Updated on April 26, 2020
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I am the lump in the back of your throat, that sense of foreboding you try to suppress. I am the scream that cannot escape your lips!

The Remains Of The Night

There's just something lonely about the baleful sound of a distant train in the chill night air. Late at night or in the early hours of the morning, it has a desperate, melancholic tone, like the wail of a disembodied soul wandering through darkness. Trains. Always coming, always going, carrying their occupants along their journey, transporting them from one station to another, A perpetual state of arrivals and destinations as they ferry weary travellers, neither awake nor asleep.

Tonight it seems I can't sleep. And so I too am left to wander down dark deserted streets. The random porch light or the occasional bark of a dog are my only companions along my bleak journey. A waning crescent moon silhouttes me, dangling amongst the barren outstretched branches of leafless trees. It's dim light casts a weak shadow. Above me a black carpet of stars, beneath me a carpet of fallen leaves. And yet, as I walk, I can't hear the sound of leaves crunching beneath my feet. The moon and the garish glow of streetlights are no match for the indigo blackness of the night.

Lonely walks in sleepless nights seems to be my lot of late.

And so I walk...

Along the way I have somehow managed to circumnavigate back to the origin of my late night jaunt. It's my house. I'm not sure how, if by design or by happenstance. Lights out, a lone car parked in the driveway... everything looks secure. I stop to stare at the meager structure, It's occupants long gone to bed for the night. The eirie glow of a TV left on shines through a window. I pause to indulge in the pleasant memories this non-descript place is able to conjure. A smile spreads across my face, the first one in a long time. And for the first time since, I feel a sudden warmth come over me in the cold of the night.

One last look ...and then I press on.

Eventually my aimless wanderings and morose thoughts carry me along as I traverse this meandering route. My destination seems to be a place. Not just any place. I feel as if I've been here before.

Tonight, I am alone.

How can that be???

But that night not that long ago there was a bustle of activity in this very place as strangers, people whom I had never met, converged on the scene. They're here to see me but we don't converse. No one speaks to me. Not a word. They talk about me as if I were not there to hear every thing they say. Garish blue nights penetrate the darkness as men in uniform collect evidence. A photographer snaps the only evidence of the remains, a chalk line that marks where the victim lay, once reposed on a bed of grit and blood-stained concrete. On that night, a hearse waits to transport its lone occupant to the morgue. And then that baleful sound in the distance! Before the hearse carries the corpse away, I steal a look at the body inside. That face! I recognize it... but how can that be?!! And then I hear the lonesome sound, the sound of another disembodied soul. Or was it just another train?

The hearse pulls away leaving me in shock. All I can do now is to resume my wanderings.

That baleful sound...

I pause to linger a while longer, rehearsing the events of that fateful night. Not sure where I've been, not sure where I'm going. I don't know why I've been left behind but here I am. Some purpose, some reason detains me, prevents my departure. Perhaps the reason will come to me during one of my lonely long night excursions.

And so I walk...

And then a car, lights glaring, turns my way. I make no effort to avoid the oncoming vehicle as it careens toward me.

He doesn't see me. but then, he can't!

The car has now gone. I remain.

And then... off in the distance, that baleful sound of a train piercing the cold night air. It's lonesome wail reverberates. Perhaps the wail of a distant locomotive ...or maybe the sound of a wandering disembodied soul.

Can you hear it?

Those lonely nights...

Lonely walks on sleepless nights seems to be my lot in life. Since that time. And so I press on. Only to find myself at a place, not just any place. I've been here before!

© 2010 Jim Henderson


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