Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Travels of Jack Pynesapp - Book 2: Red and Jimmy - Chapter 3

This is 36 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 ]

Travels of Jack Pynesapp

Book 2: Red and Jimmy

Chapter 3; 

"What do we do when he comes back?" Red asked as they settled back in their seats.

"He's a jerk -- we just ignore him."

"Easier said..."

"You'd rather explain why we can't invite him to our concert?"

"Well, no. I guess not."

"That was quick thinking, by the way."

"Thanks -- I guess." Red laughed. "Ended up -- kind of out of the frying pan..."

"I think I prefer the fire, in this case." Jimmy smiled.

"Why was he so interested in who we are?"

"I wonder. Do you think he's really who he says he is."

"Why don't you ask him when he gets back." Red smiled.

"I might just do that." Jimmy huffed.

Red put in her earbuds and smiled; "You just do that."

Jimmy put in his buds too and smiled; "Watch me."

They both reclined their seats. Red leaned over against Jimmy and they both switched on their music.
The train made a number of stops on it's way to the coast but these were so smooth that Red and Jimmy barely noticed any change in the motion and soon Jimmy was snoring quietly.  Red couldn't sleep because she was trying to think of a story to tell Arthur when he came back that would explain their other story. Even though Jimmy had said he would confront him, Red knew it would be up to her to take care of this. She leaned over and switched off Jimmy's music and then pulled a magazine out of her bag and began reading.   The train sped on through the night.


Red nodded in and out of sleep all night.  Arthur never returned to his seat.

The conductor announced that the train was approaching it's final stop and instructed all remaining passengers to collect their personal belongings and prepare to move to the exit doors when the train comes to a complete stop.

Jimmy stirred and Red kissed him on the cheek and said; "Wake up Ripp Van Winkle."

Jimmy opened his eyes, sat up and stretched, leaned over and kissed Red. "Good morning sunshine." He said as he looked over to Arthur's empty seat. "Did he ever come back?"


"Never? How do  you know? Didn't you ever sleep?"

"No. I couldn't stop thinking about what we would tell him."

Jimmy yawned and scolded; "I told you I'd take care of that."

"I know." Red smiled. "And how exactly were you going to do that sound asleep?"

"Where's he been, I wonder."

"Not our problem." Red said as she stood up and started packing her stuff back in her bag.

Red stepped off the train onto the platform while Jimmy retrieved their bag. She looked up and down the sleek black train and along the platform to get her bearings. People were exiting each car from doors that happened about every 50 feet along the side of the train. These doors were pretty much the only way to tell where each car was along the otherwise smooth skin of train. Two doors to her right ( toward the front of the train) -- the first sleeping car, according to her calculations, she saw Arthur stepping off the train. He then turned around and helped a lady step down. Red recognized her; it was Alice from the dinning car the night before. And after her Bill stepped off.  Arthur looked Red's way and when their eyes met he smiled and gave a little wave. Bill and Alice followed his gaze and gave a small smile of recognition and then the three of them turned and walked away towards the station entrance.

"Wow, that was brutal. I had to wait while this lady tried to find one of her bags." .Jimmy said as he stepped off the train with their suitcase. "Finally her husband showed up with it and said she forgot it under her seat. The idiot."

Red was still watching Arthur and company. Jimmy looked too and asked; "Is that Arthur?"

"Yes, and he's with Alice and Bill. You know, from the dinning car?"

"You think they're together?"

"It sure looks like it doesn't it."

"Maybe they just met and just happen to be walking together. That's the way everyone is going, you know."

"Yeah maybe you're right."

They joined the procession of passengers walking towards the exit when Red said; "Notice something else?"


"None of them have any luggage -- just briefcases."

"They travel light." Jimmy laughed.

"Maybe, but did Bill strike you as someone who would carry a briefcase?"

"Well, I guess not. Did they see you?"

"Yes, they all recognized me -- they smiled and waved and then all turned and walked away."

"Well there you go, Red. What's so unusual about any of that?"

"I guess you're right." Red admitted.

"I'm always right." Jimmy boasted.

"Oh yeah, I forgot."  Red gave him a playful shove, laughed, and then she said; "It just seems strange to me."

"Oh don't be so paranoid." Jimmy scolded.

That was the last they saw of Arthur, Alice and Bill. For now....


Red's phone rang. She pulled her cell phone out of her purse and gave Jimmy a quick look as she answered; "Hello, this is Red."

She listens for a few seconds,  As she looks at Jimmy she speaks into the phone; "Okay, we'll be there in a couple minutes." and hangs up.

"Was that him?" Jimmy asks.

"Yeah, he's in a restaurant named "Sander's". He'll be at a table at the far end."

"Why so dramatic? Why didn't he just meet us at the train?"

"How do I know? Ask him yourself?"

It must have been a busy time for trains because there were people everywhere. The train station looked like a shopping mall. There were shops and carrels everywhere.  Red and Jimmy wound their way through the crowd.

"There." Red said finally as she pointed to a sign that read; "Sander's Restaurant" up ahead and to the left.

They walked in and a hostess asked; "Table for two?"

"We're meeting someone. He told us he was at a table near the back." Red said as she peered over the hostess' shoulder into the dim light.

"Yes, " She said, "the gentleman told me you'd be coming. Please follow me." and she began walking away.

He stood up from the table when he saw them coming. He waved. Red started running when he saw him.  "Grandpa!" she cried. They met and gave each other a big hug. "Red, I'm so glad you came." Jack whispered.

So that bit didn't answer any questions, did it? It just added more. Have I painted myself into a corner here? Where the heck did Grandpa come from -- and why? He just popped into my head when they got off the train. 
I just noticed that I need to be more careful about verb tense here. I haven't given it any thought before now but is it better (more powerful) to tell the story in past tense or present? Pick one and stick to it. I have been using past tense, simply because it feels easier to use the word 'said' instead of 'says' or 'is saying'. I think it sounds more normal. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Travels of Jack Pynesapp - Book 2: Red and Jimmy - Chapter 2; Arthur

This is 35 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 ]

Travels of Jack Pynesapp: 

Book 2: Red and Jimmy

Chapter 2; Arthur


"What was up with those two?" Red asked Jimmy after they had settled back in their seats.

"I know. You'd think they were married or something."

"She wouldn't let him finish a sentence."

"She wouldn't let him start one, you mean."

They both laughed as Red tucked her legs up under her and she kneeled on the seat and then leaned close to Jimmy and gave him a quick kiss.

"What was that for?" he asked.

"Why does it have to be for anything? I just felt like kissing you. Okay?"

"Yeah, I mean -- well -- yes. It's great. Thanks."

"Thanks?" Red leaned back against the wall and gave Jimmy a look of mock indignation.

"You know what I mean."

She slid back over and hugged him around the neck. "We'll never be like that, will we?" She cooed.  

"Like what?"

"Like those two, I mean like -- I'll never be like that. You know, like an old married couple."

"They're not married."

"Yeah, but they act like they are - you even said." Red protested. "Well she acted like it, anyway. I feel sorry for him."

"Yeah, I know. But the good thing is that they're not married. If he's got any sense he'll stay away from that."

"But he looked pretty innocent -- babe in the woods, like. You know like he's never been anywhere or done anything but work his whole life."

"You believe that?"

"Yeah - well I think. Why wouldn't I?"

"Whole story seemed pretty weird, is all. Didn't it?"

"I can see it happening, though. You see his cloths?"


"The cloths looked brand new -- still had the folds from the package. And those jeans were still stiff they were so new."

"You were checkin out his pants?" Jimmy laughed.

"Yeah," Red gave him a punch in the shoulder, "I was checking him out." She laughed, mockingly.
Jimmy reeled back and grabbed his shoulder in mock pain. Then he laughed and said; "you ever get like that, I'll just have to kick your butt."

"Like to see you try." She laughed as she leaned back and put up her dukes in mock defense. 
Then they noticed the little boy watching them over the seat in front of them. They both growled at him and laughed as his head disappeared behind the seat back.

Red un-tucked her legs and sat down in her seat. As she settled in, Jimmy leaned over to kiss her hair and at the last second she turned and kissed him on the mouth. Then she laughed and said; "If I ever act like that you'd better kick my butt."

Jimmy put his arm around her shoulders, they both put their feet up on the seat back in front of them as she snuggled within his arms. 


"How fast do you think we're going?" Red asked after a while.

"Well if it really only takes 14 hours to get to L.A. we must be averaging around 200 miles per hour."


"Yeah. So with all the stops, we must be going a lot faster than that, most of the time."

"Seems like we're hardly moving."

"It's pretty smooth."

"It's because we're basically flying, you know."

Jimmy and Red both looked at a middle-aged man who was sitting in the seat across the isle from them. He continued; "I don't mean to eavesdrop on your conversation but I couldn't help myself."

"So I see." Jimmy looked over at him and frowned.

"I mean, It just sounded like you were surprised at how smooth the ride is -- for a train."

Jimmy put his feed down and sat up in his seat. "What do you mean, flying?"

"Well not really flying, of course," the man laughed, "I mean we're still on the tracks -- sort of. "

"You mean it's mag-lev?"

"That's what they used to call it, I guess. The man said. "See, it's not really magnetism any more -- it used to be, you know -- but now it's a form of gravity wave thing."

"What do you mean gravity wave?" Jimmy asked.

"Say, my name is Arthur." The man laughed and reached his hand across the isle towards Jimmy;  "Arthur Hale". Jimmy just looked down at it and frowned.

Red reached over Jimmy's lap and smiled at Arthur. As she shook his hand she said;  "My name is Andrea and this is James. Glad to meet you, Arthur." She frowned at Jimmy.

 "Yes, well how is it that you don't know about this stuff? I thought the kids now days knew all about technology."

"We're not much in to science, you know. We're musicians."  Red lied.

"Hmm." Arthur looked at them suspiciously. "So you're not interested in this." He said; "Well -- again -- sorry to interrupt."

"No." Jimmy protested. "We are interested. It's just that we've never been on a train but now that we are, we're very curious about how it all works." He looked at Red and said "Right?"
Red nodded and smiled.

 "Well," Arthur said, "lets not bother these people. Maybe we can find a spot in the observation car.  I actually know a little about this stuff and I wouldn't mind telling you as much as you care to know -- probably more, once you get me going, I'm afraid."
"Great." Red said.


They walked through two more coach cars to get to the observation car. All the booths were full; people playing cards, eating, drinking, or just talking.  The fading evening light, tinted glass of the windows, and speed of the train meant nobody was really 'observing'.  They were able to find a curved lounge seat that was vacant and the three of them settled in.

"So, " began Arthur,  "how does one become a 'musician'?"

"I thought we were going to talk about gravity waves and the like." protested Jimmy.

Arthur smiled and said, "I was just being sociable. I'm just interested in people, You know."

"That's sweet." Red said to Arthur as she gave jimmy a little smile. "Well you know, we were both in music in school and we kinda got together and started playing gigs for friends -- weddings and such. Well,  people kinda thought we were really good, and word spread and pretty soon we nad all the work we could handle."

"Yeah, that's pretty much it." Jimmy added. "Now what are these gravity waves."

"So what kind of music to you play?"

"Rock" Jimmy said at the same time that Red said; "Folk."

Red blushed and Jimmy said; "Folk/Rock." And Red added; "Yeah,  a mix-up sort of thing. Kinda our own creation, you know. Like I said, people really like it."

Arthur looked at them but didn't say anything.

Red broke the silence and said; "So Arthur, what do  you do?"

Arthur smiled and said; "I'm a consultant."

"What do you 'consult'?" Jimmy said.

"I head up a small company that basically hires out to industries that need novel solutions to unique  problems."

"I could've gotten that off your business card." Jimmy scowled. "What do you really do?"

Arthur gave them another long look. Then he leaned towards them and said softly; "I'll tell you what I really do if you tell me what you REALLY do."

"Like we said, Musicians." Jimmy protested.  "We're heading to LA for a gig."

"And you've never taken a train before." Arthur said.

"No," Red insisted, "actually, to be honest we've never played outside Chicago -- until now."

"Hmm", Arthur smiled but he didn't say anything as he fixed his gaze on the two of them.

Finally Jimmy said, "So, you were going to tell us how this train moves."

"Oh," Arthur said, "like I said -  it's a form of Mag-lev."

"But you said 'gravity waves'. You said it wasn't anything like Mag-lev." Jimmy said.

"Oh, did I?" Arthur said.

"Yes, you did" Jimmy insisted. He looked at Red and said - not so softly; "Let's go back -- uh, Andrea -- to our seat. I think this guy's full of it. Or he just likes screwing with people."

"Wait a second, " Arthur said, "I'm sorry if I have offended you. You know, I normally fly but every now and then I take the train because it gives me time to relax while I travel (I travel a lot, as you can probably imagine.)"

"Yeah, so?" Jimmy looked back at Arthur. " And that gives you the right to jerk us around?"

"No, not at all. But one of the things I most like about the train is that it gives you the chance to meet people you're traveling with. You know, get to know them. I was just trying to learn more about your lives."

"I'd say that's none of your business." Jimmy said.

"Oh lighten up Jimmy." Red said. "Give him a break, okay."

"So, you prefer 'Jimmy'" Arthur asked Jimmy.

"No, my name is 'James'" Jimmy retorted.

"I just -- Andrea called you Jimmy and I just thought..."

"Well, you're wrong. Red's the only one who calls me Jimmy!"

"I see. So these are just your pet names for each other, I guess." Arthur smiled; "I understand."

"I doubt it." Jimmy said.

"But I do," Arthur insisted, "like I said, I'm interested in people. Especially interesting people." Arthur smiled knowingly. "So Andrea, is anyone but James allowed to call you 'Red' ?"

Red smiled and said; "No, Arthur, pretty much everyone calls me 'Red'. And it's okay if you do too."

"Well I can understand that." He looked at Jimmy. "I really can." And back to Red; "The name seems  very apropos."

"What?" Jimmy laughed, "Who uses the word 'apropos'?"

"Actually, pretty much everyone." Arthur countered. "It's a very common. Especially when it's apropos." Arthur quietly snickered at his own joke. 

Red was getting a little uneasy about how this conversation was going and she was thinking that Jimmy's idea of going back to their seats wasn't such a bad idea. This guy was getting a little too close for comfort.

Then she said; "Well Arthur, its been a pleasure to meet you but I think Jimmy's right; we should go back now."

Arthur sighed and said; "Okay Red, if you insist. But believe me that I'm sorry if I offended you. I tend to be a little to forward at times. It's just that in my line of work I don't have the luxury of beating around the bush. I have to be direct and to the point. Time is money, you know. Especially when the people you are talking to are paying you for advice."

"That's what I've been saying all along," Jimmy said, "get to the point. I'll bet your customers don't pay you to 'beat around the bush' prying into their personal lives."

"On the contrary, James. This sort of inquiry is critical to good consulting. After all, communication is most effective when the parties share a common understanding of each others background and level of understanding. You know the saying. 'know your audience.'?"

"But we're not your clients." Red said "All we want to know is how this train moves."

Jimmy added; "And you did offer to tell us. Remember? Isn't that why you brought us here?"

"Yes, that's true. And again I apologize for old habits. Please understand that in my line of work I am dealing with information that is mostly considered either proprietary or top secret by my customers. I have to be very careful about what I disclose and to whom."

"But we're not like foreign spy's or corporate snoops," Jimmy protested.

"But how do I know that? You haven't been honest with me so far."

"We've been honest." Red lied.

"Oh come on, " Arthur scoffed, "musicians? Really?"

At this Jimmy grabbed Red's hand and pulled her up and after him as he began to walk away.  Red  looked back and said; "Good bye, Arthur."

"I've got some time to spare, can I come and see your show?" Arthur called after them.

Jimmy turned and said; "You wouldn't like it." and kept walking out of the observation car.

After they had gone through the doors Arthur said to himself; "But you said 'people really like it'."

Okay, now I've done it. I have to figure out what sort of thing a "gravity wave" is and how do you make a train "fly" on one.  
And why are Red and Jimmy making up this story about being musicians? 
Thankfully the train doesn't reach L.A. for a few more hours so I have some time to think about these things.