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Poems and Stories from Laura Wright
Rail of Deceit

Frederick seated himself at the small booth in the dining car of the train. He was on an overnight journey, traveling London to shortly beyond Edinburgh. He had ordered a bottle of red wine to relax him, sleeping on trains had always made him nervous. The concept of your body traveling at a completely different speed than your mind gave him a strong sense of motion sickness.

He drank slowly and read the Herald. One column was speaking out against another act of Parliament while the opposite page praised their dedication to the betterment of London. Frederick was usually empathetic to politics, he had his own opinions which usually crossed individuals from all political parties at one time or another.

He wasnít paying attention to the dark stranger until the man lightly tapped his shoulder. "Is thaur aabodie seeted wiít ye?"

"Nae," Frederick began. "Nae, thaur isna. Please, sit doun."

"Thenk ye, lad."

He wasnít an old man, Frederick felt it odd that he would still be a, "lad," after thirty-five. But, he didnít object if it was sincere. The stranger appeared to be in his fifties, and had the oddest glint in his eyes. A mixture of laughing and wisdom, Frederick had never before witnessed such a look on anyone.

"Aím traivleing awa, effter Edinburgh. A disna traivle in the day, aím not carein fur the clanjamfrie. Houíre ye lestiní?"

"A canna compleen," Frederick folded his paper. "A didna think onieone wis awake tae clishmaclaver."

"Aím Frederick," he reached out his hand. "Nice tae make yer innin."

"Thenk ye," the stranger grinned. "Aím Roy."

Just as they were beginning to talk, the captain announced loudly, "Could the passenger whose luggage is marked A1523 please come to the front. There is an unexpected problem with one large trunk and we need to speak with you."

Frederick didnít have time to say anything, for as soon as the captain clicked the speaker system off, Roy jumped up and bolted through the door towards the rear the train. Frederick simply sat there, his head spinning from such the sudden evacuation of Roy. He was getting his belongings together when a rush of footsteps brought a group of several Scotland Yard officials in. "Have ye seen a man, a dark man with a beard come this way?" The elder of the crowd demanded. Frederick was anxious over what had happened. What was his in the middle of? He looked at them and pointed towards the end of the train, still unable to grasp the correct words. The Inspector continued, "He is about your size, around fifty, and has a heavy Italian accent."

The mass moved quickly and finally, Frederick was able to get the attention of the youngest. "Please, sir," the young officer halted and looked at him. Frederick seized the opportunity, "Tell me what is on gaun? Whit ye leukin fur?"

The other man considered his words for a moment. "Well, we have found a person dead on the train, weíre looking for the individual in order to ask him about it."

"A murder?"

"Possibly," the young man answered. "Please, excuse me."

The man was gone as quickly as he had entered the room. Frederick thocht it was due to his newness in the field. Every move would seem like an exciting adventure to someone new to police work.

He wondered what Roy had done for the authorities to be after him so. What could he have had to do with a death? Was that orra glint in his eye really that of a murderer? He considered all which had taken place and decided it was safer in the dining car, away from any possibly firing line which may occur out in the other sections of the rail.

It occurred to him fremmit that an Italian individual, with a prior heavy accent, could imitate a Scottish accent so fluidly and without mispronunciation. He marveled at the ability someone had of acting so convincingly. It was amazing.

Frederick huddled up to his dram of wine. He wondered what a killer would be doing running from one side of the country to the other, instead of leaving for Europe or the states. It made him wonder what went on in the mind of a desperate man.

The car was silent and he was glad. He had much to absorb within the confines of the traveling car. He had been pulled in to a mystery, although he did not know what the details were. He stood up, his curiosity getting the better of him. He stepped gingerly though the car and slipped out towards the baggage car, unable to control his overwhelming desire to learn more.

The other passengers seemed asleep and he lightly walked past their quarters. He noticed no sign of the crowd of inspectors which had flooded the car, nor the mysterious stranger who charaded around as a Scots man named Roy.

The baggage car was guarded by a sleeping man in a police uniform. Frederick was cautious as he opened the door. The room was dimly lit by a single, suspended light bulb. The suitcase was opened and Frederick walked closer, unaware of how he would react o an actual body. He had never been near one outside of a coffin.

He walked slowly, aware that the authorities could burst in to the room at any moment and give him the devil for tampering with the scene of a crime. His curiosity was getting the better of him. He moved to the other end of the car, swaying back and forth with the swaying car. He neared the trunk and stopped. He didnít need to go any closer, he could smell the metallic scent of blood. He didnít need to see it in gruesome detail. He could see a feminine hand stretched out and open over the lid, motionless and chalky white.

He backed out of the room and passed the sleeping guard. He bolted as quietly as he possibly could, back to the dining cart. It was too much, the light-headed feeling brought on by the wine had disappeared. He no longer felt sleepy and relaxed. He was charged and worried. A murderer was on board, and had sat across the table from him.

Frederick sat back down at the booth, patiently waiting for any sign or word from the crowd which had came through previously. He poured himself another dram of wine and sat back.

The door opened carefully, someone backed in to the room. It was Roy, and he looked terrified. "Roy," Frederick began. The man looked exactly like Roy, however he acted completely different. He thought for a moment and said, "Si," He didnít really pay any attention to Frederick until he reached the door on the other side of the car. Finally, he broke the silence and said, "Mi dispiace, per favore, mi scusi."

Although far from being an expert, Frederick could associate the few fragmented sentences he knew in Italian. The man was posing as Roy and had simply left saying, "Iím sorry, please excuse me." He was gone, as though he had never entered in to the room.

His eyes and his mind were telling him this was exactly the same man, but he sensed it was not. Although they appeared the same, there was a certain air the Italian-speaking Roy carried which made you wince and think of death.

Frederick sat down in his seat and a million questions hammered at his brain. Who, being the most prominent. Who could the stranger have been, if not Roy? Had he gone mad? Was he seeing some sort of twin for everyone. He looked back down at his drink and wondered if the double-vision so often associated with alcohol could come with only certain individuals. He pushed the glass away and sat back again.

A roar of screams and voices erupted from the car the Italian stranger had just went in to. A shot from a gun and again, silence. Frederick went against his better judgment and went in the door.

The same crowd of authorities stood in a circle around the man. In the middle of them all stood Roy. Frederick took a deep breath and His eyes went directly from the stranger to the man he had just talked to. What was happening to him? He was seeing two of the fremmit man.

He placed one hand on his head and leaned back against the door frame, he backed in to the room and had to go back to his seat. He felt faint and flushed, he was ready for the room to spin when the door opened, yet again.

It was Roy, "Ay, man. Didna ye see whit wis on guan?"

"Ay, a seen aw a need tae."

"Nae, ya didna." Roy laughed. "Aíve ben efter him fur a auld time. Heís a killer, a murderer. A leuk like this to git him trapped."

Frederick was relieved that he wasnít crazy, after all. "Nou, shall we go tae sleep?"

After spakin a wee longer, they both agreed.

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