Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jack and Red: Part XVIII - And so?

This is the eighteenth 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 XVIII: And so?

[As I was riding home yesterday - after writing Part XVII - I had more of the story run through my mind. I should have stopped and written it down right away (I knew that) but I didn't. Now it's gone. And, of course it was the greatest thing.... ]

"See?" Jimmy blurted out. And then leered at Red; "Can I talk now?"

"Go ahead." Red sighed.

"See what I mean?" Jimmy continued. "This whole story is crazy. None of it happened. It was all made up, to cover up for something -- I can't imagine what. Maybe Billy - or you guys - didn't want to admit you'd lost each other. I don't know. "

"You're right James," Jack admitted, "it does sound crazy."

"And that's what we told Billy after he finished." JJ added; "We all talked it over and decided that it would be best if we kept this all to ourselves."

"And we all agreed." Jack said; "None of us wanted to be clumped in with all the UFO crazies out there."

"Why not?" Red asked; "If it really happened - what's wrong with telling people? Maybe it happened to someone else, too."

"As if?" Jimmy snorted.

Red ignored him and persisted; "How would you ever know if you didn't say something?"

"Well, that point was pretty much moot, as it turned out. When Billy and his Mom finally went home that day we were all agreed to keep this 'our little secret'." Jack said; "But we should've known that Billy would have trouble with this plan. "

"Yeah," JJ added, "Billy just couldn't resist telling. If you knew Billy you wouldn't be surprised. I don't know why we ever thought he'd keep quiet."

"And it seemed like every time Billy retold the story he added a few things here and there."

"Before we knew what was going on, the whole town was talking about the 'Ghost Train'."

"But," Red interrupted, " it sounds like everyone knew this Billy, right? Wouldn't they all just blow it off as just another one of his pranks?"

"Well, that's what we all hoped." Jack said; "We thought that if we all kept quiet - you know if we just smiled when people asked us about it - it would all just blow over."

" I never said anything about it - one way or another." JJ added; "And Billy never really forgave me that either, you know, for not backing him up."

"We didn't see much of Billy after that. Or his Mother either for that matter." Jack said.

"That's because they had to move away." Jimmy said, knowingly.

"Well, I'm not exactly sure that is the reason they moved..." Jack began.

"Aw, come on Jack, "Billy interrupted, "everybody knows it is."

"Whatever, " JJ said; "they did move. And after that the whole thing faded away."

"Apparently not, " Red said; "if Jimmy knows all about it."

"Yeah, JJ, this is legend around here." Jimmy said; "Everyone's still talking about it."

"Okay." Red sighed; "So now that we all know about it - everyone knows about it  (including me - finally)." She gave Grandpa and Dad a sideways look. "So what really happened? Was there really a train? Was it the Hogwart's Express or what?"

"Good one." Jimmy laughed; "You hit that one on the head, Red."

They all laughed. It felt good to laugh

[I forgot if I've already brought up Hogwart's Express. I'll have to go back and check. Anyway - while I'm 'aside' - I guess I remembered what I was thinking yesterday, after all. I went back and re-read Part XVII and was able to jump back in where I'd left off just fine. The story tells itself and will not allow itself to be lost -- apparently.  (apparently I like that word)]

"The train really happened." Jack said; "Both JJ and I saw what we saw. It was very real."

"Billy got on the train and rode away on it across that old bridge." JJ added.

"That's the last we saw of the train and the rest of it we don't know - we can't know other than what Billy told us." Jack said.

"He seemed to be telling the truth about all that too." JJ said; "At least what he told us at first; you know, when we first picked him up in Oakwood." 

"And it made sense for him to hold back the rest of the story - if that's what happened - until he was pressed." Jack said.

"But who knows. It was Billy, after all." JJ said. "Maybe he used the time, during the ride back to Mayville, to think up a better story. "

"But what if it's all true?" Red asked.

"Come on, Red!" Jimmy scoffed; "Be serious. How can any of that possibly be true?"

"I don't know." Red protested. "You don't know, Jimmy. You think you know everything but you don't, you know. None of us does. Nobody does."

[This is getting a little long. Wrap it up and get on with the story - plus I have to pee. This means that I have to wrap this up and pack up because I don't like leaving my computer and stuff, unattended in a coffee shop.]

"Okay, Red," Jimmy pressed, "so JJ and Jack saw a train running on abandoned tracks. It was a 'milk train'; something that has never existed in this part of the country because all the farmers shipped their milk to the creamery in Mayville by truck (my grandpa told me that.) And this train, according to Billy, existed sometime in 1948 - more than 40 years in the past! And weirdest of all, it wasn't even from OUR past. It was some alternate reality! How can you think ANY of that is true?"

"Cause my Dad and Grandpa say it's true." Red insisted haughtily.

[Okay - gotta go.]

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Jack and Red: Part XVII - The rest fo the story.

This is the seventeenth 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 XVII: The rest of the story

[Last night I did some research on the milk trains in the 40's and discovered that milk trains were never used exactly like Jack and JJ (and Billy) described them. This bothered me for a while. Then I realized why Billy was holding back some of the details of his ride on this particular milk train (until his nature got the best of him - or his mother. )]

"Listen Red - James," Jack said, "let us tell the rest of the story before you jump to conclusions."

"Too late." Jimmy snorted; "I've already jumped - you're all nuts."

"Shh," Red scolded, "let's hear the rest of this."

"I've already heard it." Jimmy said under his breath.

"Then just leave." Red whispered. "Or else shut up and listen."

Jack continued; "As soon as we got back home with Billy, Margie called Billy's Mom to tell her that he was safe."

Marge hung up the phone and said; "Billy, your mom is on her way over."

"Awe Mrs P." Billy whined, "I can't believe she's coming here. It'll only take me a few minutes to ride home on my bike. Why's she coming here?"

"She's been awful worried and she just wants to see for herself that you're alright. You gave us all quite a scare, you know."

[ I'm beginning to doubt this return to the flashback. I don't think it's worth introducing Billy's Mom into the conversation. Can Jack and JJ just continue relating the story? I'm sure Jimmy will be glad to contribute.]

"Billy's Mom got there about the time Billy had finished re-telling the story for your Grandma." Jack continued.

"Yeah, and was she ever mad." JJ added; "She stormed into the house and gave Dad and me a good lecture on leaving a teenager alone to walk the railroad tracks."

"Yes, she was pretty upset at us. " Jack agreed; "But she was really mad at Billy for pulling such a stunt."

"And for leaving without telling her where he was going - I guess - too."

 "Anyway, " Jack continued, "After she settled down, she made Billy tell the whole story again."

"But we started to notice that every time he re-told the story, it was a little different." JJ said.

"It was obvious that he had talked to that old guy for a lot longer than he first said."

"We pressed him on this and he admitted that he and the old guy seemed to hit it off and they chatted all the way into the city."

"Well what did they talk about?" Red asked.

"The insane asylum he escaped from." Jimmy laughed.

"No, not exactly." Jack said. "But Billy finally did tell us."

"With some 'encouragement' from his Mom." JJ added.

Jack smiled and continued;" ....

[Maybe it would be better for Billy to be telling this himself... ]

"Okay, Mom, " Billy sighed, "I haven't been telling everything the guy told me because -- well, because it's a little crazy."

"I'll be the judge of that, Billy. Just tell us what he said."

The whole business with the train had been nearly more than Mrs. T could handle but she seemed resigned to hear the complete story - if that is what it was - as long as she'd listened this far.

[Another flash back to hear Billy and the old guy talk? No - that would be too much.]

Billy continued; "I told you that this was 1948 and he was a veteran of the war - on disability, right? He told me all about how he was wounded when his ship was hit by a kamikaze
bomber somewhere in the Pacific. He said he couldn't tell me any more about the location because it was classified."

"That's strange that it would still be secret so long after the war was over." Jack said.

"That's not the strange part, Mr P." Billy continued, "The strange part is the time. He said he had been wounded only a year ago."

"What?" Mrs T exclaimed.

"Yeah, and he said he couldn't tell me more because the war is still going on."

"In 1948!" JJ laughed. " This guy was really crazy. The war had been over for three years by then. Even I know that."

"That's the thing." Billy continued. "I don't think he was crazy because nobody else did."

"What do you mean?"; Marge asked.

"Well, everyone could hear what we were talking about and nobody seemed to give it a second thought. And when I told him that the war had been over for 3 years, he looked at me like I was crazy. Then I asked him about dropping the A-bomb on Japan and about D-Day in Europe, he really thought I was crazy. He hadn't heard of either of these things happening. And when I looked around and asked the people near me, they all agreed with the guy and when I laughed they all started looking at me like I was some sort of traitor. You know?"

"Wow." JJ said; "So what did you do then?"

"Well," Billy continued, "by now the train was nearly at the city and everyone was like gathering up their stuff to get off - or something - you know - like everyone was avoiding me, sort of."

"How about the old guy?"

"Well, he had a peg leg so he got up and started moving towards the front so he could get off."

"Didn't he say anything else - goodbye or anything?"

"Yeah, he said goodbye and said he hoped I was alright and all - you know - like to a little kid."

"But you stayed on the train, right?" JJ said. "Did everyone else get off?"

"Yeah, of course. Except for a couple ladies who got on at the last stop. They were going the other way and had been early so they caught the train to go back."

"Did you talk to them?"

"No, they were all involved talking about something or other and I couldn't have gotten a word in if I wanted."

"That sounds right." Jack laughed.

"Jack!" Marge scowled Jack. And then to Billy; " So, did you learn anything more on the trip back?"

"I'd learned my lesson by now so I kept my trap shut on the way back - mostly."


"Yeah, I mainly just watched people and listened in on their conversations - when I could hear them over the train. It sounded like most people were headed to Mayville to work the second shift in the munitions plant."

"What munitions plant? There was never a munitions plant in Mayville, was there?" Mrs T asked.

"Not that I've ever heard of." Jack said.

"Well that's what they were talking about." Billy insisted; "You asked what I'd learned - I'm just telling what I heard."

"Okay, this is getting stranger by the minute." Marge said.

"As if it wasn't off the charts strange already." Mrs T agree.

[So, that's pretty much all I have for the story so far. I might look up more about life during the war. But then again, maybe I really don't need to know anymore. Maybe we've heard enough.]


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Jack and Red: Part XVI - Back to the future

This is the sixteenth 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 XVI: Back to the future.

"Is that all he said?" Red asked asked incredulously. It had been all she could do to stay quiet while her Dad and Grandpa told their story. But now it just poured out. "He was on that train for what; four hours? And that was all he found out?"

"They're leaving a lot out.", Jimmy said knowingly (he had really suffered in silence through this story so far and was ready and raring to contribute his thoughts); "The way I heard it he had a whole lot more to say."

"Yeah!" Red added; "About that; why is this the first I've heard of this. It seems that Jimmy knows all about it." She looked at Grandpa and then at her Dad.

"Well, sweetheart, " JJ began, "We all thought it would be better to wait till you were a little older."

"We? Who's we?" Red asked.

"Your Grandma and I - and your Mom and Dad." Grandpa said sighed; "We all thought it would be best."


"That's kinda complicated."  JJ said.

"They were afraid you'd think they were all crazy." Jimmy inserted. "Like everyone else did."

"Well, that's not exactly true." JJ protested. "And nobody thinks we're crazy." He frowned at Jimmy.

"You don't think so?" Jimmy asked; "Then why did Billy and his whole family have to move away?" "I'll tell you why." Jimmy answered his own question; "Because everyone was laughing at Billy. He's finally gone too far and this story was way over the top - even for him. But he wouldn't give it up - so they finally had to move."

"That's only what you've heard, Jimmy." Jack said, "You weren't there - were you. You know how these 'urban legends' get all blown out of proportion with retelling."

"Gossip, is all it is." JJ said. "Just a bunch of people with nothing better to do, making fun of someone who has different ideas." 

"Different ideas?" Jimmy laughed.

"Jimmy! Will you just shut up for a minute. " Red scolded, "I want to hear this from them." She nodding towards Grandpa and JJ. "What else did Billy say?"

"Well," Grandpa started, "not much at first."

"Yeah, " JJ added; "The ride back from Oakwood was pretty quiet."

"JJ and I were thinking about the same questions that Red just asked; like why didn't Billy find out more about where he was and what was going on."

"And I think Billy was working over in his mind just what he was going to say. And when." JJ said.

"So you knew he was lying." Red asked.

"Well no," Grandpa said, "not lying so much as not telling the whole story."

"Duh," Jimmy snorted, " ya think?"

Red gave him a 'shut up' look and continued; "But why would he hold back?"

"You would have to know Billy to understand that." JJ explained; "He was a real showboat, you know, he loved the spotlight."

"And this had all the makings for being a huge spotlight." Grandpa added; "It was almost as good as an alien abduction, you know."

[I think it's time to stop calling Jack 'Grandpa' in this story - it's no longer one-on-one with Red and he's only 'Grandpa' to her. Do I change the title too?]

"When we got home and he re-told the story to Mom, he'd already added in a bunch of good stuff about the conversation he had with [the old guy - what's his name]."

"When he got done we asked him why he's left that out before?" Jack said.

"And he said that it must of slipped his mind." JJ said.

"Well how much more had slipped his mind - JJ asked him."

"What did Grandma say about all this?" Red asked.

"Not much, at first." Jack laughed; "She shook her head a lot."

"Then she told Billy that she thought he should carefully consider how much of this story he wanted to actually go around telling people." JJ said.

"If any of it." Jack added; "You see, Grandma was worried that people would think he was a crackpot."

"Like they did." Jimmy inserted triumphantly. He gave Red a smug smile. She pretended not to notice.

"You know," JJ added, "at the time, there had been a lot in the news about people who said they'd been abducted onto space ships and all that.  So it made sense for Mom to worry."

"Yeah, "Red asked, "I was wondering, why didn't grandma go with to pick up Billy in Oakwood?"

"Mrs Thompson called right after we got home." Jack said; "It turns out she was in fact worried about where Billy was and Grandma was telling her the story - the first story [I'll have to go back and read to see if Grandma knows the second story yet.]  - you know so as not to worry her."

"She didn't want us to wait and she motioned us to get out of there and go to get Billy right away." Jack added.

[is this bogging down? - Time for a break - and a ride.  I'll be back tomorrow.]

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jack and Red: Part XV - An Urban Legend

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."


"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?]

Monday, October 20, 2014

Jack and Red - Part XIV: What now?

This is the fourteenth 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 XIV: What now?

[  Note: We've been away from Red for a long time. Is it time to jump back to the present or should I stay back with Jack and his son?  If we stay in the flashback, it's bound to get pretty emotional. We have a missing child and at least two people need to be told - JJ's Mom and Billy's Mom. This could all be covered in a couple sentences in 'the present'. Would that be a cop-out or would it serve it keep the plot moving? Do we need to know any more about Billy? I've already hinted that he comes back ( though not in the story.) How he comes back, and the story he has to tell when he gets here,  may be interesting enough to make it worth telling.

But I kind of miss Red - though I don't miss Jimmy - and being in the past avoids him pretty effectively.   ]

Let's give this a try....

On the drive home Jack and JJ decided to tell JJ's Mom the whole truth. They had seriously considered sticking with the story Jack had already told her. But what if Billy isn't home? They were sure he wouldn't be. There had really been a train and Billy had really gotten on it and rode it to Oakwood. But he wasn't there now so what do we do but to tell the truth and face the consequences. Maybe JJ's Mom would have some ideas.

"A train?" JJ's Mom laughed when they told her what happened. "He got on a train? A real train?"

"Yes Margie, a real train." Jack said with an awkward smile.

"A train running on these old tracks?"

"Yes, a train running on these old tracks." JJ repeated.

"Where did it come from? When did they start running trains again out here?"

"I don't know." Jack said.

"I didn't hear any train." Marge said. "I think I would have heard a train. The track's right there. It would've gone right by here, wouldn't it?"

"Yes." JJ said. "But it was an old-time train, Mom. And it had stopped to pick up milk from a farm up the track a bit."

"It stopped to pick up milk?" Marge cried. "Jack, what is JJ talking about?"

"Yes dear, the train stopped to pick up milk. There were people there with a horse and wagon and they had milk cans that they put on the train."

"What people? Who has a horse and wagon around here?"

"I don't know, Margie, but we saw what we saw. It was a train and it was a horse and wagon."

"And Billy was there too?" she asked.

"Yes, Billy was there too. And there were people riding in the passenger car and Billy jumped on while it was beginning to leave."

"And you let him?" Marge asked incredulously.

"I couldn't stop him." Jack protested. "The train was already moving and he yelled back that he'd meet us in Oakwood."

"Yeah, Mom, I tried to follow him onto the car but Dad grabbed me before I could."

"Well thank God for that." Marge cried. She was beside herself and had to sit down to think for a minute.

They told her about following the wagon and then JJ showed her the milk can cover.

"That doesn't prove anything." Marge said. "That could've been laying there all these years."

"That's true." Jack agreed. "But see what good shape it's in. If it'd been laying out there it would be all rusty."

"Maybe." Marge said softly - unconvinced. "And the path disappeared? Right in front of your eyes?"

"Yes, it was the weirdest thing."

"That was the weirdest thing?" Marge asked with a laugh. "That part was the weirdest part of this whole story? You've got to be kidding, Jack."

"Yeah, I guess the whole thing is a little weird."

"A little weird? Jack, JJ, a little weird? A whole train appears out the past - from nowhere - along with a wagon load of milk - and a horse - and the train picks up the milk and leaves with Billy on board and then the whole thing just disappears again without a trace?"

"There's the milk can cover." JJ offers sheepishly.

"That's your evidence? That's your reason for me to believe this?"

"But it's the truth." Jack insisted.

Marge put her head in her hands for a long minute and then looked up at Jack. She was speechless. She just looked at Jack and then at JJ and shook her head.

Then they told her the story about Oakwood.

"The police?" She cried; "The police know about this?"

"Well not exactly. " Jack explained. " We only told them the story I told you when I called."

"So you lied to the police." Marge said quietly. "Well thank God you had enough sense to do that, at least."

"Thanks dear, I think."

"So Billy wasn't there - in Oakwood - obviously." Marge said. "So where is he?"

"You tell us." JJ said.

"Well people don't just disappear." Marge said. "He has to be somewhere. I know Billy. He's probably just playing a trick on you guys and he'll turn up any minute."

"We all know Billy." Jack agreed. "Let's hope you're right."

"Maybe the cop was right." Marge said; "Maybe he's already home and waiting for you to call so he can laugh at you for being so gullible - or whatever you are."

"Do you wanna call over there to see?" JJ asked.

"No, not really." Marge said; "I think that's something one of you needs to do. This is your deal after all."

"I say we wait." JJ said. "Let him call us if he wants to. I don't like being laughed at."

"Won't his Mother be worried?" Marge asked.

"Naw, " JJ said, "he hardly ever goes home for lunch. So she won't expect him till dinner."

"If he's really missing." Jack added; "And if he's just trying to play a joke on us, he'll probably come back here first, anyway." 

This conversation had planted the seed of doubt in Jack and JJ's mind. Or, at least it had enabled them to push the weirdness back and pretend the more plausible (more possible) scenario was somehow what really happened. So this is what they acted on and hoped - beyond hope - that all the rest had been some sort of illusion. Perhaps some sort of 'mass hypnosis' that affected the three of them. (Or had Billy learned some new tricks?)

So they had lunch. It was pretty quiet as everyone seemed to have a lot to think about. After lunch Jack and JJ went back up to the tracks and retraced their morning walk. They looked all around the area where the train had stopped and searched for some other sigh - another milk can cover perhaps. There was nothing to find and after a while they headed back home.

They had just climbed down the bank to the road when they heard Marge call their names. They hurried back to the house and Marge was waiting.

"Billy's back!" She she called as they got to the driveway. She was so excited that she could hardly talk.

"Call this lady." She handed Jack a piece of paper with a phone number written on it. "It's the lady in Oakwood. She just called and said that a boy named Billy just showed up at her front door." 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I have always been a football fan. 

I couldn't wait for the NFL season to start every fall and mourned the end of the Superbowl in the spring - and the empty Sundays that followed. But the World Cup has ruined me for football - the American version that is.

Now all I see is a few overweight, out-of-shape, guys standing around waiting for someone to tell them what to do next. Then they take numerous time-out's while the owners pass the collection plate. It's all become quite boring. And, of course, soccer is boring too. So I'm afraid I've been spoiled for all football.

Maybe if American pro football were more like a video game. You know, let the TV audience (and/or live audience) vote on the next formation, play call, and field personnel; for both offense and defense. With just a little bump in technology we could do this in the time while everyone is standing around between plays (or watching replays).

An App for that...

It could even increase attendance at the stadiums if it were restricted to the paid attendees. Sure it would diminish the importance of all those coaches, and the owners would have to give up some control. But think of all the money to be made. We're talking dot com money here. The coaches could even sell subscriptions to their tip sheets and game plans. Bamm, we've created a whole new industry.

But all this wouldn't make much difference for me because I'm not a fan of the video games either.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mother Taught Me

This time of year (election time) reminds me of three things my Mother taught me:
  1. Saying it loud doesn't make it true. 
  2. Saying it often doesn't make you right.
  3. And, failing to tell the truth is the same as telling a lie. 
She was wrong on all three.