Synopsis: The senator used to be a judge, a no-nonsense kind of judge. Threw the book at a lot of convicts. Not all of them appreciated his tough stance on crime.
It was sunny in Georgia when I left. The trees were just burdened with fruit, almost ripe; a bumper crop waiting to be gathered. So I picked some and jumped the next train through with a whole bag just waiting to ripen.
Of course, the prison guards were probably nosing around in town for me while I was out picking, probably taking a look at that clothing store that got robbed the night I left. Clothes missing and a little cash gone. And shoes. New shoes for a change. It was nice to be out of those prison uniforms.
I pulled out a peach and sliced it up, eating a little as I watched the scenery go by from the boxcar door. Juice dribbled a bit, the peaches starting to ripen. A couple fellows jumped into the car as it slowed down outside of Knoxville. Lots of people traveling by their thumbs since the market crashed. I shifted the gun in my belt to get a better grip but they were friendly enough. They passed me a cigarette. I shared a peach with them and they slept some with juice on their shirts. I didn’t. I jumped off at the train yard in the next town and started walking a spell. There were lots of trains, some old and listing on the tracks like a row of old men sleeping in the sun.
I munched a peach as I wandered around the yard. I intended to get to D.C. shortly, but the freedom of wandering among the trains right now was intoxicating. I was sure they had bulletins out on me by now. I wasn’t much worried. I had the gun and a date with a senator on Tuesday. Used to be a judge out where I was from. We had business.
“Hey!” A voice behind me brought me back to reality. I tossed the peach pit to the ground and stood waiting. A police officer walked toward me, his boots crunching on the gravel. The brown bag of peaches dangled from my left hand.
“What brings you out here? If you are trying to catch a train, the terminal is over there,” he pointed off to the east. He stopped and rested his right hand on the handle of the revolver strapped to his waist.
“Yeah, I know. I just like old trains. Reminds me of when I was a kid.” I shrugged and looked around at the trains.
“The company doesn’t allow folks to just walk around out here. It’s not safe and they don’t like people hopping trains. I think it would be best if you went back to the terminal.” He turned his back as someone called to him about an all-points bulletin. He turned back to me. I offered him a peach. When I left, he had the juice all over the front of his jacket.
That senator stuck in my craw, though. When he was a judge, he was the kind that didn’t like lawbreakers and threw the book at ‘em. I didn’t expect that he’d ever listen to my story. Best just to get down there and do what I had to do and get it all over with. Things are just what they are sometimes.
Time I hopped another freight train. This one took me all the way to D.C. I knew the senator was coming into to the station there. Rumor was that he was going to be the Attorney General for the whole United States.
The train thundered into Union Station. I got off and surveyed the situation. I edged around an old engine, peeking under the rusty ironwork just in time to see two officers walking towards the yard. I changed my mind, stepping back behind the engine. The officers entered the yard. I went the other way, stepping on railway ties to avoid making noise in the gravel. There was another officer, his back to me, blocking the way to First Street SE. I ducked under the train and slowed my breathing as much as I could. The officer walked away, toward the others. “Maybe he didn’t get off the train here. Nothing here.”
The senator’s train should be coming into the station soon. Least that’s what the newspapers said. I checked my pocket watch. I still had plenty of time. I scooted out from behind the train. The cops were nowhere to be seen. I walked into the station and sat on a bench. While I waited I ate another peach, cutting it up with my pocketknife so I wouldn’t get peach juice all over my new shirt. The train carrying the senator arrived. I got up and went out into the train yard.
The senator got off the train. A man strolled across the platform, walking behind the senator. I stepped out, faced the senator and pointed the pistol. His face turned to fear and then resignation as he recognized me. He never forgot a face and knew me in an instant. I fired. At close range like that, I couldn’t miss.
The senator fell to the ground. So did Larry Hamm. Larry was my cellmate down in Georgia. He told me then he was going after the Senator when he got parole. Nobody at the prison believed me when I told that story. So, I just broke out to take care of it myself. I walked over and shot Hamm again getting his blood on my shirt. I helped the senator stand back up.
Then I walked away, disappearing back into the train yard. Maybe the next train would be going to Canada. Maybe I’d get away. The senator was fair with me before. He’d put me away as a serial killer and that was good. Now I was out again and that was bad. I couldn’t outrun what I was. I just needed someone to stop me. I pulled out the last of the peaches and took a bite, killing hunger satisfied, for now.