A highlight from The Man Who Never Returned

Stories Podcast


The man who never returned the train chug washed clatter to a stop at the platform the crowds inside who wanted to get off started pushing against the crowd outside who wanted to get on there was a messy push poll of crowds flowing past each other and charlie felt himself being pulled along by their tied he was swept into the train and found himself an empty spot to stand between someone holding a bag of onions that smelled like shoes. And someone else with shoes. That smelled like onions. Just another wonderful boston morning. On the metropolitan transit authority or the mta for short. Charlie lived near kendall square in cambridge but he worked in downtown boston so the train it was every morning he would get up early. Pack himself a sandwich and kiss his son and wife goodbye then it was a short walk to the mta station where he would be swept into his morning train those days. It cost ten cents to ride. That seems pretty cheap. But charlie only earned eighty cents an hour so he had to budget carefully. Of course all the careful planning in the world won't save you when the taxman comes. The wheels of government are slow but heavy when they come rolling and that day they were about to roll right over old charlie as he settled into his ride he noticed new signs hung up all over the train. They read new exit tax five cents an exit tax. He muttered. What's that about. Don't you read. The paper said the man with shoes that smelled like onions. The politicians get that ten cents to get on now that taken five cents to get off. They are literally going to nickel and dime us to death. When does it start. Charlie asked he only brought a dime a day and he had already spent that to get on the train. It starts today said the man with onions. That smelled like shoes. I made sure to bring my nickel. Everyone made sure to bring the nickel man. I can't imagine if i forgot my exit nickel that would be just about the worst most embarrassing mistake a man could make. I even made up a rhyme. You want to hear it. Of course you do nickel nickel. Don't forget you nickel nickel nickel. It's bigger than a dime that doesn't rhyme. What are you talking about said onion shoes. It does so you wanna get walloped. Said she onions. Luckily for charlie a few minutes later the train chug whoosh clattered to a stop. The two men still shouting surged off onto the platform with everyone else. It was only. Then that charlie noticed the mta man stationed at the door taking nichols from everyone as they pushed by. Hey sorry charlie said when it was his turn to get off. I didn't know about the new exit Not my problem said the mta man next in line. Oh come on. This is unfair on fahah. Boston's never had an unfair tax snapped. The man never had an unfair tax. Ever heard of the boston tea party. I'm too old for t- patties next in line. But i need to go to work next. The people behind. Charlie tired of waiting pulled him away from the door. He tried to leap free but the mta man spiked him back like his. Noggin was a volleyball. Well that didn't work. Charlie said rubbing his forehead so much forgetting to the office today. The train pulled away. And charlie was forced to keep on writing. It was the same at the next stop and the next no matter where he tried to get off. They charged the same five cent tax. Charlie was stuck like a spider in a web. If webs could be trained cars and spiders could be tax collectors with bad attitudes and surprising athleticism. The day rolled by people streamed off and on and charlie found a seat to sulk in at noon. He ate the sandwich he had packed. But by dinner his stomach was grumbling loud enough to hear over the constant chug of the train. Hey he said to the mta man. I'm hungry when does the train stopped for the night. I really need to get off. Train runs twenty four hours a day. The man replied and the exit tax is still five cents. So we're stuck here not at all. That's a relief. My shift ends at eight. You're stuck here. Charlie side and slumped back into a seat the crowd slowly thinned until no one was on the train but charlie and the workers and an occasional person transferring lines. Charlie worried about what his wife and son must be thinking with him gone for so long. It was with them on his mind that he finally slumped over to sleep. Of course a public train isn't the best place to sleep so it was a long night. Charlie woke up twice to people yelling four times for people complaining about the yankees and wants to a strange man

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