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Lynch

Inside, the train was silent except for the faint noise of the rain lashing the windows. Lynch stared out – trying to make out where he was by the blurred shapes he saw through the rain. Buildings flashed by quickly, large brown apartment blocks, with shops beneath whose shutters were covered in graffiti. Lynch was running and although he was now hundreds of miles away from London he still feared that Ricardo could find him.

Lynch had decided quickly on Spain as his destination – remembering a summer holiday when he was twelve years old. His mother had taken him and his sister on a rare trip abroad to Reus during the summer holidays. Lynch had loved it – cried even when the time to go back to England had come. He loved the fact that it wasn’t home – the estate with its grey blocks and weed cracked pavements seemed just so far away. The sun and the sea had made it different enough that it seemed to offer a chance of something different and he never wanted to go back.

Lynch had been traveling around the country for six weeks now. If somewhere looked nice he would hop off the train, find a nearby hotel and stay for a few days until he became bored. At first it had seemed a great adventure and he had enjoyed seeing so many different places. It had also kept his mind focused on the present – he didn’t think of the past and he rarely considered what he was going to do once the money had run out. Now he had begun to feel lonely and missed having someone to chat to with about familiar things.

The train stopped at a small station in what Lynch guessed were the suburbs of the city. The rain had eased off and he could make out smaller apartment blocks painted white interspersed with factories and workshops. In the distance, behind the buildings he could see the shapes of the mountains whose tops were being lashed with rain and shadowed by large dark clouds. The platform was empty and the train doors just about to close when a man and a woman came running up from the underpass that linked the ticket office to the platforms. The man was tall, fiftyish and was wearing a light tan raincoat which flapped around him as he ran for the train, he was carrying a medium sized, green travel holdall. The woman followed quickly looking sturdy and stern and with short bobbed hair that was now pasted to her forehead. He jumped aboard and held the doors open whilst gesturing at her to hurry along.

Lynch watched as they came into his carriage looking disheveled and talking in quiet angry voices with American accents. He wondered briefly what they were doing in the suburbs of a nondescript Spanish town which certainly wasn’t a tourist hotspot. Listening carefully he could just make out their voices as they took a seat two rows in front of him in the otherwise deserted carriage. It seemed that the woman was scalding the man because they had got off at the wrong station and were waiting at the other platform when the train arrived.

Realizing he was tired, Lynch rested his head against the window and drifted off to sleep – the voices of the American couple helping him along. He was awakened some time later by the loud voice of the woman:
“Are you sure this isn’t the one?” She asked “I don’t want to have to come back here if we miss it.”
The man was glaring though the window but turned to look at her, annoyed.
“I told you: I’m not sure! Wait there.” He turned away and headed towards Lynch who was still just waking up.
“Hey, what’s up?” Lynch asked before the man had a chance to say anything.
“Great you speak English – do you know if this station is Villadefels? There‘s no sign on the platform here” He added.
Lynch was now a seasoned Spanish train traveler and knew that information on the trains and stations was seriously lacking. He took a quick look at the map on the wall and thought back to the last stop he remembered seeing before falling asleep.
“This is the first stop since you got on right?” He asked. The man nodded quickly.
“Okay, well its another two stops to Villadefels. At the minute we’re right here” Lynch pointed to he spaghetti train map on the wall indicating their current station.
The man looked relieved, “Well thanks a lot my friend, we’ve been trying to make it to Villadefels for nearly two hours now. They told us at the train station it should only be thirty minutes”.
“Spanish trains are pretty quick and efficient but sometimes its hard to tell just where you are” He smiled.
“Well thanks again. My name’s Alan Wizlowski. That’s my wife Dora” He turned towards the woman and shouted:
“Hey Dora come over here! Its another two stops yet”
The woman Dora came walking over carrying the holdall, she looked briefly relieved but now looked angry again. They both sat down in the seats opposite Lynch, the man reached out to take the holdall and Lynch noticed a questioning look pass between them.
“This fella here knows where we are even if we don’t.” He chuckled, “By the way I didn’t catch your name?”
“Paul Lynch and I was happy to help.”
Lynch put out his hand and they both shook it in turn, the woman without even a smile.
As the man shifted to accommodate the holdall Lynch looked them over quickly and happened to notice a travel tag hanging from the zip of the bag that read: John Cantolini, 42 Michigan Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah, Tel. 008877678. Before they caught him staring he looked up quickly and casually asked ,
“So where in the US are you from?”
They answered quickly and simultaneously:
Alan: “California”
Dora: “Ohio”
Jumping in quickly Alan said,
“What we mean is, Dora is originally from Ohio and I’m a Montana man. We live in Florida now – warm weather and good air is what you need when you‘re our age!”
They both looked awkward, but the woman more nervous and still angry. To cut the tension Lynch looked out of the window and noticed their station was coming up,
“We’re just pulling into Villadefels now, was nice to meet you both”.
“You too – have a good trip” The man replied.
Dora was already half way down the carriage when the man rose and struggled into his coat. Lynch was thinking what a strange couple they were when he noticed a dark red smudge down the side of the holdall that looked, to him at least, like a smear of blood. He thought about saying something to the man but suddenly decided against it. At that point the man grabbed the bag and strode quickly down the carriage after his wife.
The train stopped and they were both walking off down the platform when the woman turned to the man and, although they were now some way off Lynch heard her say:
“Listen, Paul. Do not go talking to people you meet on the train it will – ”
“Okay okay – you’re right, lets just get this done so we can get out of this goddamn country.”
The woman turned away and they both carried on walking. At the top of the steps to the underpass the man turned to look back, his nose pointed like a beak. In his eyes Paul noticed something of what he’d seen in Ricardo’s eyes – a mixture of determination and insanity.
On an impulse Lynch got up quickly, grabbed his rucksack and left the train just before the doors closed and followed Alan and Dora Wizlowski into the underpass.


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