The Spindler

by Kevin Sexton

Yesterday, there was a man getting on the train who looked at me, legs long and skinny, bending like a grasshopper, with a crumpled hat upon his head and a suitcase in his hand, looking at me as though I were the one in his dreams who cut him loose as he hung suspended above a cliff, and was struggling, those long spindly legs shooting out every which way like a spider in a polished porcelain bowl, and I’d cut him down to end that horrid sight, to keep it from inspiring more terrifying dreams in children passing through in the night, to keep his consciousness and the awareness of the body he inhabits away from others whose sense of the grotesque is not yet formed, who’ve seen maggots crawling in old garbage, but never a man of such unpleasant proportions, held by a string through his belt, struggling madly above a steep drop, so I left my post to follow the man, as it is a much heavier priority at a time like this in a man’s life to leave one’s post and hop on the train, than to stay at one’s post, guarding the security of a country station that’d never once seen a bullet, where kicking a drunken hobo off the bench and into the cold night of an eclipse was the most substantial and heroic action one could take, a job that needed leaving sometimes to get on the train and follow the right man, not having to worry about the fare as, in uniform, the other workers would assume I was on the clock inside where the world flies by the old hills brown with the melting snow of springtime, rather than back at the station, where walls are grey with beetles in the cracks and benches are for sitting, not sleeping, where there’s a sign “mind your bags” and a grumpy old lady to take your money, where I had no intention of ever going again were I even to return to my hometown after the coming adventure, which would likely change not only my life but the whole state of consciousness if I was a success at I knew not what, and so I paced the length of the train, looking for the grasshopping nightmare, the man who dared dream what other people knew not, cart to cart looking official in my blue suit and hat, coming I knew always closer to that man, who could well have moved, but not so far, and we were all moving anyways so only a glance out the window could tell me, yet I knew I could find him if only I looked (through one car and the other, a man sleeping, arm around his little girl, a woman opening a bag of horrible roast peanuts, everyone staring nervously at me as I passed through, thinking any man in a uniform searching for something is after them and them only, and not that I was trying to catch this spindler, this grass-man and rid the world of one more stream of nightmares), which I did after some time, him sitting, his legs stretched out all across the aisle in a sickening display of human length, so that I knew him by sight though I’d forgotten his face, and yelled out ‘you, sir, are nothing but a dirty, sick disease, spreading through to the minds of all who surround you, decaying not just the dream state, but all the world that we inhabit,’ to which he replied by slowly dragging his heels across the carpet and back to his seat in the most threatening fashion allowed by such sloth, until he was sitting up quite straight and so looking at me indicating he thought himself innocent of any such offense, and that furthermore he was disgusted by my abuse of power, no doubt seeing the club swinging from my back pocket, swinging like he does when he and the innocent go to sleep, so with this accusation in his eyes, I went through with the act of which I was as yet innocent but blamed for, sliding my club from my side and whirling it above him in a threatening manner, at which he said ‘sir, you may have me mistaken,’ and to assure him how wrong he was I used that club to knock his pitiful hat off his head and onto the dirty gum-stuck carpet by his unnatural feet;

II

at this bold move, he leapt up from his seat, where he towered above me in his skinny frame like scaffolding, so that in retrospect I’m incredulous to the fact that his head didn’t go through the roof, but if it had I wouldn’t have heard him screaming as his big long arms pointed to his hat and came an inch from my sweaty forehead, ‘you people have no right to treat a man this way, a paying customer, like a war criminal defying an order,’ the specific words that follow failing to imprint on my memory, but all to the effect of what he’d said first silently, only now his case was louder, and thus all the less precious, as I stood my ground, waiting for him to tire first in the tongue then outwards till his whole body would fall to the floor and I could get inside that head of his and pull apart the horrible mechanisms ruining the youth and blaming me for freeing the world of such evil as it knew itself to be, though it would never admit it as the first order of evil is the lie, and the stickbug gentleman chewing off my head was certainly a liar in the filthiest degree of the word, proven by the fact that he’d not yet exposed the contents of that briefcase, still lying on the seat to his side, a seat that could have been taken up by someone of nobler pursuits, only then he’d be in danger of discovery, and besides he had blown up at the loss of his hat, infuriated that I revealed his bald scalp to the world, another one of his evil lying secrets, so it was certainly my duty to find out what was in the case and thus expose more of his lies and lessen his evil, maybe even save his soul and those of the poor folks exposed to his ungodly mindpower, the source of which may even be in the beat-up old case, so I stuck out a hand, and must have reached up high because I pressed it against his chest to signify that it was time for his speech to end, saying ‘sir, just forget the games and show us what’s in the case already,’ after which he grabbed the case, picked up his hat, and braced his long legs stiffly, proclaiming stupidly, ‘I will not,’ as he looked me in the eyes, behind his eyes the source of all disgust, the veins themselves too thin, too twisted, like twine to tie up those poor young souls, when he traps them in that web, for he wasn’t struggling at all, he was perfectly able, trying to seduce, trying to grab, and the bastard deserved the next whack I gave him in the starved stomach, the pathetic thud it made, that sent him running, out of the car, down on those hideous long legs that sent him impossibly fast, but horribly awkward, bumping his knees against carts and ladies as he passed, slowing him to smooth of the disadvantage provided by my own relatively human limbs;

III

but justice was not yet served, as this beast’s horrible mindwaves were still polluting our clean air, and being a country man I like the air clean, so there was no way I could let him go, not if I had even an elbow of a soul left over, so I ran down the train, through the cars, chasing him, not quite as fast as his long bug legs carried his weightless bug body, but fast enough considering, back past the sleepers, the peanut-eaters, the suspicious customers now assured that their own passage was not in jeopardy since the man with the badge was after that awful, terrible spindler, and not a single one of them, not even the shells of the peanuts of their dreams, was to be disturbed except through the sight of such a thing running, stretching grotesquely, and the clumsy chase I made, stepping on toes, knocking over blankets and aluminum cans, causing a racket, but all for the good of the world, all to catch that man, that awful, terrible spindler, who was approaching the back of the train when he looked about him, and climbed straight out the window, forcing myself to follow, and dipping my less graceful toes in someone’s rice pudding on the way, which I don’t think is such a crime, as the taste of rice pudding cannot be hurt, and the pudding was soon swept away by the wind as I stepped with that final foot out the window and pulled myself onto the roof of the train, where the culprit yet was running, now at the last car, I, meanwhile, putting all my weight on my elbows, careful not to fall, doing my own balancing act, though ugly, at least invisible to most eyes, when he got the end of the train and jumped, flying through the air with true aerodynamic ability, and I thought how beautiful that looked, him flying that way, limbs outstretched, man versus wind, a true spectacle to behold, and all by my doing, for I had chased the beautiful brute out here, through the train, out the window, to the roof, to the end of his abilities, exhausted all the horror in his body till all he had left was to do what he should have been here for all along, the type of spread eagle that inspires dreams, good dreams, and I felt like I had succeeded in quelching that dream evil, and ready to move on, myself balanced unsightly on the roof, knowing now I could never approach such important grace, I let go and let the wind take me.



Kevin Sexton was born and raised in Montreal, where he studied English and creative writing at Concordia University. After working as an ice cream biker, music director of a Jewish summer camp and a carny, he moved to Seoul, South Korea, to teach kindergarten. He is now teaching English in Berlin. He has had poetry and fiction published in Creations Magazine, Soliloquies, Terracotta Typewriter and WithWords Press.