His older brother looked away.
"He's hooked up to some machine." The younger paused. "I have class tomorrow."
Looked at the ceiling
"He's so small."
Played with the car keys.
"Maybe we should stay."
"Emily's still asleep."
And walked away.
the death of chirography
2.Adam thought he might be dead. He didn't hurt anywhere, if that was any indication. He wasn't asleep either, he was sure. He remembered tripping off of the rail and then everything went black. But he wasn't unconscious: the cement columns to either side of him were solid to the touch and he could feel a cool breeze, with a touch of dankness to it, like his grandmother's basement. He was confused. Maybe he hit his head on a railroad tie as he fell. There had been a train coming in the distance. Maybe the train struck him as he lay unconscious. Either way, he was still drunk. Fear was rising in his throat and after a moment, resting a hand on one of the columns, he leaned over and vomited whiskey and beer onto the scuffed paving stones he was standing on. He wiped his mouth and tried to dispel his rising sense of alarm--he had never thrown up in a dream. He looked around. He was on a road.
Adam couldn't find what he was looking for. He kicked wet leaves around the bottom of the ditch searching. The cuffs of his jeans were sodden from the work. The dark twilight clouds above were struggling against atmospheric pressure. Slowly, they began to lose shape--looking like shrapnel bursts fired in desperation. He heard thunder in the distance.
The tracks running north and south were cold. They ran on heedlessly into the evening, trembling. A red light ahead stared back at Adam kicking. Below, an electrical switch clicked in perpetual frustration. The trembling increased quickly and the stone ballast began to jump in consternation. A growing crescendo was building.
He looked over his shoulder, judging the climax. A glittering light beyond the red eyed him. From the safety of the ditch he kept working. Ignored, the offended burst forward in a flurry of momentum. Speed transformed perception--its velocity suspended, it seemed to catch its breath.
Perception exploded. Speeding metal shattered the muffled cries of kicked leaves. The hood of his jacket agitated in the gust. He ducked against the attack of dust and grit. Silence lived in the cacophony. There was only lumbering inevitability.
But gradually the sound of wet leaves under Adam’s shifting weight returned. He stood erect again and watched the last car race after the others. And then he saw it.
Sitting on top of their comrades, dead leaves hid the dark glass but for one winking shoulder. He brushed away the leaves and picked up the bottle to inspect it.
Brian, who was waiting for the train to pass, joined him on the other side of the tracks. "That's it," he said. It felt empty and the label was waterlogged. They looked at each other and Brian shrugged. "She wanted it back, so well give it to her."
Adam agreed and started to head back, slipped on the upwards slope and fell on his face. He tuned over on his back and looked into the darkening sky. He started laughing and so did Brian. He lifted the bottle above his face to inspect it. It was not completely empty. He unscrewed the cap and let the last of the whiskey fall into his mouth. He handed the bottle to Brian who tried to take a drink and then realized it was truly empty. He kicked Adam.
"There's another train coming."
Brian tried to help Adam to his feet, but was pulled down to the wet leaves. The two wrestled down to the bottom of the ditch. Brian could feel wetness seeping through his jacket and untangled him self. He was out of breath. Adam stayed on the ground, laughing again. The clouds broke completely and one faint star struggled to appear against the last of the day's light.
"I don't want to wait for another train to go by," Brian said. He kicked some wet leaves onto Adam. "Let's go."
Adam struggled to get to his feet and forgot about the star. He asked Brian where the bottle had gone.
"Leave it," Brian said over his shoulder as he climbed up the embankment. "It's no good to us empty."
The girl wanted it back. It had been pilfered from her father's liquor cabinet and she needed it back.
He heard more thunder. Something whistled. Adam saw the bottle on the embankment and stumbled over to it. He clutched it in his arms and climbed to the tracks above. He balanced on one of the rails and was mesmerized by the approaching engine, still in the distance. As he watched, velocity suspended again. Brian called out to him.
He tripped and fell as he dismounted his balancing rail.