Main Street, U.S.A. 2: At the Train Station

(For the first part of the story, click here.) The train station sat atop a berm built by the railroad company when they planned the town. They wanted the train station to be seen from all over the plain. On one side of the tracks, the main street extended perpendicularly from the tracks. On the other side, was prairie as far as the eye could see. At night, the trains could be seen from miles away; their lights shining in the dark.

Paul ran up the granite steps until he was in front of the depot’s building. Off to his right, he could see City Hall’s three stories squatting just short of the station’s height. Paul looked to his left. In the distance, he could see a steam cloud rising up from the oncoming train. The train itself was hidden behind the Opera House.

The wind kicked up, and Paul grabbed his satchel bag tightly. If his papers blew away, he could lose his job or worse. The wind tugged at his cap. Paul walk around the building to avoid the ticket window. Train personnel didn’t like children hanging around the tracks. The vista opened up. The train was behind schedule. Paul sat down on the wrought iron bench with walnut boards across the frame. The train blew its whistle, and Paul ducked to the side of the bench.

A conductor came out of the building and onto the platform. Paul breathed a sigh of relief. It was Mr. Mitchum. Paul stood up.

“Howdy, Paul,” Mr. Mitchum said. “How’s the paper business?”

“A little slow, Mr. Mitchum,” Paul looked at the man who was looking at his pocket watch. “It could be better if some of these folks will buy a paper.” “Well, Paul, you know the rules. Play it safe, and you’ll be fine,” Mr. Mitchum’s thick moustache twitched as talked. The whistle blew three times. “It sounds like you might even sell some papers. Three whistles mean more than the average number of people are disembarking.