Martin Foreman
First and Fiftieth


The Stories
   Kitchen Table
   Night Traffic
   Basement
   Pokhara
   Foucault's Nightmare
   Homophobia, Darling
   Cold Silence
   Los Feliz
   Judy
   Ten Million Years
   The Last Saturday in May
   Angel
   First and Fiftieth
   Ben and Joe's
   Sunset



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First and Fiftieth


A man in his fifties in Spokane, Washington state
opening paragraphs


This is an old Yugoslavian recipe, taught me by a guy who used to ride out of Portland, Oregon. We crossed paths a couple of times, chewed the fat. I liked him. Quiet kind of guy, used to be a teacher. He’d settle down a couple of months, maybe more, then the itch would get him and he’d be off, heading down to Texas if it was winter, Maine if it was
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the fall. A few days there and he'd head back. Say he’d missed home. Good folks, he’d say. Couldn’t see it, myself. Some good, some bad, same the world over.

If I can pour some of the water off of here, there’s your dinner. What you don’t want, leave. I’ll fry up for breakfast.

If I can pour some of the water off of here, there’s your dinner. What you don’t want, leave. I’ll fry up for breakfast.

Talking of home, guess this is mine. For now. Been here two months this time round. Bridge keeps me dry. A few bits of wood, cardboard, keeps out the cold. Got me a fireplace, chair. Not too far from the tracks. It’s got so I can’t sleep unless I hear the trains go by. Good thing is, it’s off the bulls’ jurisdiction. Sure they seen me. They know I ride the rails, but they ain’t bothered me. Not like the bastards in Tampa. Damn near broke my arm down there.

Anyhow, I’m in no hurry. I got used to it here. People drop by. Sometimes you sit, watch the trains, the sunset, the rain. Sometimes you talk. Tell your story if you’ve a mind to. Trouble is, memory changes things. Things you want to forget. Things you want to remember that never happened. Happens to everybody. Gets so, nobody’s story’s true. Not yours, not mine. But it’s all we got.



Next story: Ben and Joe's




All Rights Reserved / World Copyright © Martin Foreman 2015




"Sometimes you sit, watch the trains, the sunset, the rain. Sometimes you talk. Tell your story if you've a mind to. Trouble is, memory changes things. Things you want to forget. Things you want to remember that never happened. Happens to everybody. Gets so, nobody's story's true. Not yours, not mine. But it's all we've got."

First and Fiftieth



Background & Comment

As a boy I dreamt of riding freight trains across the States. The romantic in me saw only the endless horizons, not the demons that might drive men to spend their lives unrooted.

Then in the early 1990s I saw a BBC documentary on hoboes. The result, several years later, was this story - one of the shortest and one of my favourites.



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