Aug 27, 2012

It began at some point when he was three or four years old. Mummy and Granny noticed that he was starting to behave oddly, almost obsessively, during their regular trips to preschool. When he was balancing on the kerb he would carefully avoid the cracks between the stone blocks, when walking over paving stones he would only jump on those squares assembled from dark grey basalt and if he was on tarmac he took careful note of potholes and cracks. To begin with they thought it would pass, but it didn’t. The older he got the more ritualised became the way he walked, acquiring precise rules concerning what was allowed and where. What he didn’t know how to handle was grass. He considered it an exception, a space where he could move as he wished. That changed with the onset of puberty, however. That’s when he decided he wouldn’t venture onto grass at all, walking only on asphalt, concrete or stone, and nothing but.

Perhaps it’s the glamorized world of the biopic, but maybe Frank Abagnale did reap the benefits of a better time—one in which we understood the malleable boundary between lonely cop and accomplished criminal. A time when we were willing to allow for the possibility that someone could cross over that line. Perhaps it’s that Frank Abagnale was glamorous and white, while Darius is a pudgy African American. Or perhaps it is because being a forger and an escape artist is just sexier than impersonating a transit worker. But Darius McCollum is back in jail having never been given a chance to put his passion to work on the right side of the law—having been branded a criminal early, the system ignored a dozen chances to break the cycle of offense and incarceration—simply by giving Darius a job with the Transit Authority. We’ve never even tried, and for that we are all to blame. It seems that Darius’ McCollum’s life of incarceration begs the self same question that Frank Abagnale’s posed and answered some 30 years ago.⁷

I’m aware of having taken photographs of two prototypes that are to a certain extent related. One is battery locomotive A 219.0001 which was supposed to be located in Slovakia, held as part of the rolling stock of MAX Cargo company which was supposed to be offering it for hire (at least according to the 2011 Small Atlas of Locomotives) and the other locomotive is the 709.601-9 engine (previously catalogued as T 239.2001) which also happens to be the last locomotive manufactured by ČKD Prague. The current number assigned to this locomotive – 353.001-1 – is somewhat misleading, at least in my opinion. (Editor’s Note: This is the designation of the German Federal Railway Authority, assigned by DB Cargo during test operations). According to one piece of information which I managed to get directly at the location, this battery locomotive was supposed to be transported to Zličín. To what end, I do not know.⁸