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Young Man
On the Morning Meat Train: April 30 Saint Louis to Chicongo: 5/30/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
SEP/28/22
Written from memory May 7
I had come south from Chicongo to Saint Louis on The Lincoln Service, an Amtrak commuter line, with single level cars. Heading north at the end of the month, I was on The Texan, a double-decker train into its third day up from southern Texas. A young fellow, a large, doughy man with a soft kind voice, was stretched out with his feet to the wall in seat number 2 which my short legs could not reach in seat 4, right up front by the forward door.
He said, “The seat is broken, sir. Your leg rest doesn't work.”
I nodded and he snoozed on as I checked texts and spoke with Nero the Pict about my return to his haunts.
The fellow was just over 20, if that, and had made friends with two other working class men, both urban fellows, in their 40s with blonde hair and deep voices, a tone of voice that seems to have been largely deprived of men in their 20s. One reached over and shook his hand and said, “nice meeting you,” when he got off in Southern Illinois. The other asked him if he wanted something in the dining car and brought him the candy bar he requested.
“Hey, sir. Welcome aboard. Been on this train for three days now—all kind a delays—and made some friends. Those to fellas and I were getting' drunk, cuttin' it up in the dining car and the crew made us come back here, so we kept the party going until they told us about the after dark quiet time at ten. I'm headed to Beaver Pennsylvania.”
[Headed there for work?]
“No, Sir, headed home for the birth of my son. I work in Texas, right by the River Grand, run a grader, and other heavy equipment for this rich fella who is sheriff down there and has a lot of land.
[?]
“I'm from western New York near Niagra and Tioga. My wife is from northern PA. So we moved down there and its just all drugs, drugs everywhere, people breaking into your house and taking your stuff. So I moved her to Beaver with her parents and I got me this job with ma dad down in Texas.
[?]
“Texas is so windy—it gets damn hot and damn cold too; no trees of hills to stop the wind. It just comes. You could freeze your ass off in Texas.
[?]
“Mostly we heat with propane. There is a lot of cartel activity down there—you see them across the river and on this side. You leave them alone, they leave you alone. I spend days sometimes in the equipment, sleep in the cab even. We did drive off one job because they were being dicks so they begged us back—my boss don't take no shit. I did break a water line once when the scoop sunk in too far, the ground being softer there than the usual rock—what a mess.
[?]
“All the truckers down there, they're flat-landers and they can't drive on hills, even though they're not big hills, so on those bare just cut roads when they're bringing in the supplies and equipment they sometimes get stuck. We just push 'em along in the dozer and they steer. This one fellow was afraid and put on the breaks and we just pushed him along anyhow. He was fit to be tied.”
[?]
“I got myself a good dog and he's a constant companion, a 120 pound Shepherd. Dad took me to the auction en he told me not to bid more than $1800 on a camper, that it was a cartel action and if they really wanted something back you didn't want to piss them off. So this one fellow bids $1500 on the camper and I raise my hand to bid and he withdraws his bid so I can get it for $1500. He came to me en said, 'I was going to buy that back. But I could tell you were buying it to live in and thought you should have it.'
[?]
My dad and I have the place fixed up good. It was just a shell and we decked it out. I work a lot but I don't work hard. I drive and repair, not doin' hand work, so dad says I should last, be able to raise a family without getting' broke down. En we got guns, you can have guns in Texas. The liberals takin' all dat away up East. Now, some liberals have moved in and made some demands, which did get us wifi.”
[I guess they're good for something.]
“Hopefully the rest of their stupid rules will not fly in that state. As soon as its done and my son is born, the wife and boy and I will be living down there, living good, in Texas.”
We never bothered exchanging names. But on these working class refugee trains, people are freer with conversations then they were before The Vid, when train travel was dominated by pairs of upper middle class [1] folks whose women dominated the social scape. Now the women travel alone, waifs on the economic wind, no longer pone to scold a man for helping her with her luggage or the door.
Notes
-1. the downside is the dinning car, that used to permit coach passengers to pay to eat there, while the sleeper passengers ate fr free, has closed its doors permanently, it seems, to the lower class. For after The Vid went away, they still did not open the dining car to the lowlifes.
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Bedford     Sep 28, 2022

That guy must be on the sauce if he thinks there's good living in south Texas. There used to be, for a brief period of time after the Comanche and before the cartels. Things will be reverting to form in the coming decades.
Bruce Lee Marvin Gaye     Sep 29, 2022

Bedford is right. Pretty soon we'll all be partying like it's 1899.

More like 1858. Sooth sayers and story tellers will pull up an old crate next to the fire eating acorn soup right next to the philosophers and other overly educated types. Too smart for their own good.

Soon, wild eyed and wild haired children will run from the woods to play in the ancient cities to play in the landscapes of broken glass with no idea humans were ever capable of building these giant edifices, sans glass, with great gaping mauls (mouth in old german) that previously hosted revolving doors and picture windows. Clueless and careless of a past lost in antiquity. No universities, colleges and few schools and them all run by upright johnsons and solid citizens. Places and people you'd never want your children near. The stench of education and moral fortitude forced on by religion feminizes men. We won't want that.
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