I was still breathing deeply and out of breath as the train left Milan and entered the countryside. My heart was beating like a hammer on an anvil. Did I really just witness someone killed? Did I really see those men take a life? Did those men see me as I ran for the safety of people and the station? I was too far away to do something and hopefully to far away to be considered a witness, at least by those men. Who were they? What had the dead man done? I relax into my seat, breathing under control and look out of the train window.
The flat, still-green farmlands speed by my view at about a 100 miles per hour; la Frecciarossa – the Red Arrow – is the train taking me across the northern Italian plain. The vineyards; with vines now stripped of their fruit and displaying their autumnal dress. Shades of green, red, yellow and brown fill my view: The window view. Like the mother whose son has upped and left home, bearing the weight of the grapes is now a memory for the vine, which will soon be bare for the coming winter.
The low pylon wires running parallel to the track, powering the great train on its way, keep me company but spoil my view of the pale blue sky, slowly suffocating under fat, moist, grey clouds from the east.
The tilled earth of the northern plain, the soil, freshly turned, contrasting with the green, showing brown but somehow…clean. The appearance of a hard job done well, of a tidy desk left in its place after a day at the office. For the farmer it is his desk. Where is that farmer now? Enjoying the fruits of his labours? Probably not; it’s a little early to get on the wine but I appreciate his spotless fields.
Now I’ve left the fields and entered a town. Grey, monotonous concrete destroys any view I might have had. It’s strange how grey feels so dismal, especially concrete, even in the sunshine. If I can’t see out the window then I prefer the black of night, at least I can use my imagination. God forbid it rain; there’s nothing more depressing than a miserable, wet winter’s day, with the light failing early and the concrete, sodden and cold, both to the touch and eye. But it ends.
The fields have returned. In the sunshine the fields come to life, even in the autumn. The sunshine brings animation, inspiration, motivation even. Motivation to keep moving; to follow the sun. To not allow the autumn sun to set forever on another year and be followed with a violent sadness by the arrival of winter. The sunlight flickers continuously from the flashing shade of the pylons and I shield my eyes. Then relief comes as the train enters a tunnel, if I remember rightly it’s a long one. I continue to stare out of the window. The train roars through and I can’t hear myself think, so I don’t: I just stare, waiting.
It’s then I notice in the window a shape behind me, blacker than the tunnel wall. A man; standing…also waiting. In the reflection is that a knife I see in his hand?