Sunday, May 05, 2013

BUS STORY # 339 (Train Story # 4: The Gambler)

This story is tied to two preceding stories which you can read here, and here.

My wife finally did find a Rail Runner employee who explained to her there was no way of knowing ahead of time which set of tracks the train would come in on because they sometimes had to switch tracks depending on other traffic. She told me she asked him how the passengers would know, and he answered, they’d know. (He was right.)

She came back to where Edward* was holding forth, and for a few minutes, when he was talking about musicals, something she knows a lot about, she joined in. Pretty soon, the two of them were riffing on an idea for “Lincoln: The Musical.” Edward knocked out some pretty funny lyrics for the Ford Theatre scene, while my wife recognized the tune he was using and suggested they give it a happy ending.

Unfortunately, the breeze and shadow drove her away to a sunny spot against a wind-breaking wall next to a bench. Shortly afterwards, I noticed a Native American-looking fellow take a seat on the bench, and begin a conversation with her.

Later, when we were on the train, my wife told me Nate* had just begun working his way up the casinos along the track. He’d just finished with Isleta where he’d done pretty well at Black Jack. He’d gotten a room, gambled, eaten well, partied a little, slept, then went back and gambled some more.

He did have a little trouble at Isleta. He invited some friends to join him in his room. Later on, he went down to gamble, and when he came back upstairs, the hotel security and tribal police were in his room. His friends had apparently gotten a little rowdy.

Now, he was on his way to Sandia. But he was going all the way to Bernalillo first to meet his mother. She was driving in from Cuba to meet him. The two of them would drive down to Sandia together and gamble. HIs mother got a pretty hefty social security check, and it had just come in this week.

Nate also told my wife he had a house in Bernalillo that was worth three hundred thousand. She had the impression he was wondering if she might be interested. Later on, he would tell me someone had offered him two hundred and forty for it, and he was thinking he might just have to jump on that.

I’m not sure whether my wife had decided to try and get away from Nate or was just missing me, but she came over to where Edward and I were. Nate followed.

There were introductions all around, and that is when Edward and I discovered we shared the same first name. It’s also when I saw Edward’s vision deficit. When Nate extended his hand, Edward simply did not see it. He recovered, but I think he actually sensed it rather than saw it. When he did reach out his hand, he let Nate make the connection.

Nate had been divorced for a couple of years now. “Divorce is really expensive!” he told us. They had five children, but they’re all grown with families of their own. I asked him if they were all close by. They are, but “I leave them alone. It’s their world now.”

Nate, in turn, asked us where we were from. That is when Edward learned I, too, was born in southern California, and into a (considerably smaller) family who’d also moved there from Indiana. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but somewhere in the discussion Edward mentioned being Irish. I shared that I, too, had an Irish ancestry, only three generations back on my mother’s side.

Nate momentarily confused ancestry with nativity, and Edward popped into a remarkably credible Irish brogue to help things along. There was laughter all around. Nate, for all his seeming wildness, was as gentle and considerate in his conversation as he was unabashedly open in his story telling. I liked him. He left us when the train was approaching the station. We looked for him at the Bernalillo stop, but didn’t see him.

Edward got serious -- just a little, and for just a minute -- when he noted the similarities between us. “What are the odds...” He hoped we would run into each other again, and assured us he wouldn’t forget us. And he extended his hand. I made the connection. We wished him well, and we all headed for the train.

Later on, during the ride, my wife said, “You got a bus story out of all this, didn’t you?” I told her I was pretty sure I had, and I credited the happy accident of leaving a half hour too early because I didn’t check my carefully constructed itinerary. Which, my wife pointed out, left her literally out in the cold for half an hour... but she added she was really glad to see first-hand how I came by my bus stories.

How sweet is that?

We then went on to have a wonderful day together in Santa Fe, which you can read about here if you haven’t already.


*Real name changed.


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