Pynesapp Home | jack-red | Chapter-27

The Adventures of Jack and Red.

This is the twenty-seventh 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 ]


Billy's story.

The meeting with Billy developed pretty much as planned. Marge fixed a nice meal and the whole family was able to attend. Billy showed up and everyone really enjoyed reminiscing about the old days when JJ and Billy were growing up together as best friends.  They all sort of avoided the elephant in the room until after dinner when everyone headed to the back porch for coffee.

It was a warm late August evening and everyone settled into the chairs and swings on the back porch. Red sat on the porch railing.  Gwen and JJ sat on the swing. Grandpa and Marge sat in their rockers and Billy settled into the big old wicker chair. They watched two squirrels chase each other around the trees and up on the roof of the shed.

Jack looked at Billy and identified the elephant when he said; "Okay Billy, what was that you talking about last night - about the train?"

Billy took a sip of coffee, cleared his throat and began; "Well Mr. P., here's what really happened that day.  You remember that I jumped on the train. Well, I walked in through the door to the car and was looking for a seat. I turned around I saw that JJ wasn't following me so I went back to the door to see why not. By then the train had started moving. I saw JJ and you, Mr. P standing by the tracks." Billy looked at JJ and continued; "JJ, it looked like your Dad had grabbed your arm and was keeping you from joining me on the train. This seemed pretty strange since you and I were planning to take the train to the city that day."

"If you and I were just catching the train to the city, why was Dad along?" JJ asked.

"He came along because he had to talk to Mr. Jensen about something."

"Our neighbor, Mr. Jensen?" JJ asked.

"Yeah the train stopped there to pick up milk from his farm. Mr. P was only tagging along that day to talk to him about something - I don't know what."

"I can't imagine." Grandpa interrupted. "This doesn't make any sense at all, you know that.  Mr. Jensen never shipped milk on the train." 

"I know that's what you think Mr P.,  " Billy said, " but let me continue? Just let me tell this. Okay?"

"Okay." Grandpa sighed.

Billy continued; "So we were going across the bridge by then, you know, and I couldn't jump off. And after the bridge the train was going too fast so I sat down next to this guy, you know the guy I told you about. The homeless guy from the war. He was telling me all about what he'd done in the war and how he'd gotten shot and all the problems he'd had since he got out of the hospital and discharged and all. Well you know, I got caught up in the story and missed the next stop. So I decided to ride the train to the city and back again. This guy's story was pretty interesting so before I knew it we were at the last stop, you know, at the city station."

"The guy got off the train in the City with a lot of the other people so I sat there and watched them unload and load. Nobody sat by me on the way back out so I sat there by myself and just watched the scenery." 

While Billy was telling this story, Red moved around and sat on the arm of the porch swing next to her mother. She leaned against her Mom and put her arm around her shoulders.

"Why did you get off in Oakwood and not ride all the way back to the stop were you got on?" Red asked.

"Good question." Billy smiled self-consciously, and continued; "I messed up, you know. Maybe because I'd missed getting off at that stop on the way in so I had it in my brain when the train stopped there on the way out. But I got off and before I snapped out of it the train was already leaving."

"And then things really started to get weird." Billy continued.

"Started to get weird?" Grandpa laughed.

"Yeah, you know I was a little disoriented because I still sort of thought it was the stop at Mr. Olsen's place. So I started walking along the tracks to the road crossing. As I walked the tracks changed. Everything changed, you know, sort of aged. That's the only way I can explain it. So I turned back - I don't know why - maybe to ask someone, you know. But when I walked back to the stop, everyone was gone. Every thing was gone, you know, there was no sign of a stop. Nothing."

Jack looked at JJ and said; "That sounds familiar.".

"Right," Billy said, "it was sort of the same thing you guys said happened to you at the stop."

Billy continued, "so the only thing I could see was the road crossing so I walked there and then went up to that house and called you Mr. P.. I didn't know what else to do. I was pretty shook up, you know."

Red said; "I can imagine."

Gwen had heard enough and she had to speak up. She looked at Billy and said; "So Billy, how long were you committed to Glendale?"

"What's Glendale?" Red asked.

Billy said "Glendale is a Mental Hospital in the city. My Mom had sent me there when we moved away."

He looked at Gwen, smiled and said; "I was there for four years."

"Were you crazy?" Red asked.

"My Mom thought I was. " Billy smiled at her. "After I told her this story."

"I can't imagine why." Gwen said sarcastically. "Do you think you were?"

"Crazy? Well, no I don't" Billy said softly. "Mainly because I know this is what happened that day and even though it sounds crazy to everyone else, I know it happened."

"Okay, hold on Billy." JJ interrupted. "What you are trying to say is that the whole world changed that day for everyone except for you."

"I'm not trying to say it, " Billy said, "I am saying it, Because that's what happened. Everything changed - including you - when I stepped off that train."

Gwen snorted derisively. JJ continued; "Okay, assuming that something changed that day, how do you know it didn't change just for you? You know, while you were on that train."

"Billy you have to admit," Jack added, "that would make a whole lot more sense. You were on the train all that time and that could have had a lasting effect on  your perception of reality."

Billy said; "That's what they were trying to convince me of at Glenwood, you know. "

"But you didn't believe them, " Gwen said, "even after four years?"

"Well, I pretended to - finally - I realized that if I didn't, they wouldn't let me go. So after a while I just went along."

"And they believed you?" Gwen asked.

"After four years you learn how the system works." Billy laughed; "And you learn how to work the system, you know."

Gwen looked at JJ and said; "Maybe we should give them a call."

"Wouldn't do any good." Billy smiled. "They won't take me back. They're overloaded over there and they are convinced that I'm not a danger to anyone - no matter what stories I tell."

"So that's how you got out?" Marge said; "You convinced them that you are harmless even if you are delusional."

"You got it Mrs. P." Billy said.

"So why are you wasting our time with what you admit is just a delusion of yours?" Gwen asked. She looked at JJ and said; "And why are we even listening to this?"

Before JJ could answer, Billy said; "Because it's not a delusion, " he insisted, "and I can prove it."

"How?" JJ asked.

Billy stood and looked from face to face as he said slowly; "Because I have discovered how to bring the train back."

"Yeah, that's what you said last night." Jack said. "How do you think you can do that?"

"And WHY would you want to?" Gwen asked; "Assuming what you say is true, and the train somehow changed reality (even if it was only for you). Why on earth would you want to do that again?"

"It does seem like you'd be asking for trouble." JJ agreed.

"But nobody is saying anything about actually bringing the train back." Jack interrupted; " I think that just because Billy thinks he knows how it might be done, it doesn't mean that it can be done. Right Billy?"

"Well, not exactly." Billy smiled; "You see, I know it can be done because I've already done it."

"Okay that's it." Gwen said as she stood up. "JJ, let's go. I've heard as much of this nonsense as I can stand." [ Click here to continue to part XXVIII ]