Monday, December 31, 2012

The Midnight Train

New Year's Eve, 2012

There Is A Train
Where I live in a crappy trailer park on the side of Old US One on the East Coast of Florida, a train line also runs; it is the Old FEC, the Florida East Coast Railroad. The trains follow a schedule that I am familiar with, it seems;  it serves as my alarm clock when the Six AM rumbles through the neighborhood and I swing my legs over the side of the bed to start another day. The sound of that train has been with me here in my little town all these years and  it somehow comforts me.  It  grounds me in my day and reminds me of other times; better times and bad times and I don't think I would ever want to live far from the sound of that train.

Just now, though, the Midnight Train is roaring past, blowing its horn more than usual and yeah: it is another year. The midnight train has gone by and the fireworks are going off all around the Park and it sounds like gunfire. The surrounding neighborhood  just for a moment might be Afghanistan or Iraq or maybe a Mall somewhere or maybe even: a small-town grade school up the road from here, somewhere up the road a few miles from here in a little place called Newtown, Connecticut.

All's Well Don't Always End Well
The end of the year was not much of a fun ride for me. I went to Los Angeles on a trip that just about drained what's left of my soul, filling the newly empty space with a sense of age and over-the-hillness that is hard to shake. When I got home I was immediately fired (again) from what is without a doubt the worst paying-least-fulfilling job I have ever had; and yet, I miss it already because nothin' to do can be even worse than the worse job you ever had.

Saddle Time
So... I ride my bike. I have ridden more miles in the last two weeks than I rode in the previous two months and I can feel a change.  Riding my bicycle really helps.  I love my bike. I feel better already but there was a long way to go but before I could even start  to look directly at something that I have been only glancing at for a while now, a thing that I have set aside. I just had a little two much to think about before I could look at it straight; but now, at a few minutes after midnight here in another year, I guess I will give it a try.

The Kids
Chase Kowalski, 7
Allison Wheeler, 6

Anna Marquez-Greene, 6
Avielle, Richman, 6

Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6
Emilie Alice Parker, 6

Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Grace Audrey McConnell, 7
James Matoli, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Jesse Lewis, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Josephine Gay, 6
Madeline F. Tsu, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Olivia Engal, 6

These are just the kids. I left out the grownups. They count too. Of course they do. But right now, I just wanted to spend a few minutes here after midnight, in between the last fifty-seven years and the one just starting...

I just wanted to spend a little time after midnight looking at these faces, saying their names. I just wanted to say I am sorry, I guess. I don't know why. But I am. I'm sorry, kids.

There is another train that runs by here at two AM. I'll be in bed. I have a lot to say about this, but none of it is pleasant. So this time, I will just keep it to myself. But right now, at a little before one in the morning, there is some jackass somewhere pretty close by still playing with firecrackers.

I'm sorry, kids.


Whispering Pines Trailer Park


  1. I have a tough time looking at those pictures, my daughter is only 3 years older than those kids, and I can not even imagine what their parents are going through. Such an awful situation, I wish I had the wisdom of Solomon and knew a solution to make schools safer. I read an article today that said 24 students in Chicago schools died by gun violence this year, those are individual losses over the year but no less horrific that what happened in Sandy Hook. Marvin Gaye said it best "What's going on?"

  2. I don't know, man. Have a great year, brother. I think you are due.


  3. Mr Trailer Park, this post is literally terrible. My niece is about the same age and i can't even wrap my head...

    1. Barry, I was so tangled up in myself during the Holidays that i put this off. I had considered doing more...then, after posting the pictures, I realized those little faces speak volumes and nothing I could say would be worthy. The collective spirit of that town must be...

      Oh well. Thanks for sticking with me.


  4. TJ,
    I feel the pain, too. Whenever I think about what it would be like to lose one of my kids, it feels like a huge gut punch. And that's just from imagining it. Too horrible for words. Your words are soft and heartfelt. I hope, like you, that something changes in our society.

    A crappy job is only better, sometimes just barely, than no job at all. God knows I've had my share of both ends of that. Meanwhile, keep riding velo brother.

    I hope something good this way comes for you, and soon, in 2013.

    Your pal,
    B in VA

    1. Brian, something must indeed change in our society, but it is my honest opinion that it is too late for the likes of me. Last night I was reading a copy of some old Jack London speculative fiction. Very entertaining stories serving primarily as vehicles for his unrelenting socialist agenda. Written at the beginning of the 1900's, they are chillingly accurate descriptions of what will come to pass.

      Socialism sounds pretty good on paper, but has one fatal failing: it doesn't allow for the fact that all men are not basically good, as Socrates hoped; rather, just about all men are bad, not by nature of evil but rather by the very shape of our beings. And even good men can rapidly turn against their brothers when a little filthy lucre can be had. Every man has his price, some capitalist once said, and that price is the number of the beast, that price is the point when the gold is piled high enough on one side of the scale to tip the balance in favor of calumny, theft, betrayal and avarice.

      It works every time and so all the worst qualities of our race will emerge victorious until capitalism and the state of damnable power being vested in the few will soon enough drop the cloak of democracy and the leering face of slavery will once again be considered the norm.

      Hell, it's happening now. Those giant office buildings all the world over are the new plantations, filled with workers who jokingly refer to themselves as wage-slaves; they have electronic toys with which to play that makes it unnecessary to look around or think overmuch about which way the wind is blowing; and it is these self-same toys that bombard them constantly with reassurances that they are indeed the new rulers.

      But they are not, and just below this misguided class there is another, another class that are the almost disenfranchised hanging-by-their-nails class of people who work in the factories that may close at any moment, at the mercy of an invisible board of directors in some country far away. They are the ones grateful that they can barely afford to feed their families while living in the very country that feeds the World; they make due with dilapidated cast-off equipment handed down from the wage-slaves...

      And not yet have we reached bottom. Below these laborers that are barely hanging on are the truly disenfranchised; the unemployed and impoverished, the homeless and those living in housing that is far worse than the garages and stables of the wealthy. These are the confused and the angry and hopeless. They own nothing worth having and their numbers continue to grow daily here in the “richest” nation on Earth. Give them a firearm and...

      We are not the richest nation on Earth. We are drastically impoverished, Our leaders are not leaders but slaves of the wealthy overlords that rule the finances of the planet and control the destiny of every man, woman and child that breathes the air that one day may no longer be free. As long as the powerful can control any commodity for profit, they will do so. They will create demand through advertising and propaganda and if that fails to work, there will soon enough be a plague or war or disaster that will require sons and daughters to die until the populace suddenly realizes that yes, yes, we do need that thing you so generously offered to sell us.

      It is the natural way. War (and war industry) and police forces, drastic imbalance of wealth and resources, illusory freedom and success for the middle class; misery and defeat for the poor: This is the way of our race, we are laughably still a feudal society and thus it has ever been and thus it shall ever be until someone braver and stronger than me can find a bulldozer big enough to mow down the Cathedrals of Shame in the Capitols of the World and begin again. I hope whoever this hero is he starts with the House on the Hill.


    2. Well said, sir.

      I just finished reading The Betrayal of the American Dream by Don Barlett (who happens to be my 1st cousin) and James Steele, a couple of Pulitzer Prize winning journalists. It clarified, for me at least, how long it had taken us to get where we are and who is responsible. Unfortunately, it's all of us for voting the bastards into office over and over again. There truly is a ruling class in this country and I had no idea that was the case.

      Guess I haven't been watching too closely and for that, I'm ashamed.

      Like you, it's probably too late for me to fix it but I'm more than willing to help in whatever way I can. I agree about taking down that house first, though.

  5. TJ,

    Back in front of a computer 9 hours a day.

    Your post breaks my heart. I've been leaking at the eyes about this "tragedy" since it happened. My old tried and true stress coping strategy (avoidance) isn't good enough for this, and I keep thinking "...right before Christmas, right before Christmas".
    That worthless bastard took all those lives, and did immeasureable damage to

    the survivors families
    the 450 other students
    the school administration
    the first responders

    Just typing this up I'm fighting back tears. It's just so damn WRONG. No wonder I'd rather be a hermit.

    Keep on riding that bike. It strengthens and heals you. Enjoying a ride shows the two-faced way of our lives - it's almost all pain, suffering and despair, but we have to cling to and enjoy the little things, the stuff that keeps us from throwing ourselves into traffic by the time we're 18.

    I'd give you a "God Bless" but maybe not...he doesn't seem to be paying attention anymore. Peace to you then, brother. May 2013 smile on you in some small way.

    Steve Z

    1. If it was up to me, Swampboy, all I would do with the little time remaining is to pedal my bicycle and rant into my computer. I would pedal to Washington D.C. and make Mitch McConnell eat a shit sandwich. I would challenge John Boehner to a duel at ten paces then I would go pitch a tent in the Rose Garden and piss in the bushes and once an hour I would scream as loud as I could: "IT'S THE TOP OF THE HOUR AND ALL IS NOT WELL! MOTHERFUCKERS!"

      I rode 34 miles yesterday and was doing fifty today before I flatted and turned tail for home. But I got 25 miles doing that.

      It helps.


  6. I had to read this through a couple of times and of course see those pictures again and again.
    I struggle with this. I know if I stare too long theses pictures could come to haunt me a bit.
    I employ Steve's strategy, avoidance.
    I have no words to contribute to the betterment of the group.
    Somehow that makes me disappointed in myself.

    1. I just revisited this post, Jim, and it occurs to me to say more. It has only been a few weeks, really, and who is thinking about it? We as Americans need to be haunted by our abberations. We deserve them.

      As a Coach and friend of these high school kids of yours you probably have less to be disappointed about within yourself than any of us. Keep up the good work, my friend.