“your ticket, please.”
i look up from my glass of Hiram Walker whiskey
& see the conductor. i am sitting in the bar car
on the Hiram Bingham train that runs through
the Sacred Valley of the Incas. a tale of two hirams.
“i’m afraid i don’t have one,” i say. “there was no one
in the booth back at the station when I got on.”
“we’ll have to take this up
with the Railway Commissioner,” says the conductor.
“can’t i just pay you?” i ask.
“is that a bribe?”
“no, no, i was just saying, … well,
do i get some kind of a trial?”
“you are quite right … a trial. you may object
that the entire procedure is not a trial at all,” says
the conductor. “for it is only a trial if i recognize
it as such,” he continues. “but for the moment,
i do recognize it, on grounds of compassion, as it were,
if one is to regard it at all.”
“your procedures are contemptible,” i say.
“the right of understanding any procedure
and a misunderstanding of the same procedure
do not wholly exclude each other,” he replies.
“so when do i get see the Railway Commissioner?”
“i am the Railway Commissioner.”
“so you’re both prosecutor and executioner?” i ask.
“well, you know, what with the recession and all,
we’ve had to cut back on staff and double up on duties.”
“not guilty,” i say.
“we’ve met before, haven’t we?” asks the conductor,
ignoring my plea.
“i don’t think so … why … what’s your name?” i ask.
“call me K”
“okay,” i reply.
“not OK, just K.”
“it’s just K, got it?
“right … er … just K,” i say.
“okay,” says K.
“so it is OK?” i ask.
“no, i was just saying okay,” answers K.
“well, … K … , maybe i should just get off the train.”
“it’s possible. but not at the moment.”
“why?” i ask.
“because from a certain point onward there is no return.
that is the point that must be reached,” K tells me.
“look, i’m getting impatient here.
how far is it to the point of no return?”
“all human errors are impatience,
the premature breaking off of what is methodical,
an apparent fencing in of the apparent thing.
and besides, this is only Urubamba.”