The man stands silently beside the railroad tracks. A slight Oklahoma breeze ruffles through his thinning gray hair. The man is dressed in overalls. One strap hangs loosely over his chest.
He lifts his eyes to the West. The sinking sun shines on the rails of the M.K.T. Railroad Company, turning them to silver. But, there is no sign yet of the train the man is waiting for.
He begins a slow walk around a weathered wooden cart. It’s a large cart with a 12 foot bed. It’s the tool of this man’s life. A final inspection. Satisfied that all is in working order the man leans against the cart. A little rest before the work that is coming.
Time passes. And then, the man hears a whistle. The sound is low at first, but slowly gets louder. All at once the man sees it, the freight train rounding a bend. Its engine is blowing blue and black smoke from its chimney. The train draws closer, its sound an explosion of noise. Finally, it slows to a stop, a wet, white steam streams from the sides of this fearsome machine.
The man swings into action. He grabs the handle of the cart and drags it to the cars behind the engine.
They slide open. The workers aboard see the man and call out, “Hello there John, how are you today?”
The man jumps aboard the cart and begins unloading boxes and packages onto the scarred bed of the old cart. Some of the boxes are small, some big. Their destinations are scratched onto their dirty cardboard, some of it torn in travel. Later, the man will lift them aboard a truck and deliver them to places all over the little Oklahoma town where he lives.
At last, the unloading is done. The cart is full. The packages piled high. The men aboard the train call out their goodbyes to the man as they slowly slide the doors shut.
Suddenly, the silent night is shattered by another resounding wail of the engine’s whistle. The train begins to move. Its wheels slide past the man. One by one the cars slip by and within a minute the train is gone. The man is alone again.
He moves to the front of the cart, picks up its handle, and begins to pull. His muscles tighten, his shoulders begin to ache. The cart starts to move as the man pulls and pulls. The wheels of the cart roll forward as the man pulls, and pants, and puffs and sweats.
I watch from behind as the man points the cart toward the warehouse.
The creaking sound of the wheels fade into the distance. Darkness descends. I continue to watch the cart and the man slowly vanish into the night.
Another day is done for the man. My Dad.