03-31-2019 05:45 pdt

The long series will continue when the words are available. The conclusion remains, nothing else. The current series comprises eight parts and will move along concurrently.

Other than notes and backend work, we are static.


Part Two

read ( words)

"The hoppers are all over. Scattered, filled, and dripping with the past. Moments of bliss and comfort leaking out everywhere. The importance of gathering my past has to begin with the ignited locomotive. The controls are alien to me, but all those years of figuring complex systems on my own should pay off. I stare as the diesel rumbles beneath my feet and smells of oil and fire. Heat. Ignition. The cars sit and wait for my brain to draw a path. Staring. Vibration. Frozen air floating through the small window and tickling my ears. Waiting. Calculation.

I need motion. Stagnant.

On the ground below there is no life. Master Winter has killed all in view and left ice in its mighty wake. The north. Cold, biting breezes attempting to slow my thoughts and render my hands unable to find the dexterity required in operating the levers of my life. The engine idles below me as I try to work toward moving the mass of metal. Time passes. Freezing air. My breath filling the cabin as the anxiety slows any brainpower. Function. Think. Ignition happened. Motion needed. Movement. A start. Anything. The hoppers are sitting as if they have been there for all time. I cannot see them. Scattered. Missing. Gone. But they are on the rails connected to the massive trucks below my feet. I move. I think. Levers, gauges, switches. I just need a step for confidence. Nothing. Alien controls. Out the narrow door and down to the ground. Rumbling as if the world is coming apart. I step away and look at the huge locomotive awaiting my commands. I still feel connected despite being away and out of touch. I need to try and roll those wheels into the future.

Back inside. Heat from the engine begins to enter the cabin and ease my thinking. To the seat. My face in the mirrors. Gloves on, brake switch, throttle. I see it and find the lock. One grip, two. The lever warms slightly as I hear the idle increase and the pitch of the turbochargers build. Waste gates opening. The locomotive still sits. Hmm. I do not know. I just do not know. Back off, back to idle. Gear. Does it have gearing like a car? The machine is overwhelmingly large from the inside. I am many feet off the ground and sitting atop thousands of horsepower and enough torque to twist time. I fumble around and go over each control, scrutinizing and bending my brain enough to understand what I am seeing. Eventually I realize that there is no such gearing. Everything is direct. Just like Andrea’s hands. Direct, warm, waiting. Again I move the lever and feel the deck plates shake under my feet. Something is wrong. Yes, direct drive, no transmission. Nothing. Just torque to electric power. Back off. Worry. Andrea. Fuck. Out of the cabin and to the ground I go. Something is there that I do not understand. The direct drive is easy, just like all those turntables in the seventies over which I drooled with wide eyes. Time to relax and think. Not Andrea, just the locomotive. No motion.

Strolling around the huge machine brings zero help. I cannot get her warmth out of my head. The heat from the big diesel helps keep my hands from losing feeling but my head is awash. I need to figure a way to gather my things as they are all over the place. On the rails. Waiting. Dripping with the past. I need all of it cleaned and secured so no one can see. Hidden away like other things which are not to be shown.


The memories flood me as if I am under one of the hoppers. The chutes open over my waiting head and all of my issues pour out all over the roadbed. I cannot do anything without coupling and pulling away my life. But the locomotive eludes me. My worries, past, and problems are spread out for all to see. I need the train in one piece so everything can be hauled away from prying eyes. The controls are unfamiliar. Even the vast experience in troubleshooting and analyzing electromechanical systems is failing me. Just an engine. A big one. Big enough to power through the world and gather my shit. I need it. Keep trying. Andrea’s beautiful soul follows along as I return to the cabin. She floats about, watching over me. And then thoughts of the Raven and Her huge, emotional eyes. I feel them supporting and encouraging me to make it move. To the seat. Gloves. Warm levers.

And then a thought.

Nearly two hundred tons beneath my feet. Diesel. Electric. Clutches? Hmm. Again I operate the throttle after searching for the brake. There is no one else to help. Conductor? Engineer? Brakeman? Nope. Just me and those two beauties swirling through my worried head. More throttle this time. Movement? Not at all. A brake? I looked for that. No gears. No transmission. There has to be a break between the generated power and the enormous electric motors. Something. A safety? I do not know. Unfamiliar as hell. I always thought everything worked as one but a lack of training does not allow me to simply move the thing. The thought? A safety... Somewhere. I search the panels. To my right, a small panel with pneumatic controls. Both are down and the labeling is worn. One is black, one is red. I pull up firmly on the black switch and hear air bleed like a pop. Back down and there is an exhaust. Hmm. Pull, throttle...


Motion. In reverse. Ugh. I have done enough of that direction in life. Stop. Fuck. Andrea's soft fingers in my head. I cannot concentrate and the tears begin. As I sit here my eyes wander around while the memories burn. Cabin heat. Yes, one positive. I spin the knob and feel warmth flowing in from the deck plates. Another control splits the flow to clear the small windshield. I can see the rails awaiting my movement. I can see the trees sagging with damp, heavy snow. The heat fills the room quickly, allowing me to calm and remove my hat and coat. Some comfort is better than none. Still the images of Andrea and me right in front of my face as I begin to search for a way to move forward. Heh. I wish that was funny. Forward. Not me, just the machine. Years of stepping in reverse are likely the reasons for the locomotive heading in the same direction. Everything. Work, relationships, finances, alcohol. Every fucking thing I did was backwards. Non- this and dis- that.

And then something snaps inside my head. I look at the big, locking lever which raised the idle and caused motion... The other way. Yes, I grab the handle, unlock, and voila. The locomotive is crawling in the opposite direction than my sordid life. Forward motion. Moving. At last. The beginning of a smile at that small victory before I recall the nature of the trip. It's ok, though. I did it. I figured out how to get moving and that first step to gathering my mass of issues. Some of the worry falls away as I feel the incredible power beneath and begin to gaze at different scenery. Motion.

We rollin’.

Along the rails the huge locomotive sways from side to side. Sitting so high off the ground causes that sway to feel as if it can flop over easily, yet somehow there is a solidity to it. I ease up on the throttle to see nearly forty miles per hour. Powerful. Heavy. Imposing. I roll toward whatever the near future may bring with anticipation of locking up my feelings by way of coupling the cars and heading somewhere isolated from the masses. I need to hide all of myself away and organize. I am messy, spread out. I don't like it. Very uncomfortable. The motion helps. At least I made progress in getting the damned machine to move. It felt good, knowing that my ability to work complex systems was still alive inside me. I increase speed again. Forty-five. Rolling with authority through the snowy landscape and past the occasional signal telling me the status of the next two blocks. All green. Empty rails. Good. I need those fucking hoppers of shit under my control. A hundred tons each, too. But where are they? What about switches? Left or right? I do not know. Hopefully the feelings and fears will help guide me to each one. They are out there. All of them holding all of me. I need everything hidden. Soon. More throttle, more speed. The motion brings me a bit of solace knowing that I have located the function of seeking my cars.

Motion. Fifty miles per hour. Sweet. Powerful motion bringing slight peace to my brain. Andrea.

And the Raven with Her soul swirling around me.

The hoppers are so elusive that I sit in the locomotive sans hope despite the speed. Option 'B' forms in my head as the ties pile up before that mighty snow plow leading my path. That option is to purposefully and pointedly derail the fucking machine. The positive to such an act means no more worry, pain, despair, depression, or questions from others. Everything just gone in a flash of hot metal. That is so enticing that it never leaves my head as I glide on the rails. Shiny. Depressed. Angry. Worried. Throw a switch and barrel right on through to a buffer stop. Any stop, any fucking block. Red signal, yellow signal, green signal. I do not give a shit. Must calm. Motion. I am in motion after so much bullshit.

Calm. Just relax. Andrea. Always in my head along with the Raven and Her heavenly gait.


I think of it at each switch and every signal. A backup plan. It's there. Always there. Onward down the line to the next block.

Along the snowy route I see all manner of things. The motion carries itself, and other than the occasional slowing due to complex section conditions or scenery, the locomotive rolls on with authority. My rear camera sees the wake of blowing flakes left by such a mass of metal moving at high speed. The cabin is comfortable. I am not. Inside the storm and worry begin to take my mind from looking around and into a place where the importance of wrapping up my life becomes stronger than while I was confused and sitting idle. As the snowfall thickens and increases, I spy something in the hazy distance. A switch. Spur, parallel to the mainline. A spur with something sitting there covered in snow. Frozen, still, waiting. I back off the throttle and slow my roll as the half-obscured block gets larger in the windshield. Closer. The switch. The signal. Approaching the first Vader hood, the locomotive is nearly stopped. Crawling toward the mass alongside my line. There it is. A fucking hopper full of God-knows-what. My stuff. Feelings? Fears? Desires? Hmm. I do not know. The mass of metal awaits me and appears forgotten, disregarded, ignored. Cold. Andrea was warm.


I reverse the massive engine and relocate the switch which represents the first real victory of my journey. Yes, I figured how to get moving, however that was just a matter of time. Given long enough, I can figure anything out. Anything. Seeing the controls meant study and patience. No problem. I did it. But the point of my need to reign everything in meant the cars. Covered hoppers filled with parts of me. They are everywhere and anywhere. Locating my first load of crap feels good, like the journey has finally begun. A huge step forward in trying to gather my consciousness and finally organizing my head. The hopper sits there awaiting me and the immense power beneath my feet. And that thought raises a question: How many are out there? Two? Ten? A thousand? One train unit is twenty-five cars and one engine, if I recall. Can I pull them all? Or will the last car represent the end? I do not know. Yes, I can self-learn many things, but the idea of emotional understanding and stability is still alien to me. All I can do is try, couple the frozen mass of shit, and then move on in hopes of locating more of my insides. Fuck. Whatever. Reverse.

As I back slowly to the signal and past the bungalow, my head calculates the switch. Either I have to throw the thing manually, or head into the rusty bungalow and learn how to do it with power. Hmm. Stop again. The switch is before me. Locked, as always. Chained. It appears to have been sitting there untouched for a hundred years. Can it move? Out of the cab with gloves, coat and hat. Holy fuck is the air cold and bitter. I spy the lever and small indicator, bright red against the white. Over to my left is the pile of shit that makes up a part of my life and contained in heavy steel. Covered in snow, just as the couplers at either end. The switch awaits my feeling of forward progress and I calculate that power has to be the answer. I cannot fight the chain. Conduit leads me to the little hut which is screwed shut. Tools. Cab. Opened. Inside, nothing remarkable other than some electrical boxes and a small, glowing bulb above. Inside each box is switchgear of a type which reminds me of the huge room at NASA that held our switchgear for the big ballistic range. Rotary knobs pointing to numbers and block-identifiers. I need to identify the blocks ahead and behind in order to determine which control operates the switch. The beginning of fear creeps into my heart as I stand, unable to determine which direction to turn. My first little victory was wonderful -- the feeling of movement after years of staring down the future and walking in quicksand. I need to go out and investigate the railway and learn. Through the door into the frigid wind and toward my next hurdle.

The switch awaits, frozen and solid.

As I approach the knife-edged moveable rails, everything seems dead. The surrounding landscape is half there due to low-lying fog despite the temperature having fallen below twenty. So cold. Icy. Even the rails are frosted save for where I guided the engine up alongside my load of emotions in the hopper. A long walk in each direction reveals my block number along with those of the direction choice on either side of the switch. A2. And then below that, 313. What does that mean? I have no idea of how the railroad works but my head begins to assemble ideas. Behind me, 312 and 311. I need to go back and formulate a plan. To the bungalow. No power other than the light. There has to be a disconnect.


Toward the long end and further in the direction I had been traveling, I see a trailing switch that closes the loop which can bring my hopper to the mainline.

I stroll around the outside to the little weatherhead where power should be coming in. Down, to the left, into the ground just shy of the wall. Back inside with flashlight in hand, I finally see the box and lever. Unlocked. I throw the disconnect up and hear several relays clunk loudly. The indicators are lit. All I need is the proper switch and I can proceed. Locating the first car felt good, but there are many others along my path through life. I do not feel comfortable spending hours trying to couple the first. Just as I decide to start engaging things, another thought enters: I need my locomotive in front. The far switch. Yes. What was the block? The loop? Is that the 'A' designation while the numbers relate to the actual block sections? I decide to throw the far switch in hopes of backing to my car and coupling. Two controls? A2 to 313, maybe. Both? Hmm.

Flip. Flip again. Back into the cold.

There it is. My brain worked out another issue and toward the next step. Yes! I take a walk to the leading end of the short loop and see that the switch has turned. Back to the switchgear, unlock, and to my warm cab. I need to pull ahead and throw it again. After being back and forth so many times, my head begins to pound from such temperature differentials. Ugh. Not good. As I roll the mighty engine along, the worry of me surviving this trip becomes unavoidable. Lots of concern. Will I make it or fall apart before finding the conclusion to my journey? I do not fucking know. I roll up to the end of the siding, run the heat up a tad, and then venture back to the bungalow and toward the feeling that something is being accomplished. After decades of treading water, the idea that I can improve my situation squashes the physical discomfort. Switch thrown. Back to the power.

Cozy in my big seat. One more trip outside and I can roll along the rails and relax a while. Nice. Reverse, clunk, stop. Out to link the brake line and power, back into my seat sans coat and hat, and rolling again. That motion has the power to keep me calm. Do I notice the hundred tons behind? Not at all. Not yet. Perhaps a thousand tons will tax the locomotive. Right now, though, nada.

All of the worry, work, and calculating have left me tired. I find myself hoping that the next car is far away so I can sit and think. Where am I going? Is the motion what I need most, or are the hoppers paramount? Relax. Watch the trees glide by. Enjoy the warmth and glow of the instruments. The worry can take over and break me so I need to focus and remind myself that thus far I have done well. The ignition was huge, but the motion brings me to my spread-out crap. Everywhere. And now some of it is directly behind, following as ordered. Thank Christ I found the first and feel a bit hopeful that others will be located. I need them but do not want any of it. The fact that all that shit is a part of me is not a pleasant thought. There is no denying, however. I have always known what I am... What I have become. The path ahead is a mystery, though. The hoppers need to be close so I can gather my things and attempt to learn of the why. Yes, this relates to all of the visions, self-inflicted damage, even the women who lifted and held me up when I was but half a human being. All of it has been loaded into those waiting cars for years and just in the past few months become spread out all over the fucking place. I am thin, worn, exhausted. I am spread like too little mayo on a huge piece of bread. I wish that was funny. At least I have the motion. Throttle. Heat. Power like nothing else. That is a positive. Those women are in there, too. You know.


Motion. Moving. Fairly comfortable aside from the underlying concern over my things everywhere. I don't like it. I don't even know if I have the strength to roll around for God-knows how long and find my feelings. Cars full of desire. Overflowing. Rusted. Seemingly weak despite their ability to endure. How long have they been out there? Years? Decades? Longer? Ugh... The worry begins to push me to tears again. The engine moves along on its own, like the simplest cruise control, enabling me to gaze out at the snow and think. Deeply. Worry aplenty.

The last several entries not relating to that long story of Andrea and others have painted pictures of the forms which graced my eyes throughout months. The desire and confusion related to each emotional drop after seeing those women represent a large part of what awaits my grabbing the hoppers and hiding them away. By speaking of my feelings here throughout so many years, I am not inferring that to place such thoughts on the Internet means I am spreading them out. Locating and organizing my train cars of shit is different. It is motion. They just need to be with me. Always. The essays here are unrelated. I am speaking of reality... Out here. Out there. IRL, to use the acronym born of electronic communication. The physical, actual forward motion meaning I carry it all. Inside. Compartmented, organized, under some semblance of control. I need to maintain them as parts of myself that no one is allowed to see. Right now the haphazard nature of those parts is very uncomfortable. When I indicate the hoppers are full, it means they are fucking bad. Packed. Crammed. The whole thing is very bad and my concern is driving the train. Not the train of life, the train of MY life. Bad.

Out there for all to see. Hopefully, I am clear.

The windshield is clear. I see everything from such an elevated position. The feeling reminds me of ninety-five when I was in Michigan. My partner’s dad worked for the railroad and had been for thirty years. As such, his seniority enabled him to choose the work location, and that was a small yard in Grand Blanc in close proximity to one of GM’s stamping facilities. We were invited to stop by the little office one Saturday in winter, during which they received a call from the BOC plant requesting a switch. I did not understand. Her dad was a brakeman/conductor and he told us the call meant that three cars in the plant were loaded and ready to be replaced with empties. And then he asked if we wished to ride along. Fuck. Yes. Outside, their single locomotive idled and caused everything in the office to vibrate from the sheer power, including the floor. I asked why it was already running and was informed that the engine idling was necessary due to the cold, and the fuel usage was minimal when compared to the cost and wear of a cold start. We ventured out and onto the engine, into the cab, and the engineer took his seat. Reverse. We rolled -- swaying from side to side as the rails gave way to hundreds of tons of steel -- down and into the plant. Clunk, shock, coupled. The engineer pulled the cars out and backed them to a waiting stub. We then coupled three empties and dropped them slowly into the BOC shipping door. Back to the office with my heart pounding from excitement. As I walked away from the rumbling locomotive, I must have looked back at its mass ten times. I asked of the power and was told that it was small relative to the bigger AC locomotives which were long-haulers. Small? Jesus. Amazing, captivating, and a dream which had been in my head since childhood. Not much of a surprise that my life relates to the same.

The motion keeps my head somewhat upright. A victory. A step. Something forward. My first hopper helps to allow a tiny bit of comfort in knowing I worked through something difficult and succeeded. Feelings, emotions, and dreams attached to my locomotive and following along right behind. Nice. Cabin heat, the glow of the instrumentation, and the smooth power beneath my feet also helps. Motion.

Now I have to find the rest of me and hide it all away."



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