He waited in a brick bus shelter on the suddenly deserted path, watching busied brake lights with a suitcase between his knees, feeling death. On his first visit to this town he'd have struggled to haul a suitcase up the stairs to the station behind him; although the stairs, the overpass, the high-rise and coffee shops hadn't been there then. He wished he could remember some romantic detail of something that was, like an old lady selling flowers from a cart or the blackened faces of miners, flooding off the train as the droplets did now, swilling in low points before breaching each small lake and expiring into a drain put there to collect him. He couldn't replace anything because there had been nothing here then, just a station and a few buildings in the distance. He was one of those secrets in a city full of secrets. Such was the description the prison chaplain had given of the metropolis. He wore a dark blue suit and an old hat a grifter might have worn. His face was loose and non-committal, its broad-set eyes seeking no contract with the thick brows under which they had settled. His moustache might have been considered flamboyant if it hadn't so clearly been there for decades and the nails on the end of his self-conscious hands were shredded beyond reasonable doubt.
This was the fifth city he'd visited in as many days and the first one outside his original plan. For the entire period of his incarceration he'd requested nothing more than extra blankets, yet when the news of his early release arrived he'd demanded books, paper and pen and set about plotting a full year of expedition. He'd heard that a year was the time it took for the body to replace all the matter of which it was made and by this time he'd have nothing but memories from the cell.
He wondered about waiting and frustration. The train, eight minutes late. A deceptively short queue, oozing forward as a lengthy line reeled past. He'd spent years waiting and wondered, tired though he was, if we're not all itching for the last departure. The bus stop was empty and the rain softened. He stood and pulled his hat down around his ears before walking in the direction he thought those buildings might be if they were still there.