My Summer Vacation
We started our historical tour at the Common. Dad wanted to see the burial site of some famous historical guy. Dad said he was a revolutionary and a brewer, but I wasn’t so sure about the brewer part.
We went to the subway. You could hear the train pulling up so we ran. Another man ran past us. He looked kind of like Han Solo, so I thought that was cool. Older though. Another man was chasing him.
Just as we got to the tracks there were gunshots. The lights at the end of the platform shone bright red, telling the train to stop, but it ignored them and took off. I counted the lights and realized there were the same number of lights on the outbound track as there were gunshots. I had to check three times just to be sure. The man on the ground was a transit cop. The radio on his belt cackled and I could just make out the words “Officer down.”
The station looked different from the others. Mom said the style was “art deco”. It was decorated with tiles that seemed to be a childrens’ art project. I counted the skyscrapers on Pat Mogan’s tile.
The next train that arrived was pulled into the station by a smiling red engine. I didn’t think they used engines for city transit systems, but apparently they do in Boston? The engine continued to smile at me. His name was spelled out in shiny gold letters on the side (I knew it was his name because he told me), as well as an elegant “No. 1.”
He seemed a little lost, however. He kept saying he was supposed to be at the end of the Skarloey Railway, but I don’t think that’s anywhere near Boston...
A man walked by. I couldn’t tell where he was from. He was European, I can say that much with confidence. He couldn’t have been taller than Mom--and she’s 5’4”. He had a funny little mustache and walked quickly beside a well dressed woman.
“Miss Lemon,” he said to her. “It was their own son that did it all.”
“He poisoned her. That’s strange for a man.”
“Well, he studied history. Many a great historical murder happened with poison. He was quite dedicated to it. He even posed as a doctor along the way.” He paused and looked around. “Those are quite lovely,” he said and pointed to something hanging between the two platforms.
“What do you think they do, Detective?” The woman asked, staring at the pieces of metal.
“Why, they make music, Miss Lemon.”
“How many types of instruments are there? Can you see?”
I stopped paying attention because I was hungry. We tried to find the F&T restaurant that Dad remembered from his last trip, but apparently it had closed.
Dad really wanted to see the university. He kept saying it was the oldest in America and that made it important. As we got off the train, three kids pushed past us. It was incredibly rude, but before I could say anything about it the boy with bright red hair turned to the boy with dark hair.
“I think she’s got us lost,” he said.
“You’re the one who insisted we get off a stop early so you can have a butterbeer before we go back for winter term,” she replied
“I like butterbeer,” he said defensively. They wandered around the outbound platform looking for a map, but instead found a historical display, and then proceeded to argue about which segment they should look at. The girl insisted that the second one would help, but the red headed boy told her she was counting wrong. From their conversation, none of them could count as well as I can.
Mom and Dad seemed to have trouble transferring all their luggage from one line to another. Dad thought we should have just taken a cab in from the airport. I only had a small bag, so I raced ahead down to the tracks.
There was a map of the complete transit system, containing everything from the MITCo street cars to the commuter trains that run out to Middle Heights and Berkmannville.
I suggested calling a cab, but all the payphones on our side of the track were in use. (There were the same number on the other side of the track, but Mom told me not to go over there.)
The whole reason we even went to Boston was so Dad could go to some Army reunion. I wanted to go with him, but there was a bar at the VFW they were meeting at, so I wasn’t allowed in.
As we headed down to the station, a man and a woman holding hands ran past us. The guy was wearing a long black leather coat and looked quite dramatic, but the woman was blond. She didn’t look as exciting.
They were running from mannequins, which were also running and seemed quite strange to me. The man saw us and yelled at us to hurry up. I’m not fond of mannequins, so I ran. He got to the turnstiles first. The guy must have had some kind of new card because it glowed blue when he passed it over the reader and let all of us through. After we got to the tracks, he held the glowing blue thing up to the gate and then the mannequins couldn’t get through. The train was right there and we got on it, but they stayed. The woman leaned against the wall, her sweatshirt matching the red stripes on the walls. Every station has at least one, but this one had even more! (I counted them, not including the one with the station name, and multiplied by two.)
Most of the platform was covered by awnings, but I stood outside so I could look down at the city and the river. Below us someone crashed a car. He was with a woman he called Maria and they were arguing. She was saying that they couldn’t stay in Hepburn Heights, but he was saying that he had a friend in the red light district who could help them. I guess it’s called red light because of the train line that runs through it.
She threatened to get the Portland El out of there. I didn’t know what she was talking about. Some cop cars pulled up. The name of the station had been printed on the fence near me. I counted the cop cars and noticed that there were just as many cars as there were black boards with advertisements in the middle of the track. From what I could see anyway. The awning made it hard to see anything underneath it.
There were shots, but at least the hospital was right there.
One of my cousins lived in the area. She made video games--you know, that one with the instruments--so we met her for lunch near her office. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I was glad when we went back underground to the train line.
The bench we sat on this time had art behind it. There were specially made tiles. It was nice. I looked across the platform and saw another collection of the tiles. I asked Dad what they were and he said “murals.” I told him that murals are painted, but he said they aren’t always. While I walked up and down the tracks to look at them all (Mom wouldn’t let me go to the other side because she said we’d have to pay again, but I think I managed to see the ones there too) I saw a tired looking man leaning against an advertisement for a beach.
He looked at me and smiled and told me his name was John and that he was meeting Emma, his wife, there, but she didn’t remember him. He told me he felt like he’d be trying to get here for as long as he could remember. He was extremely pale, as though he’d never seen the sun.
He said a few words to a very scary looking man all dressed in black with an old fashioned hat on. That man was even paler than John, and he called him something like “Mr. Finger” or “Mr. Foot.”
John then ran up the stairs and I watched him talk to a woman. They stood and stared at each other for a while before she said her name was “Anna.” I was confused, because he said her name was Emma, but maybe she was someone else than he thought she was. He didn’t seem surprised either way.
We found ourselves in a station where three lines meet. We weren’t changing lines, though, so I just looked at the electronic signs on the platform as we waited.
A man sat next to us. Dad looked at him and asked him if he was one of those guys who helped save the city last year. The guy said yes, and then told us about how just last week a seventeenth century tyrant tried to possess his son. Dad was interested, but it seemed quite dull to me. I went back to looking at the signs.