UKArchive



UKArchive ID: 5935The Last Train To Wales by chrisk
Originally published on April 12, 2004 in Fiction

Just a story about an Indian on his first visit to U.K.




chrisk


THE LAST TRAIN TO WALES

By C R Krishnan













Winter is not the best time to visit U.K, especially when you are from India. Some one should have told Kishen Patel that.

Forget the culture shock for a shopkeeper from Ahmedabad, India, but the cold hit him hard. He has come to stay with his Doctor cousin in Cardiff, Wales, for two weeks. He has been planning this journey for years and now at the ripe old age of 50 he has made it. He carried just one suitcase and a handbag, filled with all the nice Indian sweets and many other goodies. These Gujaratis are great sweet lovers. Did you know that they start their main meal with a sweet? Most of them do!

A taxi deposited him at Paddington Railway station at about 11 30 PM just in time for the last train to Cardiff. The station was virtually deserted and it was very cold. The Indian shivered in his clothes. No one told him about the benefits of wearing a scarf and a hat.

He got his ticket and boarded the train and selected one of the many empty cubicles, you know the type of train where you have one long corridor on one side and the other you have cubicles with seat numbers. Each one seated about 6 passengers, three on one side and three opposite. Luckily the train was warm and he was feeling good but tired due to the jet lag. Kishen shut his eyes for a minute but was disturbed by a well-dressed old man opening the cubicle door and taking a seat opposite to him. He wore a suit, an overcoat and a hat. The dim light in the carriage showed a very ‘white’ white man.

‘Good evening’ the old man said ’I hope I didn’t disturb you Sir’

‘No, not really, am a bit sleepy’ and then explained that he had a very long journey and that he is going to Cardiff. He also said that he was glad of some company, as he didn’t want to miss his destination by falling asleep. In Indian trains every one talked and read each other’s newspapers and many cases shared food and drinks. Kishen was so used to that.

‘Where are you going Sir?’ Kishen ventured.

‘Oh, Wales, I just travel every night, trains are much safer you know, safer than cars. You can get killed in a car especially if you are travelling alone at night.’

Kishen didn’t want to argue or voice an opinion. He just nodded his head. Let the old man talk as much as he wants. He liked the sound of the English language anyway, the spoken word, especially coming from the mouth of a ‘native’.

‘To while away the time, could I tell you a story’? The old man must have read his mind.

Kishen didn’t care to reply, just nodded his head as most Indians do. If the answer is ’no’ you shook your head from left to right and if its ‘yes’ you nodded by moving your head up and down. I should know!

The old man began.

‘There were two friends, Albert and David, both pensioners and living in single, one room council flats in an estate in the south of England. Both were widowers and had been out of touch with their children and other family for years. They had originally come from Wales and had not bothered to go back that often.’

‘Are you with me so far, Sir?’ the old man wanted to know.

Kishen moved his head up and down.

‘Every day they went to a betting shop and had a small bet. They always chose a “Lucky31” which is a bet covering 5 horses in 5 different races and even if 1 of the horses won you got some money back. Considering that they only bet a pound each, it didn’t show a big dent on their pension. They always travelled in Albert’s car, an old Ford Cortina which he had for years, and David shared the cost of the petrol. All expenses were shared equally as David always said, ”Good accounts make good friends”’.

‘One day David was taken ill and was hospitalised with a mild stroke. Nothing to worry about, just resting for a few days. That day he asked Albert to put the bet on for him and gave him £50, all in10 pound notes. Albert thought that his friend had gone mental, may be the stroke was responsible for this erratic irresponsible behaviour. Albert insisted that he was not being irresponsible but he had a good reason for asking his friend to put this heavy bet. He had dreamt the names of the horses while having his stroke and so he asked Albert just to do it. £50 bet based on a dream?’

‘Albert thought, Ah well its David’s money, he can do whatever he wants with it. So off he went to the betting shop put his bet on his own selection of 5 horses and then put £50 on David’s.’

‘He came out, did his shopping and went home for an after noon siesta and got back in time to look at the results. He had won nothing. To his great shock all David’s horses have come through netting him an astonishing sum of £7000. Pension those days was £20 a week! He hurried to give the good news to David but was told by the Doctors that since he had a second, more severe stroke, was unconscious and not going to make it.’

‘That night, he died’

Kishen was getting a bit bored until then, but he perked up to hear the rest of the story.

‘Now Albert has got all the money. David had never discussed any thing in detail about his family back in Wales, except to say that he had one daughter who is a widow with three children and living a poor life. Albert thought about it for a while and then he decided to keep the money. What the daughter didn’t know she was not going to miss’.

‘The funeral was conducted and Albert saw the daughter with three screaming children and they did look impoverished. Well that’s life, the money is his, he put the bet on the horses himself and that, as far as he was concerned was that. Even the funeral expenditure was covered by the state’.

‘A week later Albert started his journey to Wales and boarded this same train, the one we are sitting in, the last train to Wales. He wanted to show off his newfound wealth to his poor relatives. They will show some bloody respect this time. He was nearing Cardiff and he was the only one in the cubicle. As the train was about to enter the Severn Tunnel he saw a figure entering the cubicle and it sat beside him. Albert felt an icy cold hand gripping his shoulders and heard a loud whisper’.

“Hey, Albert buddy, where’s my money?”

‘He froze on the spot for a second or two, tore himself away from the cold hands and rushed out into the corridor screaming his head off, opened the door and jumped out of the train. He hit his head on the side of the tunnel and died on the spot’.

At this part of the narrative, the train entered the same tunnel he was talking about, under the Severn River, and the noise inside the carriage went up an octave or two. The dim lights flickered and then went out. The cubicle became pitch dark.

Kishen shouted out so the old man could hear him above the din of the noise.

‘Just one question, Sir?

‘Ok, the old man said, ask away’

‘How do you know all this? You were not in the train and only Albert will know exactly what happened? You said this is a true story.’

‘That’s right, young man, I am Albert!'

And with that the train came out of the tunnel and the lights came on. Kishen found himself alone, all alone in the cubicle.

The Indian ran out of the carriage leaving all his stuff and spent the rest of his journey in the Guards room.
















© chrisk (chrisk on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 5935
Archived comments for The Last Train To Wales
sirat on 2004-04-12 03:27:13
Re: The Last Train To Wales
I enjoyed the "story within a story", but my immediate thought was, why is it packaged in this way? I don't think there is any particular need to introduce Mr. Patel and the Indian connection. I think the story would work better from Albert's point of view, perhaps even told by him in the first person, but not including his death by jumping out of the train. The story is actually more horrifying in my opinion if the appearence of David is something that he has to live with, and that may happen again at any moment. I did enjoy it as it though.

Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2004-04-12 03:54:10
Re: The Last Train To Wales
Hi Sirat
Thanx a lot for ur constructive comment, I appreciate it. Some one told me this story about 20 years ago and it so happened I had to catch the last train to get to MerthyrTydfil a small town between Cardiff and Swansea, a few weeks after that.I was on my way to stay with my cousin who was a GP there. I was alone in a cubicle and as the train went inside the Severn Tunnel I wondered how I would have reacted if something like this happened to me?
Kind regards
Chris

Author's Reply:

Claire on 2004-04-12 04:46:43
Re: The Last Train To Wales
I've heard the tale about the bet before. I like the way you have laid this story out.

I think if you leave the following sentence out at the end, it will give the story a better ending. You don't need the explanation.

That’s right, young man, I am Albert! Well now his ghost” and he laughed so loudly, the whole carriage shook.

I suppose you could cut some of the start of the story with the Indian background, like sirat said, as it will push the story forward quicker.

Enjoyed the read, spooky ending, great build up, looking forward to reading more of your work.

Author's Reply:

chrissy on 2004-04-12 08:49:42
Re: The Last Train To Wales
I love your spooky stories and the conversational way you write. I took your advice and read this one in day light. It's still spooky.
Chrissy

Author's Reply:

Gerry on 2004-04-12 13:07:17
Re: The Last Train To Wales
Nice one--had me hooked.

Gerry.

Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2004-04-12 13:57:00
Re: The Last Train To Wales
Gerry Hullo
Thanks a lot. Enjoyed writing it.
Regards
Chris

Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2004-04-12 13:59:40
Re: The Last Train To Wales
Claire hullo
Thank u for taking the time to read and comment. I have made a few changes to the end. If i take any more off like the Indian etc., then the authentcity of the story will be affected.
Regards
Chris

Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2004-04-12 14:04:04
Re: The Last Train To Wales
Hi Chrissy,
You are very kind and my wife wants me to promise her that for atleast a few months I stop writing these type of stories.
Not fair, is it Chrissy?
Regards
Chris

Author's Reply:

Claire on 2004-04-12 15:48:38
Re: The Last Train To Wales
The ending is much better now. If you are happy with the Indian then leave him. Great little story still!

Author's Reply:

shadow on 2004-04-13 03:45:37
Re: The Last Train To Wales
I enjoyed the story - lovely spooky ending - but one thing puzzled me. The train with the corridor and 'cubicles'. I remember corridor trains, we called them 'compartments', but I thought they all disappeared when they got rid of steam engines. Do they still have them on the London-Cardiff line? Or is the story set in the past?

Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2004-04-13 04:21:13
Re: The Last Train To Wales
Hullo Shadow,
This was in the late sixtees, but even until late 80s there were trains with these type of seatings mostly commuter trains where the same bunch of people sat in the same seats reading the same papers. I have done it many times lol
Thanks a lot for enjoying it.
Regards
Chris

Author's Reply:

richa on 2004-04-13 07:39:47
Re: The Last Train To Wales
Ok, now I'm never boarding the last train alone. Enjoyed the read. Very conversational tone, kept me engrossed till the end. Also the way we Indians nod has fascinated a flatmate of mine!

Author's Reply:

chrisk on 2004-04-13 12:32:56
Re: The Last Train To Wales
Hi Richa
How r u?
Of course u r in Cardiff! I didn't mean to spook any one. Even I won't do it unless I have company. I feel that the ghosts and spirits don't want us to believe they exist, so they never appear unless u r alone! Have u checked the history of your flat yet?lol
regrds
Chris

Author's Reply:

Pilgermann on 2004-04-13 13:00:21
Re: The Last Train To Wales
'nice Indian sweets and many other goodies'? this description sums up the rest of the story - it is very predictable, sorry to say, Chris.

Author's Reply: