March 16, 2009
That train whistle
Originally published February 20, 2004
The CSX railroad runs right through downtown Rincon, and I like to listen to the engine whistle blow. It starts hooting about a half-mile out of town but it doesn't stop until the train has passed five crossings along Highway 21. I like to sit on my back porch and listen.
I hate that fucking train. It services the docks and creates ridiculious traffic jams when it works the switchyard at 4:00 in the afternoon. I've watched that bastard go back and forth in front of me at least a dozen times, and I've wanted to shoot that stupid ass who rides the caboose.
But I like to hear that whistle blow in the dark. I like to sit on my back porch, sip wine, smoke a nice cigar and drink the sound of that whistle like fine brandy. Go, railtrain, go.
When I was a boy in Kentucky, I listened to the coal trains in the switchyard at night, EVERY NIGHT. What they mostly did was "hump" the cars. They'd haul a string up the hill, line them up on the right track, set the switches and cut 'em all loose at once. Those cars would roll down the mountain, impact the ones sitting still at the botom of the hill, and make a noise that sounded like thunder echoing through the mountains.
I remember that sound, too.
But there's still something about a train whistle in the night that makes my skin crawl. And I don't mean it in a bad way here. That sound makes me feel ALIVE and it makes me believe that I can fly. I LOVE the sound of that goddam whistle in the night.
And I probably always will.
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