The Train of Small Mercies

The Train of Small Mercies by David Rowell

Book: The Train of Small Mercies by David Rowell Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Rowell
trunk and pulled out a leather suitcase. Though Michael had wondered about it in their first hundred miles, the idea came to him now with some alarm: he had no extra clothes. He had no toothbrush, no pajamas to sleep in, no change of underwear or socks. As he got out, he said, “I don’t have any luggage.”
    James Colvert smiled. “Well, that’s a temporary problem,” he said. “Nothing we can’t fix. I did pick up an extra toothbrush for you, and tomorrow, when we get to where we’re going, I know a department store where we can pick up what you’ll need.” He held the plastic key in the light of the sign. “Room seven.”
    They followed a pathway made of smoothed stones, and when he got the door open, James Colvert reached for a switch on the wall and, not finding one, crept to the shadowy outline of a lamp on a desk. A dim, orange light revealed two small beds with brown bedspreads and a painting between them of Indians on their horses, one with his tomahawk raised over his head. James Colvert put his suitcase down and closed the door. “Well, it’s not the Taj Mahal, but it will do,” he said. All these hours later, his voice still wasn’t entirely familiar to Michael.
    James Colvert flipped open his suitcase and retrieved a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush still in its clear packaging. “That’s for you,” he said.
    Michael took it in his hand and contemplated its particular shade of green. “Thank you.” He brushed with more effort than he could usually summon, since he didn’t want to appear ungrateful, and spit with a fierceness that surprised him. He sat on the corner of the other bed with more uncertainty than he had felt all day.
    â€œWell, go ahead and hit the hay,” James Colvert said. “You’re not used to being up this late, I guess.”
    â€œSometimes,” Michael said, but he didn’t find the convincing note he had intended.
    He then unbuttoned his pants, suddenly self-conscious, and slipped off his socks, placing them neatly on top. He got under the rough sheet and blanket and turned to face the wall, studying the lines in the wooden slats. He knew it would be long after the lights were turned off before he fell asleep.

    E dwin was giving Ted and Georgia a tour of the pool. Ted had been a friend of Edwin and Lolly’s for five years, from when they lived in the same apartment complex. When they first met, Ted was married to a Chinese student named Mai; three years later they had an infant daughter named Ling-lee. This was during Ted’s “days of haze,” as he called them now, when he was often drunk or stoned. Ted was generally a happy drunk, but when he passed out, he slept through the better part of the next day. When the baby was asleep, Mai berated him for the groceries he had forgotten to pick up, the soiled diaper he hadn’t detected, the money he’d squandered, the nights he had failed to come home. A week after Ling-lee’s second birthday, Mai moved back to China with her.
    Edwin and Lolly didn’t know Georgia as well, and Georgia’s beauty—she had once worked in the Chicago Playboy Club as a cocktail waitress—made Lolly feel more reserved. Georgia had been seeing Ted for nearly six months; she worked as a beautician and was ten years younger than the rest of them, though she looked even younger.
    Edwin stood up on the last step of the ladder and narrated how he had put it all together. “And you, my fine friends, have the honor of helping us break it in.”
    â€œGroovy,” Ted said. He wore a T-shirt with a cobra sprung to life over snug-fitting jean cutoffs, with a red bandanna around his neck. His curly hair piled upward, and since growing out his sideburns, he liked to run his fingers down the length of them when he spoke. Georgia wore flip-flops underneath her red-painted toes and a tie-dyed T-shirt that she had

Similar Books


Ryne Pearson

Chasing the Sun

Kaki Warner

The Copa

Mickey Podell-Raber

The Information Junkie

Roderick Leyland

Gemini Rising

Eleanor Wood

Game for Tonight

Karen Erickson


Esther Woolfson

The Wolf's Surrender

Kendra Leigh Castle