You Never Know Where You’re Going on This Track!








By Carolina Tweetsie

A lonesome whistle disturbs the quiet.

There’s something about a train that captures the imagination while sending images onto the inner mind’s screen of days gone by.

The wheels clattered down the tracks, pushing the train further on to its destination… its last trip.  The whole train was retiring.  Boxcars were slated to be put out to pasture – so to speak.  The big mighty engine had worn itself out and was heading for the junkyard – the cemetery of old trains.  The caboose – well that was going to be redesigned into a private car for some old retired VIP from the railroad.

Inside one of the open door boxcars, a few hobos were holed up.  They had ridden the rails for years – pros at changing their address at a moment’s notice.

Hoosegow leaned against the side listening to the wail of the whistle.  The car swayed lulling him into one of those half asleep states.  Across from him, another old timer laid on his side moaning.

“Hey Railbender, you alive?”

He heard another moan, but no words came out.  Railbender was hurting real bad.  He had been in disagreement with another hobo who was not only dangerous, but crazy to boot.  After the dust settled, Railbender had gone down with no count.  Crazy Fry Pan whooped it up something fierce grinning with no teeth while yelling gibberish.  Ambidextrous Stang had grabbed Crazy pushing him away then propelled him back to their boxcar.

Hoosegow scooted over to Railbender and leaned over.  He picked up his hand looking closely at it.  It was turning not only black and blue, but green also.  This was bad, in addition to the other cuts, bruises and possibly something seriously broken inside.  He let his breath out realizing that his buddy was in damn bad shape.

“Railbender, I’m going to pour some whiskey in your mouth and on your cut,” he said.

Railbender muttered, “Thanks Hoosegow, grateful.  I’m dying.”

“We be getting to da next town soon and I’ll find the doctor.  I have some money to pay him.”

Hoosegow poured drops of his precious whiskey into his friend’s mouth and then onto his hand.  If they didn’t get to the doctor soon, he wasn’t going to live.  Hoosegow crept back to his side.  From the corner further down Half Dollar asked, “He goin’ ta die?”

Hoosegow shrugged his old shoulders.

They all sat quietly in the car swaying to the motion of the train waiting for the next town.  Soon the rocking motion lulled them into sleep.

The train slowed down pulling off onto a side rail moving further down that track sounding the mournful whistle.  The sound rippled its way across the terrain, a lite disturbance to the quietness – a haunting refrain.  Inside the boxcars the hobos slept on – each one in their own dream.   Vague dreams of what was glittered like fireflies in the night.  The train faded into the darkness leaving a trail of forgotten memories behind – the ghost train to Nowhere.

10 thoughts on “You Never Know Where You’re Going on This Track!

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    “Nowhere” has a low key elegance reporting that the least of us have diversity, worth and dignity, but without a false hope of continuance from rusted decay and abandonment. This story could have been used nicely in “The Twilight Zone” for its stark, but caring philosophy served with realism. A great story places us within it, so we believe that fiction has become real life. The subtext of the dying of the rail line with the dying of the lonesome hobo and firefly dreams lighting the way to the end of suffering, to the end of the line for the last train. I applaud the author of “Nowhere”. This story is worthy of the finals.

  2. Parisianne Modert says:

    I wanted to add that I appreciated the richness of the character names and separating aspects of who was who in the story. Is the use of the name “Ambidextrous Stang” a misdirection or a claim? I’m guessing the former, but I appreciate the added mystery as to who the author actually is.

  3. Diane Cresswell says:

    Nice – the imagination took me along for the ride. Can hear the sound of whistle blowing. Wonder how many stories the old trains could tell. This one works well with that ambiance. I’m sure the living the life of a hobo was not as easy as we are led to believe and what led them to that way of life. Good one.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      The story above is worthy of the quality of the cowboy stories written by Gary Clark, so I would not be surprised to learn that a ghost rider in the sky wrote this or someone who is a ghost writer for someone who knew those who once rode the rails. “Yippee-i-aye-ye-ye”, Ghost riders on a train.

  4. Kyle Katz says:

    This story travels from beginning to end in a pure authentic heartbeat in perfect time. Language, vivid descriptions, character development, even the names latched me down, almost believing I was there witnessing the dialogue. The scene direction was simple and effective moving this story along to the final destination…or is it?
    Maybe a Stephen King novel to ensue?

  5. Michael Stang says:

    There is a Bradbury aura to this imaginative writing that lures around each bend of the story. The ending is wondrous.

  6. Parisianne Modert says:

    I wished to tell the author of this story that I had you within my top 5 choices. Thank you for sharing your writing with us.

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