The Conductor

by Carole L. Piller

With no desire to be a statistical notch on his gun, she played it safe. When they were aware of each other’s presence, their souls seemed to touch, through lingering eye contact. She chose to participate in this new involvement from a safe distance. It would have been nice to know the man’s name, but she wasn’t bold enough to ask him for it. It wasn’t as if she were shy, she just had some old-fashioned ideas when it came to men. Yearning for him to be the pursuer, she used deceptive tactics to have encounters with him. Her years of existence as a woman taught her how to manipulate a situation with a man. She had done it a thousand times, dealing with her ex-husband. The man who was the object of her pursuit stood his ground, and only offered an occasional greeting whenever they were close enough to speak.

Michele’s fascination regarding the train conductor consumed her thoughts. She didn’t consider herself as having an obsessive personality, but in this case, she couldn’t control her emotions. Once he was within her vision, she became hot and flustered. The handsome conductor was slightly taller than she was with a stocky frame and broad shoulders. He was a classy looking guy that stood out in a crowd, the kind of man you would be proud to be seen with, but with her luck, he was married and living with his wife and kids somewhere.

Michele took the city’s Metro commuter train to and from work daily, always riding in either the first or second car. The conductor, whom she was attracted to in a highly physical sense, usually worked in the rear section of the train. Not wanting him to think she was in hot pursuit of him, she never attempted to sit in any of the rear cars. Familiar with his work schedule, she went out of her way to be a passenger on his trains.

Desiring to spend time with him, she fantasized about being held in his muscular arms. Never near enough to smell his breath, she imagined it having a cool wintergreen mint scent. Whether she wanted control of his mind, body, and soul or for him to possess hers was uncertain. This expedition was her first companion-seeking adventure since her divorce.

Built with curves in all the right places, she carried herself well on her long shapely legs. Michele was about thirteen pounds overweight after having a couple of children, but she concealed it well. Possessing bedroom eyes and lips that begged to be kissed, her facial features were exotic. Her thick brunette hair fell just below her shoulders, and the hairstyles she wore were flattering.

Non-verbally, the conductor showed signs of interest that made her believe the magnetism between them was reciprocal. She speculated that his hesitation in approaching her was owing to other obligations or he had seen the wedding ring she still wore on her finger. Her divorce had been finalized months ago, but she wasn’t ready to part with her ring. Forfeiting her husband was easier than parting with expensive jewelry; feasibly later she would consider having it reset.

Michele didn’t think the man was gay, because he bestowed too much attention upon her. Nor was he the quiet type, because she observed him conversing with the other conductors and some of the commuters. She construed that he was overly cautious.

One phenomenal evening, after completing his fare collections, he slowly walked toward her seat. His face held a grin as he fixed his eyes, sparkling with intensity, upon her. She was drawn to him, and while she smiled back at him, her eyes dared him to turn away. The second time he passed her, he looked upon her face as if he were searching for something, but didn’t utter a word. She continued following his movements, but on his next couple of trips down the aisle, she toyed with him, by refusing to acknowledge his presence. Out the corner of her eyes, she kept track of him as he strolled up and down the aisle. Michele contemplated, now that you have made your presence known, what do you intend on doing about it. His actions assured her that she wasn’t fabricating an attraction entirely on her own. After all, she wasn’t some delusional starved rock star fan, harboring an impossible dream.

After work one evening, Michele was fortunate enough to find the conductor working on the first set of cars. Prior to her stop, he stood on the bottom stair with his back facing the door. It wasn’t unusual for him to be standing there, but his attention was focused up at her face. Michele stood on the top stair of the exit with one stair between them, and for her, the train and other passengers around her became non-existent.

Studying him, she noticed there wasn’t the faintest hint of stubble upon his handsomely shaven face. His mustache was neatly trimmed, ending evenly at the corners of his mouth, and beneath his lower lip was the smallest trace of a goatee. Unable to pry her sight away from his lips, which were full and generous, she yearned to kiss them. Upon further examination of his features, she discovered the tiniest of freckles upon his face. She chuckled silently because they were unnoticeable from a distance.

If only he would step up one stair higher, so their bodies could touch! The absurdity of her thoughts made her almost forget that they were in a public place. The uncooperative man refused to budge, continuing with his scrutiny of her face. This ambiguous episode seemed to have lasted several minutes, but in actuality, it only took a few moments, and during that time, no words were exchanged between them.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity to speak to him or break this spell between them, Michele tried engaging him in conversation. “Have a pleasant evening,” was the only safe thing she dared to say. “Thank you,” he responded in a low tenor tone, not offering any more. The close proximity of him was uncannily stirring up emotions within her that had been dormant for months. Indubitably, she desired to spend time getting to know him, but unfortunately, this session was interrupted by the train’s arrival at her stop.

As she stepped down off the train and walked by him, he said, “Have a good evening.” On her way home, she struggled with her conscience, because she had had plenty of opportunity to say more, even something witty. Fearful of rejection, she didn’t. Besides, there hadn’t been enough time. Reflecting on what transpired between them, she surmised that if he were truly interested, instead of smiling at her, he should have spoken out.

“Good morning,” they cheerfully greeted each other on their next train ride together. That particular day she styled her hair so that the curls partially covered an eye, creating a seductive image. His charismatic brown eyes forced her to feel as if she were floating toward him. Unquestionably, the eyes of a man, they locked upon her refusing to release her; even when she climbed the stairs to the train, they followed. She was quite aware of the effect she had on him. Once the train reached its final destination, the passengers disembarked. The conductor rushed to the car before hers, positioning himself in a spot where he waited for her to pass. His unspoken words pleaded for her to come within a couple of feet from him. Posing tall and erect, he said, “Have a safe holiday,” since Memorial Day would be occurring in a couple of days. In a seductive rendition of the famous Mae West, she replied, “And you, do the same.” Standing a full head taller than her, their nearness made her imagine that he inhaled the fragrance of her cologne. Her heart fluttered with this new memory for the day.

After a busy day at the office, Michele took her time slowly walking to the train station and ended up in the path of the conductor. Displaying an amiable smile, she nodded at him. Blatantly rejecting her, he presented her with an angry mask upon his face. In his agitation, he made a point of whirling away from her to avoid her. This was their first “lover’s spat,” without any clues as to the reason why. Bewildered, she assumed he had encountered a disagreement with a lover.

Several days later, when Michele strolled into the conductor’s view, he was joking with the other conductors, but halted his conversation to address her. With unswerving eye contact, they nodded and spoke, “Hello.” No other passengers walked between them to disrupt their subliminal trance. They didn’t smile, but shared this private moment until she was forced to turn away. She longed for him to call out to her and introduce himself, but of course, he didn’t; in exasperation, she walked down the platform to her car.

She hoped that the regular conductor who worked on the front set of cars was absent so that her conductor could work in his place, but no such luck was in the cards that evening. Upon exiting the train, as she waited for it to pass, she observed that her conductor had positioned himself at a door facing outward. His face held a relentless expression that was so intensely bizarre it seared into her soul, making her feel slightly uncomfortable. Was this strange relationship developing between them to have a positive outcome? she asked herself. Only time would tell.

Clearing the corner of the train station one evening, there he stood at the rear of the train with his fellow co-workers. Unhurriedly strolling by him, her head held high and her bust extended, Michele looked up to greet him, but he withdrew from her by rolling his eyes up in the air, brusquely turning away from her. From the brunt of his hostility, her feelings dangled, and she didn’t know what to think. Caught up in a self-induced, unhealthy situation, which was causing her inner turmoil, she shuddered and demurely wondered, What kind of game was he playing? What ignited his anger this time? Was it a female commuter? Did he consider her just another female, trying to get his attention? Was she trying to form an unrealistic relationship with an illogical, unpredictable mad man? His demonstration of moodiness provided her with a glimpse of what a future relationship with him could hold. Dismayed with their gambit, she decided it was time to conclude it.

A week later, she was late departing from work. Rushing up the stairs and through the passageway that led to the train platforms, she dodged the other commuters to catch the 5:30 p.m. train. This train happened to be the one that her conductor worked on. Her conductor. She didn’t like the way she used the possessive term and quickly corrected herself: the conductor that no longer held her interest. There he leisurely stood a few feet from the rear of the train, just far enough so that about four people standing abreast could pass in front of him. Racing between two commuters, hoping to remain unnoticed, she passed him. “All aboard!” he shouted, his voice piercing the air, and could be heard three to four cars down until the engine drowned it out.

Michele didn’t know whether he had seen her, and resolved that she didn’t care if he had. Mounting the stairs of the last car, she walked through the train until she reached the second car. Recognizing a co-worker, she sat down beside her and struck up a conversation. “Tickets, please display your tickets!” shouted the conductor who normally worked on the first set of cars. After he collected the fares, he proceeded to the next adjoining car.

The co-worker got off at the first stop, and shortly afterward, her conductor entered the car. She didn’t have to look up to know that he was there because she sensed his presence. His muscular forearms extended from underneath his white short-sleeved, starched uniform shirt. As the train made its progress on the tracks, he took long, slow strides down the aisle with his navy blue trousers with a striped band which traveled from his waist to the hem on the outside of his pants. When he spotted her, their eyes met for only a second. Refusing to acknowledge him, she turned her head away. Michele tried hard to focus on the book she held in her hands, but the words on the page ran together, her concentration lost. Whatever his intended purpose for passing through the car was unknown and would remain a mystery. Within a few moments, he marched back passed her seat, heading for the rear of the train. Assiduously, she focused on the book of meaningless words in her lap. Looking up she watched him stroll down the aisle, resolving there was no chance of rekindling her desire for him.

Due to an unexplainable restless night, Michele woke up late the next morning and had to take a later train. There had been a fire a few days before on another rail line and trains were rerouted and rescheduled to her regular line. Subconsciously, she knew that if she took the later train there was a good chance that she would see her conductor. What was she doing? she conjectured. Was she a masochist? Her mother had accused her of being one, when she was married to her mentally abusive husband. Pragmatically, her children, family, and friends weren’t enough to sustain her; she was vulnerable and lonely for the company of a man. She was down right h . . . and he fit the bill.

Examining the crowd of women waiting for the train, she noted that some were smaller, more shapely, prettier, and younger than she was. Weighing the matter, she asked herself, why should a man that had his choice of any of these beauties be attracted to me? Containing her envy, she further rationalized that he couldn’t possibly remain faithful, and the word trust couldn’t be found in his vocabulary. How many of the women that rode on this train line had he been with already? Ten, twenty, fifty? With the threat of catching STDs, why should she be interested in someone who had probably exposed himself to hundreds of women? Michele accepted the fact that the farcical situation had become a game to her, a precarious game; but the more she thought about it, the more excited she became, and wanted to continue to play.

The train arrived at the station and sure enough, her conductor was working on the first car. Michele observed him as he spoke to a few of the passengers, apologizing for the train’s late arrival. Recognizing her as she approached the car, they spoke. He stared at her thoughtfully. Situating herself in a seat a few feet away from the door, she looked up and found the conductor observing her through the sliding glass doors. Opening her book, she pretended to read, wondering what was going through his mind. Under different circumstances, he could have been a stalker, but was he thinking the same thing about her?

At the end of the line, the conductor stood on the platform and waited for the passengers to exit the train. Michele walked down the stairs and as she passed him, she said, “Have a good day.” Although directing the words to him, she wouldn’t dare look into his face. He didn’t reply, but watched her walk away.

Michele hypothesized they were playing a mind game. It was plausible that he didn’t want to initiate a relationship. Perhaps in his arrogance, he found satisfaction in women pursuing him. When a relationship developed, through his own proclamation since he hadn’t instigated it, he assumed the role of the “not so innocent” victim. It was conceivable that he was admiring what he thought was a nice looking woman and wanted to leave it at that. Maybe he wanted her to covertly give him her telephone number. There may have been other legitimate reasons for his actions, such as a significant other and/or people he knew that might see him womanizing, and consequently, he couldn’t jeopardize the chance of an involvement. If he was involved with someone, perhaps he had cheated on them in the past, almost losing them because of flings with other women. Wiser from his indiscretions, maybe he knew he could only admire from afar. Michele considered, had he become a tease in the process? As she speculated, she couldn’t fathom what was going on with the conductor. Strongly standing by her own conviction not to be the pursuer, her curiosity drove her to watch and see.

In her determination to capture the interest of the conductor, Michele plotted to the point of going out of her way to have a private rendezvous with him. The opportunity arrived on a Tuesday night. Taking the train to the end of the line, she found that she was the only passenger left in her car. Her conductor walked through the car. He said, “The last stop is coming up. Will you be transferring to another train?” “Oh no, I’ll be departing there.” Here was her big opportunity, she and he, alone together at last. Anxiety tickled her, as she squirmed in her seat. Heat evolved from within her body, causing moisture to develop under her armpits, and small beads of perspiration to collect on her face. One, two, three, four more steps at the most, and the conductor would be leaving the car to enter into the next one. Say something else her insides screamed. “Well you have a nice evening,” he said, turning to look back at her before he left.

That’s it, that all I get! She stifled her disappointment. After leaving the train, she watched the conductor climb up into the rear engine before he prepared to steer the train into the yard for servicing. Michele was somewhat surprised that he knew how to drive the train. She had to cross in front of it in order to leave the station. As she approached the tracks, he sounded the loud blasting horn. The noise startled her, causing her to jump. Waiting to see if the train was going to move before she crossed in front of its path, she looked up and saw her conductor, waving her across before waving good-bye to her. Returning the gesture, she went to find a cab to take her home.

Weighing the benefits of not being heartbroken from an affair and no misconceptions, Michele decided that she had misjudged the conductor. He was a nice guy after all. Their quick non-existent relationship was over, and she was able to walk graciously away. Enough of her time and energy had been spent on an affair that wasn’t meant to be.

The Conductor’s Point of View

It was sixteen years since he began working for the Metro Rail Company. After a couple of years of college, he married and worked at U.S. Steel until it went out of business. Married with a child on the way, he applied for a job at Metro. Successfully passing an examination, which he felt was relatively simple; he was hired as a conductor.

The job wasn’t stressful unless there were problems on the tracks, switching problems, or having to cope with a sick passenger, which delayed the trains, consequentially causing him to deal with unsympathetic commuters. Infrequently when alcohol was served on the train, some of the commuters would become rowdy, but with good people skills, he managed them with ease. The conductor wasn’t a small man; therefore, he handled himself well when it came to a brawl or other altercations on the train. A little thick around the waist, he tried to exercise ever so often by playing ball with his kids, working in his yard, and tinkering on cars, a hobby of his.

During the week, his days were spent working long hours on the train. At the end of a final run, he personally drove the train into the yard for servicing. Completing the training program to become an engineer, he was waitlisted for a position, which would increase his income significantly. When passengers weren’t on board, he was allowed to drive the trains.

In the seventh year of his second marriage—he was married to a wonderful little lady—he and his wife had a daughter born into their marriage. Together they produced two children, and he was blessed with two teenage boys from his first marriage. He lived in a quiet suburban community in a moderately priced house with a large back yard. His wife worked downtown as a consultant for a financial investment firm.

On the weekends, his house was the gathering place for all of his beloved children; even his ex-wife and her husband came over to socialize. His ex-wife’s husband was now his best friend, and they mischievously traded interesting stories about their wives. At the onset of the men’s relationship, they hated each other, but came to recognize that neither of them were a threat to the other and, therefore, learned to cope with problems they encountered.

Infidelity was the reason for his first divorce. As a young train conductor, he was exposed to thousands of appealing women on a daily basis. With such an endless supply of women to choose from, how could a poor man resist the temptation to taste the nectar from their delicious gardens? There were tall ones, short ones, stacked brunettes, gorgeous blondes, feisty red heads, and everything else in between. There were ones with ugly facial features, but possessed a body that would turn any man’s head, young or old. His cravings for sweets made him equate the women to candy. There was the lonely lollipop, the mixed up chocolate, caramel with nuts morsel, and the tantalizing vanilla crème filled tidbit. He found that the plump juicy morsels were the easiest to ravish. Anytime he wanted a sexual encounter without having to do all the courting, he chose one of them. She would serve herself to him on a platter in a heartbeat. He found that they loved to eat; one dinner and he was in. His favorite line was, “How about spending a romantic evening with me, including dinner and some drinks?” That was all it took.

Reminiscing about the past, his wife became fed up with his long work hours and lies. Well after his divorce was finalized, he met his second wife on the train. She had been a daily commuter, they struck up a conversation, and the rest was history. Often she drove to work, but when she didn’t, she rode on the same rail line that her husband worked on.

Wiser from his earlier exploits, he valued a harmonious life with his family. Although the temptation was hard to resist with daily exposure to women on the trains, he restricted himself to occasional escapades. Spelling out the terms of his involvement from the start of a new relationship, he made it clear that he had no desire to leave his wife and children. By no means would he allow any conflict resulting from his indiscretions to enter into his home, due to the false illusions of a lover. As long as the person he was involved with understood his “rules of engagement,” there wouldn’t be any problems.

Candidly, he admitted that he sought the company of a woman because often his spouse was preoccupied with other things. In his straightforwardness, he didn’t spin lies about his wife and him not getting along, and that they were leaning toward getting a divorce, as so many men did. His quixotic partners appreciated his candor, generosity with money, and affection. These attributes made him more desirable.

When a relationship went sour, either because of boredom, or difficult women, or for whatever reason, he gave the excuse that they had been seen together, and it got back to his wife. Most of the time, it was easy to break off a relationship because as a routine safeguard, he remained emotionally detached. On occasion, he found himself caught up in an involvement, and when his romantic partner wanted to call it quits and he didn’t, he handled these situations rather poorly by displaying petulant behavior, snapping and growling at everyone in his path.

His preference was for women with their own house or apartment so he didn’t have to worry about being seen too much in public. Appreciating the need for secrecy, married women were also quite desirable. They would have conversation, a little fun, and then he went home to his family. He loved his wife dearly, but there were needs that she just couldn’t provide for him. As a member of the male gender, it was hard to explain, but he found that one woman just couldn’t satisfy all the physical, mental, and whimsical needs of a man. He acknowledged the fact that there were some superwomen out there, and they may have done a good job covering all the bases. Ultimately, it was up to the man not to succumb to temptations outside of his marriage, but realistically speaking, he just wasn’t one of those strong men.

Because his first and second wives were companions, putting their heads together, the second wife knew what signs of infidelity to look for. Now he was extremely selective when he sought the enchantments of another woman. He sized them up by carefully observing them under the scrutiny of a magnifying glass, to see if they could possibly handle a clandestine affair.

More recently, he was involved with a woman whose husband had left her for a younger woman. Not yet divorced, the couple’s relationship was at a stalemate. The conductor suspected they would eventually get back together, because the husband was too needy and constantly called his wife. The conductor managed to see the lady every few weeks, but the last couple of times he attempted to see her, she wasn’t available. She was always too busy to talk on the telephone, or she dodged him when they were on the same train, or surrounded herself with friends, making access to her impossible. No matter how hard he tried to stifle his feelings, his family and co-workers noticed his irritable disposition.

When he saw a woman of interest, it affected him internally, causing tightness in the pit of his stomach. Fighting off the urges, he directed his attention toward his wife. Arriving home, full of admiration for her, he’d find her knee deep in assisting the children with their homework, solving some kind of crisis, or working on one of her projects. Kissing her amorously, she warned off his advances, because she was just too busy or tired. This forced him to the bathroom to resort to a cold shower or a girlie magazine. Ever so often, he laid in waiting for his wife to come to bed, so that he could smother her with his affections, even though her appearance was a deterrent because she may have had curlers in her hair and wore a tattered nightgown. If she implored him, citing how tired she was, he’d tell her, “I’ll do all the work.” These episodes would result in a pseudo satisfaction, which was enough to sustain him.

Conscientiously performing his duties at work, he was approached by various women daily. Overlooking the fact that he was professional in his demeanor, his smiles were misinterpreted for flirtations. Regarding himself as an average looking guy, the way the women smiled at him, and tried to engage him in conversation led him to believe that he was handsome to some degree. He stood rigid, trying to ward off the women’s flirtatious advances, but this added to his own air of arrogance, which was plainly exhibited once you noticed him.

You couldn’t accuse him of seeking a woman out, if all he did was look, after all that was one of the simple pleasures enjoyed by man. His prolonged stares at certain women that he found appealing were the initial stages of his strategy to lure them into his web. Several women appealed to him, but the stakes were too high and he had to be cautious.

There were a couple of women he was seriously attracted to, but he feared that they would want more than what he was prepared to offer. One in particular, a brunette, whom lately he couldn’t keep out of his mind, had showed up in his dreams. He dreamt that they made passionate love and he rated her as a ten. Her captivating appeal ate at him, and when he didn’t see her, he’d search the crowd for her. In his encounters with her, his senses were lost and he became speechless. These feelings were raw to him and he knew he was treading in dangerous water. He was partially afraid of her because he sensed that she wasn’t the kind of woman to play with and then cast aside. His fear led him to steer away from her because she seemed to be the type of woman that he could lose his heart to, and falling in love with her was something he couldn’t afford to do. More than once, he found pleasure by drowning himself in her seductive eyes. If she had this effect on him without ever touching her, there was no telling what reality could bring.

He felt her frustration by reading her body language and knew what she wanted, but he couldn’t give in to her. She had seen him at his best in public. Unfortunately, there were a couple of times she had experienced his ill temperament after he tried talking to an old girlfriend who was avoiding him. He chose to ignore her advances and chalked the situation up to one that had to remain undeveloped, for fear of losing his heart.

The Conductor by Carole L. Piller

© Copyright 2004. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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