For 23 years now Jeffrey Hamilton never once got up in the morning and dreaded his security job at the train station. He heard and saw a lot at the station. People travelling home for Christmas, those commuting to jobs they hated, choked by their ties on their way to the daily grind. Young people travelling to airports to see the world, young lovers meeting on platforms. Conversations he never meant to eavesdrop on, but somehow always managed to hear. It was like he was meant to.
His life had cycled and changed, as life does. But always steadfast in his heart was his job.
The kids went off to college thanks to the many bonus cheques and overtime he put into the grand old station, and there was that one time he helped the CIA with that massive drug bust a few years ago. The newspaper cutting with his picture now held pride of place in the family album. It smelled of dust and was now turning brown. But still, it cleared the mortgage.
In many ways, he had a lot to thank the station for.
That morning started like any other morning before it, for Jeff. He rose to the smell of buttered pancakes in the kitchen and the wonderful hum of his wife’s voice. He took a big intake of breath, the content type, that makes your chest quiver a little.
The familiar sound of his slippers slowly and steadily shuffling across the floor boards above signalled to Patty that Jeff was awake. She poured a glass of orange juice into a tall glass and sat it beside the pancakes and bacon that she had made so lovingly. A domino effect. This ritual, set in stone since they can remember. Infinitum.
A crisp shirt sat on the back of the chair. The smell of starch and the thick, fixed lines ironed deep into the sides and arms of the shirt didn’t falter under Jeff’s thick thumb as it travelled along them.
For all his previous military service in the marine corps, Jeff thought to himself, it was like Patty had served herself, pressing and ironing uniforms to the finest detail. She could probably stand up better to the interfering Sergeant Major a lot better too he thought, and a grin creeped sideways across his mouth. Patty saw this childish grin she fell for all those years ago and a youthful smile danced in her eyes, even though they were now wrinkled. She felt Jeff’s strong hands squeeze her shoulders and he kissed her neck just below her earlobe.
It was the little things they loved about each other.
Jeff chewed on the crispy bacon and thought about all he had to do that day. He wished he had gone in an hour earlier to keep an eye on the new newspaper guy. He could have sworn he saw him somewhere before and he didn’t like the look of him. It was harder to get out of bed now. Now that Jeff’s bones creaked and he felt his age. But there was life in the old dog yet.
He finished up breakfast, shrugged on the crisp shirt, grabbed his belt and kissed Patty goodbye as she did up his tie and handed him a coffee in a travel mug at the same time.
The journey to the station wasn’t long for Jeff. He crossed over ambassador bridge, the morning sun bright in the blue sky. He entered the Corktown district of Detroit. Approximately 3/4 of a mile southwest of downtown Detroit. He checked the clock on the dash, 08:15am. It took him precisely 2 and a half minutes longer to get to work today. He observed commuters briskly walking through Roosevelt Park that served as the entrance way to the station. He noted the Community Rehabilitation Centre and it’s members building a memorial fountain and planting bright flowers. He was happy to be a part of this programme that offered addicts the opportunity to learn new skills. Jeff was never so pleased to hear the mayor declare the reopening of the station back in 1994 after Amtrak ceased to operate from there. The station was not just a station to Jeff. It was part of the community of Detroit and it was where his parents first met. It was also more than a station to him because of the high profile expensive historical paintings that hung in the grand hallways. They always seemed at home there in this gothic train station. Sometimes it gave Jeff an eery feeling but this was the very reason why Jeff was hired, and another reason why no one knew of the high tech security equipment that hid behind the walls of the oval security office and all over the station.
Jeff entered through the back security gate and he pulled up his jeep in the reserved spot for him, head security officer. His bunch of keys jingled on his belt as he strode down the station platform to the security office where he was to take over from the night shift from Bart Hendleman. Too many times now he had walked in on Hendleman asleep on the job, but he was a good kid and had straightened himself out. Mrs. Hendleman came to Jeff after the death of her husband, to try and get Bart into a job. He had become depressed and dropped out of a football scholarship. But Jeff knew how these kind of kids worked, he saw them everyday in the marine corp and turned out many a fine marine.
The low hum of the monitors and the faint scent of honeysuckle air freshener was almost homely to Jeff. This was his fort. He glanced quickly over the various monitors on the wall. Everything seemed just as it should be. He turned to see Bart, one shoulder rested against the door frame, the other shoulder draped in one of his mothers finest Egyptian cotton towels. He yawned and smiled at Jeff at the same time. His whispy, college boy hair resting on his forehead. The sun was in it, gold flecks sparkling here and there. Jeff teased him about it all the time, telling him he should have applied to Abercrombie & Fitch and not the security office. Although, Jeff was thankful for the quarter backs well built physique when running those wayward teenagers out of the station. He was glad to have him around, especially since Joe, his eldest son had gone off to college. There was something special about the kid. You could see it in those sea blue eyes.
Jeff was comfortable to say he could entrust Bart with the station when his retirement day came round.
“Everything above board here kid? No trouble with those kids from downtown?” Jeff always consciously tried to not sound military. That was a chapter he had closed.
Bart’s twinkling blue eyes were unusually humorous for this hour of the morning. His voice had a slight southern twang from the summers he spent with his fathers family in Louisiana. It made him very popular with the ladies here in Detroit.
“I made sure there was fresh coffee in the pot and I kept an extra close eye on that newspaper guy you were tellin’ me about”.
Jeff turned towards the monitor and used the toggle to zoom in on the new newspaper stand. Everything seemed normal. But normal never did sit right with Jeff, and he decided he would continue to keep an eye on him.
“So, how did your big date go the other night? Did you do the ‘Bart man’ for her?!”. Jeff broke into hysterical laughing, his laugh bending him in two, one hand holding his hip, the other draped over the big leather swivel chair in front of the monitors. He always teased Bart about his first name whenever the occasion presented itself, and he always took full advantage. Bart lunged at Jeff and the two jostled like teenagers in the small oval office.
“You think you’re so funny old man, she loved the Bart man, she had me up all that night which is why I gotta hit the road and catch myself some Z’s. I’m meeting her for lunch. Man, she is a firecracker”.
Jeff didn’t question that Bart had found himself a catch, the kid looked like something fresh off a catwalk.
“Hit the road kid, but if you ever wanna introduce her to a real man you know where to bring her” Jeff teased Bart.
Bart stuck his hip out to one side and mouthed ‘What evvvverrrr’ making a loser sign on his forehead as he backed out the door.
He loved that kids sense of humour and the friendship they had found in one another.
Chapter 3 coming soon!!!
Thanks for reading!! x