Thursday, April 7, 2011

Simon; Alan

Simon: Seen on the Purple Line to Linden at about 8:10 a.m.

Simon sat near the emergency exit of the train car in the single seat facing inward.  In a way, his seating position was a good description of his character.  Alone and in a slightly different direction than everyone else.  That was Simon.  His greasy black hair fell over his closed eyes as he contemplated this.

Eventually he pulled his MacBook out of his bag and began to work.  Simon was a freelance video game reviewer for several small publications.  But that's not what he wanted to do.  He wanted to be a magician. Not some hack who performed at kids parties, but a proper, Houdini-style magician.  A magician who could fill large theaters with crowds and make them all gasp with terror and delight at his amazing feats.

The problem was that nobody was capable of being filled with wonder anymore.  The world had become too reasonable, and people dismissed even the most epic magical acts as mere trickery.  Not that he objected to the word "trickery."  Magic was, after all, highly skilled trickery.  But he did object to the word "mere" being used to describe it.  "Mere" implied that the tricks were unimportant and frivolous.  Modern audiences had failed to understand that magic comes from their willingness to believe in tricks, to regard tricks with the awe and respect that they deserve.

Simon stroked his beard as he thought.  No, the current world was a sad one, in which magic was seen as simple deceit, and was therefore rejected.  If only he could find a way to make people want to believe again...

"This is Howard.  Transfer to Red and Yellow Line trains at Howard."

It was Simon's stop.  He shoved his computer back into his bag, leapt off the train, and disappeared into the crowd.

Alan: Seen on the Metra Union Pacific North Line to Kenosha at about 5:35 p.m.

It had been a long day at the office, and quite frankly, Alan observed to himself, it was not easy to relax on a Metra train.  He felt cramped sitting on the upper level of the train, stuffed into the tiny gray seat, suffocating in his dress shirt and tie.  At the moment he'd have given anything for a Goose Island Green Line.

He settled for the next best thing: a book.  He zipped open his orange backpack and pulled out a large, hardcover copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes.  "Leaning back" as much as it was physically possible to lean back in a Metra seat, Alan opened up the book to where he had left off, in the middle of "The Dying Detective."

His coworkers at the insurance company didn't like to read.  While they talked about sports at lunch, Alan would always ignore them with a book.  He had enjoyed reading for as long as he could remember,  and Sherlock Holmes had been a special favorite ever since one of his high school teachers had leant him a copy.

When he was young he wanted to be a detective--to observe details that others missed, to solve seemingly inexplicable puzzles.  And he wanted to bring justice to the world.  Then, his freshman year of college, he met Valerie.  He fell in love, he married her, and he finished up his college career studying insurance in order to support her.  He had never regretted marrying her for a second, but whenever he read Sherlock Holmes his old dreams became vivid in his mind once again.

Suddenly he looked up.  He realized that he could never have been a detective, not when he was so forgetful.  It was Valerie's birthday, and he hadn't bought her a thing.  He sighed deeply and shoved his book back into his bag.  Time to get creative.

I decided to do two entries today in order to entertain myself on the Metra.  I came back to the burbs because tomorrow night I fly to Denver to visit my wonderful friend Leta!  (By the way, you should definitely read her blog, Brain or Shine.)  Well, that's all for now.  I'm going to go play with my dogs.  Sounds like a good plan. 


  1. I liked both of these a lot! The "disappeared into the crowd" line was a great reference to magic.

    I am super stoked to see you!

  2. Yeah, I think the "Simon" story was better than "Alan." But "Alan" was rushed, so, you know...

    I'm excited to see you, too!!!!!

  3. I think Simon is my favorite one you've done so far. Have fun in Denver!!


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