What the Rail Boys say is what Rail Boys have always said: That someplace, out, out down the line, there’s a place that’s different. Better. That the tracks will lead them there, to that untouched corner or abandoned station and that they’ll know it when they see it. That when the train goes rumbling by their utopia, they’ll recognize they’ve found it and that they’re there.
When they’re there, then the Rail Boys will leap out of their traveling closets and they’ll take up a new, perhaps more sedentary life in the perfect place they’ll have found.
They say meanwhile, we’ll all still be huddled and hiding our lives away back here.
Back here, in the City of the Nephilim.
The Rail Boys, they take us out to the yard and they show us around because they feel some sort of camaraderie. We are what they are: Half-man. Half-vermin. Scurrying in the dark places. Living off crumbs. You know what I mean…
They show us how not to be seen, if we ever choose to go their way. To join them. They show us how to keep to the shadows. How to avoid the alarms, a camera over here, a guard over there. We listen, but the rail yards aren’t different than hiding in plain sight in the streets. Not really.
And we’ll never go. We Gutter Kids are realists. We know the Nephilim have gobbled up all the world, everywhere, every last bit of it, and we know those Rail Boys are chasing themselves a rainbow.
Gutter Kids of the city peer up through manhole covers, out of painted-over warehouse windows, from burned-out Buicks and piles of newspapers under city park benches and bus stops. We can hear the Nephilim – the giants who own this town – stomping on down the streets again, beating their chests again, and comparing cock sizes and bank accounts, long before they can ever see us. They’re descended from the gods and their heads bump the clouds and their towers are chock full of gold.
They could not see us even if they were looking for us, and they’re not looking for us, and that’s the way we like it.
How we know they can’t see us is that we offer neither potential profit nor potential threat to the Nephilim, and that equals invisible in their world, hurray.
We make our lives right here, right where we are, tap-tap-tap, under the floorboards at the foot of their towers. I mean, why wait, just hoping some better time or some better place that might never come along happens to come along? Our underground cities we make from cardboard and from discarded bits of their metal and stone. It’s held together with twine and with masking tape or with whatever else comes along our way.
You, well, you never see us, either, not unless one of us gets too lost or too drunk or too crazy and wanders off into some Randall’s parking lot to hit up soccer moms for quarters. And no, you’re not a Nephilim – although once, long ago, you had pipe dreams of joining their ranks, didn’t you? – but still, you don’t see us.
So we scamper down alleys from sewers to dumpsters and we’re wearing your grandma’s old secondhand sweaters. You could not see us even if you were looking for us, and you’re not looking for us, and that’s the way we like it.
This is all what we built for ourselves, ever since some time no one remembers. We love it as much as it can be loved. But once in a long while – oh, maybe once every third or fourth blue moon – all of us Gutter Kids climb from our Gutter Kid gutters. It’s late in the night and the city’s deserted and we climb up the Towers of the Nephilim.
Up and up, up towards the clouds. The forty-seventh floor, now the forty-eighth. Up and up and up some more.
And when we finally climb to the very tip-top, then we turn and we look out at the city, and down at the rail yard, and down at the next train snaking along that is carrying the Rail Boys away.
We’ll never go. We Gutter Kids are realists.
But still, if it should so happen that they find something out there, somewhere, find a place that’s a little bit different, perhaps they will send us back word.
***Fantastic photos by Mike Brodie***