Sunday, July 25, 2004

Just got by...

AMTRAK 166 (AROUND EDISON, NJ)--Looks like we made it out of D.C. by a whisker. The conductor tells me that every other train scheduled after ours has been held up on account of the crime scene.

Only moments out of Union Station on the 5:25 AM Northeast Regional, our train petered to a halt. There was some excitement among the crew, who were galloping up the center aisle of the head car, where I was the only passenger. “Holy sh*t!” someone exclaimed. Transmitted over a conductor’s walkie-talkie came the words, “We haven’t found any identification.”

Too sleepy to do much worrying, I remained disinterested until the train started moving slowly, passing by a smashed-up car that had landed, improbably, by the side of the tracks, despite the lack of an intersecting road, or the fact that the tracks were lined by fences on either side. The vehicle had apparently gone airborne, tearing through a parking lot on the other side of the fence. Its doors were akimbo, its windsheild smashed.

After we passed the awful scene, I looked up to find two conductors, a man and a woman, both young and white, standing by my seat. “They say it was a gunshot victim,” the woman said. “That’s why the car went out of control.”

After we were waved through, that section of track apparently got taped off as a crime scene. Hence, some luck in being on a budget: had I sprung for the Acela, I’d still be in Washington.

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