Pynesapp Home | jack-red | Chapter-29

The Adventures of Jack and Red.

This is the twenty-ninth 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 ]

Train Spotting -- This is the modified

[Okay - so two things I want to know more about - at least two: the world before 'the train'; and how to bring the train back (do we really want to?).


Jack had been pretty quiet so far. Something had been troubling him so now he said; "Billy, I was wondering; you say that the train changed everything in our world - including our memories. How do you know that it wasn't you that was changed?"

"Yeah," JJ added, "according to you everyone in the world would have changed. Wouldn't it be easier to have just you change and leave everyone else the same."

"What do you mean; easier?" Billy asked.

"Well, perhaps easier to believe." JJ laughed uncomfortably.

"You think I'm making this up? You think I'm just telling a story?" Billy was clearly getting upset.

"No, no, Billy." Jack said; "It's not that at all. It's just that if you think about this - you know all I'm saying is - couldn't it have been a case of you being on this train for what? at least a few hours. And somehow during that time you could have been assimilated into the same reality (may I say, universe?) as the train?"

Billy stood up and walked to the porch railing and looked out over the back yard. The squirrels had moved their chase into the woods behind the shed. Then he turned around and said; "Why would I have gotten on the train if it wasn't the normal thing for us to do?"

JJ laughed; "You're kidding right, Billy? I mean seriously; getting on that train was the most normal thing for you to do. That was the kind of thing you did - all the time. That was just how you were - don't you remember?"

"Not really. " Billy said quietly.

"More evidence for our point." Jack said.

"I don't see that." Billy protested.

"It doesn't matter." Red interrupted. "You guys are arguing over details that aren't important. It doesn't matter whether the train changed Billy's universe or it changed everyone else's. You guys are missing the point. Where did this train come from and how do we bring it back?"

Everyone looked at Red. Jack said; "Hmm, good point."

"That's right, Red." JJ agreed; "It's not important to the issue of the train but it might be very important to know more about this before we consider whether to try to bring it back again."

"If we even can." Red added.

"Oh, we can alright." Billy said; "I'm certain of that."

"Okay you're on, Billy. How do we do that?"; Jack said

"Well, " Billy began, "I think ordinarily it would be next to impossible to re-connect with that universe. I don't know how we managed to connect to it in the first place. Maybe it was some sort of random mutation sort of thing."

"Like what drives evolution?" Red asked.

"Yeah, I guess so. " Billy said; "I guess you could think ot it that way. If such a thing happens on a molecular scale why not on a 'universal' scale?"

"Anyway, " Billy continued, "after I got off that train, it disappeared back into wherever it came from and since it was just a random thing that it showed up in the first place, finding it again would also depend on random chance."

"Grandpa, this is like your multiple universes idea, isn't it?" Red said.

"Yes, I think it is." Jack said; "But who knows how many of these universes exist. It could be an infinite number (at least in our perception)."

"Right." Billy continued; "So it would be next to impossible to find that particular train again - in that particular universe. Unless..."

"Unless what?" JJ asked.

Billy smiled and paused for effect.

"Come on Billy." Red protested.

"Unless, someone had some link to that universe. Some physical piece of that universe that might serve as a guide."

Red said; "Like bread crumbs?"

"Right!" Billy said; "Or like a tether to pull that universe back to this one again."

 "So Billy, " JJ asked, "did you take something from that train?"

"No, " Billy said as he looked at JJ, "But I think you did."

JJ stared at Billy as he thought back to that day. Billy smiled as he waited for it. Then JJ gasped; "The milk can cover."

"Do you still have it?" Billy asked.

"I think so. " JJ looked at Red. "Isn't it still hanging up in the garage?"

"Yeah," Red said, "as far as I know it's still hanging above those shovel hooks by the workbench."

"Well that can lid, " Billy said triumphantly, "was from the train. And that is what will bring it back."

"Okay," Jack said, "assuming what you say is true, how do we do that? How does that lid bring the train back?"

"Yeah," JJ said, "I've had this thing for - what -  almost 20 years, and it hasn't brought the train back yet."

"Are you sure." Billy smiled.

"Yes, " JJ insisted, "don't you think I would've heard it - or seen it - if it had?"

"Perhaps you weren't listening - or looking." Billy said. "Remember I told you that I've stopped in to talk with old Mrs. Olsen in Oakwood? Well, she's heard it -- many times since that day."

"And she's probably senile." JJ laughed.

"That's not very nice to say about someone, JJ. " Billy scolded. "And anyway, she's as sane as you or me."

Red laughed and then caught herself.

Billy smiled at her and added; "Okay, she's as sane as you guys."

"She does live right next to the tracks."Jack offered; "If anyone would hear it, she would, I guess."

"Have you heard it, Grandpa? "Red asked; "It would go right by here wouldn't it?"

"No, I've never heard a train go by here." Jack said, "At least not since they stopped running. We used to hear them all the time. In fact we got so used to the trains that we didn't even notice them any more after a while."

"Could that be why you haven't noticed it since?" Billy asked.

"Oh, I think I would've noticed it now." Jack said. "Marge certainly would."

"But the can lid isn't here is it." Billy said. "It's over at JJ's, right?"

"And the old tracks didn't go anywhere near our house. " Red said. "So, of course we wouldn't hear it."

[Oh just great - I changed the last few paragraphs and now this following bit no longer works. So now what do I do? Go back to the original? See this is why I shouldn't change things once published. Like just let it go and work with it. ]


"But wouldn't that same thing apply to Mrs. Olsen?" JJ asked; "Wouldn't she have grown just as oblivious of the train?"

"Maybe." Billy said; "But maybe the train had been more important to Mrs. Olsen. They had been farmers and the train was an important link to market for their milk. The sound of that train would've been important to her because it was linked to their livelihood for all those years."

"That still doesn't make sense." JJ Said.

"Like any of this makes sense." Jack laughed.

"There is one other thing that might be important." Billy said; "That day when I got off the train in Oakwood and I went over to Mrs. Olsen's to use the phone to call you, you know. I left my ticked on the table by the phone. You know the punched ticket I got on the train? I remember writing your number on it, Mr. P. so I could dial it and then I just left it here by the phone. I certainly didn't need it anymore."

"And Mrs. Olsen kept it?" Red asked.

"I asked her that when I saw her last spring,  and she said she'd  kept it because it seemed very strange that I should have such a thing. And maybe it meant that I my story - our story - wasn't so wild after all."

"Did you get it back?" JJ asked.

"No, she couldn't remember where she'd put it, you know. She said she'd look for it and call me if she found it." Billy said. "She hasn't called."

"Maybe she does remember and just doesn't want to give it up." Jack said.

"Maybe." Red said; "But why would she want to keep it?"

"Like I said, the train meant more to her  - it was a link to her life on the farm. You know, her past,  before her husband died and all that. Maybe she just wanted to hold on to that."

"So she's got a link and I've got a link, "JJ said, "so how do we use it to bring back the train."

"Well, I was getting to that but you keep interrupting." Billy protested. 

"Sorry." someone said.

"Well, you know the guy I met in Glenwood? Well it turns out he was the same guy I was talking to on the train." Billy continues. "You know that GI who was in the war."

"Your kidding." Jack laughed. "This is getting weirder by the minute."

"No kidding - really, remember I told you that he got of in the City? Well, on the train - you know while we were talking - he was telling me how hard it was making ends meet on his pension and all. So I gave him ten bucks that I had planned to use for the movie - popcorn and candy and all, you know. I wasn't going to go since JJ didn't come with so I figured it would help him out a little."

"That was very nice of you." Jack said.

"But why is he still here - in this universe?" JJ asked.

"I don't know for sure but I think the fact that I'd given him something from my universe actually  pulled him into my universe when he got off the train."

"I bet he was really confused." Red laughed.

"He's in Glenwood." JJ winked at Red.

"Yeah, he's been very 'confused' since then." Billy smiled. "But he remembered me, you know, when he saw me.  And this really confused the doctors -- for a while. "

"I'll bet." Jack said.

"And I remembered him, of course. It was like old home week, you know, for a while there. And then the doctors figured it out -- or they thought they did -- and they decided it would be better to keep the two of us separated. "

"Why?" Asked Red.

"I'm not sure." Billy said. "Maybe they couldn't come up with an explanation and didn't want us re-enforcing each others' delusion - or something - I really don't know."

"So he's the one who has brought the train back? " JJ persisted.

[ gotta go - the coffee is cold and I'm warmed up now so back on the bike and back home]

[ Click here to continue to part XXX ]