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8 8 8 8 8 Lives go to pieces incrementally, not all at once, although it may take some of us a while to notice. Man wakes up in the middle of an empty field with his arms swinging; his heart is doing cartwheels while his head struggles to catch up. Over, he thinks, with the hammer behind his eyes thudding against his frontal bone: dawning terror, followed by recognition. My life is over. His head jerks and hits plastic. Oh. Dream. I’m on the train. He unfolds his crumpled ticket and holds it up for the waiting conductor. Get hold of yourself, Travers. You’re not crossing the Styx or anything, you’re going to the city for a meeting. But he can’t stop the sound of the mallet pounding inside his skull, unless it’s the thunder of his own blood: Duh. Duh-duh-duh-duh. Duh. Travers clutches his Nokia and cell phones home. “I’m on the train.” The woman keyboarding next to him growls, “We know.” “Can you hear me? I’m on the train.” There may be sound at the other end but it isn’t loud enough to make out. “Sandra? It’s me, Dave. Can you hear me?” He raises his voice, in case. He really means, do you love me, but he’s afraid to ask. Around Travers, the regulars reading newspapers or tap-tapping on notebooks and PDAs frown and clear their throats. The passenger shouting into his cell phone is disrupting the flow. They all have their habits and know each other on sight. They are easy here because they do this every day; they muse or work or sleep on the train and time disappears, whereas Travers is new and every second has an edge. He doesn’t do like they do, he is uncoordinated and gauche; he’s talking too loud. He should learn to keep his head down and his elbows close to his sides. It isn’t Dave’s fault; he doesn’t know. Dave Travers isn’t your ordinary commuter . In fact, he hasn’t been to the city since he took Sandra to the World Trade Center on their anniversary, the year before the fall. He doesn’t fit in with the regulars on this morning milk run; he isn’t a broker or a banker or a lawyer who chose to commute so the kids could grow up in a town with grass, he’s a junior college professor doing everything within his power to bring himself up in the world. He’s only teaching college because his folks said he was too smart to work at Kmart and he can’t think of anything else to do. Incursions Incursions 327 He’s never wanted to teach. He doesn’t like it and he hates his middle aged night-schoolers with their moist, uncomprehending stares. He hates not being any better than he is. It’s not as though he ever will be, either, except in one respect. Unlike most people, he knows it. Still there are changes he can make. He has a meeting in New York today, a travel agency interviewing possible on-site people they can post to Mexican Hat to lead their Monument Valley tours, tailor made for a guy who is sick of his life. At least that’s what Travers tells himself. He does, after all, know a little something about the West, having read about it for years. What’s it really like in Mexican Hat? Would Sandra like it there? He doesn’t know. All he knows is that they both need a change. “Sandra?” He’s calling her all the way from this train, roving charges and all that implies, and so far she hasn’t even said hello. “I know you’re there Sandra, can you hear me!” Around him the regulars look up, annoyed. He just can’t go on the way he is. He taps the phone and says, louder: “Can you hear me?” Six passengers chorus, “If we can hear you, they can hear you.” “Oh, Sandra.” He presses his open mouth to the Nokia as though he can inhale her response and save it to examine later. The phone is dead empty. He says anyway, “I’m on the train.” If that’s all he is, why won’t the mallet stop thumping behind his frontal bone? I’m only on the train, going to the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780819573506
Print ISBN
9780819573490
MARC Record
OCLC
858052734
Pages
432
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-20
Language
English
Open Access
N
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