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The ETW Train Came By Today

May 21, 2021

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
– Mark Twain “Introduction To Huckleberry Finn

Just a short story or maybe a metaphor. . .or a parable. Or maybe just a few hundred words strung together

Milan looked down the deserted train platform. The sun-baked boards remembered the heat of the day, although the sun was sinking in west. Shadows clawed their way from the small station house out toward the edge of the platorm.

Milan squinted his eyes against the sun. This was not a trip he wanted to take, but one he knew all too well. Removing his hat, he mopped his forehead with a large purple handkerchief that materialized from the back pocket of his well worn jeans.

He wore lace up boots. Some called them miners boots. Milan wasn’t a miner. He simply wore them because he liked the feel of the boot tight around his ankles. Riding boots never really appealed to him. He’d never been much of a rider anyway.

His handkerchief disappeared back to its home in his pocket. Running a hand through his short hair, (he’d finally gotten a “summer” haircut last Saturday) he fit the hat back on his head and took the two steps to the only bench. It was securely bolted to the boards that made up the platform, as if to protect it from someone wanting to steal it. As if anyone would find a wind and sun worn bench something to desire.

The large clock on the pediment of the station house slowly ticked off the seconds. 8:25. It was late for a train to still be running. But, Milan wasn’t worried. On the contrary, it was with a sad resignation that he knew the train would be pulling through.

Barely had he sat down when a distant whistle let him know that the unseen train was making its approach. The sound of the whistle still hung in the air when Milan spotted smoke from the approaching engine.

“Right on time, unfortunately.”

Wearily he got to his feet and stepped forward to meet the oncoming train engine followed by the various cars. The engine hissed and steamed as the massive machine slowed to a stop. Milan admired the massive steam beast and made his way back past the coal tender, to the first passenger car.

The porter, a black man with an immaculate uniform topped with white gloves was already placing the footstool to aid him in stepping up into the car.

“Welcome, sir. So good to see you again.”

“Don’t patronize me. You know I despise the very sight of this monstrosity.”

The porter took the comment in stride, almost like he was expecting it. He even managed a chuckle in his response. “Yes sir. No one much wants to see us, and yet, here we are.”

“Yeah, and whose fault is that?” Milan sniped.

“The train goes where it’s called, sir.”

“Except, I’m not the one calling for it. So, don’t expect me to be excited to see you.”

“Of course not, sir. But, we are delighted to welcome you aboard.”

Milan made his way to his seat. He had his choice of literally any seat in the car, but force of habit sent him to the third seat from the end, next to the window, the fading sun blazing through.

“Do you have any new baggage, sir?”

Milan glared at the porter in disgust. Again, the man seemed impervious to Milan’s sour mood.

“I have to ask, you know.”

“I assume you’ve still got my previous baggage?”

“Yes sir. The baggage car is just behind this one if you’d like to check on it.”

Milan didn’t bother to respond simply staring out at the dying sun.

“ALL ABOARD,” he heard the porter needlessly call out. A few minutes later the train lurched forward as the large metal wheels fought for traction on the iron rails.

“All aboard the Emotional Trainwreck Express!”

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2021 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

2 Comments
  1. Aaron B Wayman permalink

    That was well written. Seems it could be the opening paragraph of a decent Western, then or now.

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