Premeditated Murder and Unintentional Thievery
By Dale Angel
On our way to the store, we had to cross the railroad tracks and walk in front of the depot. At a certain time each day, a train would be sitting in front, moaning and hissing steam. We walked way around it to pass.
One day my brother walked up to the boiling monster to wave to the train man; no one was in the cab. He handed me his bubble gum and pulled himself up the first rung and scrambled on up the ladder and looked inside. He crawled through the window. He waved down to me.
Whatever he pulled or pushed was instant chaos! The ground shuddered. The engine gave a giant hiccup, followed by a sort of spasmodic convulsion. The sound of over-loaded steam in great white clouds roared. The wheels screamed as they tried to catch up with the motor or maybe because the brakes were on.
A thunderous desperate sound as it tried to charge ahead with screeching, whining wheels slipping…suddenly it burped and humped, slowly moving a few feet forward, drawing wheels screaming as they caught pulling against itself, trying to pull locked box cars…they didn’t want to go…hot metal sounded like a revved up engine about to rupture. My brother’s face had terror written on it.
The depot door flew open; out ran a chubby engineer in stripped overalls trying to hook up his strap. His hat fell off. His bib was between his legs as he tried to run on his cuffs. He ran past me, grabbed the ladder rung, and swung up climbing toward the engine.
I could feel the earth shake and smell burnt oil. Eternity passed. It was rendered relief. I could hear the engineer shouting down about jail…prison…but mostly about reform school. My brother climbed down the ladder and I handed back his bubble gum. He disappeared in the steam.
We never told anyone about this, but later in life I asked if he ever added Unintentional Thievery to his resume. He replied “Did you ever put Premeditated Murder on yours? You deliberately stomped on my pet Praying Mantis”.
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