“It is incredibly important to tell love stories
that take place in train bathrooms,
if not for the absolute impossibility
of their romance alone.”
As the train slowed, after hours of complete darkness, into the Klamath Falls stop, the lowly lit amber streetlights pardoned his eyes like candlelit kites passing too quickly to count. All he knew of Klamath Falls was it was one of the only two “fresh air” breaks in which he would be allowed to step off the train and smoke. He figured with ten hours left in the ride and his hunger and boredom waxing, at the very least the marijuana would help the poor selection of microwaveable dinners available in the cafe car seem more appetizing.
The dying bulbs lit the snow grey and unassuming as he stepped off the train and into the smoking section of the platform. As far he could tell, there were two kinds of train smokers: the boisterous social ones that smoked like they just itched off three plums in a row on a lottery scratcher at a convenience store and won a peasant’s fortune, and the ones that had to have the cigarette all to themselves. He chose the strong silent types, they smoked alone, even though it seemed as if any one of them could be on the lam from the law.
“That’s not tobacco,” she said, commenting on the large plumes of vapor coming out of his mouth.
It was a fine introduction, no doubt, he later surmised.
“It’s mostly breath, I think, honestly, I’m sure. It’s so cold out here; I have absolutely no idea how big of a hit I’m actually getting. Do you want to try?”
He handed her the pen-sized pot-laced vaporizing e-cigarette.
“You’re right,” She took two generous hits after a first and finished her statement with, “we're either three feet deep or we’re reinventing the shovel.”
He agreed, and when she handed him back the electric pipe, he said, “Thanks,” and headed back onto the train.
Hours after that stop a curve somewhere along the line teethed the train’s rails to scream. It was not a long screech; it was sharp. It woke him to find sobriety, a full bladder, and a taunting neck cramp-so he headed downstairs to solve it.
She’s pretty, he thought, when they bumped into each other in line for the bathroom.
She asked him, “Are you really pissing or trying to sneak something?”
He knew then that she must have been able to spot the pipe hiding in his fist and jacket cuff, he smiled, like she was worth way too much.
“If I were you, I’d blow it straight down the sink with the water running, or in the vacuum of the toilet right after you flush it.” She told him.
“Honestly?” Half asleep, he said, “I was going to blow it really slowly into a pad of toilet paper.”
Here they were, in the bottom of the last car, the coach class of an Amtrak, debating how to hide the vapor from his electric pipe.
Hours earlier they had no clue how much steam was vapor, and how easily they could embellish their lungs from the warmth of their throats.
Now at the front of the bathroom line, once a stall opened up, she welcomed him in.
With the door held open and her eyes locked on him she said, “If we shotgun the hit the smoke doesn’t stand a chance.”
He followed her into a tiny warm place after meeting her in a vast cold place.
He hit the pipe and then blew it into her lips. He tried not to kiss her. He fought the train’s vibrations, the curves in the tracks; he wanted to keep it professional. She pulled the smoke from him and fought a smile, and then she fought her curiosity and her ambivalence.
They were well disciplined, just two shotguns, somewhere along the Sierra Nevada, in a bathroom, on a train, hiding smoke.