Midwest Aloha

I lay there looking up at what seemed like a bunch of wood and metal.  I could feel things digging into my back, but I didn’t know what they were.  Lying immobile like that, I was most aware of snow.  I had this vague feeling that I was dying, or would die.  I had absolutely no idea what I should be trying to do to prevent that from happening.

From somewhere I heard a voice.  I couldn’t quite focus on it, couldn’t exactly tell what it was saying or where it was coming from.

Then there was a bright light, a hand on my shoulder.  Someone was dragging me out from whatever it was I was under.

“Here now,” the man said, shining a light in my face, “what on earth are you doing lying under the train like that?”

“Ah, the train?” I said.  “I’m lost, I think.”

“Geez,” he said, “how much have you had to drink?  Do you think you can stand up?”

I said I didn’t know, which he seemed to interpret as “yes.”  He grabbed me by the shoulders of my jacket and proceeded to peel me up off the ground.

He guided me to a shed, brought me inside, and sat me down.  The warmth felt good.  I had been so cold.

“What were you doing out there under the train?” he asked, handing me a steaming cup of coffee.

“I,” I said, still a little too drunk to make perfect sense of the why myself, “I don’t know.”

He shook his head.  “Lying under the train like that.  It’s a good thing I found you before it started up. Where’d you think you were anyway?”

The coffee and the warmth of the shed were helping.  It was coming back to me more clearly now.

“I was at a party,” I said.  “End of semester celebration.  And I was trying to walk home.  I couldn’t find my way.”

“I tell you,” he said, “you college kids.  You do too much partying.  You know if the train hadn’t killed you, you could have frozen to death out there.”

I nodded.  “Yes, yes, I know.”

“Where do you live?” he asked.

“Hawai‘i.”

He laughed.  “Well aloha to you, Jack Lord,” he said.  “I mean where do you live here in Madison?”

“Oh, here, I live near the UW campus.  Langdon Street.”

“Do you think you’d be able to make it home now?” he asked.

I gave a bewildered laugh.  “I really don’t even know where I am,” I said.

“You’re about three miles off target,” he said.  “Come on.  I’ll take you back to Langdon Street.”

We went out into the snow.  He led me to his car.  The car heater was putting me to sleep.

“What’s your address?” he asked.

He slowed to a stop.  “Here it is,” he said.  “Do you think you can make it up to your apartment?”

I felt better, actually recognized my building.

“Yes, yes I can. Thank you so much,” I said.

“Think nothing of it,” he said.  “Don’t go sleeping under anymore trains.”

I closed the door and he drove off.  The snow was really coming down now.  Thank goodness for Midwest aloha.

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