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A station agent at a railway depot confronts a man dragging a heavy trunk. He refuses to let the man board–Carry-on luggage only. The man goes into a rage, then tries to assess which baggage he might leave behind.
This “unpacking” takes him on a journey over his past life and dream-like encounters with his wife and son. Can he unpack enough to allow him admission to the train? And where is it going, anyway?
From the Play
(THE MAN tugs the trunk again to no avail. He plops down on the bench and hangs his head. The STATION AGENT enters and sees him.)
STATION AGENT: (authoritatively) Ticket!
THE MAN: Oh…uhm…
(He searches his jacket and hands the station agent his ticket.) STATION AGENT: (noticing the trunk) Oh great, another one of these. Look here, buddy, I don’t know what you got in there but you ain’t gettin’ on that there train with this here trunk.
THE MAN: What do you mean?
STATION AGENT: Carry-on only.
THE MAN: What the Hell kind of rule is that?
STATION AGENT: I don’t make ‘em. I just mind ‘em. No baggage on any of the north-bound trains. (looking at a pocket watch.)Boarding in ten minutes. Platform One… if you decide to go.
(The Agent hands the ticket back.)
THE MAN: What makes you think this is MY trunk, anyway.
STATION AGENT: Ain’t it?
THE MAN: No… No it isn’t!
STATION AGENT: All right, then. I’ll get rid of it.
(Before the agent can touch it, The Man throws himself across the trunk.)
THE MAN: No, Wait!
STATION AGENT: (triumphantly) Uh-huh. Boarding in ten.
(The Agent starts to walk away.)
THE MAN: Wait! Please, I’m sorry. What am I supposed to do?
STATION AGENT: Simple. You want on that train, you leave that behind.
THE MAN: I can’t. I won’t. You have no idea what’s in here…
STATION AGENT: (interrupting) Look, mister, I been doing this a long time. You ain’t the first to exceed the baggage limit and you won’t be the last. But there isn’t anything I can do. Rules is rules, I say. (The Station Agent starts to walk off but looks back and sees The Man clinging to the trunk sobbing and turns back.) I know you’re confused right now. But you’re the only one with the power to fix this. I think it was Descartes who said, “Except our own thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.” So, you sit there with your thoughts and sort it out.
THE MAN: Who the Hell is Descartes?
STATION AGENT: Philosopher. 16th Century, Earth. Nice guy. I see him around. (looking at watch) Boarding in nine minutes.
(He exits. The Man looks confused.)
THE MAN: Nothing is in my power except my own thoughts, huh? Yeah, well you can’t move a trunk with thoughts!
(He contemplates, looks around to make sure no one is watching, raises his fingers to his temples, glares at the trunk with all his might, trying to will it to move. Nothing.)
THE MAN: Oh for crying out loud! What am I doing?
(After a moment, he opens the trunk and takes out a bouquet of dried flowers and sits with them. The STATION AGENT returns and sneaks a peek in the trunk.)
STATION AGENT: (motioning to the flowers) Looks like you’ve been holding on to those quite a while.