Midnight Express
Tay Angela

 

As I was walking down the familiar streets of London, I started to recall the things, which happened to me a couple of years back. Strange and unexpected things do happen to people. It was because of my plight, which allowed me to enter a different world, a new world onboard the Canadian Pacific. I used to be a person who loves hoarding on money and of course the more the merrier. The story, which I am narrating to you, now is none other than my own.
Five years ago, I was a raising star an up and coming executive destiny to take the world by storm. I was the lord of the share market, which ever stocks that I lay my hands on, it prices went straight up the roof. Not only am I the cash cow of my company Wedlock Securities, I was the darling among the biggest client; his investment amount was about a million or more. With huge paycheck each month, I was given the luxury to zip around town in my BMW 7 series, which most people just dreamed of it yet never the chance to own it. The place that I worked in was no doubt the tallest and most prestigious building, the Sky High. With my office on the 99 floors, every morning without fail the building security guard Mr. Johnson greets me. Among all the other guards he was the oldest with us, being with Sky High for twenty years. He been here since his teens and now in his mid thirties he is still here serving the tenants in this building. Sky High can mostly be describe as London’s tallest building with an exact one hundred and fifty stories high. At the top of Sky High, there is greenery, which allows executives to have a game of golf during their lunch breaks. Finding me up there was no surprise, betting on a golf game during lunch was also a familiar sight among the executives in Sky High.
Yet today seems a little different, for the third time this week, missing persons can be found in the papers and in the news. It was broadcast throughout 24 hours of the day, witnesses are call upon should they have the slightest clue where the missing person went.
“Should you have information on Mr. Woody Stacks, kindly come forward or dial 1800-1111111” the familiar sound on the news radio again for the third time this week and the missing person happened to be Mr. Woody Stacks my next door neighbour. He can be describe as the friendliest man in the neighbourhood, in the past when I was left cold in the streets or lost my house keys he would gladly invite me back to his humble little home which he co-own with his wife Mrs. Wendy Stacks. Yet all these seem so distant now, now that he has gone missing. According to the reports it seems that before he went missing he had a huge fight with his wife, he then left the house distraught, walking aimlessly in the streets as though seeking something. And that was the last that I heard of him. What a sad and poor man I said to myself.
“Good morning Mr. Banks” said Mr. Johnson as usual what he does each morning to greet the employees of Sky High.
“Good morning to you Mr. Johnson, what news do you have for me today?” I replied in a somewhat obliging manner at the same time prying for news that is going on among the executives in Wedlock Securities.
“ This morning I overheard a conversation between Mr. Wedlock and Mr. Randorf, it seems that they are buying into certain stocks as it surly is a hot stock right now and certainly would made them richer than their wildest dreams” whispered Mr. Johnson
“That will be all, thanks for the news” I replied grinning from ear to ear, thinking that this might be another of my lucky days where I strike gold.
Right in front of where I am standing is the cold steel elevator, this elevator I must mention, it is able to take the weight of 120 adults. Each morning, the elevator would be jammed packed with humans sticking onto each other like little sardine fishes. Fighting for breaths and most importantly fidgeting among their little spaces, hoarding as big a space as possible. Another reason why I always reached the office late is to avoid the crowd, avoid being squeeze to a little human sardine. What sad pathetic lifestyle would that be and I chose not to live a life like that.
“99 floor” a voice broadcast from the elevator
As I pushed open the huge glass door, I hear sounds of ringing telephones none stop. Brokers would be on the phone every second converting each call into a business deal.
“There you are Banks, what took you so long?” Mr. Wedlock approached me in the friendliest manner as though he wants something from me.
“Mr. Wedlock I was caught in as usual caught in a very heavy traffic jam, you don’t need my excuses Mr. Wedlock you just need me to produce more money for the company and for you” I said that with a spark of confidence.
“Banks, I need you to call up this client of yours Mr. Hoodle, he have not paid for his 100 lots of Sonia shares which you have entered for him into the system, is due for a couple of months already. The total amount would be…lets see three hundred and fifty thousand, a huge sum of money do you agree?’ said Mr. Wedlock with slight dismay on his face, looking closer to him you really could catch the looks of his sunken features and teary eyes. Fancy being the owner of Wedlock Securities. I was thinking to myself silently, he should just retire and let me helm his position; for sure I would bring Wedlock Securities to a greater height. What arrogance I have at that time, five years ago.
There I was wasting time on this menial job, chasing money from my client, I wont have time for that my other clients would prefer to have me trading their shares, cashing in more cold hard cash for them, ringing their bank accounts. For the thirteen times I tried I was not able to get through to Mr. Hoodle. Each time I hear a little maiden’s voice over the phone saying that he is either out of the office or out in a meeting. Now I am beginning to wonder if this Mr. Hoodle actually existed, if he doesn’t there goes my extravagant lifestyle, my house, and my car, my entire life. And yes, I did cash in some good money today, as a mater of fact my commission was a huge thirty thousand this month just transacting Mr. Braddock shares would be more than enough.
It was a cold freezing cold Monday morning, looking out through my glass window I see petal drops of water, seems like drizzling rain. Little rain specks were left on my window, looking out through my blurry glass window everyone out there was holding tightly to their umbrella to keep them dry. After my usual hot bath I came out and put on my usual black suit getting ready for work. In my mind today I was thinking of nothing except for the three hundred and fifty thousand worth of payment, which Mr. Hoodle failed to pay up. Where on earth could this multi millionaire be, unless he has vanished from the face of the earth? Ever since there were reports on missing persons I never failed to follow up on the news and the daily news times yet I see no trace of Mr. Hoodle. Point number one he is not a missing person that should eased my headache of chasing back the payment I thought to myself.
 As I stepped into the office, every one of my colleagues gave me a queer look. I slump onto my big leather chair and staring in my face was an enveloped it is address to me, Mr. Clark Banks. I tore open the envelope in much anxiety and beads of sweat were trickling down my forehead to my face, slowly finding its way down into my chest and then my underpants. I was panicking the letter which contain the contents was pink in colour. And the letter reads:
“Your Service have been officially terminated by Wedlock Securities
Mr. Clark Banks we regret to inform you that due to the large amount that your client owned us from his purchase of 100 lots of Sonia shares and thus failed to make payment within the period of one month, the Management have decided to discontinue your service with us, please do pack your belongings and clear out from this building within the next 24 hours”
Signed: Mr. Wedlock & The Management
My face turned white as soon as I finished reading the letter, I was stunned, shocked, that spells the end of my highflying career as a stockbroker. Without second thoughts, I took the letter in my hand, stomped my way into Mr. Wedlock’s corner office.
“What is the meaning of this”? I yelled at Mr. Wedlock
“Banks, calm down, this is procedure, you are a talented young man, you will find your way out of this” Mr. Wedlock sniggered slyly at me.
“Just packed up and leave” said Mr. Wedlock in a commanding tonality.
“What cold heart you have Mr. Wedlock, I will definitely remember that” I replied him giving him a colder shoulder, stepped out of his office went straight to my desk, in an hour I finished packing up my stuffs left Sky High building.
  Ever since I was told to leave my soaring career as a stockbroker, I was never able to pull myself up to work in another industry, especially since I have tasted the best of life. Everyday I would just stroll the streets of London aimlessly. Each day I just simply walk like a zombie from Richmond to London Fields West Side. Passing by the same scenes, and same place everyday.
Tonight was a cold night, yet I decided to make my way down to the nearest provision shop to get a packet of cigarettes. I tugged myself in my coat, hiding my hands in my pocket and make a dash for the provision shop at Richmond’s. As I was heading towards my direction, I saw a strong headlight coming straight for me, and then what I saw really freaked me out for the very moment.
There stood the Canadian Pacific a Steam Locomotive built in the year 1923, I was puzzled how did a train appear without any tracks. If I do remember correctly, these steam locomotives are used mainly between the Baltimore & Ohio and Pennsylvania railroads. Not a common sight to be found on the streets of London. I stood there for a good fifteen minutes to catch a good look of the Canadian Pacific, it awe me with its size and weight.
“All aboard!” a man dressed as a conductor, came out and shouted the familiar words.
“You must be Mr. Clark Banks, get up here you must!” said the train conductor.
He was dressed in a blue uniformed; accompanying his features was a pair of blue eyes and notices a small moustache covering his small lip. He pulled me up and there I was onboard the Canadian Pacific. Before the Canadian Pacific took off I was able to view the engineer from afar, I saw his head peek out of the window to catch a glance of the locomotive from where he sat on the right side of the locomotive. I once heard that the Canadian Pacific was describe as a hotel on wheels yet never have the chance to experience it. This was due to be an experience of a lifetime
  Taking each step with caution, I walked towards the main parlor room of the locomotive, its interior was furnished with mahogany, at the main parlor room where most passengers sat there, most of them spotted a very gloomy look on their pale white faces. I turned my head
 
around to see if I could spot any familiar faces at the main parlor room where it contains two lines of parlor chairs. Sitting at the far left nearer to the drinking fountain I notice Mr. Woody Stacks, his face seems pale, doom and gloom. Walking towards him, I sat myself down beside him place my hand on his and looked him in the eye. It seems that he have no memory of who I am. Now I am beginning to wonder would my memory be erased too onboard the Canadian Pacific which appeared out of nowhere.
“Mr. Woody Stacks, do you recognized me?” I said
“Do I know you?” he replied in a shaky tone, shaking his head right then left as if trying to recall.
“Clark Banks, people know me as Clark Banks?” I said with so much anxiety all the passengers in the train were giving me a very queer looked.
I was beginning to feel panicky to be onboard the Canadian Pacific which appeared out of nowhere in the middle of London where there were no train tracks visible to the naked eye.
I pulled the train conductor who as passing by me, held him by his shirt, looked him fierce in the eye and started questioning him.
“Where are these people going to be taken to?” I yelled at him taking no concern of the surroundings.
“A far away place, paradise, a place which harbour no seed of worry or thoughts” he answered very sneakily.
This doest seem quite right, as I looked around the train, everyone else seems to have their life, souls taken away from them. There is no breathe of life onboard the train, no one seems happy, there must be a way to break this spell or stop the train from continuing its journey.
Every time I tried talking to someone, all I see was his or her blank faces staring back at me, as if nothing has happened. They all seem unaware of where this Canadian Pacific is taking them. Seems like having conversations with them seems impossible, I remembered of a circus trick I learned during my early days. Out of my pocket I look out a couple of balls and juggled them throwing them into the air then catching them once again. For a couple of moments nothing seems to be happening, until I heard a giggle from a far end of the train. Someone is finally paying attention to me I thought to myself. I continued my act, then my next act and my next to the extend of telling silly crap jokes till the entire train was filled with laughter.
“STOP!” the train conductor, shouted from afar, he came running towards me and attempted to hurl me out of the moving train. I struggled and struggled, shouted my lungs out to the engineer to stop the train, yet my voice was drowned in the laughter of the passengers, it seems as if they have not laughed for a long time.
In between my tug-o-war with the train conductor, I continued telling jokes, yelling at the top of my voice. As I laughter grew louder, I saw the train conductor in front of me start fading away, his hold on me was getting lighter. I could no longer feel him. The people in the train seem to have gotten their life back. The Canadian Pacific was also fading away; with the parlor chairs started disappearing.
“Ouch!” I fell to the ground; I think I hurt my back. Behind me I can hear the sounds and voices of many others. They all fell to the ground yet each of them is delighted and cheerful about the whole incident.
“Clark Banks, Thank You!” Mr. Woody Stacks walked towards me, giving me a very big beary hug. And slowly I see all of these people disappearing, going back to their own home.
Dawn once again, I turned up the volume of the news broadcast and all I hear was voices of joy and bliss.
“It was a phenomenon, all missing persons are found and they are all back in their own home!” exclaimed the newscaster. I gleefully laugh at the whole incident and myself should I not be such a fool I might not be able to save all these people and myself too. Time to find a job.
I sipped on my hot cup of coffee, slowly turning the pages of the morning papers, rolling my eyes up and down for a suitable position.
All that happened a good five years ago; it was not until later that I learned of the midnight express. How it always take people to far away places to ease them of their pain they are going through. Now, I am back to being a stockbroker and giving my best services to each one of them. I sold my BMW for a smaller family car instead, moved to the sub-urban west side of London and as for the rest of the money I donated it to those who needed it more than me. People who known me as the money hoarding Banks now call me the joy-sharing Banks instead.

 

 

Copyright © 2006 Tay Angela
Published on the World Wide Web by "www.storymania.com"