In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
The South. The early 1940s. Lights up on a small-town train
depot. There's a bench, a rack of magazines and not much more. A
CLERK, a middle-aged white woman with a plain, round face, sits
behind the ticket window. She's reading a magazine and drinking
from a bottle of soda. A radio plays softly—popular music of the
period. The CLERK occasionally fans herself with the magazine. The
air outside is hot and still, but inside the depot there's a
ceiling fan running to ease the sweltering heat.
The screen door to the depot squeaks open and MAN CODY, a
ninety-eight-year-old black man, enters, carrying a child's
suitcase. His body is thin but firm under his brown suit, pale blue
shirt and tie. He wears a hat. His black shoes are powdered with
dust. His skin is like beautiful brown leather and his eyes have
grown milky-blue with the years. He puts his suitcase down, removes
his hat and mops his brow with his handkerchief. He opens a small
purse and looks inside, then closes it. He picks up his suitcase
and crosses to the ticket window. His gait is slow but sure. He
stands at the ticket window, waiting to be acknowledged. The CLERK
does not see him.
Can I help you?
When's the train run?
Well, where to?
'Way from here. My wife died. Just come straight here from her
Got it on my shoes.
[He looks at his dusty shoes.]
I don't need to be here no more.
Where do you want to go?
When my boy . . . he's way grown now for sure . . . when he
left here, he went that way.
That way's east.
Do you know where your boy is now?
I seen him go east. He like it out that way, guess. He ain't
come back since.
[He looks toward the door.]
When's the train run east?
Now I can't get you east right off. You have to go north and
then you have to make a change.
That's the way he went.
That's fine, but you have to go north first if you want to go
east. The trains from here don't go east.
The train don't run east?
No. The trains from here go north and south, you see?
North and south?
Up and down.
Yes. You can get east, but you have to go north to Point Lee
It's the fourth stop from here, going north. You change
[Pause. MAN CODY thinks.]
That's what you want if you want to go east.
You say the train stops three times 'fore it gets where it's
It makes stops in Still Creek, Lowe, Bruel and then Point Lee.
You change trains and go east from Point Lee, hear? You want a seat
to Point Lee?
He went that way. What time's the next train to Point
It's due in here at 5:10.
How long from now is that?
Half an hour. You want a seat?
If north gets me east, guess I do.
[The CLERK prepares the ticket. MAN CODY gets his purse and
takes out two one-dollar bills.]
That's three, please.
[MAN CODY takes out another dollar and gives the CLERK the
three dollars. MAN CODY counts the few dollars he has left. The
CLERK gives him the ticket.]
[Looking at the ticket] This say I got a seat?
[Sincerely] You can't read?
No. My wife could some, though. That was a lot next to me.
Just come from the grave . . .
[Pause. He looks at the ticket.]
That's your seat to Point Lee. Give it to the man on the train