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Episode Info: Inner Harsh Season 1 / Episode 9 Written by Lucas James Pralle Narrated by Larry Anderson     Chaos He liked to put his face against the cool steel of the floor and listen to the rack and rumble of the track. He liked to feel the sweet hum in his cheek, the rhythmic jolt in his teeth. When the train would string out and curve along turns through the steep, orange caverns of Utah or the flat, green fields of Iowa, he pressed his ear against the floor even more, as a hundred metal wheels, springs, brakes—some shiny and some dull with caked grease, let out a harmonious screech and the heavy cars squatted in the cool midnight. He imagined the metallic creaks, clunks, and hum flying out, bouncing around the open wallpapered cupboards of a lone farm house in Kansas, or sinking down into a desert hole in New Mexico and pricking the ears of a fox; or during the day, when Nikolas would sit in the cool shadows of his boxcar, he imagined the sounds drifting out, touching the faces of revolutionary couples on motorcycles waiting at crossings in Oklahoma. James Dean and Cleopatra waiting for the train—Nikolas’s voice to pass. This was how Nikolas Veshinski came to be in the world after returning from Iraq. Any time he stepped off of the train, when he had to venture out and get some food or water, it was like he was launching out into nothingness. He could see the busboy in Tennessee hurriedly taking out the bucket of scraps in the sweltering night, and he could sense the jagged paint and the oily funk of the back alley dumpster that he was hiding behind. He could smell the rich sourness of plastic, cardboard, food, dirt, and shit. His nose told him that they were there, but none of it seemed real. Nothing ever felt real. Except when he was on the train. Before the train, there had been a rail yard in Los Angeles. Nikolas was drawn in by the screech and bang of the cars as they came in and departed the station. He sat and watched the rail yard obsessively for a few days from inside the rusted, corrugated walls of an abandoned warehouse. Nikolas laid on the cracked concrete with all the mice and pigeon shit and listened to the distant metal wrench and clamor as the cars came in, pulled apart, clanked together, and the deep rumble of the engines as they pushed down and shook the earth and traveled to places like Jacksonville, Chicago, New Orleans, and Spokane
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