Bradford Barrington quit his job and chose the rails for an adventure across America. This idea started out as an “insignificant whisper in the back of my mind… but as the months went on the whispers grew louder and louder until they eventually overtook my entire being like a cancer expanding inside my head. It was pleading and begging me to change everything.”
In his first journey, he gave to beggars. Straight afterwards “before I had made it more a few feet a frenzy of outstretched hands and begging voices shot out in my direction. Amidst the noise and confusion one of them came up behind me and started tugging on my backpack.” Now out of his work routine, he began to recognise his sorrow around “Good. Just another day…”, “that tone in her voice saddened me… the level of her [artistic] talent was of a special rarity”.
He met Julia and promptly forgot “about the dinner date I’d agreed to back on the train” and decided with his new infatuation “there was no way I could myself to go now”. He left a present for Julia at the coffee shop and maintained contact.
Organ-player and scientist Raymond had quotes of wisdom:
- The answer to the question of ‘Is there more than just this?’ That answer, Brad, that answer is personal to each and every individual, as you’ve no doubt experienced. It’s a journey each of us has to make alone.
- All life is, is a series of moments stacked on top of each other. The past, the future, both of these don’t really exist. The only thing you’re guaranteed in life is one moment…
His next host Kent was self-employed “here I am, my own boss, working my own hours, getting to take in nature’s beauty every single day. What more could I want? What more could anyone want?”
Bradford defended a train station robbery with his own flick knife and a stern, smooth delivery of the phrase “You ain’t taking shit!” “He wasn’t just asking for my wallet and some money; he was asking for my entire livelihood. Everything I had was in that backpack.” He later met Mark, who described how he had been mugged by three men. Bradford “found it to be an awakening moment on how my situation could have altered my state of mind permanently had I not come out of that situation as I had.”
He stayed with Jenna and “unfortunately for her I’d always been a man of my word. I wasn’t going to sleep with her, no matter how hard she tried.” On the last night he also resisted “I realized I was more than a creature solely acting on its impulses.”
In Atlanta, Brad became the minority, used as an example of a slave trader “Yes… like him” and shown abhorrent respect “Yes sir… No, thank you, sir. You have a great day sir.” At the train station, he realised “everyone outside in the courtyard with us was white, and everyone inside the lobby, black”, Nico commented “I guess that is what they call… the song of the south.”
Men go and come, but earth abides. —Ecclesiastes 1:4 (Earth Abides by George Stewart)
Brad saw that his character had completely changed. Before he arrived home he met Frank, who was doing his own dream expedition after a life of work: “I’m getting old now, and I don’t want to die with regret.”
The final train ride had to stop because of a fault. He account his story to a circle of fellow passengers and found the “crowd of people literally applauding me.” When he arrived home on independence day, he spent his night “with all these people who had been living their normal lives while I was out doing anything but. Standing amongst these countless faces, I’d truly never felt so alone.“