The Train Moves and the Fields Stand Still

Rhett Butler in a Fishbowl by Ashley Miller

There’s a cartoon about a bearded man shaving for the first time in years. The final panel shows him sitting in a train station holding his cut-off beard in one hand. Beneath the cartoon is an article about a man who was killed in the street by a brick. It fell from the roof of one of the buildings and crushed his shoulder. He died a few days later. There are two pictures of the man next to the article. In one, he is healthy and with his family; in the other he is alone in the hospital, his body deformed. Whether the brick just fell or if someone threw it, I don’t find out. The bifocal man clears his throat. “EHUM.”

I try to carry on reading.


I look up. His eyes are on me.

“Can I help you?” I say.

I see that he is a bit cross-eyed when he stares straight at me. One eye focuses on my eyes while the other points somewhere near my chin. He clears his throat again and pulls at his tie before speaking.

“I would appreciate it if you would stop staring at my wife,” he says.

“I was just reading the back of your newspaper,” I say.

“Don’t lie. Do you think I haven’t seen you looking up at us every few minutes? Do you think I’m an idiot? You’ve been doing it ever since we sat down, and I’m getting sick of it.”

His face is red, and he is sweating.