i poured all of my change out of a zip-lock baggie and found two crumpled dollar bills in my purse. my cash is always crumpled. i was on an amtrak train leaving albany. i had a pretty good buzz from the three shots of jim beam i had just to get on the thing, just to get to the station with the giant AMTRAK STATION sign outside that i stood and stared at for awhile, to really try and grasp the situation, just to pay for the ticket and walk onto the car, three shots of jim beam. i found the trains 'bar,' a tiny counter with a microwave behind it for the five dollar burgers. a teddy-bear looking amtrak employee stood behind the counter. he looked ready for anything. i wanted to know his secret. i looked for signs. an 8 x 10 sheet of paper was thumbtacked to a blank grey wall. 'spirits - $5.00' it said in tiny times new roman. i looked at the teddy-bear guy, 'so when that sign says spirits does it mean...' we both said 'whiskey' at the same time. i showed him my wrinkled two bucks and handful of change 'yes. that. thanks.' 'so where exactly are you heading?' he was looking me right in the eyes in that way you know is stronger than the usual way. how many times does this man ask that i wanted to know. i told him syracuse which was only half true. 'why not further?' he half smirked. the question hit my skull over and over again in my head like a drill sergeant. he looked at my ID and then back at me. why not further? i put my money on the counter, he said 'god you're adorable.' i thought about the million god damn stories i'd find working on this train. they'd be pure gold. the teddy-bear told me to keep my money, but to come back to the bar. i told him that wouldn't be a challenge but i never went back. i took the drink and sat in the dining car alone. there were six tables and a single person took up each one. two tables over a kid in glasses was reading a book with his ipod on through a speaker so everyone could hear it. the douche-bag had on some god awful version of that italian opera song 'con te partiro.' i wanted to kill him. 'you are a villain from a disney movie' i wanted to say. not even the cool kind, an anti-hero or a tarantino bad-ass. no, you're a disney villain with no interesting motive. directly across from me an older man with a skinny ponytail down the back of his neck right out of 'no country for old men' sat quietly at his table. i wanted to know him. when i walked in everyone stared at me, i felt lost. i was for sure very, very lost. i sipped my whiskey and coke. the train was moving and i watched out the window without ever really looking at what was on the other side. i had my brain for that. i'd never been on a train like this before and i wanted to know if that was weird. everyone on it was going somewhere. i felt foggy, i'd been in this fog for weeks. i wasn't going somewhere but i was moving, like the train was, moving just to move. my thoughts went in and out like shitty radio reception. they got hard and then very soft. they'd suddenly jolt forward, out of nowhere, like waking up from a falling dream. i took out my little notebook and a red pen. the other people were still watching me. the notebook might hide me. i hadn't written in a really long time, way too long, i remembered a story i was told when i was little about a woman i knew that had to choose between passion and safety. the woman chose safety, but i couldn't decide how i felt about her outcome. the open notebook sat there, adding another life to the train table even though the little pages stayed blank. it felt like halloween in my head. i sipped my drink, crushed the ice up with my teeth, i relished the melting whiskey crushed up cubes. i realized that i already knew the teddy-bear employees secret, in fact, i had the ready-for-anything look down to a T, it was the actually ready for anything part i wasn't so sure of.