I: Human Carriage

Always several unreal things cross my mind when I encounter empty things.
Be them… muraled bottles… or cans…
Theatres… cars… terminals…
Train carriages? Train cars?
We tend to call this type of thing a carriage. Though it is, technically, a car. Not a carriage.
But everyone calls them carriages.
Just makes it… easier. Carriages carry. Except
they don’t when they’re empty.
Do they?

That is what I mean. Unreal things – like the unrealness of the whispers of people who have sat there and who will – cross my mind when I encounter empty things. I have great desires to fill the space.
But that’s another thing, I can fill this space. In this carriage, I can fill it.
Make the collateral whispers into screams as physicalities take form.
And I can serve them their lukewarm waters, point them in the direction of the on-board shoddy bathroom.
While they wait and stew in the Human Carriage.
Because! -you see, you see!
I am the Human Carriage Maestro.
They bow by my hand, holding the unprestigious door open for them.
I guide them with a flourish of gloved fingers to their direction of seat.
And I tell them to have a pleasant trip.

I get the most gruesome duty of all though, too, which is picking up after the people. And that’s less mundane than it sounds, especially once you consider the emptiness. Because the carriage can be full but the emptiness can be more vivid than ever at that point too.
The contrast, see. So difficult to see through. It’s like a fog.
But.
But! Come and view my Human Carriage. Look at the colours if you’d like, the red
handles on the doors. I re-painted them with my own hand the other week.
And the paint’s already flaking.
Dreadful shame.
Did I just waste
my
time?

Well. That answer looks to be a stout but firm yes from the audience. The crowd. The gameshow contestant. None of which exist anyway. But. Either way.
Leave the handles here, the red will flake off on my gloves if I should touch them anymore.
God.
I’ll touch them up when I stop being depressed about how I wasted my time.
But with better paint.
Certainly, definitely, better paint.
I sigh as I walk.

Rounding the edge of the platform – or rather, going through the rusted chainlink fence to the corner and leaping off with a little shriek of enjoyment on my part – I begin to notice the breathy huddle I have come to be familiar with.
They’re mostly the same this season. About five to eight potential passengers, always huddled together like sardines. Or is it penguins that huddle?
Both perhaps. One in the ocean. The other, terra firma.
Before I make my prescence known – they’re slightly raised above where I stand, they’re on the first, second, third and fourth steps up to the platform real, whilst I am beside it near all the nettles and mulberries and goarses – I have a quick look at them all.
Mother and child, that’s two of the six I have this eve.
Then we have two men, wearing similar shirts.
But they’re standing apart from each other. Either they are strangers – probably – or they are…
Enemies?
Possibly.
Both in sort of pinkish-red plaid. I’m not sure I like it.
Who are the others, a young man – not in plaid – with sandy hair. And a girl.
Who seems to have a suspicious moustache-like thing. Dark hair.
She looks very odd. I cannot take my eyes off her lip. Her upper lip.
Very strange.
But nevertheless! These people are my people for now. All mine.
And soon they’ll be my carriage’s people.
And I’ll be their Maestro.
I do love being the Maestro.
Despite the cleaning up after them.

I know already these people have been briefed for the journey. Not too long, at least, they won’t know it is. For me, the journey seems to lengthen each time.
Or sometimes it shortens… maybe sometimes I get used to it and sometimes I am tired.
But for them it lasts no longer than half an hour to forty-five minutes. Usually.
Well. It depends how quickly they all go. Or how quickly I get around them all.
After all.
I am their Maestro.

I make myself known to the stupendous six, adding myself into their midst to bring the total headcount to seven.
If the child can be counted as a head. It’s very small.
Six months? Less? More? I’ve never been good at estimating age with babies.
Or did I call it a child?
It matters not.
I sidle up to them either way, pulling at my wrists. Where my gloves come down.
The white palms so pure.
But slightly stained with palm-sweat of the months.
Very much in my size.

I draw their gazes with a slight –ahem and by throwing my arms wide.
Six pairs of eyes on me.
I am their Maestro.
-Good evening.
-I am your Maestro for the next few hours.
I offer them a bow, very sleek and elegant. As I return their transfixed gazes slowly, I see how they all possess the same watery-looking sleep in the corners of their eyes. All breathing slowly, all calm, all with hair slightly out of place.
I smile, -Welcome to the Human Carriage. We are set to board. So. Do follow me, say I, before turning with yet more intense flourishes. I hop-skip-jump up the stairs, landing on my toes, all too happy to lead yet another group into my carriages.
It’ll be nice to take the journey again, I always think that.
Even if it does become lonely after a little while.
After about half an hour to forty-five minutes.

 

II: Human Carriage

 

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