The Moon smiled upon the freshly harvested field. It was unusually cold for October 31st. There was not only frost on the pumpkin…there was snow. Five inches had fallen over the little coal mining town of Eldorado. Billy Bump and his best friend, Chet, had been waiting for this night since last Halloween…1962. They had decided that instead of trick or treating…they would investigate the rumors of the haunted train station. It had been rumored that although the station had been shuttered for many years…that you could hear a train whistle and the sound of the clanging of the tracks at midnight…although the tracks were broken and weeds had grown up through them. Whenever a person would move away from Eldorado or the occasional man left his wife in the middle of the night…that they had boarded the midnight train. Bill B’s dad was one of those missing men. One morning Billy woke up and his father was missing. When he asked his mom where dad was…she responded that he had taken the train to another town…looking for work. Jefferson Brooks was a mechanic trained to work on Semi-Tractors. There was not much need for his skills in Eldorado…the town of 5 thousand people and one old sore head…so the sign proclaimed at the edge of the city limits.
Chet was missing his dad as well. An ambulance had taken him away in the middle of the night. Chet’s mother, Thelma, told him that his father was in a sanatorium for Tuberculosis and that they could not go to see him for fear of catching TB. Both young men wondered if their dads had taken the night train? Also, there was the missing Beautician, Frances, who had been one of Billy B’s best friends. Frances had gone to work at the Beauty Parlor and never returned. She had disappeared the same day that Chet’s dad had.
Coats and gloves were in order as the two Halloween explorers made their way over old timbers and gopher holes. They each had a flash light with fresh batteries and Chet had his Lost In Space Costume on. Bill B had on his cousin Gene’s Creature From The Black Lagoon Mask…but not the hands…as he thought that they would be too cumbersome as he explored the old train station. When they got to the front door…it swung open as if someone from the inside had bade them to enter. Once they had entered the door shut and on came some fluorescent lights. As Chet and Billy B. rubbed their eyes from the sudden illumination…there was Frances behind the ticket counter. Are you gentlemen here for the Midnight Train…she asked kindly. We are said Billy B. The train will be arriving in two minutes on track 666…she said with a wide smile as she gave them their tickets. As they stood on the platform at gate 666…they could hear the peel of the train whistle in the dark distance. As the train pulled up…without a light on the front…and stopped with a loud screech…out walked Chet’s dad with a conductor uniform on. ‘Where have you been, dad?, Chet asked? Carol responded that he had a temporary job on the Midnight Train…
Billy B saw a hand waving at him from the small window of the locomotive. A voice called out, ‘Ho…Billy….I have been waiting for you!, and Billy’s dad’s face filled the window.
I liked that – Eldorado…the town of 5 thousand people and one old sore head…so the sign proclaimed at the edge of the city limits. at the end of their time at the Salvation Army College, the new officers would be given their new postings. their silent prayer was “any cross but KingsCross, since the congregation there was two old men (possibly in for the heat) and a dog. just the way I think, stay safe, water.