The Case

5175050     Sarah McCompski was running late.  She barely had time to buy her ticket before hurrying to catch the train preparing to depart.    Clutching her laptop close to her she used the other hand to pull the beaten up blue monstrosity her mother called a suitcase.  Catching a grimace from the conductor’s face she pulled her entourage of loyal traveling companions, albeit her luggage, and hurried into the first car, sitting upon the first aisle seat she could find.  The train started with a jerk and she was on her way…. to her new life.  Her mother had berated her for not using an airplane but Sarah had always liked riding the rails; The scenery was usually splendrous and the fact that she did not have to deal with traveling in a deathtrap at 500 miles per hour…..thousand of feet in the air was an added bonus.  However admitting to acrophobia was not something she willingly conceded.
Stretching her legs a bit she appraised the others traveling with her starting with her seatmate.  Judging from the looks of things, he was well read as she could not see his face for the newspaper blocking her view. She watched the newspaper for awhile hoping it would lower so she could catch a glimpse of his face, but when that failed to happen she turned her head to observe her fellow passengers.  Ahead of her she could see the gray heads of an elderly couple.  Across the aisle taking up a couple of rows was a family of seven.  The oldest boy occupied two seats by and was already involved in a hand held game.
Sarah turned back to her luggage rummaging for a small mirror to check her pixie cut red hair.  She ran her hand through her hair a bit and then, satisfied, replaced the mirror into her bag.  The newspaper still had not lowered so she settled back into her seat enjoying the steady hum of the rails.  She was about to close her eyes when she heard, “Ticket please.”  Looking up she spotted the kind looking face of the conductor which she judged to be about her father’s age.  She handed him the ticket and he punched it, handing it back.  Glancing to her right she saw a ticket waving from a hand still clutching the newspaper.  The conductor took that as well, punched it and returned it to the hand.  “Miss, if I may, there is a little room back to the left that the other passengers have stowed their luggage.  Perhaps I could take your suitcase there. ”
Sarah smiled, “Of course. Thank you so much!”  The conductor whisked her bag away and she once again settled into her seat.  The lull of the rails soon caused her to become sleepy and her eyes began to droop.
An hour later, she awoke, unsure, at first of her surroundings.  It took a few seconds before she remembered where she was and it was then she could feel eyes upon her.  She turned her head to view a rather handsome man, possibly mid-thirties watching her, a smile forming through his goatee.  Her face turning crimson, she tilted her head upward to him, “Do I amuse you, Mr., Mr. Whoever-you-are?”
Without breaking his smile he reached out his hand, “I’m sorry. My name is Kurt Douglas and I was enjoying you while you slept.  You look quite cute in your flaming red hair.  Almost like a little fairy. Tinkerbell, maybe?”  Then he winked causing Sarah to blush again.
Reaching out to shake his hand, she determined to put a little oomph into the shake to prove she was not intimidated, “I assure you I have never been called Tinkerbell, thank you, and I suppose I should take that as a sort of a complement, however my name is Sarah.  Sarah McCompski.”
“Nice, firm, handshake! I like that!’  He nodded.
“Thank you,” Sarah withdrew her hand, “I think.”
“Well, Sarah, where are you heading?”  Kurt tilted his head and Sarah noticed dimples on either side of his cheek causing her cheeks to flame again.
“San Diego,” she answered.
“Well, you got a long way to go.  I’m heading to San Francisco, myself.  I suppose you need to change trains in St. Louis, as well?”
Sarah nodded, “Yes, I do.”
Kurt dazzled her with his smile once again, “Well, I am meeting with a few people there but I hope to see you on the next train.”
Sarah smiled in return, “Perhaps we will.”  She reached up to her chest absently touching the locket hanging there., “Oh! Excuse me, I promised my mother I would stick this in my bag and I completely forgot!”  Sarah stood up and hurried back to the rather small room that was more the size of a large closet.  It was dark inside and, not knowing where the light switch was, she fumbled around trying to find her suitcase.  Finally locating it, she quickly opened it partway and stuffed it inside.  Closing it, she stepped from the dark receptacle and returned to her seat.  The rest of the trip seemed to fly as she engaged in small talk with Kurt Douglas.
When they disembarked in St. Louis, he offered to assist with her suitcase.  She smiled and they approached to a now dimly lit room.  “Apparently there was a light,” she thought.  She pointed to her suitcase which he eagerly reached for.
“Apparently we have the same tastes in luggage,” he declared. Looking down she realized he was holding an identical bag in the other hand.  Grinning, she led the way off the train and they found a bench in the shade where he placed her suitcase.  “Nice meeting you, Sarah. ”
“Yes,” she answered, “and you, as well! Thank you for helping me with my bag!”
“You are most welcome, Tinkerbell!”
Sarah started to blush again when she heard, “Kurt! Over here!”
Kurt turned and Sarah could see a beautiful blond woman and the far end of the station. Kurt nodded and quickly walked over to her where they embraced.  Sarah forced down the jealousy and turned her head toward the other end of the station.  “Well, now is as good time as any to check my locket and put it away properly.”  Opening her suitcase, she wrinkled her forehead when she did not spot it immediately.  Her searching soon became frantic when she realized it was not there.  Her hand quickly flew to her mouth as she gasped realizing where her locket actually was. She looked over toward Kurt talking to the beautiful lady as well as a few other people.  His suitcase sat at a nearby bench and his back was to it.
Not wishing to disturb the group she picked up her bag and moved the a bench directly behind the one with his luggage. Moving carefully she reached for his bag and pulled it over the back of the benches to hers.  She  made quick work of opening the case and immediately spotted her locket.  Gasping with relief, she seized the locked and clutched it to her chest closing her eyes in relief.  Opening her eyes, she noticed an elderly lady watching her, shaking her head in disgust, “No, you don’t understand! I’m not-”
“Well, hello, again!  May I ask what you are doing with my luggage?  I did not think we were friendly enough for you to know that I preferred boxers to briefs.” Sarah could feel her face burn as she looked up to see Kurt leaning over the benches, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.  He was surrounded by his group of friends including the beautiful blonde who now exhibited raised eyebrows.
Suddenly the blonde began to laugh, “Why Kurt, you were right.  She does look like Tinkerbell!”  Sarah was not sure if her face could become any redder when the blond extended her hand, “Hello!  I am Kacie Douglas.”
Sarah’s face went from crimson to white in a matter of seconds, “Oh, I did not realize you are- you are Kurt’s-.”
Kacie smiled, “I will spare you the awkwardness and inform you I am Kurt’s baby sister.” Sarah returned the smile as Kacie continued, “Kurt was telling us all about the fairy he met traveling here and how she totally enchanted him.  He said you are also going to California.  I insist you must sit with us! – in spite of my brother!”
Kurt turned to Sarah smiling and she nodded.  The rest of the trip was quite delightful and, when she disembarked in San Diego, Kurt’s phone number in her hand she decided her mother was wrong.  Train travel was wonderful!

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