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.]