...The Quit Smoking Express: Locomotion...
(Deadhead: A term used to describe a passenger train that is travelling along a line but is not hauling passengers)
Duende dances alongside the train tracks. He taunts me with his Spirit of temptation for the addictions that I have spent alot of my time on. He lines them up on the platform, hangs them generously from telephone lines and tree limbs. They sway gently in the wind like phantoms of children caught in untimely deaths.
The train is coming again and I am ready to get on it even if there is no one else on it. I cannot stay here with him any longer and I also cannot stop him from following me, either. I can only outrun him, outsmart him, but not outride him.
He runs up and down the track now, taunting the train driven by No One. The Wraith Conductor is not to be seen...yet. Duende giggles in maniacal tones and I shake my head at him. I know I cannot escape him. He is always just along the fringes of my thoughts and he has been there so long that he could maneuver through them with his eyes closed. But I was getting good at predicting where his spiky little head would pop up so that was progress.
Smoke was pouring out of the top of the train as it came close. I don't know alot about trains but I know that modern trains don't smoke unless something is very wrong. I knew that all of this would change now that I would be taken away from the insanity that I had been hosting for so long. It really was time to leave this current situation and not look back.
The train was suprisingly quiet as it pulled up in front of me. It was cold and dark inside but none of that mattered when there was no other choice. I held onto old handrails and walked into a pitch black windowless car. Duende joined me.
The train began to move along tracks that no longer existed. They had been dismantled long ago yet the train had traveled this way many times over the years and ran on memory and recycled energy. In the darkness I closed my eyes and just sat still as the nasty little Duende poked at me and asked me would I like anything he had to offer. I didn't answer him, he already knew what I would say if I spoke. I didn't want to speak and encourage more temptation from his sticky presence.
Dusk turned to night as I traveled in perpetual shadow. The ceasing of my speaking gave me time to listen. Without being able to see or speak, I was hearing instructions on how I could eventually outsmart this particular Duende, the Duende of Gluttonous Persuasion. I couldn't do it with others around me, telling me it was okay to have this and that once in awhile. They didn't know me and how addictive and compulsive I was. It didn't take much to convince me that the sparkling red sugar crystals on the beautiful buttercream frosting was okay because it was the holidays or someones birthday.
I could taste that on my tongue and it created a phantom layer upon it before the thought even finished crossing my mind. Was this what would happen to me now? As I moved away from the physical and material threats by literally moving myself physically away would it help wean me from the substances? Could I just literally imagine the taste of these things and be satisfied with that? After all, I had ingested more than my share of Peppermint Bark last year.
Duende screamed at me then and my eyes flew open. Blue fires were burning around me and I was sweating in the darkness but I was not being burned by the dangerously close flames. There seemed to be long feathered birds fluttering their narrow wings in the inferno...was I dead...again?
A door opened with a loud screech as the flames reached the top of the car. A man stepped in and walked through the flames. He went straight for the Duende who was screaming as loud as he could with his hands over his ears. He picked him up and opened the door at the opposite end and quickly tossed him out. I don't know if he was in the next car or out on the track but I knew he was gone for the moment.
The man turned and walked back through the fire that was now dieing down. He didn't even glance at me as he exited the way he entered. I could only see because the flames lit the room but now they were almost dead and the car was colder than ever. My fingers were like icicles as I rubbed my eyes in an effort to try to see. Everything was so dark and cold that I just stopped trying and lay down against the chilling steel floor. I could die one more time here.
A blue light brought me back from my discomfort. It pulsed and grew inside my forehead until I was blind with its rays. I turned my head from side to side, as if it could be shaken off. It made me ache with deliberate intention to stop it, to sit still and wait. The train was no longer moving. I was no longer moving. Light tried to escape the top of my head and I tried to put my arms up to reach it, I realized they were hanging in dead sleep at my sides. Other arms, ethereal and astral, did reach up and received light that was coming down through the top of the car.
I felt myself stand up and the light came blazing down through the rest of me. Something black and scurrying ran off and into the creases between the steel plates of floor and I suddenly felt alive...again.