Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Little Mystery of the Trains of Littlefield

      There's been a longstanding conflict among the citizens of the town of Littlefield. Some of the residents are convinced their town was the setting for a miracle. Others insist the event can be understood through rational processes.
      It all began early on a foggy morning many years ago, when Olaf Nielssen climbed into the engine of his train in Calico, fifty miles west of Littlefield. His fireman looked concerned; the old Norwegian engineer had that set to his jaw that said he'd had another argument with his wife, and would be stubborn, pigheaded, and obnoxious all day.
      At the same time, Sam Gibbons stumbled into the engine of his train, in Sea Flats, fifty miles east of Littlefield. Sam's fireman shook his head. The engineer had been drinking again. It was going to be a long day.
      The trains set off at seven A.M., one eastbound, one westbound, and an hour and a half later, as they approached Littlefield, Harold Mallon, the stationmaster, walked out onto the platform, and to his horror, saw the trains speeding toward each other on the same track. The westbound train was supposed to slow, permitting the eastbound train to be shunted aside to another track. But both trains were going full speed ahead.  
      The reason why the westbound train didn't slow was that Sam Gibbons, drunk as a lord, had passed out atop the throttle. The fireman had tried to pull the engineer away from the controls, but slipped on some oil on the floor and knocked himself cold.  
      On the eastbound train, the fireman pleaded with Olaf Nielssen to hit the brake, but the engineer shook his head. By gum, he had the right of way. He was not about to yield.
      As the trains approached, hell-bent for leather, Harold Mallon buried his head in his hands, and waited to hear the horrible crash. But it never came. A moment later, the stationmaster peeled his fingers off his face, and to his astonishment, saw the two trains, still on the same track, vanishing eastbound and westbound.
      To this day, Littlefield remains divided. Half the citizens are certain divine intervention spared their town a disaster. The other half claim that the event is easily explained through straightforward logic and reason: Norse is Norse and Souse is Souse, and never the trains shall meet.

      OK, I've got that out of my system for a while. I'll be better behaved next week.


carl brookins said...

OF COURSE I looked!
The setup is deliciously funny.

Anonymous said...