No News is Good News
Jack Wagon stared out of the window as hills and rivers rushed past, meandering busily alongside the track. He wore a purple zoot suit and a pair of wombat skin brogues and carried a newspaper strewn haphazardly across his tiny lap but, to his great shame, he did not know how to read it.
An uncaring voice interrupted his landscape enjoyment. A small bald man was leering at him from the aisle. He was dressed in a sort of trench coat and may have been nude underneath. Certainly he had his knees out. Jack formulated a response.
“Well, I think that…”
The stranger plonked himself down, already too close for comfort. Jack detected a dirty citrus tang in his nostrils. The invasion of his personal space continued unabated.
“This weather, eh?”
“Yes.” Jack answered, immediately wondering if he had been too terse. The man did not seem to notice.
“What are you reading there?”
“The paper, is it the Mail?”
“Aren’t they all?”
The conversation was veering into uncomfortable territory but luckily, greed intervened and the lemony cue ball revealed his true motivation.
“Done with that? Mind if I have it?”
Relieved, Jack handed it over, glad to be rid of the wretched thing. The man snorted his gratitude, rolled the paper into a tight tube and bent over the hand rest staring back knowingly at Jack. He pulled up his coat to reveal his hairy cheeks as the train crashed violently into a Volvo dawdling on the level crossing and Jack was spared from witnessing the act by a swift and fiery death
the paper phoenix
fluttering into the flames