Pynesapp Home | jack-red | Chapter-15

The Adventures of Jack and Red.

This is the fifteenth in a series of blogs chronicling an expedition into 'space' with Jack Pynesapp and his granddaughter Red. To read the entire story (with notes) please see the JackPynesapp web site: [ click here ]

Part XV: An Urban Legend

[Whew! Billy's back. What a relief for everyone, huh? (except for us - I told you this would happen).  What happened to him? Why did it take him so long to get to Oakwood? What did he learn about the train? Why am I wasting everyone's time with these questions? (it's because I'm scared....) ]

"I missed the stop." Billy said sheepishly; "It's that simple. That's why I didn't get off when we got to Oakwood."

"Why not" exclaimed JJ, "You knew we'd be waiting there."

"And that we'd probably be worried." Added Jack.

"I'm sorry." Billy pleeded; "But it wasn't my fault - entirely."

"Then who's fault was it?" JJ demanded.

"Lighten up, all ready." Billy shouted. "Oakwood wasn't there, you know. Oakwood didn't exist back then. It was just another farm stop to pick up milk and drop off packages."

"That's right." Jack admitted; "I hadn't thought about that."

"Well neither did I - at first." Billy said. "The train just stopped every couple miles and one stop looked the same as the next."

"So what happened?" JJ asked; "Did you get off eventually and walk back?"

"No, idiot, that would be stupid." Billy said; "Once I realized that I had gone too far, I decided to ride all the way to the city and just get off on the return trip."

"That was good thinking." Jack said; "But how did you know it would come back right away?"

"I asked this old guy that I was sitting next to and he told me all about it."

"Yeah, who were the people on the train?" JJ asked; "What did you find out about the train?"

"And when did they start running trains again?" Marge added.

[ wait a minute. Is Marge really here? Wouldn't she insist on riding along to pick up Billy from Oakwood?  if so, would she really be asking this? This is a pretty dumb question.  Let's leave her at home and out of this conversation - for now.  I'll think up some excuse. ] 

"It had to be some sort of time warp thing." Jack added; "Did you find out when it was?"

"Hold on, guys. One question at a time." Billy protested; "Give me a chance to tell the story."

Billy relished the attention he was getting and was milking it for all it was worth.

"Okay jerk, spill it. " JJ said; "We're waiting."

"Well," Billy began, "like I said, the train stopped at all the farms between here and the city. Everything looked different - like you said Mr. P, it was another time. I could tell this right away by the way people were dressed and by all the horses and buggies - both at the farm stops and waiting at the crossings."

"What year was it?" Jack pressed.

"I'll get to that." Billy insisted; "Give me a chance." This was his story and he was going to tell it the way he wanted.

He continued; "When I got on the train, I just stood there and watched the scenery go by and then when the train stopped I watched them load the milk from the wagons. They'd pour the milk into this tank car and then take the cans back with them on the wagon. There was a guy who just watched and counted the cans and took a sample from one or two cans before they were dumped. He put each sample into a separate numbered bottle and put the bottles into a cabinet on the back of the tank car and then wrote something on a clip board."

"That was probably their quality control for the milk from each farm." Jack suggested.

"Whatever, " Billy continued; "I watched that for a couple stops and then got bored so I sat down by this old guy. He was a talkative old coot and he looked like a bum so normally I'd stay away from the guy but I was glad to get some information so I sat and talked."

"He said his name was Arthur, and he was headed into the city to stay with his Brother for a couple days while his landlady fumigated his room."

[maybe I can come up with a better back story later. ]

"He said it was 1948 and he told me his life's story, you know."

"1948, Really?" Jack said.

"Cool!" JJ exclaimed.

"Yeah, 1948." Billy repeated. "This guy fought in the war and got shot or something and was living on disability from the Army."

"But what about the train?"; Jack persisted. "Did you find out anything that would explain how it came to exist - now - today."

"I told Arthur who I was and where I came from - you know - time-wise. And it blew him away. He thought I was pulling his leg, you know. He got all, like quiet and all and after that he didn't say much. It was like he was pissed off or something and he just wanted me to go away."

"Can you blame him?" Asked Jack. "Would you believe someone if they told you a story like that?"

"I guess I'd probably think he escaped from the loony bin"; JJ laughed.

"Yeah, I think he did, too." Billy laughed. "Ya should-a seen him. Ya know the way he looked at me."

"So he didn't have any clue about why he - or the train - was there (here - now)." Jack asked.

"No clue. Or if he did, he wasn't going to tell me."

"So - what? Did you just ride to the end of the line. Weren't you curious?" JJ asked.

" Like yeah!" Billy protested; "I was curious as hell. But I think I may have been talking too loud - you know; to Arthur - and people overheard me and they all really didn't want to talk to me after that."

"So you just sat there, with your face hanging out, to the end of the line and then back again?" JJ asked.

"No I didn't just sit there." Billy protested; "I walked around and checked out the train as best I could. I kinda thought I'd get the third degree from you and I wanted to be prepared. But there just wasn't much to go on."

"Did you get off at any of the stops and ask the folks from the farms what was going on?"

"I was afraid to get off the train because I didn't know if I could get back on. Or maybe it'd disappear and leave me stranded."

"But you did get off eventually. How did you finally figure out where Oakwood was?"

"I knew it was a few stops before the Mayville station - Mayville was there in 1948, you know - and I asked the conductor."

"Good thinking." Jack said.

"Well, almost." Billy admitted. "I missed it by one."

"Really?"

"Yeah. When I finally got off the train and it pulled away, Well It's kinda hard to explain but after the train disappeared around the bend in the tracks, everything sort of changed slowly and there were houses and street signs and the road at the crossing changed from gravel to pavement."

"While you watched?" Asked Jack.

"Yeah," Billy said. "it was sorta like a mist rose up, or cleared away, or something like that. I can't explain it. It was really weird."

"Cool." JJ said.

"Yeah, it was way cool, you know. But a little scary, too."

"I'll bet." Jack laughed nervously.

"So," Billy continued, "I could tell right away where I was and that I'd gotten off too soon. So I started walking up the tracks until I got to the Oakwood crossing. I knocked on that lady's door and - well - here I am."

[Coffee's done. So that's all the time I have for today.  Let's take a break. What do you think? Have we been here long enough?]

[ Click here to continue to part XVI ]