Shot Down in the Night

In which The Author has a non-train-based rail-related encounter

Confused? You will be…
For the benefit of new readers, my previous rail-related encounters Strangers on a Train, Brief Encounter, and One Night a DVD Saved My Bacon) all took place on trains. Here’s one which took place on a railway platform instead. It doesn’t quite form part of the Cosmic Tigger On Trains trilogy. If I was releasing a DVD boxed set of my rail-related adventures, this one would be a Special Feature. Maybe an Easter Egg. Who knows …?
I can only approximately carbon-date this one, given that I treated myself to my first tattoo (the Eye of Horus) for my thirty-third birthday. I had my second one – Eris, the Goddess of Chaos, as featured in my background image – tattooed on my shoulder blade about a year and a half later. My third (and so far latest) tattoo – Thoth, the God of Wisdom – came along about a year, balancing her on the opposite side. I’m pretty sure all three were in place by the time I took Oz Girl to bed (see From a Land Down Under). That particular kinkfest happened when I was thirty-five. When this happened I was a bit older. Not yet forty, certainly.
It was a weekday evening and I was at Cardiff Central Station (as usual), waiting for a delayed train (as usual). I was sitting on one of the benches which line Platform 6, doing the crossword and minding my own business (as usual). Then Eris stuck her oar in, and all normal running was subject to unforeseen disruption.
After a few minutes I became aware of someone standing behind me. I looked around and saw that I was right. Reading my paper over my right shoulder was a middle-aged guy with greying wavy hair, casually dressed, and looking a bit pissed and/or stoned. I looked back at my paper and deliberately shuffled a few inches along the seat. There wasn’t any room for him to sit down, but I wanted him to know that he was making me feel uncomfortable.
A few moments later the inevitable happened. I felt his hand on my shoulder. He’d touched me in the exact spot to invoke the Goddess Eris Herself. I stood up and looked him straight in the eyes.
‘Have we met?’ I demanded in a low voice.
‘You heard me,’ I said. The people next to me on the seat turned to see what was going on. ‘Do you know me?’
‘Er …’ he said, taking a step backwards. ‘I thought I knew your face.’ At that point I noticed that he was wearing a zip-up jacket but no shirt. The Gents’ toilet is only a few metres away, and I’d already second-guessed his intentions. I was having none of it.
In the meantime, Goddess had decided to intervene on my behalf. The Mysterious Stranger put his hand on my waist. I stepped a little closer and looked straight into his eyes. This time, my voice was loud enough for everyone nearby to hear, and I made sure that I spoke clearly and distinctly.
‘In that case, take a good look at my face. Commit it to memory. Don’t look at it again.’
I grabbed my stuff and walked to another seat, about twenty metres away. I didn’t look back. I sat down and carried on with the crossword.
A train pulled in a couple of minutes later, and I glanced up to check if it was the right one. My unfortunate importuner was lying spark out on the platform with a crowd around him, and at least one member of staff was giving him First Aid. I realised that he’d been struck down, in broad daylight, in the centre of Cardiff, by my very own tutelary Goddess. I got on the train and headed home without a second thought.
On the Saturday night, in the pub, a couple of youngsters approached me and asked me what I’d done to the old bloke at the station. They’d been at the other end of the platform during our brief encounter, and were most impressed by the result. They were even more impressed when I told them that I’d never had to lay a finger on him. The word went around, and I think I might have converted a few people to the Cult of Eris that night.
I’ve no idea what happened to the cottager afterwards. I don’t really care. Goddess is happy with the occasional human sacrifice.

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