The Wisdom of the Tags by Rhoufi

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Alone in the city #1: The Wisdom of the Tags

It was the middle of the day and the new sleek trains, moulded for speed and sealed for safety, were in the turnaround yards waiting to return for the peak hour. Within a few minutes one of the older trains shunted to a halt in front of him. On its side, sprayed in alien glyphs, the wisdom of the night. On any other day, the poetry of the tags would have been meaningless, but today, as the abused train beckoned him, every tag voiced a meaning – they screamed “why?” in a repetitious, deafening chorus. Now he knew how it felt to hear no answer.

He was carried forward through the doors by the crowd and found himself seated at one end, facing the double interconnecting doors to the next carriage. It was one of those old trains, built by those who relied on the commuting public to have common sense – no automatic doors, pneumatic locks or articulated bellows connecting each carriage. These trains were reminiscent of a different sensibility, of the era of his parents and Chicago’s Super Chief, with beautifully crafted Pullman carriages for genteel folk, and ribbed sidings not plastered with the “whys” of people who had been denied reasonable answers.

Like an old bag lady dragging her trolley through some cold, glass and stainless steel shopping mall, the old train heaved itself out of the station, wheezing and clanking into the tunnel to the River. He didn’t know where these images were coming from, nor how he could understand the resentment of a tired old train and a lonely bag lady – he just knew; somehow he just knew. He searched the faces of the other passengers and found them blank. He looked through the glass door to the exposed breezeway between the carriages, and saw his own face, distorted in the grime, frowning back in bewilderment. The train slowed for some reason, and as the slack in the couplings was taken up, sharp reports rang out through the tunnel like gunshots.

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alienation, aloneness, city, isolation, solitude, trains

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alienation, aloneness, city, isolation, solitude, trains

To reveal art and conceal the artist,
is art’s aim.

Oscar Wilde – “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

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  • Gwynne Brennan
    Gwynne Brennanover 4 years ago

    I like the glimpse of the other person and the sense of sleekness and movement – very good

  • You are the first to comment on this and I appreciate it. The reflected face was a real bonus; I just wish I had the man in sharp focus. It was shot from the lap, I couldn’t see what the auto focus had chosen.

    – Rhoufi

  • JanT
    JanTover 4 years ago

    Gripping story and a super shot of movement! You write such a compelling story, and then you just stopped? Isn’t that illegal or something? I do like these “Alone in the city” shots.

  • Gosh Jan, this has been up for ages and has had only one comment until you noticed it. “Illegal” – if only it were illegal to fail to finish a story ha! I so glad you like the story (especially chuffed since you are an editor). I have thought about going on with this, and now I just might…

    I was going to delete this image because it did not generate much interest, but not now. Thank you for your thoughts.

    – Rhoufi

  • geof
    geofover 3 years ago

    wow – a great pic and a ripping good yarn

  • Thanks Geof, there hasn’t been anyone down this end of my gallery for quite a while. I’ve been menaing to turn this into a longer short story. Maybe it’s time I did.

    – Rhoufi

  • © Andrzej Goszcz,M.D. Ph.D
    © Andrzej Gosz...over 3 years ago

    Ok! thank you :)

  • Thanks Andy, nearly missed you down the back here ;-))

    – Rhoufi

  • 1more photo
    1more photoover 3 years ago

    That’s the feeling
    watching the world
    as a an odd ocean…….
    waiting for the next wave…..

  • Merci for wandering around in the really old rooms of my gallery, Magali. Not many people find these old posts any more. Perhaps the traveller was me – I feel this way too often, wandering around feeling like I have been denied answers. Merci, comme toujours :-))

    – Rhoufi

  • Sassafras
    Sassafrasalmost 3 years ago

    This image is very compelling and disquieting for me….On the surface, a slice of city life..
    A commuter awaiting a life to a different place…But, there is more…I have been back again and again…and still the feeling persisted until I finally read the words
    And then I knew…
    This pictojornal is really quite unique.

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