She would understand, she always did. This time was different, this time he had burnt all of his bridges, surely?
The cold metal structure he had secured, was to be his bed for the night. The train station was the only quiet place he could find. Only one train went through the sleepy station, that was the 03.35am sleeper to Wilmshurst. You've probably gathered by now that this was not the first time Vic had slept on this particular bench. Slept, was not a word he would have used, there were too many things roller-coasting around his brain to sleep.
How was he going to tell his long suffering wife, that again, his wages had all gone in the machines at the pub. The fact that he hadn't gone home straight after work, would tell her where he went, and what he had probably done. Gone are the days that she would panic and report him as missing, gone are the nights she would drive around looking for him. The thought that he had had a mistress entered her mind a few times, but even that thought never popped up these days. Madeline, was a seasoned Gamblers wife, she had seen it all before:the tears, the anger, the guilt and the depression.
Madeline had been his rock, his source of strength when he himself had none.
"For an intelligent man Vic, you are such an idiot," she would say. She had always been the sensible one, the one that held most of the money (as he could never be trusted). She did everything, from booking the holidays to giving him money to go drinking with his mates.
As any problem gambler will tell you, they will say anything so as to be forgiven, and Vic had about used up his allotted number of apologies that he allowed himself. Yes she would forgive him (maybe) but at what cost to his own mental health. Once again he would have to ask her for money if he needed anything, the agreement that she would hold the money, was always put in place after he had had another episode. His dignity and masculinity would once again be pushed to their limits. The next day would go as it always did, he would feel guilty, he would cry and promise his wife that he will get help, then as usual, she would forgive him. The guilt that he felt was always genuine, and his promises he meant to keep.
He hated being weak and succumbing to his demons, but no one truly understood or cared about why he was the way he was. The weakness came from his Mother, she had no backbone whatsoever, she cared only for number 1. It was no surprise to him that he had developed an addiction, it was the only thing that would give him the thrill that he so craved.
When he was 'in the zone' nothing, and no-one was allowed to enter his bubble, he became separated from society, almost catatonic. Vic was an intelligent man, but he could never understand himself, why he was an addict. Whilst gambling, he entered a state of schizophrenia, Madeline often said his split personality would kill him sooner or later.
Of course, that would never happen, Vic was a self Confessed coward, even at his lowest points, (of which there were many) he never contemplated suicide. Ironically he considered that to be the cowards way out. Here he was though, early hours of Sunday morning, wondering if it wouldn't be best all round if he just fell on the track at the right moment. With his back to the track and his eyes closed, surely it couldn't be any simpler than that? Madeline would be devastated of course, and so would the rest of the family, he was sure of that, but the one single thought that always stopped him was the unfinished business he had with all the fruit machines in every pub in town.
His mobile phone would ring every 10 minutes or so, Madeline becoming more frantic with each call. She was used to him not answering, but by now, he would have at least sent her a message saying that he was okay, and he needed a little space. Tonight, Vic cut off her calls the second it rang, this was not normal and Madeline would have to go searching for him.
03:15am, a cold breeze had picked up and Vic sat on his cold steel bench, with horrid thoughts escaping. An emptiness filled his soul, he felt unable to feel any clear emotion apart from self pity. He could picture his beautiful wife and his two wonderful girls, but could find no emotional connection with them. The last cigarette he would ever smoke, sat between his dry, chapped lips, the carcinogens filling his lungs and the emptiness filling his soul.
The time on his phone said 03:27am, another two missed calls from Madeline. How had it come to this? All he had to do was stop throwing his money in the bandits, it's that simple isn't it? Words and sentences that many people have said in the past. If it was so simple, how come he couldn't do it? Years had gone by with the excuse that it wasn't as easy as that, nobody understands... Blah blah blah. The feeling that it had gone too far this time, kept building in his mind as he Stood facing the empty ticket desk. All it would take would be two small steps back, all the pain would be gone; the anger, the guilt, the tears, all gone; for him at least.
Madeline had a feeling he would be at the train station, he once remarked on how peaceful it was at night when he needed to think, the station closed at 10:30pm and all doors were locked but it was the only place she could think of. She pulled into the car park, even though it was a mild evening, the wind had picked up considerably. Madeline checked the time, 03:32am, and pressed redial.
" Please Vic, please answer" an automated voice informed her that the person she is calling, is unavailable and to leave a message. This was not a good sign at all, his phone had never been turned off. With her heart hammering and a feeling of dread, she attempted to find a way into the station. All doors locked, only the torch on her phone for light, she scanned the wall and fencing to the side of the main building. Behind the bin, was a small hole in the fence panel, unfortunately it was too small for her to crawl through, would Vic be able to get through? Madeline poked her face into the gap and shouted.
"VIC! VIC! are you in there, come home, we can talk it over."
In the distance, Vic could hear the train approaching, on time as usual, he thought. His mind had been made up, if the train didn't kill him, the thumping in his chest would. He heard muffled shouting, it sounded desperate, that wasn't important right now. Just two small steps backward, you won't even know what's happening, it'll be over in a second, come on don't think about it, just two small steps back, that's all.
Madeline had somehow squeezed through the gap,she looked dishevelled and her laces had come undone. "shit, oh fuck it! VIC..." she shouted. Vic stood with his back to the live tracks, eyes closed, swaying in the breeze.
"VIC, for christ sake, what are you doing? STOP! She shouted as loud as she could and began to run toward her distraught husband."
The 03:35am to Wilmshurst, approached the station at speed, it's driver unaware of the drama unfolding ahead of him.
Vic took one step back, opened his eyes and turned to see Madeline running toward him, shouting and waving her arms, trying to get the drivers attention. Vic, inches away from ending his miserable life and his wife screaming at him to stop, decision time. It was now or never, one last look into his wife's eyes, her hair blowing over her beautiful face. Vic closed his eyes, took one step back and fell.