Copyright © 2002 by the author
"It is an elegant mode of transportation, long, sleek, and very, very sexy."
The speaker was a tall man, his dark brown hair and beard peppered with gray. Slim and muscular, he exuded confidence and self-assuredness. His Armani suit proclaimed him a man of substance, as did his choosing to ride the American-Orient Express, an expensive rail-cruise train.
His assistant nodded. "Yes, Mr. Corbett, sir, it is a beautiful train," he agreed.
"John, John," the gentleman said, shaking his head. "I wasn't referring to the actual vehicle, but to the whole package. I agree, the train is lovely. It should be, for as much as it cost. But I was referring to the subtext of the train, as a general idea."
John stood looking at locomotives and cars, trying to fathom what his employer was talking about.
"You do know, John, that many consider the train and its imagery to be very sexual in nature?"
"I see that you do. That is what I meant. Elegant and sexy. And purported to be a wonderful place to meet women, if you know what I mean, which thus adds to the mystique of the 'sexuality of the rails'."
"Yes, sir. I suppose one finds men and women of easy virtue in all manner of places," John sniffed. The younger man carried the bags to a waiting porter who took them, and the boarding pass, and led the way to one of the sleeping cars.
"John, I fear you are a bit of a prude," the older gentleman laughed, stepping up into the wood-paneled vestibule of the "Evening Star" sleeper. "Which is neither here nor there, I was simply commenting on the perceived sexuality of trains, not insinuating that I would be looking for companionship while traveling. In fact, I intend only to ride, read, and observe the human condition. To remain detached and uninvolved makes for the most authentic research." He turned and leaned down to shake John's hand. "I appreciate you driving me down. I will see you in a week. Hold things together until then."
"Yes, Mr. Corbett, I will." John stepped back from the train as Mr. Corbett disappeared into the interior, only to reappear at the window of his compartment a few moments later, waving briefly to his assistant.
John turned to go back to the parking lot, but collided with a young woman hurrying to the train. She dropped the bags she was carrying, and then began apologizing profusely. John shook his head, mechanically indicating that the mishap was of no consequence. His attention, however, was quickly riveted on her, a very pretty woman of perhaps 5-and-a-half feet, nicely proportioned, with long dark auburn hair and the kind of sweet face and bright eyes that makes a man believe she is specifically rewarding him with her smile.
"I am terribly sorry, sir," she was saying, "I'm just in such a hurry to catch the train. It's the trip of a lifetime for me!"
"Perfectly all right, miss, it wasn't your fault, here let me help you with that," and John bent down to pick up a small handbag, which the woman reached for at the same time. Their hands touched and John gasped before hiding his reaction with a rueful chuckle and handing the bag to her.
As she went on to board the train, John watched her go with far more interest than he had shown Mr. Corbett. She was quite attractive, he thought to himself as she disappeared into the dark entry of a sleeping car, and what a delightful smile!
He turned his gaze to the long, gold-blue-and-white length of the train, the locomotive's headlight burning brightly into the gathering dusk. How lucky his employer was to be riding the same train with such a lovely creature, though one so celebrated for his clinical detachment probably wouldn't even notice.
John returned to his SUV and began the long drive home, not realizing he had confirmed the musings of Mr. Corbett about the sexuality of trains...
Diary of Arthur Corbett
Aboard the American-Orient Express
9 p.m. Sunday, near Seattle
We glided out of the station just before 6 this evening. John had already left for home when I boarded, a bit flustered by my comments about trains, the poor fellow.
I situated my things in my compartment and was just going to sit and rest a bit when the steward came through, ringing the chimes for the evening soiree. Recalling the rules of the journey, I dressed in a smoking jacket and cravat before making my way to the lounge car at the end of the train.
No dinner was served that first evening aboard, and so we went straight to the evening activities, to wit: a welcoming ceremony in the lounge followed by drinks and dancing and the practicing of the social etiquettes. Of course, there would also be the inevitable pairing off and more than one berth would be the site of shared intimacies this night, though the more sedate of the travelers would take a day or two to acquaint themselves with potential lovers.
The passengers are the usual mixed lot, from the middle class through the nouveau-riche right up to the old line families of both east and west coasts. I thought at first that my journey of observation would be wasted, but then I saw her.
I would come to know her name as Megan, a sweet and lovely name redolent of lush green hills, wandering sheep, peat bogs, and a peanut-whistle English-style steam locomotive rolling by, so smooth and clean yet full of fire and the wet heat of steam.
At the time though, I could only go by what I could see: dark hair with hints of copper, an attractive face, skin of a fresh whiteness, with a scattering of freckles that made her look engagingly young, a delightfully rounded body, legs and feet to drive a fetishist mad. She would be a treat for anyone who might garner her attentions, even if for mere conversation (not that any conversation is "mere"-good conversation is a dying art).
I had the opportunity to watch her as the evening progressed. She appeared to be alone on this journey, and sat by herself on one of the overstuffed, leather-covered chairs. Yet one so attractive as she could no more be left alone than flies could ignore a black forest cake left out on a warm sunny day. More than one man approached her (and two women as well) but she politely refused their attentions. Shy? Particular? Who can say?
I did not go to her myself. At my age, I desire neither the thrill of conquest nor the agony of rejection. But I did smile at her and nod my head when she noticed me watching her. She smiled back and I daresay I fell under her spell.
She does have the most enchanting smile, as if she had a secret. As if we were sharing that secret. As if she was pleased to share an intimacy with me, though we never spoke a word. That is a dangerous weapon for a woman to have, to convince a man with a glance that he has entered into her inmost thoughts and feelings. How delightful! I wondered who would capture her attention to the point of joining her in her compartment during this trip.
And then he appeared.
He was a thoroughly unprepossessing specimen. Perhaps 6-feet tall, he was rather heavy-set. "Baby-faced" is rather trite, but it did apply. Brown hair, mustache and goatee did not help. He wore evening dress not well at all.
I supposed he would be brushed off as easily as the others who had vied for the lady's attentions, but remarkably, he was not. He sat, he spoke, she replied. He rose and took her glass and returned with an entire bottle of the expensive champagne. He poured, they chatted, and time unwound slowly as the train began the climb into the Cascades, the long, winding, struggling climb from near sea level high into the clouds.
The cap to the evening was when she turned to face him fully and smiled. This was not just the winsome smile she had rewarded me with earlier. No, this was the fullness of her womanhood, the opening of the steam locomotive firebox (perhaps not the most romantic image but apropos to our means of travel), a bright and potentially searing beauty that shone on him with such intensity that I wanted to return to my Russian roots and shout "Slava!" [authors note: "Glory!"]
Whatever else had happened between them in these brief hours, this woman had just made promises to this man.
I could take no more. For the first time in years I felt my own desire rising within me. I therefore arose to return to my compartment, to set down my thoughts and observations. Such activity would allow my return to equilibrium: undisturbed, detached, unmoved. But my deliverance from veiled passions and unspoken desires was not to be so simple.
They too chose that moment to leave the lounge, and following close behind me, turned into the room next to mine. I looked back at them from my door, my own champagne still in my hand. I caught her eye as she stepped into his compartment and the door began to close. She paused a moment and smiled, and I lifted my glass to her in silent tribute.
Closing my door, I sank into the seat beside the window as we flew across a high trestle and the valley below sparkled with lights beneath the deep purple twilight in the west.
Diary of Arthur Corbett
Monday - nearing Essex, Montana
A lovely morning as the train rolls up into the majestic Rockies, with the land falling away in folds of gray-green, looking damp and inviting in the early sunlight.
My night was peaceful, though I could not help but think of the lovely woman and her chosen in the compartment next to mine. Ah, fortunate man, to spend a night of passion in the arms of such a one!
For a few minutes after closing my door I stood and listened, and could hear the gentle murmur of voices from the other side of the rich oak paneling, intermingled with the clink of glasses and what I presume was the bottle of champagne, and occasional soft laughter. Then the sounds died away.
I disrobed and settled into my bed, neatly turned down by the staff, complete with mint on the pillow. I turned off the lights and opened the curtains, which covered the window, and lay watching the darkness beyond as the train rolled over the endless miles high in the mountains.
From time to time, we would pass a remote homestead where a light would burn in the darkness, or we would speed past a signal casting its red warning toward any following conveyance: "Halt! Someone is here before you!"
Every so often I would hear a brief sound from the next room, but unidentifiable. A moan? A gasp? Muttered demands? Whispered passions? I cannot say.
Eventually I slept, and dreamt of her smile.
I awoke at 6, as I always do, rose and exercised before stepping down the corridor to the shower. As I came out, I spied the back of her chosen as he went forward, presumably to his own compartment. He appeared content, without a look of guilt at his rail-borne fling, or arrogance at conquest. How unique; my experience is that men go one way or the other, but rarely are merely content after a night of "illicit" passion.
I dressed and went to the dining car for breakfast.
The train was rolling beside a mountain stream as I was seated, and the shadows of our passing flickered over the tumbling, white-capped waters. I opened a copy of the Wall Street Journal while I waited for breakfast steak, eggs over easy, and a brimming cup of hot coffee. I had just finished the lead article.
"Do you mind if I sit here?" a delicate, feminine voice inquired. I looked up into a pair of deep gray eyes, and that intoxicating smile. I rather believe I was speechless for a moment, then nodded.
She was clad in a light, mottled gray and green dress, with a scarf around her neck, nicely setting off her complexion and auburn hair. Her hair and skin glowed damply from the shower she had clearly taken. She seemed a rusalka, a water-nymph, just risen from the stream the rails paralleled, looking particularly inviting. Gathering my composure, I invited her to sit.
Thus I enjoyed a delightful breaking of the fast with the Woman of the Smile, whose name as I have mentioned is Megan.
I explained my joy in travel, and my delight in observing the interplay of humanity with the world, and with each other.
She explained her long-held desire to take a rail-cruise, and how she scrimped and saved for it. She was delighted with the train, and with the scenery, and with her fellow passengers, and with life in general. Her only disappointment was that her husband could not join her.
I must admit to surprise at this. One, she was not wearing a wedding ring. Two, she did not seem so disappointed when she spent her first night aboard with a man she had met in the lounge. Yet she expressed great love for her husband, and for a few moments had the wistful look of one who is homesick.
I was, of course, not such a boor as to mention these things to her.
I allowed that train travel was a delight in and of itself, and that such journeying was conducive to brief but intense relationships. I reiterated my acceptance of the doctrine of trains and sexuality, just as I had shared them with John the previous day.
Megan blushed at my comments, but also shared that "we-have-a-secret" smile. And of course, we did. We both knew I had seen her enter her compartment with a fellow passenger, and I suspect she knew that I had listened through the night. So perhaps we did have a secret.
The train chose that moment to plunge into a tunnel, hurtling into the darkness. We said nothing in the lamplight, just looked at each other. Her smile, my arched eyebrow, a low chuckle from her, a wry pursing of my lips, but not a word more was said. By the time we emerged into daylight once again, we had reached an understanding.
I would say nothing. She knew that I would be watching.
Thus we parted, she to a morning of reading in the library, I to my journal to record my thoughts and observations.
Her smile burns into my mind's eye, blinding my observations of the others aboard.
Diary of Arthur Corbett
Thursday - at Livingston, Montana
I stand beside the wall that divides my compartment from Megan's and listen to the sounds of passion that filter through the rich paneling. Since our breakfast, she has not spent a night alone, welcoming her friend from the first night into her boudoir as the music wafts from the lounge car and the clock chimes midnight.
Since that first night, things have not been quiet. The murmurs, the moans, the stifled cries. I know what is happening, and I am strangely aroused, sharing this intimacy. She knows that I am listening. Does she increase the volume of their passion for me?
We have spoken only briefly since our breakfast. I commented on the book she has been reading. She offered her opinion of musicians who travel with us and provide light entertainment during the cocktail hour. Such inanities pass the brief times when we come into contact.
We have dined together each day, breakfast on Tuesday, luncheon on Wednesday, tea today. I suppose we shall share supper tomorrow.
Our meals are silent and non-interactive but for her knowing smiles and my bemused, rather sardonic grins. I believe we enjoy each other's company.
In daylight she sparkles amongst the other passengers, at ease, friendly, sharing herself in brief flashes of delightful wit and fire. I can see she is already beloved of most men aboard, and more than a few women. I am honored that she chooses to join me each day for a time.
Her young man, whose name is Nick, is seen at a distance throughout each day. He does not join her until the dancing in the lounge car. He is a pleasant fellow, not averse to sharing Megan's attentions and stepping out without argument when others wish to dance with her.
But at night...
I always seem to precede them to her compartment, and she follows Nick into the room and our eyes meet as I enter my own. That secret smile flits across her lips momentarily, to be replaced by cool challenge (what would she do if I did?) as she closes the door.
In my mind I imagine them.
They embrace just inside, hands sliding over shoulders and arms and sides and back. Eyes meet and passionate kisses rain down on her upturned lips.
Fingers fumble with his jacket, his shirt. Hands push the thin straps of her gown off her smooth shoulders and it falls to the floor. She wins, for she has been nude beneath the gown all evening. He gasps and steps back, letting the moonlight shine through the window and bathe her lovely form in milky white.
Her breasts are high and pointed, full, with deep pinkish brown nipples that beg for the kiss of passion. Her belly is delightfully round, the belly of a fertility goddess, her navel a dark and mysterious presence in the midst of glowing flesh.
Between her thighs is a goblet of pure rose, begging to be filled and sipped and tasted. Her legs delicate pillars of pale marble, worthy of adoration, her arms encircling, wrapped around herself, lifting those precious globes for his view.
And her face glows with an inner light as she smiles at him.
He slowly drops his shirt to the floor and his pants slide down his legs. His chest is broad and I imagine that I see what attracts her--he may be a big man but there is a both a gentleness and a firmness that pours from him, the kind of thing I imagine makes women wet and willing. He is a MAN, and for this brief time, he is HER man.
His manhood stands erect as he moves into the moonlight with her, and once again they slip into each other's arms. They kiss, a joining of lips that grows, blossoms, bursts into flame, throwing off sparks. He grips her hips and lifts, and she is willingly impaled upon the spike of his desire, standing there.
Their moans of passion grow louder as they couple, she riding, he thrusting upward, supporting her in his arms. His head dips to nibble at her breasts, she buries her face against his soft, brown hair.
They tumble to the bed, wrapped around each other, and continue to make love as the miles roll away beneath the sleeping car.
Yes, I imagine how it is each night. I imagine how she turns that smile upon him and inspires his climax, which in turn drives her to paroxysms of need, and her velvet goblet grasps his shaft and they climb the heights together. The gasps and cries that seem to echo in my compartment tell the story. My mind provides the images.