The ancient hack sits stoic, silently enduring the indignation of the harsh Texas elements and of its internment on the disjointed house track that ends in the sands of oblivion.

As the hourglass has lost its battle with gravity, so have the oils congealed amid the oxidized bronze Bettendorf bushings, forever rendering her motionless.

She has served well, but now is relegated to the status of artifact; a solitary specimen of a now-extinct genera unearthed from a long-ago period whose origins pre-date what Samuel Langhorne Clemens termed as The Gilded Age.

Her form is explored only by the faithful and the amateur student of such things, and by the occasional ones responding to the youthful calls from the back seat of “Daddy, what is that?”

Eons have seemingly passed since the wrought handrails have known the sure grip of the train captain as he signaled “highball” with his raised lantern and swung aboard as the hogger sanded the rails and cracked the throttle open, the stack talk from the big BK-63 Berkshire rattling the windows as she rolled the southbound redball down the I-GN towards Laredo.

There will be no markers to trim today; no wheel report to fill out and no “19s” to hoop up from the rear steps as you flash by the station master dutifully maintaining his post on the platform.

His order forks have been forever hung from twin nails in the beadboard high above the wainscoting and have now become nothing more than hieroglyphics to the casual passers-by.

He has hoisted the order board to its now-permanent “proceed” aspect, stilled his Morse key and closed his register for eternity.

The trains that pass now need not be “OS”-ed, and the resident spiders pay them no mind.


Rick Malo©2019

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