Last coach

Sitting on the open platform of the 20th Century Limited’s observation car must have been grand.

Relaxing in the curved end of the last car of the Super Chief would have been wonderful.

This train is not the 20th Century or the Super Chief.

“Where to?”

You respond and the conductor waves you to the rear of the train.

“You’re four cars back, last coach”.

You board, settle in, the horn blows and after the conductor takes your ticket you head back.

No brass rails around the platform, no platform.

No restriction that only first class passengers are welcome.

No drumhead declaring the name of the train to those not lucky enough to be on-board.

Just a window in the door looking out at the shiny rails and the sun’s reflection chasing the train.

You look out at the scene and it’s like watching a movie in reverse.

Nothing and then cars appear and cross the tracks.

Nothing and then people cross behind the train, look up at you and shrink as the train races away.

Nothing and then a freight train flashes by and vanishes.

Nothing and then a section gang walks onto the tracks and gets back to work.

Listen to the wheels sing as they race across the bright rails.

Hear them pound as they run through a switch.

Keep your balance when you feel the bounce and then the sway back and forth as the train goes over a highway crossing.

Watch the dust swirl and the papers fly as you tear through the small towns.

This train is not the 20th Century or the Super Chief.

But it’s great looking out through the window of the rear door of the last car watching the world disappear.


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