Freedom

by Andrew Weitz

"GOOO-OOOOOOOD MORNING ANGELENOS-You may think you're on the Metro Red Line, but think again. On this train, you can pop open those bottles and cans of Coca-Cola, Gatorade, Bud Light or whatever gets you going for the day. And feel free to light up whatever leaf inspires you from Marlboro to Maui's finest. As long as you don't disturb your comrades, blast away with your music.

     There are no restrictions or borders here. Respect your fellow traveler and you can do whatever your heart tells you. This is the one enclave where you can fully and freely express yourself. You are now speeding through the Tunnel of Truth on the Liberty Line where there are no intrusions on personal sovereignty. Independence and individualism are what drives us and invasions of our freedom are what we fight.

     Down here, we dig deep in the dirt for who we really are and resist the person we are told to be by some government thug or other conveyer of conventional authority. We hope you stay with us as we truck to the truth and roar towards reality. Our destination: the core of creativity. The faade of Union Station will not stop us. We were born to be free and unencumbered and will let no one get in the way.

     Should any of our friendly deputy sheriffs jump aboard before we get there, don't let them take you off the freedom track. You need not show them any ticket they may request and they will vanish by the time we get to the Creativity Core. They are, of course, welcome to join us if they rid themselves of their guns, badges and any other false signs of their sovereignty over us. We are protected by the spirit of human free will.

     There is only one exit before we get to our destination and that is the moment you must decide whether you want to continue to live within the limits and boundaries of the terrestrial world or live free and without limits down here. If that's what you want, stay on the train until we go beyond the conventional. If not, get off when we make our only stop at Sunset Boulevard before our destination.

     Your decision is a choice between the world of being controlled on top of the ground or the enlightened environment underneath. Some of you don't feel controlled at all or are happy with who controls you. To those comrades I salute you. Most, however, have had their real selves suppressed for too long and will cherish the opportunity to reach their potential. Whatever you decide, it has to be reached by Sunset which is coming up in about 5 minutes."

     Tom was torn. As the train cut through the long corridor from Universal City to Hollywood/Highland, he thought about his two sons as who he would miss the most. One was in his second year of law school and the other a high school senior. Both were exceptional students, responsible citizens and loving, loyal sons. He would love to escape, however, everything else in his life. His job as a network television advertising sales executive got more miserable everyday. It all seemed so phony and disingenuous and besides, the trash on TV these days that he was selling made it more and more difficult to look at himself in the mirror. His wife was another part of his life up top that gave him the most motivation to move down. She does nothing but complain, is essentially sexless and provides little, if any, support for his creative side. Tom would like to sit down and write for the rest of his life and living in the midst of the mud may be the only place where he can do that. He'll have to think about it till Sunset. His wonderful sons are the only positive aspect of his life but he pays for it with all the negative parts.

     For others, there was no equivocation. Darlene was an attractive 32-year-old with big brown eyes, long lean legs and large inviting breasts. She had, however, little or no self-esteem. Her husband was a manipulative, wealthy son-of-a bitch who beat her regularly and she did little to stop him. She was on the verge of a successful singing career but gave it up for her husband's immense wealth. He played directly into her fear of failure by convincing her she would never amount to much as a singer. Three years ago, he beat her so severely, her reproductive capacity was destroyed. Somehow, Darlene never found a way out but now she anxiously awaited the world below.

     "Hi, I'm Tom. Can you believe I am actually thinking of going along with this nut case?"

     "My name is Darlene and you look like a free man already. I can't believe you are controlled by anyone. I am the more likely candidate for this wild trip."

     The smile sweeping across her pleasant face revealed her big white teeth as she looked at Tom affectionately. Tom was beaming warmly. From the moment the two encountered each other, the physical and spiritual attraction to each other was quite evident.

     "I must say, my dear, you look like the last one who would accept such a crazy dangerous proposal," Tom said.

     "You'd be surprised Tom. Frankly, I've got nothing to lose compared to my miserable life up above."

     "Really? Just from the way you walked on this train, you struck me as a confident, creative woman. You have such a deep provocative voice. Do you sing?"

     That question and Tom's recognition of her as a woman charged Darlene up with a surge of electricity that emanated throughout her body. It created a comfortable warmth deep into her core.

     "Yes, I do, but haven't sung seriously in years."

     As he observed and listened to this provocative female, Tom was building up some intense heat himself. The blood, hormones and other biological chemicals were racing through his body like the train they were riding speeding down the track.

     "That's a nasty bruise on your arm. It must have been a horrible fall," Tom said.

     "No, it wasn't a fall. I just live with a monster."

     "I know why I was considering this escape from reality and now I see why you are. You're too good Darlene. You deserve a lot better."

     "Funny thing is I saw no escape before I met you. I've only known you a few minutes but I must tell you, I can't ever remember ever feeling better about myself."

     "Good. I gotta say Darlene, in these few minutes you have renewed my lust for life up above. I can't wait to partake in my new project. I'm an executive for CBS. I can help you pursue your singing career."

     Tom was attracted to Darlene far beyond the physical. He saw within her a kindred creative spirit much like himself. What he saw in Darlene was a pure truth. He was driven by a passion to explore everything about that truth and more.

     Darlene was succumbing to her fear of failure. For over 10 years, her husband had cultivated a low self-image of herself and she just couldn't ever imagine herself succeeding at anything let alone a singing career.

     "Gosh Tom, you are so sweet but years ago I had a recording contract and I failed miserably."

     "Let me tell you something, baby, if you got a recording contract, you must be good. You just didn't have the right people behind you. What do say we jump of this train at Sunset and together find truth and happiness where there is plenty of sunshine."

     "I'm going to do it," she said as she smiled confidently. "Besides, the guy driving this train gives me the creeps."

     Sunset was about 90 seconds away. Most of the others on the train had not quite made a decision. Many of those in a desperate situation in their lives still had doubts as to whether the crazy guy on the PA system rambling on about an unrestricted life could deliver the freedom down below.

     "OK kids, Sunset is coming up in moments. Truth and freedom are upon us. Your days of being a slave will end if you stay on this train."

     The train screeched to a bumpy and abrupt stop. Clearly, the guy at the helm had little experience in operating a train.

     Of the approximately 300 people on the train, nearly 250 made their way for the exits. Some calmly, most in a panic. As the man continued his diatribes about the utopia of freedom deep in the dirt during the ride, he sounded more and more unstable. They sensed a danger in his voice and were anxious to separate from it.

     Darlene and Tom knew right away the freedom crusader was a little kooky. Regardless, they had inspired each other so much, they couldn't wait to get to the surface. They walked off the train hand-in-hand through the Sunset station. As the series of long escalators pulled then out of the hole, their confidence in each other and their future together was rising.

     When they got to the top and walked to the Sunset sidewalk, they hugged each other so tightly, it looked like they would be one entity forever. That hug alone gave Darlene a self-assurance like she never felt before. It made Tom feel confident in who he truly was. Clearly, Tom and Darlene didn't need the promises of some maniac in a train. They had found the truth and freedom of a fulfilled life in each other.

     Down below, the passengers who stayed were also destined for freedom from the struggles of life but on a far different route than Darlene and Tom. The train was barreling down the track at a speed far beyond what is safe. Either the guy just didn't know what he was doing or he was deploying some sinister plans. The conductor's cabin told the whole story. The Metro driver was lying on the floor with his throat cut from ear to ear and a cut so deep, he was nearly decapitated. There was so much blood gushing from the driver, the guy now driving the train was drenched in red from the splashes made as he moved around. It likely caused most of the people in the first car to exit as the blood seeped through the crack at the bottom of the driver's door and flowed along the rows of seats. Interestingly, some stayed anyway out of morbid curiosity.

     The sight of such blood and death probably drove the driver even madder. He sped past Santa Monica, Beverly and then 7th Street. Civic Center was just a blur. Most of the remaining passengers were scared. A handful were prepared to be relived of the stresses up top however that relief was conveyed.

     The train was bearing down on Union Station and was not slowing down. For those who didn't know it already, the passengers on the train were seconds from death.

     "Welcome to paradise ladies and gentlemen. You are finally free," said the suicidal train driver.

     The train was now at full throttle at about 75 miles per hour when it entered Union Station. Normally, at this point it is slowing from 5-10 miles per hour as it prepares to stop at the end of the line. The collision into the concrete wall just beyond the station was so massive, it created a force strong enough to ripple through the earth and cause a rumbling on the surface above.

     "Did you feel that?"Darlene asked as she was standing with Tom holding hands waiting for a taxi directly above the Sunset Boulevard subway station. The tremor caused by the train crash was so strong it was even felt 2 or 3 stations away.

     "Yeah, that was either an earthquake or the passionate energy being generated between us."

     They both smiled at each other and looked deep and long in each others' eyes. Their hearts and souls were racing towards each other for a meaningful enduring bond.

     Down below, the crash emitted a wild and violent inferno that reached such heights and spread so wide, the emanating light reflected off the burning train created a blinding glow in the tunnel. No one on the train could have survived. In fact, they perished before the flames even reached them. The resulting human carnage was spread throughout the premises.

     Body parts of all kinds littered the Union Station subway station. The massive force of the crash was enough to kill them all. The fire merely burned the battered bodies beyond recognition.

     Those wanderers who were so desperate to believe some crazed rebel could save them from the restrictions and stresses of life found their relief in death in the dirt. Tom and Darlene found the road to truth and freedom on the surface in life with each other. In the end, freedom was found by all.

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