Making my way, the trees bring a darkness, the overgrowth covering much of the path. I stumble as i go upwards on the incline…old stepps once there…then, stepping through into the light again, the late morning sun blares. The path comes out right beside the old depot, graffiti scrawled on its back and sides. It is a long, narrow building, the size and look of a railcar itself. The platform is bigger than the building with a canopy overhead for the waiting passengers.
I see no sign of Dickie Noble.
I climb the platform and peer into the ticket window which was broken out.
I imagined as how it once might have looked. I had my camera around my neck and was about to take a oicture when a gust of wind stole jealousy at the tops of the trees. My hair, and jacket blew, flapping like the loose shutters of an old house.
I moved to the side of the building again for some protection, the wind was madly carrying leaves and other debris in swirls of dustdevils.
The ground began to thunder and shake beneath me.
“My God! My God! The Train….”
It came out of a cloud of dust and the engine pulled just beyond the platform. 43 on its nose, red italics on its side Centipede
I stood frozen to the ground as if my feet were in hardened cement, my mouth gaping despite the dust.
People were bunched on the platform in olden dress…the men with their Fedoras reminiscent of that era. Women in straight cut knee-length dresses. Children holding the hands of their guardians.
A porter put a step out for them to make their ascent into the cars. Once inside I could make out some conversation…“A good day for this town, it will put us on the map to inaugerate this fine workmanship…”
But, they knew not that it was to be ill-fated. None seemed to notice me in the least as I mounted again the platform, breaking my frozen stance.
Then, I saw Dickie Noble, in overalls, like a Huckleberry Finn with his scraggily reddish hair, no mistaken it.
He approached the train where all had boarded. I yelled his name.
It struck me that he saw me, he turned to look where his name was being called, then, went inside with the others, himself quite out of place.
It started to move gently, at first, spun its wheels of steel on the tracks as it gathered momentum, and, hastily rolled down the tracks. It was soon enough I witnessed it, the train disappearing into a huge magnesium flash.
Dumbstruck, bewildered…did I imagine it or were the tales true?
I never got to take any photos, who would believe me?
In time, I made my way down the path again when I saw Keris across the street. The old man Johnson wasn’t with her.
I made it across. She saw me and stopped to greet me. “Well, hello, Mr. Chadsworth…are you okay, you look pale as a ghost?”
“Uh. yes, appropriate cliche. I experienced something so amazing, beyond all my expectations…”
“Why, what was it, catch your breath, tell me?”
“I saw Dickie Noble, I saw that train, the people…”
“That’s quite a feat, do you embellish your stories like this in your books?”
“well, it is certainly not possible to have seen Dickie Noble, he went missing 3 years ago on this very day!”
I went suddenly silent feeling like I made a fool of myself to the one person I truly began to feel something for.
“I’m sorry if I sound like a nutjob, but, I tell you, I saw him” the damage was done, I figured, so now, I will be branded a lunatic in her eyes. “I saw him yesterday as he picked up the bottle at the Bunker for his father, saw him at your library, or so I thought…saw him not 10 minutes ago boarding that ill-fated train.
You surely do not have to believe me, I hardly believe it myself.”
When the furor of my excitement calmed down, I continued to walk with her.
“must be exciting to travel around looking for fantastic stories… sounds quite adventurous…I would love to do something like that.”
“Yes.To experience life from the backseat like I do here is sometimes very boring…”
I tried to formulate my words just right without sounding too aggressive.
“You know, I might just base myself here in your little town, I like the ambience…and,you know, it would be fun to share my travels with someone as well-read as you are…it would be nice to have such a lovely assistant as yourself.”
“Are you offering me a job, Mr. Chadsworth?”
“I’m offering you a front seat beside me…by the way, call me Justin, please?”