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Cold Steel Rail

I've played Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and lamented the loss of a lot of girls.

But I ain't never played the song and thought of this...

Cold Steel Rail by Manuel Royal




A dark girl, a cinnamon girl. A married girl. She was hard and cold against the hard, cold world, soft and warm against me. She was my one secret love, a long time ago. I was nobody, but for a little bit of time she counted me first among her secrets.

Midnight was our hour, a lonely country crossing our spot. We clung, we twined, we fucked fast, hard and hungry on the train tracks. I can still feel the rough wood and smooth steel, rails like ice on a cold night.

Black coffee eyes, a mane of black hair sweeping back thick from low on her crown. Swelling wedge of coarse hair between her thighs, dark like the bottom of the sea. Cinnamon-brown skin hot under my hands. Naked together under her husband's greatcoat that nearly swept the ground when she snuck out of his house wearing nothing beneath but red shoes on her little brown feet.

She had only one rule, but it was a different one every night. The rule that we not speak. The rule that I not let her touch the ground. The rule that we were not to touch one another but at the point of sex, so that I heedlessly tore my shoulder holding myself above her, feeling nothing but half a foot of flesh plunging into molten heat, emerging into cold air, again, again, again. Together, apart, together, apart.

Apart.

That last night. Her one rule: we were not, no matter what, to stop short, not to stop at all, not until I came. Not even with a roaring freight shaking the tracks, bearing down with its glaring light throwing our shadows ahead of us as I labored on top of her. Shadows shortening, drawing in, I could feel five thousand tons of train heading for my up-and-down bucking ass. Writhing beneath me, laughing, trapping me with her strong legs, she screamed in my ear, "Come in me or die!" She screamed louder than the rumbling cadence of metal wheels, louder than the whistle.

Even now, so many years on, and she so many years dust…when I hear that whistle far off in the night, it brings me a cold sweat, and a cold ache in my long-gone right foot and the ghost of a hard-on.

Manuel Royal was born, like Tristram Shandy, with a broken nose. He will die. In between, he lives and writes in Atlanta, Georgia.