Here comes a story riding a train.

The train has its secrets and its stories. I'm betting the train tells me one of them.
The train has its secrets and its stories. I’m betting the train tells me one of them.

I HAD WRITTEN a single line. Don’t know why. The line came to me in the night and was still hanging around comel morning.

I wrote: He awoke on a train and had no idea how he got there, where he was going, or why he was on board.

That’s all. It didn’t amount to much. Maybe it never would.

I felt his cool breath on my neck before I realized he was there.

The Muse was looking over my shoulder.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“Not sure,” I said.

The Muse watched while I wrote the next four lines.

He looked out the window.

It was night.

The sky was dark.

No moonlight touched the ground.

“What’s his name?” the Muse asked.

“Don’t know.”

“He have a name?”

“Not yet.”

I kept writing.

He looked around the compartment.

He was alone.

A suitcase lay at his feet.

He tried to open it.

The suitcase was locked.

“Is it a mystery?” the Muse asked.

“It is to me.”

“Is he the hero?”


“You planning on killing him off?”

“Don’t know why I would.”

“You usually do,” the Muse said.

I shrugged.

The Muse was a smug little bastard.

“Where is he going?” the Muse asked.

“He doesn’t know.”

“Do you?”

“Don’t have a clue.”

“Where’s he from?

“Hasn’t said.”

I kept writing.

A newspaper was unfolded on the seat beside him.

He looked down and scanned the headlines.

It was written in some language other than his own.

But the headlines were big.

The story must be important.

He saw the image of a woman looking at him from the printed page.

Her eyes were large.

And dark.

They were piercing.

They were full of trouble.

Her hair was light, probably blonde.

He blinked.

So did she.

“The woman’s a photograph,” the Muse said.

I nodded.

“How’d she blink?” he wanted to know.

“He sees things.”

“Does he hear things, too?”


I kept writing.

He looked for a name at the top of the page.

It said Katowice.

It sounded familiar.

He knew he had never been there.

He had no reason to go there.

“What’s he doing in Poland?” the Muse asked.

“Riding a train.”

“And he doesn’t know why.”

“He’s confused.”


“He just woke up.”

“He must know why he boarded the train.”

“Makes sense that he does.”

“You need to tell us.”

“Not necessarily.”

“Why?” the Muse wanted to know.

“I read once that you should come into the story late.”

I shrugged.

The Muse frowned.

“I’m coming in late,” I said.

“Why bother,” the Muse said.

“I love trains,” I said.

“I love the night,” I said.

“I love a mystery,” I said.

“Then somebody’s dying,” the Muse said.

“Maybe somebody’s already dead.”

“Did the man on the train kill him?”

“I’m betting the blonde did,” I said.

“I’m sure she had her reasons.”

“She had six of them,” I said.

“How do you figure?”

“One for each bullet in the chamber of her revolver.”

“She must have thought it would cleanse her soul.”

I shrugged again.

“That’s the way it is with salvation,” I said. “It’s easier to pull the trigger than forgive.



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  • You have the best conversations with your Muse!

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Alicia, on some days he’s the only one who will talk with me.

      • Some days I’d have been better off if mine hadn’t talked to me – but I’m not going to tell her that. That task is for a stouter heart than mine.

        • Caleb Pirtle

          I have a conscience. My Muse doesn’t.

    • Doesn’t he? I just love them.

  • Don Newbury

    Uncle Mort says he’s had some muse sightings in the thicket. May be a relative of your muse. Last I heard, Mort’s afraid he’d require equal time, so he ain’t looking hard….

    • Caleb Pirtle

      The Muse of the Thicket is Uncle Mort.

  • Wow. Powerful last line.

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