Doggone Train – Part 2 April 2019
As the train pulled out of Fish Hoek station, Travis stepped his legs wide to stop from falling over. The 6am train wasn’t quite yet full, but he knew it was going to get fuller as they bumped, scraped and squeaked along the line to town. He bumbled a few more steps forward until he found an aisle seat next to a businessman. Travis could tell he was a businessman. He wore a suite and blue shirt and he held his laptop bag very tightly on his lap while he stared at his phone, his ears plugged closed with his earphones. Travis tried to look at what the man was watching on his phone, but he couldn’t see, and the man turned and scowled at him as he leaned too close. Mom always said that people you don’t know like their personal space. Maybe this man wanted personal space, so Travis shuffled a little way away and his leg stuck out into the aisle slightly. The man seemed less angry now.
Travis looked forward into the back of another man’s head that stuck over the seat in front of him. It was shaved, and luckily it was a good shape for a shaved head, however there were large rolls of what was probably fat, beneath the man’s skull. The fat rolls sat at the back of his neck. Tiny beads of sweat slipping out between the rolls. Travis couldn’t tear his eyes away from the bizarre physiology of the man’s head and didn’t realise there was a dog at his foot until he felt wet against his leg.
“No dogs on the train” shouted a man’s voice from behind him. Travis blinked. The dog, a mongrel was sitting next to his leg, looking up at him, its thick pink tongue lolled out of its mouth and its big brown eyes fixed their attention to Travis’s face.
“Hello boy” said Travis acknowledging the dog.
“I said, no flippin dogs on the train”.
The conductor had now walked up to Travis’s seat and glared down at him, his ticket-filled hands on his hips.
“How did you get this dog on the train boy?” demanded the conductor.
“Um, um, mister. This dog isn’t mine” stammered Travis.
”Ha! That’s a lie. Look at the dog’s face. He thinks you’re made of lamb chops. I’m a dog man my boy, I know a dog and his owner when I see them. He’s even pissed on your leg to show me you’re his” said the conductor, pointing at Travis’s wet chino pant leg.
Travis’ heart sank. How was he going to explain that a dog had peed on these pants mom had borrowed? Was Uncle Ben going to smell the dog piss when he got to town? Travis shook his head and looked at the dog. The dog seemed to smile back at him, his comical mouth moving up towards his floppy brown ears.
“Listen boy, I can’t have you and your dog on my train. Especially because the dog lifts his leg all over the blerry place. Next stop, you get off. I’ll be coming back this way to make sure you get off at Muizenberg” said the conductor, shuffling on.
“What? No please sir, I have to get to town. I’ll be late and then I won’t get the job, and then my mom will be the hell in. Please sir. I swear this isn’t my dog” pleaded Travis.
“Sorry son, but that dog is yours and you’re getting off the train next stop” said the conductor shouting over his shoulder and continuing to the next row of seats, collecting and stamping tickets as he went.
“Go away, you stupid mutt” hissed Travis.
The dog pulled his lolling tongue into his mouth and then pushed it out to the other side. Drops of saliva spilt on Travis’s shoe.
“Please man dog. Just go away” Travis couldn’t bring himself to kick the idiotic creature, so he bent over and tried to push it away, but the dog just stood up, moved and then sat back down, closer to Travis as the high pitched squeal of metal rang through the train as it slowed down to stop at Muizenberg station.
Travis thought about running to the next carriage, in the opposite direction to the conductor, but as he stood up the man was looking at him, just three rows away. He indicated that Travis was to get off. Slowly Travis made his way to the door and as the train stopped and shook slightly, the dog followed obediently. Travis reluctantly pushed the green button on the side of the doors and the train sliding door opened slowly. With a sigh, Travis stepped out of the train onto the platform and walked away from his career. The dog, its tongue now safely back in its mouth, padded along next to him.
For Part 1 click here
For Part 3 click here
For Part 4 click here
This was first published in the Billboard Magazine in April 2019