Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Steel Beast

For a very long time I use to write short stories inspired by all the things I have never done. It is far to late for me to share this experience in real life with my Father, but; if he were still here, still alive, this is how I would Imagine my first train ride.

The Steel Beast
As I stood at the edge of the run down and shabby looking train station, I could start to feel the ground quake beneath me. I could hear the high pitched wail of the whistle blowing through the air as it released the built up steam. It was barreling down the line like race dogs at the track; it was headed straight towards me.
The steel beast was making its way towards the platform, the gears switched and the breaks pushed down trying to stop the massive steel wheels from turning. It finally halted only feet from where I was standing. The doors slowly opened and a flood of people poured out like a dam that just gave way. I could still feel the heat of the engine as the steel beast lay still, only letting out whispers of steam from the still burning coals.
It was my first time, being so close to a steel beast, I was truly amazed at how massive it truly was. I looked over to my right, there was my father, with the same look of amazement plastered on his face.
Dad…..Are you sure you want to get on?” I asked, with a bit of hesitation lingering on my voice.
I’m not worried about me……are you sure that you want to?” he softly replied.
I took my first step up the three step staircase; I could barely make out the interior of the cabin when my father jumped behind me.
Who said you could go first?” as he chuckled. He walked down the corridor as he looked for a place to sit. I followed closely behind him unsure of what to say to him. Finally, I got enough courage to ask the one thing that had been lingering on my mind for the last few weeks.
Dad……Why are we leaving?” My heart was racing as I waited for the answer. My father took a seat at the last row near the back of the corridor, and ushered me to sit down across from him. His face crippled with sadness and regret, he parted his lips and spoke something I thought I would never hear him say.
Well…kid, we are leaving because we don’t belong, this town just isn’t for us, we need something better than this, you deserve better than this.” He spoke with his head in his hands. I had known for some time that things were not going well at home and me being daddy’s little girl, I was ready to leave it all behind.
I slouched back into my seat, looked out my window and let out a sigh of relief. I could hear the ticket man outside my window.
All aboard” He yelled, as the steel beast began to spring in to life. The engine started to roar as if it were a lion. The ticket man slowly made his way through the corridor punching tickets, As he can closer I could make out that he was a tall and lean man, with an ash grey beard and a weathered face that almost looked like leather.
Are you ready for an adventure?” He asked me as he took our tickets.
Of course” My face lighted up as I replied. “This is my first train ride”
Oh is see, I have something special just for you then” he said as he pulled a bucket filled with suckers out from behind the last seat. As I reached my hand in a grabbed one for myself, my father spoke up.
Aren’t you going to get me one too? This is my first train ride too you know.” He said with a smirk.
The ticket man turned and walked back down the corridor, he disappeared for quite some time. When he finally returned he had a Motorman hat and jumpsuit. He handed the hat to me and the suit to my father; we looked up at him and wondered what the items were for.
Alright, now put this on, and follow me” said the ticket man,
What is this for?” I quickly replied.
This is to protect you in the engine room.” He replied.
We get to see the engine room?” My father and I said in unison.
It is your lucky day; we normally don’t let people see how trains work, but the Motorman made a special exception for you two.” The ticket man said.
We followed him down the corridor of the train and into the engine room. There were so many levers, pulleys, switches and buttons. I never imagined it would look like this, my father and I stood in sheer awe of the engine room.
Are you ready to learn how to drive this train?” questioned the Motorman 
You can teach me?” I replied
I sure can, First you need to push the Johnson bar forward, grip the very large lever that rises from near the floor in front of you,…. squeeze the release handle and shove it all the way forward, and let go of the release handle to lock it into place.” The Motorman instructed.
Okay, what is next?” I eagerly replied.
Open the cylinder cocks - find a medium size valve in front of you on the boiler, Turn the valve all the way clockwise.” He replied.
Dad, it’s your turn to do it” I said in an over excited voice.
My dad began to follow all of the Motorman’s instructions, carefully listing to what he was saying. He made sure to follow each and every step exactly as told.
Turn the front headlight on - above you on the ceiling, there will be a large, flat, half-round box. Slide the knob on the round side of the box all the way to front. Blow the about-to-move-forward whistle. Pull down on the cable twice to make the steam whistle sound out two short blasts. Release the engine brakes, the two brass horizontal levers on your left. The top one must be moved from right to left to release the brakes. That very long lever in front of your face is the throttle. Open the throttle; this will make the train move. Grip it firmly and give it a pull it toward you.” The Motorman instructed.
The train pulled forward and out of the station, it slowly built up speed like an avalanche coming down a steep mountain side, before we knew it, the Steel Beast was going full speed and we had started our journey to a new home.

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