Ray Bradbury arrives at a rail station in the middle of nowhere and explains to the trainmaster that he collects brochures and town names for his stories. As they chat, Old 99 arrives, much to the conductor's surprise. Bradbury wonders if it's a story...
A train is passing through the rural countryside. Cogswheel talks to his co-passenger, a salesman, and insists there is some virtue to living in the countryside. The salesman disagrees with Cogswheel, who thinks that people in small towns know each other, and tells him that there's no answers out there and Cogswheel is just a bleeding-heart writer. Cogswheel disagrees and the salesman dares him to jump off at the next town and meet the people he values so highly. The writer admits he's considered it but the salesman says he'll never have the courage. Cogswheel asks the conductor about the next town, and he warns that no one ever gets off there. He pays off the conductor and grabs his luggage and proceeds to the exit, while the salesman scoffs.
Cogswheel goes into the train station but the clerk seems totally uninterested in directing Cogswheel to a bed & breakfast. He finally directs Cogswheel to a closet to store his things and the writer goes outside. An old man is sitting on a bench, apparently dozing. Cogswheel approaches him briefly but then leaves him alone. As he goes, the old man opens his eyes and then starts to secretly follow him.
Cogswheel walks through the town and the few residents out and about pay him no mind. He goes to a general store and tries to get a pop bottle out of a machine. The storeowner comes out and regards him suspiciously, and notes she's never seen him before. She finally tells him to stop banging on it and goes back inside. When he can't get his money back, Cogswheel goes back onto the streets and notes the old man down the way. The writer turns and goes and the old man starts following him again.
As Cogswheel goes past a house with a room-to-rent sign, he notices a girl on a swing and asks if her mother is home. She runs inside and Cogswheel goes up to the porch. The mother tells him the room is already taken and abruptly shuts the door on him. Cogswheel notices the old man following him again and walks over the river back to the general store. He asks when the next train stops and the owner tells him it only does when there's a flare on the tracks. The other customers ignore him and Cogswheel goes outside. He notices the old man across the street peering into the window of a hardware store. Cogswheel goes over and sees a number of knives on display, but when he tries to go in, the owner closes the store. Cogswheel peers around the corner and sees the old man, and then walks in the other direction. The old man follows him as he goes to the police station but the door is locked and no one is inside. When Cogswheel looks back, the old man has seemingly disappeared. Cogswheel turns to go and finds the old man ahead of him.
As he walks away, the old man says he's been at the station platform for a long time, When Cogswheel asks, the old man says that he's been waiting for Cogswheel and is surprised that he's there at last. He's been sitting there for 20 years, waiting for Cogswheel or someone like him. He asks Cogswheel about the town and the people, and he says that they're quiet. The old man says he's been waiting for something to happen ever since he retired, even though he wasn't sure what. When Cogswheel arrived, he knew that was what he was waiting for. Cogswheel has no idea what he's talking about, and the old man asks if he's ever hated someone enough to attack them. When Cogswheel admits he's felt hate, the old man talks about how everyone talks about putting away the hate, but by his age there's a lot of hate and killing stored up.
The old man steers Cogswheel toward an old building and offers him a drink. They go inside and the old man talks about how he's been saving up all of his nightmares and sometimes he's imagined just taking up an axe and bashing in someone's head. He offers Cogswheel a bottle and talks about how sometimes one has the chance to kill someone and claim it's an accident. He then talks about how the best killing is one where the authorities have no idea who the killer is. The old man explains that 20 years ago, he got the idea that no one ever gets off the train. If he wanted to kill someone real bad, he'd wait at the station until one day, a complete stranger got off for no reason, a man who nobody knows and who knows no one in the town. Then he could commit the perfect murder.
The old man reaches into his pocket and starts to approach Cogswheel. He speaks up and says that they're so much alike. He was on the train and had the idea that he could commit the perfect murder and got off the train in a town where nobody knows him. Then he'd walk through town with a revolver, find a stranger, and kill him. No one would know and it would be the perfect murder. Cogswheel reaches into his pocket. The old man wonders how he can know there's a gun in Cogswheel's pocket, and Cogswheel admits he can't be sure. The old man considers the situation.
That night, the train stops for a flare on the tracks and Cogswheel gets back on board. As the train pulls out, the old man sits back on his chair on the platform... and waits.
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