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richard lloyd cederberg

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It All Began ....
By richard lloyd cederberg
Posted: Friday, June 29, 2007
Last edited: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
This short story is rated "PG13" by the Author.
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Dedicated to another victim ...
Taken from the 'Norwegian Files'

It all began in the corners of my eyes on the drive home from work. Coming to a halt at a traffic light, near the Lemon Street junction, I saw a single axle delivery truck speeding towards its destination on the other side of the road. Weaving in and out of traffic, the driver had a cigar clenched tightly in tobacco stained lips. He seemed insensible to all save his next destination, and the grind of making his daily quota was etched on his face. The street was congested with more traffic than usual; it was miserable. All vying for position; everyone seemed preoccupied, especially those driving in their air-conditioned yuppie cocoons. It was stiflingly humid and people shuffled along glumly on the sidewalks; all were seeking relief from the torrid heat.

Across the street, nearer the tracks, I saw pedestrians milling near a lamp post and an empty news stand. Three were passing a liter of coke back and forth. Two were sharing a cigarette, and one was ardently rubbing her temples in an effort, I assumed, to subdue a heat headache. I could hear several complaining that the train was late again; most were glancing down the tracks, and at their watches, as if this ritual would somehow speed the train’s arrival. Heat waves were shimmering off the blacktop in the hundred degree heat, and I could see an old derelict man pouring a bottle of water over his head. Several cars behind me two men had left their vehicles and were out on the street posturing like roosters with one another; the argument was escalating. Another street fight would be ensuing, I imagined, and I shook my head in disdain. On a whim, I checked to see if my 357 magnum was under the seat - it was.

Four young degenerate’s in baggy low slung pants lit cigarettes in unison as half a dozen young girls departed a community school bus on the adjacent corner. All living breathing examples of modern fashion, the girls were dressed scantily; pierced navels, too much breast showing, too much leg showing, haughty expressions, too much of everything showing except good sense and intelligence. Not at all furtive in their actions, the boys began ogling and posturing boldly as the young women swaggered by several feet in front of them. After they had all passed, and were several yards away, one of the girls turned defiantly and flipped the boys off. All their faces clouded at once and the girls began snickering with dark expressions. It seemed they didn’t think the boys were all that “cool” after all. After a series of expletives were exchanged, the agitated young men turned on heel and shuffled towards the gate crossing, while the young women moved away down the platform. I glanced briefly to see if the traffic light had changed – it hadn’t.

In the distance the repetitive clicking of steel wheels on steel tracks was singing and the approaching train’s horn began blaring. Tip lights, and buck lights, began flashing, bells began clanging, and the crossing gate slowly descended to protect the approach. Everyone milling by the snack dispensers, and along the platform, ran to the loading lines and waited for the train to stop so they could board. The last few who hadn’t done so, bought their tickets with frantic expressions. The two men arguing behind me had been approached by a policeman; in an authoritative voice, both were sternly instructed to return to their vehicles immediately. Still red-faced, both re-entered their vehicles and slammed the doors. I could see the officer’s watchful eye and an unwavering hand on his weapon as they moved away.

The next few moments were a blur …

As the train rolled into the station everyone adjusted their clothes and glanced at their watches again in preparation to board. The traffic light was still red to accommodate the train, and some around me had begun revving their motors impatiently. The beat officer had now approached a disheveled man sitting on the sidewalk drinking from a bottle hidden in a brown bag. A frantic woman pushing a stroller bolted across the tracks in front of the train so she could board on the correct side. The old man who had earlier poured a bottle of water over his head, was now rubbing his face and had begun stumbling backwards towards the approaching train. Suddenly I heard many people screaming! As the train moved into the station, the crossing guards rose up and the lights changed. Glancing to the left, as I moved away, my heart sank and I began to weep. I could see the old man had somehow been hit and dragged by the train as it came to a screeching halt. There was nothing left of him but parts.

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Reader Reviews for "It All Began ...."

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Reviewed by Staci Gansky-Wagner
Interesting write, yes another victim, happens many times in Phila subway stations, I have seen two so far. Amazing --a human life taken in a blink as many just carry on... very detailed and kept my interest all the way.
Reviewed by Sheila Roy
Intense descriptions in this write. Love "air-conditioned yuppie cocoons". A sad ending; literally for the old man. I wonder how many paused to give that man's life some thought. I wasn't expecting that! You've really captured modern activities and style in this narrative. Enjoyed this greatly. ~Sheila
Reviewed by Blue Sleighty
Great write. Making order out of chaos. Sounds like the place where I live. Every day. Pretty sad, sometimes.
Reviewed by Gwendolyn Thomas Gath

This short narrative was powerfully presented depicting each character to a tee. The speakers voice was concise teaming with vivid imageries and setting gave a complete bird's eye view of all that took place in "It All Began". As for the conclusion it was a surprise to a certain extent but quite possibly it could have been expected if one rushed their thoughts before actually completing the read.

Thank you for sharing,

Reviewed by Butch Howard
As upsetting as this slice of time is, as it culminates in the death of an innocent old man, I feel comforted in that there is a writer out there who speaks with the voice of reason -whose observations and thoughts parallel my own inner thoughts so closely. There are some characterizations in this piece that made me laugh knowingly because I've been there and had the same thoughts. The difference is, this writer has the talent to convey my thoughts in words which paint the picture far better than I ever could.
"air-conditioned yuppie cocoons" is about as priceless a description of those ubiquitous Bavarian Motor Works mobiles as I have ever seen! Having been in the trucking business for 17 years, I have seen the exact expression you describe here:
"I saw a single axle delivery truck speeding towards its destination on the other side of the road. Weaving in and out of traffic, the driver had a cigar clenched tightly in tobacco stained lips; he seemed insensible to all save his next destination, and the grind of making his daily quota was etched on his face."
I believe Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway would like to slap you on the back and buy you a drink for this one. I would imagine you could teach even them a few things about leading the reader down the path to understanding of what humanity has become. -a brilliant offering!
~Butch Howard
Reviewed by Elizabeth Parsons
Tragic, sad. Death can strike suddenly without warning and with such brutality. I lost a couple of cousins this way. Your observations of the characters and the oppressive heat were so outstanding, I thought for a moment I was there watching along side you. Excellent.
Reviewed by Georg Mateos
Like we was suddenly there, you took us in a long journey that lasted just a few minutes, the long minutes that took to read the story.
Talent doesn't describe what you have, maybe humanity does.
Great short story!!!
Reviewed by Ronald Hull
I assume this is a true story. Your observation is keen, made keener by the adrenaline of the moment.

We live with death every day; just don't know how close it rides to us. Reminds me of Crash Test Dummy (Me--I'm still paying) and my poem Road Warrior (Scary close call on the freeway)

Reviewed by Joyce Bowling
Oh my, what a tragic and sad event! Your imagery is outstanding, you set the stage for this horrible scene with day to day life as usual, and then ended with such a powerful and tragic loss. This seems to be happening more often. In recent years in our county two brothers whom were rabbit hunting along tracks that they had hunted since youth were both hit and killed by a train! A very bizarre was also strange to find out that a car I purchased nearly two years after this tragic loss had belonged to one of the brothers. When I met with the lady whom had advertised the car in the newspaper, I told her it was just the car I had been praying for. She replied with tears in her eyes that she had been praying for someone to buy the car that would appreciate it as much as her late husband had! We became quite close friends after this, for the remaining years that I owned the car, I envisioned this man's life, wondering why it was taken so soon and so tragically as well as his brothers, I worried about their final moments of life, the horror and fear. I sold the car after four years, hadn't thought much about this in some time, still see his widow occasionally...a wonderful lady who still grieves the sudden loss of her husband after nearly twenty years. Your write was outstanding dear friend, you are one talented writer!
Joyce B.
Reviewed by Ann Marquette
Sadly we hear of too many of these same things happening.
Great write though Richard.
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes
Excellent write...with such vivid imagery.....because I have seen this happen once...horrifying!!

Love Sissy Tinka
Reviewed by Susan Sonnen
This is very well-written! I love how you clearly laid out the scene...I could see and feel and hear the bustle. But what a tragic ending!

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