When I was a young girl we passed through some out-of-the-way town in the boonies. On the outskirts of that dusty town was a railroad track that a person had to cross to get back to the main road. When we got to the tracks I looked up and saw something that I didn’t remember ever seeing before. It was right in front of the car and heading away from us. I was in total awe. We started across the tracks and I kept looking at whatever that was that was now almost out of sight.
There were seven people and a dog in our car so I knew that someone must have just seen what I saw but no one said a word. Old Yellar didn’t bark so it couldn’t have been too dangerous. He wasn’t much to look at, but he did keep the booger-monsters away from all of us kids. Since he had his head on my leg and just one eye slightly open, I figured that we must be sort of safe anyway. My little brother, Richard, was too little to see out of the window so it wouldn’t do any good to ask him. I felt bad for Richard not being able to see anything but the shiny buttons by the radio dial. He had finally learned not to touch them but he always kept an eye on them anyway.
Cynthia, my older sister, was always reading so I just knew she would know what that thing was. She knew everything. I always thought that when I grew up I wanted to be just like her. It didn’t work that way. I do not do well with the written page. If I could cook it, clean it, tear it down or build it, I enjoyed it. Reading was not on that list, so Cynthia still is solar systems away from me in the knowledge category.
On the other hand, my oldest brother, Michael, was sitting right by the window and he knew almost everything about anything that could be built.. The thing was metal. It was HUGE and metal. Surely Michael could tell me what it was. I was afraid to ask him. He was probably thinking about some new something that he could build for us to play with. He always made cars and trucks out of wood for us. He even made me a corncob doll once. No, to bother him when he was in his thinking mode just didn’t seem right.
Thomas, on the other hand, was my other brother. He was just a little older than me so he might just know the answer to my puzzling question. No, I couldn’t ask him either. He was such a jokester that even if he didn’t know, he would make something up on the spur of the moment and convince me that it was indeed what he said. He could tell you with a straight face and someone like me would just fall for it, hook, line, and sinker. Pass on Thomas.
My mom and dad were in a conversation and we had always been taught not to bother an adult when they were talking unless it was of a life or death situation. It really wasn’t worth me causing any concern. I truly wanted to know what the thing was though. It just wasn’t worth being fussed at or even worse, getting a spanking to find out. I let it go.
Then it happened.... Michael said, “ When I grow up I am going to be a conductor on a train just like that one.” “Michael, that wasn’t a train. Trains are long and that was just a moving square thing.” Everyone laughed at the same time. I even embarrassed Old Yellar. Thomas said in the most matter-of-fact tone that I had ever heard out of him, “Vicki, that was the caboose you saw.” “The WHAT?” I asked. “The caboose. The end of the train,” Cynthia chimed in. “The rest of the train had already passed. It was gone before we got here, so all that you got to see was the end,” Mother stated for my benefit.The end. I had missed the beginning and the middle. I learned something from everyone that day. The end is always after the beginning and the middle. It means the train is gone. The caboose was seen Sunday night at The Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve. If you missed the beginning and the middle, you will have to wait for next season. That won’t be until the middle of May, 2013. Like the train, the bats are gone and there is nothing left but the end....and just like all good endings, there will be a new beginning. See ya next year!!