The woman behind the bullet-proof glass picked at something under her left ring finger. She got it, she grinned, she swallowed, she looked up at Frank.
“Name,” she droned.
“Frank Morgan,” Frank said. Then, he frowned.
“Occupation?” The woman continued.
“Detective, Maine State Police, badge number 0389467,” Frank blurt out. He didn’t even realize he’d said it till the words were out.
“You ever broken any of the ten commandments?”
“Yes,” Frank said, suddenly and certainly.
“one, two, three, four, five, seven, eight, nine, ten,” Frank said. He paused. He didn’t even know the ten commandments.
“Hey! What is this?”
The woman behind the glass didn’t respond. She ticked away at a sheet of paper. She slipped it out to Frank.
“Through that door.” She pointed with her pen. Frank looked to the plain white door she’d motioned to. He turned back to her. But, she was gone. Frank sat for a moment looking at the paper. A bunch of symbols mocked back at him. A few tick marks, his name written in bold black letters at the top. He shoved the paper into his pocket. He stood up and walked to the door. He turned the knob. It was warm, almost wet. He opened it. A room sat, dull, stale, just the wrong shade of red and just the wrong temperature. He stepped into the room.
A woman in a grease stained shirt sat in the corner eating a snickers.
Frank approached her.
“Excuse me, what is going on?”
The woman looked up at him. Her eyes glazed over. She nodded at a screen. Above an empty window.
NOW SERVING: 0843
Frank looked up at it, then, down to his slip. Sure enough, at the bottom was a number: 1467. Frank sighed. He took in more of the room. A vending machine sat in the corner. He walked up and looked in. One ringed row was full of snickers. A door sat beside the vending machine. Frank tried the knob. It didn’t budge. He put his shoulder into it. Nothing. He sighed and took a seat in a chair that was almost uncomfortable. He sat and waited, almost sweating, for hours.
Around hour three, the dull-eyed woman got up and walked to the window.
A slimmer, equally bored looking woman had appeared. She took the girl’s slip of paper as the girl stood, licking her fingers. The woman pressed a button behind the desk and a faint click came from the door beside the vending machine. The dull-eyed girl went through. It clicked again.
Frank spent the next few hours alone, trying to make out his slip of paper. But, other than his name and the number he got nothing. Finally, his number appeared on the screen. He approached the window.
“Entry card,” the woman said in a flat, bored, tone. Frank produced the slip of paper.
The woman nodded. Frank slipped it under the glass barrier. The woman looked at it. Typed something into a computer. She waved a well-manicured hand toward the door. It clicked. The woman pushed his paper back to him. He grabbed it and went through the door.
He stood, on a platform, paper in hand. He looked at it. A large slightly transparent 9 covered the face of it. He looked around the platform. A train was just departing.
The sky was gray. The air was better. Frank walked along the platform. For as far as he could see, it didn’t end. He kept walking. Eventually, he found the end. A man sat with his feet dangling over the edge. Frank walked slowly toward him. He looked from behind the man over the edge. There was nothing, just more gray sky. The man flopped back and looked at Frank, upside down.
“Hola,” The man said pleasantly. He was broad shouldered, a fat beard on his large face.
“Hi,” Frank said.
The man patted the ground next to him.
“Care to sit?”
Frank hesitated but, not seeing anything better to do, sat down. The man sat up and smiled at Frank.
“Are you god?” Frank asked, not thinking of anything else to say. The man burst out laughing. He shook with it. He almost fell over the edge. Frank grabbed his arm. The man caught his breath, wiping a tear from his eye.
“Nah,” the man said, finally able to speak. He pulled a slip from his pocket a giant red 10 covered the front of it.
“Just another passenger. I’m Charlie.”
“Nice to meet you.”
“What is this?” Frank asked.
Charlie looked over his shoulder.
“A train station, I think, though, after all this time, I can’t be sure of anything.”
“How long have you been here?” Frank asked. Charlie bobbed his head side to side.
“A few years maybe.”
“Aren’t there trains?”
Charlie nodded. “Oh yes, the ten train comes around often, don’t see a point though.”
Frank looked at him. He looked sad.
“What do you mean?”
“I always liked train stations. Seems as good a place as any to spend eternity.”
Frank didn’t know what to say to that, so, he said nothing at all. The wind picked up. A squeal of metal arrived with a train. Frank turned. The front of the train read: 9. Frank looked at his slip. Charlie did too.
“Looks like your train.”
Frank nodded. Charlie did too, slower, pursing his lips a little.
Frank stood up.
“Nice to meet you.”
Charlie laid back and held up his hand. Frank took it and shook it. He turned and walked toward the train doors. He stopped. Looked back and watched as Charlie sat up and spit of the edge. Frank sighed. The train doors dinged. Frank put his slip back in his Pocket. The doors slid shut. The train went on. He walked back to the ledge and sat down.
Charlie looked at him. “Know any good jokes?”