Flak – Flak – Flak – said the sign that indicated the train’s destination, as the train slowly drew out of platform 15, to the champing march of one hundred and fifty-ish commuters making their way to the station concourse and onwards to their daily toils.
I was standing under the sign examining the palms of my hands. Smooth. Never done a hard days work in his life – I thought internally. That is a terrible cliché from war films and comic books. The idea that ones background can be judged from ingrained dirt and scars and a leathery toughness of the palms.
My hands are smooth as I sit at my keyboard. Most of the strain goes on my eyes, preserving the skin on my knuckles, and I get the odd twitch from RSI. And back-ache from bad sitting posture. At least there is a shiny callous on my middle right finger from the days when I used regularly to hold my pen and write. It looks slightly like a burn, red and smooth and shiny. A dead giveaway to Sherlock Holmes, but it would tell him nothing much.
My fingernails are ragged though. I chew on them frequently and bite large slices off with which I clean between my teeth, often sawing into my gums, drawing blood. Discarded fingernail arcs are to be found scattered on my floor, and sometimes find their way to stab me in the toe tips. A small act of revenge.
My cuticles are dry and flaky, with the odd wadi canyon where I have torn a strip of skin back, ready to flash flood with a trickle of blood. So I must be a nervous person. Or obsessed with my hands to detrimental excess.
I dropped my hands to my sides (their natural position these days though seems to have become close to or resting on my face) and started down the length of the platform 15. The train was beyond the end of the platform, and was beginning to snake off around a bend. Distant trains appear to have more freedom of movement than the tracks allow, at least when viewed end on.
Now my glance turned to the red iron buffer at the termination of the track. I have always been fascinated by these. Some have huge hydraulic pistons, ready to absorb the velocity of a bandit train using only the resistive powers of compressable air. I have never seen one of these contraption’s use required, but would be most inspired if I did I am sure.
My lips felt sore, so I dug into my pockets for a stick of lip salve, popped open the top to find the stick was twisted way out, dangerously close to the possibility of breaking off and falling onto the blackened greasy platform floor. I rescued the tip of my balm, and spread what was left exposed over my lips, replaced the lid and returned the cylinder to my pocket.
By this time I suppose you were thinking that I am obsessed both by my body or/and trains. Well, I was just waiting at the station and had nothing better to do with my time.