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Opening Doors

Opening Doors

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Published by Greg Schoenebeck
This one I wrote as an idea riding the Red Line.
This one I wrote as an idea riding the Red Line.

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Published by: Greg Schoenebeck on Jun 05, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/05/2013

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Opening DoorsBy Gregory M. SchoenebeckDavid Henry had always told his son, he would always be there for him. Always. That wasbefore he stepped past the row of solid white lights at floor level which dimly illuminated theexpanse of the Federal Triangle Metro Station platform. In one step, the front of the sole toDavid’s sleek, black Florsheim dress boot precariously edged over the concrete precipice; thenext would be most likely be his last. Well, at least in two minutes when the next Orange Linetrain to Vienna-Springfield came roaring through the tunnel. He hoped the time on the arrivalsign was accurate, for he couldn’t bear looking into Daniel’s blue eyes (as big as saucers)through his mind’s eye much longer.The front page from the morning’s copy of the Washington Post Express tumbled across thebarren platform whose activity could have been mistaken for that of a dried-up town that cameat the tail end of the gold rush. The paper nimbly pirouetted upon currents of air, generated byan inbound Blue Line train that was heading in the opposite direction across the way from whereDavid stood; finally it came to rest around the cuff of his charcoal trousers. The headline readsomething about planned maintenance outages along several of the Metro lines; a result, whichDavid inferred, had been from that dreadful summer day in Takoma. How fitting, David thoughtto himself, shaking his gray, close cropped head in agitated disbelief.See, David knew money. Growing up (and to this day), his family owned a sprawling 9,800square foot estate in Potomac, Maryland, which among many amenities included a dressagecourse which meandered through glens and meadows, a barn whose size and steeple lookedlike a church and a stable for two walnut-colored Quarter horses and one black and whitePainted. It was a hackneyed family joke amongst his Aunts and Uncles at the long table for thefamilies’ annual Thanksgiving dinner- which included game hen and rabbit- that they (theHenrys) never could quite break the 10,000 square foot mark. Growing up, David often wishedhis parents would just add on another 300 square foot den so the issue could be put to pasture.Oh, David knew money. But, it wasn’t the power of money or what it could buy which heunderstood full well, rather the power it couldn’t.One could suppose that David started understanding the power of green as a teenager on thelinks at Congressional Country Club. It was a great feeling when he could slip a burned outVietnam Vet a pair of $20s for slinging his bag for 18 holes. If David was lucky, he’d get 36 in. At an age when his fellow St. Albans classmates were worried about which “S” class or “I”series car would be more appropriate for their birthday, David noticed the forest full of trees. Itwas an innate awareness of reality that drove him to success. Although he encountered a few hurdles to overcome, for David his race to success ransmoothly. After all, the climb to the peak isn’t all that far when you start at the summit.Nevertheless, David excelled at statistics and memorized policies with relative ease, culminatingin two achievements at George Washington University: One- a Masters of Economics in five
 
years; Two- courting Samantha and marrying her a month after graduation. Nine months later,David’s fair- skinned bride with gently flowing locks brought into the world what was to becomehis most valuable possession. Daniel was born 8 lbs, 10 oz. Straw colored hair like Mom, blueeyes (as big as saucers) just like Dad.It took some adjusting, but to David four o’clock feedings were a time of reflection. He loved tosit, cradling Daniel, in the rocking chair by the window of their two-story brick colonial and watchthe dawn’s early light compete with the streetlights that illuminated the fog-filled corridors of PStreet NW. As painful as his eyes burned and his body craved just one more hour betweenEgyptian cotton sheets, that time of the morning was the most gratifying. He was far from thereaches of Rep. Jim Whitman and the incessant budget numbers crunch. There was no crisiswhen staring down at a reflection of his self. To Daniel, money held no value to moments likethese and they were not meant to be squandered.David knew money, Rep. Whitman didn’t, but he knew an awful lot about dual carburetors andan in-line six. David was 33. Rep. Whitman seemed twice that and then some. When it cameto money, David had solutions; Rep. Whitman needed answers, and the fact of the matter wasthey didn’t always align. What this all boiled down to was Rep. Whitman answered the call othe people, which really meant he answered to himself. And David knew it, but didn’tnecessarily like it.See, David understood a fundamental law of physics which governed action and reaction. Thissame law applied to appropriating money or more apropos- where you removed it. In the caseof Rep. Whitman, he didn’t ride the Metro to work. He drove his in-line six with dual carburetorsto the Hill, David didn’t. It didn’t matter much to David that his research and figures quicklypassed in and out of Rep. Whitman’s ears, nor at the time did he mind when Metro budgetingfell from his agenda. David did his part by doing the research and presenting ideas; however, itwasn’t a viable option to Rep. Whitman. In the end, David didn’t mind because at 5:00 PM hegot to ride the Blue Line home to see his son. However, David did mind that at 4:57 PM on thatsame day his most valued possession never came home from his own ride back on the RedLine from a story time outing in Silver Spring, MD., with dear old mom. David knew money, butsome things can’t be bought. Baby Daniel was one of them; a wife free of tubes and machinesthe other.Looking down the length of the dimly lit tunnel, David could make out the faint illumination of telltale headlights. Even as he focused on the distant lights of the inbound car, he held astrange sense of curiosity, wondering if it would feel the same on that day when a training goingfull tilt completely obliterated the rear-end car of another parked train at the Takoma MetroStation, peeling back twisted metal of a mangled sardine can to expose your deepest horrors.Daniel probably never felt a thing, David had hoped. He would never know, for Samanthawould never be telling him anything. Ever. Money was all that kept her alive, and David knewthat money wasn’t bringing her back.It would all end today.
 
 On the platform, the dull, white lights which David stood upon began to pulse and intensify. Arush of wind from air forced through the tunnel by the inbound train flung David’s black andwhite paisley Brooks Brothers tie over his shoulder and rustled his wavy brown hair. The air feltgritty, stifling. David didn’t dwell on it too much as the rumbling of the approaching trainreverberated off the walls of the semi-cylindrical station whose façade looked that of a spacestation; it caused David to steel his heart and prepare to boldly go where few have gone andnever returned. In one more step of David’s sleek, black Florsheim dress boot he would tumbleinto the abyss, but it would be all over. He could forget about money; forget it all.David lost a lot of things. Family. Happiness. Fortune. To David, 8 lbs 10 oz of flesh wasmore valuable than its weight in gold. A tinge of regret came over him as his pupils began toconstrict from intensifying beams of lights bending around the corner. He was leaving behindSamantha, but David knew she’d be right behind them; he’d made sure of it. His power of attorney would order the doctors to shut down the system that kept her alive and she too couldbe at peace. That made David feel better, and he took his last breath as the shell of his former self and moved forward.David knew money; however even he would have admitted that he could not predict all of whatmoney cannot buy. Surely, that must explain why with one foot dangling in mid-air the OrangeLine train roaring down the track came to an immediate, painfully screeching dead stop. It wasnot because of the astute awareness of the train operator who had seen David about toplummet onto the tracks of his route; rather it was because of a major power disruptionexperienced throughout the entire Metro line. The disruption was part of an aging transportationinfrastructure in dire need of repairs. They were repairs, of course, which needed money, butas Rep. Whitman can attest, often get overlooked on the budget agenda.By the time the power to the station returned and the Orange Line train to Vienna gently crawledalongside the platform, David had two feet firmly grounded on the other side of the solid, brightlyilluminated lights which lined the platform’s expanse. When the doors to the newly arrived trainopened, David did not budge, he remained frozen in space and time. It was only when he heardthe station wide announcing circuit that he made any signs of life. His body didn’t move,however he was moved to tears:“Thank you for riding Metro… Metro: We’re always opening doors to new destinations” As the doors to the train whooshed shut he stood with tears streaming down his cheeks. Onlywhen he saw the red colored tail lights of the train going on its way down the line through hisperipherals did he quickly turn on his heel and retrace his path back to the turnstiles and exit tothe escalator which would take him up to street level. When he placed his Metro card onscanner to proceed through the turnstile he noted that he had $4.57 left on his card; it was morethan enough to catch the Circulator and D3 bus to take him over to Sibley Hospital to see allthat he had left in this world.

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