Night Wandering

We are the night wanderers. The ones who clear up and clear off before you get up. We are the datatypists who sit and work when the sun disappears behind the horizon, our endless work is never done. The call-center callers, the trouble shooters and silent carers, the night shift workers who the daytime never greets.
We are not the party goers or the weekend rousers, cruising the streets of our tiny lives looking for big shots. We are the last ones heading home with clear heads after whatever work we have had the (dis) pleasure to do, the midnight commuters who will sleep until noon. The world passes us by, always in the dark, the fading city lights flying past in a quiet world.
At the end of the day, when the night is departing, we still travel, sharing our silent commute with those who will regret tomorrow. The train to somewhere with the fat,lecherous drunk with drool skipping down his shirt front – who leers red-eyed at the petite 20-something blonde who is sobbing loudly into her shiny pink phone. Her alcohol whimpers of distress wrinkle her face and now she looks like the woman she will be in 20 years.
Two middle-aged men, not quite prime and not yet seedy, are discussing farming. How to pay for it, how to grow carrots and recycle the tops – is composting viable on a gentleman’s farm? How many lackies are needed so the farmer never needs get his hands dirty? One of the men draws a plan of carrot beds in the sticky grime of the restaurant table-top, wetting his finger in the warm, flat beer in front of him. The plastic cup shivers as his finger, over and over again, is doused in the yellow contents, an impromptu pen. The grimy garden gets bigger as the table gets wetter, their conversation louder, now they are wondering if cows eat carrots?
The restaurant car is closed but all the tables are occupied. Mine is in the far corner, away from the drunks, the blondes and the farmers. Besides them, there is canoodling couple, a woman eating a sandwich with a look of murder on her face and a pensive young man who eyes her food, stares at the canoodlers and probably wants to murder them all.
The letch rises uncertainly to his unsteady feet, obviously intent on comforting the sobbing blonde. He holds the back of a chair, burping as he does so, and makes his move. The train has other ideas, now lurching suddenly to the left, the man falls across the girl’s table, and she hits him with her handbag. He rights himself, spittle freely slopping onto her arm, bag and the table. Another thud from her handbag send him staggering to the next table, where he falls unceremoniously into an empty chair. The blonde fiddles uncomfortably and seems to have forgotten for a moment to be distraught.
No one sees me, the last end of forty in the far corner, on her way home to nothing in particular. I am a night wanderer, commuting when others are tired of being amused. The rhythmic hum and quiver of the train is my night song. My elbows rest on the greasy table, while my eyes search the dark outside the window for nothing at all.
I will get to my station, the final stop, with an empty platform to greet me, without the crowds and the jostle. The couple will disentangle their myriad of limbs and rush off to the normalcy of a bed, sandwich lady will toss a napkin on the floor and leave in a huff, the farmers, the drunk, the blonde and the odd young man will disembark and shamble off into the darkness of the town, in the same direction but far apart.
I will nod to the cleaners, pushing their trolleys of brushes and buckets into the train. They will make it pretty now for the morning crowds I will never see. Tomorrow night, no better than anyone else, I will sit at my table and wonder if anyone ever cleans anything at all, my momentary acknowledgment forgotten in the passing of another night.
I like my seat at the end of the restaurant coach, where I can watch the drunks and the blondes and know, that no matter how long I sit there, no one will ever see me.


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