This is the second part of a short story started by Ian Parnham at The Culbin Trail (http://ijparnham.blogspot.com/). If you missed it last week then you can catch the first part there.
The idea is that each writer writes a 500 word (or thereabouts) section of a short story until it reaches the end.
Today's piece comes from Jack Giles
“What’s the hold up?” this curt question came from the portly conductor, Henry Cox, as he eased himself down the steps from the front of the first carriage. This as heads began to appear through the carriage windows behind him. He paused long enough to slip a fob from the pocket of a vest that was stretched, tightly, across his paunch and examined the watch face before glancing in Jerome’s direction.
“Better be good,” Henry snapped, shoving the watch back,as he turned to glare at Merrill who had halted with one foot on the footplate while gripping on to the brass handrail to maintain his balance. “We have a schedule to keep.”
Henry pounded towards them with a hiss of serge upon serge as his thick thighs collided with each other but neither man paid him much attention for they were watching the old man rise from the ground.
“Well, I guess, that’s my fault,” the old man told the trio of gaping men as he approached them brushing dust from his clothes with his hands. “Sorry if I’ve disrupted your schedule but you see I – yes, I needed to stop the train.” As he spoke his eyes wandered along the line of carriages until he spotted a red and white one at the end. Suddenly, he swung up an arm to point downline. “Hey, isn’t that Silas Bartlett’s private carriage?”
“It certainly is,” the conductor responded, pompously, finding it easier to answer the question rather than follow the oldster’s rambling drawl.
“Thought it was,” the old man nodded. “Good. I wasn’t sure if I’d stopped the right train.”
“And what if we hadn’t’ve stopped?” Merrill bellowed dropping to the ground. “God, by rights you should be dead.”
“But, don’t you see, you did stop,” the old man said, sagely.
“But if we hadn’t?” Merrill persisted.
All three stood there mesmerised as the old man reached inside his jacket and pulled out a stick of dynamite. As a man they took a few quick paces backwards.
“I’d’ve had to use this,” the old man mentioned. “Last resort – but the train would’ve stopped.”
“Just who the hell are you?” the conductor demanded, his eyes watchful as the old man slid the dynamite, carefully, back into his pocket.
“Didn’t I say?” the old man looked confused. “Walt Arnside.”
“You can’t be,” the Jerome gasped. “I knew Arnside and he’s dead.”
“Heard that rumour myself,” Walt nodded. “All the time I was in Yuma I had people telling me I was dead. But as you can see I’m very much alive.”
“Whoa! Whoa!” the conductor called out. “All this may be interesting but I don’t hear you saying why you stopped the train.”
“I didn’t, did I,” Walt nodded, scratching at the hairs at the side of his neck and glancing downline before facing the conductor. “Well, I’d’ve thought that was a mite obvious. I mean why would anyone try to stop a train, huh?” he glanced at each man expecting an answer and when none came stated the obvious. “To get on board.”
Next week's instalment will come from Black Horse Western writer Chuck Tyrell
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