A Scary Day

Today I remembered one of the scariest days of my childhood.  Two of my older brothers and I were at my grandparents’ house in Avoca, Pennsylvania.  (Let’s see, perhaps I should change the names to protect the innocent…or, uh…guilty.)  Sam was 12, John was 10, and I was 8.  We were pretty bored, trying to find something to do.

Suddenly we heard the train coming down the tracks across the street.  The freight trains were always very long.  John and I liked to count the cars and engines for fun.  There were usually over one hundred cars, and sometimes as many as four engines lumbering along the tracks.  But today Sam was with us at Gramps’ and Grandma’s, which added a new mix to the equation.

“A train!” I said.  “Let’s go count cars!”

“I got a better idea,” said Sam.  “Let’s throw apples at the train.”

There were a lot of crab apple trees in the field across the street by the tracks.  One of Sam’s favorite mischievous activities was hurling green apples at the train.  Gramps didn’t want us doing that, though.  He told us we could get into a lot of trouble if we ever got caught.

“What if they catch us?” asked John.

We knew the train employees were always on the lookout by Grandma’s house, especially because of Sam’s rebellious passion.

“Aw, they’re not gonna catch us,” said Sam.  “All we gotta do is run.  They’ll never find us.  Come on!”

The pecking order in our family of ten children always demanded that we yield to the oldest one around.  Unfortunately, this time it was Sam we were following.  John and I ran after him, across the street, through the tall grass, and down to the crab apple trees by the tracks.

“Come on!” said Sam, pointing to all the crab apples on the ground.  “Grab all you can and start piling them up.”

John and I complied, and pretty soon we were all hurling the small, green projectiles at the passing cars.  After a few minutes, I looked down the track and saw a man hanging off the side of the train.

“Sam!  There’s a man!” I said.  “He sees us!”

“Run!” said Sam.

We ran with all our might across the field and up the street.  We looked back, and saw the man from the train running after us.

“Don’t go to Grandma’s,” said Sam.  “We don’t want him to know where we’re staying.”

He kept running, with John and me panting after him.  We ran on pure adrenaline.  My heart pounded, and my legs felt like they couldn’t run anymore.  But I kept racing at top speed, terrified at the prospect of spending the rest of my life in prison.

“Sam!” I said.  “It’s starting to rain!”

“Let’s find some cover,” said Sam.

We ran to the back of a building, where there were a bunch of semi-trailers parked.

“Under there!” said Sam, pointing to one of the huge trailers.

The bottom of the semi-trailer sat about four feet off the ground.  We found some cinderblocks in the parking lot and hauled them under the trailer for seats.

“He’s gonna put us in jail!” I cried.  I was wet and cold, and I didn’t want a criminal record.

“He’s not gonna find us,” said Sam.  “We lost him.”

“I don’t know,” said John.  “He looked pretty serious.”

We sat under the trailer for hours, until the rain finally stopped.

“The coast is clear,” said Sam.

“Can we go back to Grandma’s now?” I asked.  “I’m hungry.”

We gingerly walked back to the house, keeping an eye out for anyone dressed in a uniform like the one worn by the man who was chasing us.

As we reached the house, Gramps was sitting on the porch.

“Where you been?” he asked.

“Oh, just walking around,” said Sam, as John and I hung our guilty heads.

“An officer from the train company came by.”

We all stared wide-eyed at Gramps.

“He wanted to know if I knew two boys and a girl, dressed just like the three of you.”

“What’d you tell him, Gramps?” asked John.

“I told him you were my grandkids.  What else was I gonna tell him?”

“We ran for blocks,” said Sam.  “We didn’t come here because we didn’t want him to know where we were staying.”

“How did he know to come here, Gramps?” asked John.

“Well it’s the closest house to the tracks,” said Gramps.  “Where else was he going to go?  I told you not to throw apples at the train.  If you do it again, I’m gonna turn you all in.”

We hung our heads and walked inside.  We weren’t going to be jailbirds after all.  One thing was for sure, though.  I wasn’t ever going to throw anything at a train again.

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2 Responses to “A Scary Day”

  1. Crystal Says:

    Cute, Very cute! Sounds like you had a good grandpa!

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