Excerpt from my historical fiction work-in-progress:
"As night fell, Sal found that she was tired. She almost could have slept sitting up, but the seats converted nicely into bunks. Two African-American porters moved through the car, making up the sleeping berths. Mrs. Beatle wisely chose to sleep on the bottom with Ralphy, and Sal clambered up to the top bunk. As she did so, the bag of sandwiches slipped off the bed and fell into the aisle. Before Sal could descend to get them, the wiry man hopped off the lower bunk across the aisle and scooped it up, handing the bag up to her.
'Thank you, sir. I’m so tired I’m getting clumsy.'
'No problem, ma’am. Have a good night.'
Sal was struck by his voice. For such a little man, he had a deep, rich voice. It reminded her of the two times she had been to an opera, and the beautiful voices she had heard there. With another courteous tip of his hat, the man, broad smile, bulbous nose and all, disappeared behind the curtain across the aisle.
Sal had never liked heights, and the combination of the elevation and the movement of the train caused her to feel a little unsteady, but she bravely pulled the curtain across and dressed for bed. Below, she could hear Mrs. Beatle humming a ditty to her son, more off key than on, but pleasant nonetheless. Parts of the song sounded familiar, and Sal wondered if her own mother had sung that to her many years ago.
After she completed her toiletries for the night, Sal poked her head around the edge of the curtain and whispered, 'Is he asleep?'
'Yes, I guess all the excitement wore the little tyke out. You can come down and kiss him if you like.'
Sal pulled the curtain back and swung her bare feet over the edge of her bed, preparing to jump down. As she looked around in the semi-darkness of the car, she saw the tall, big-eyed man staring her direction. He was coming from the rear of the car, probably from the lavatory. As their eyes met, he paused in the aisle. Sal felt a tingle course through her body. After a few seconds, the man sat down on an unoccupied bunk and began digging through the bag he had with him. Sal exhaled heavily, realizing she had been holding her breath.
'Are you coming down?' Mrs. Beatle sounded tired herself and a little impatient that Sal had kept her waiting.
'No, that’s okay. I don’t want to wake him. Goodnight.'
Sal eased her feet back up in her bed. For a long minute she stared out in the deepening darkness, watching for any movement. All the passengers seemed to be asleep or at least quiet. Finally, she pulled the curtain closed. After a few minutes she was able to close her eyes and fall asleep, but not before she dug the envelope out of her coat pocket and tucked it deep in the sleeve of her nightgown."