You meet the darndest people riding the rails
|I threw my suitcase into the moving boxcar and ran along, then jumped into the hay-smelling darkness.
For a moment I thought I was alone.
Then a match lit and I saw a boy maybe fifteen, lighting a corncob pipe, his legs stretched out.
I scooted back from the wide open doors. My eyes began to adjust to the darkness and I saw another boy. This one wore a floppy fishing hat with fly-hooks stuck through the brim.
“Is this train going to Penn Station?” I asked either one.
“I’m lighten’ out for the Territory,” said the boy with the corncob pipe. I could see now, he had no shoes.
“I’m going up to Michigan,” said the other boy. He had a sturdy looking leather boots almost to his knees.
"Guess we’re going where the goddamn train takes us,” I said.
“It’s good, ain’t it?" said the shoeless boy. "Just goin’ along. Free!’
I relaxed a little then. It did feel good.
“My name’s Adams,” said the boy with the fishhooks. “That one with the big ears, is Huck Finn.”
“You’re name's Huck Finn?” I asked, smiling with disbelief.
“I recon so. You want coffee? Nick makes some goll-dern good coffee.”
“Nick?” I repeated. “You’re name's Nick Adams?”
He nodded once, and began making a fire. “I got two good trout that fought well and true.”
“I got a squirrel,” the other boy said.
I had cocktail peanuts, but I said, "You hear that tapping?
“Yeah, it comes and goes,” said Nick.
The sound was gone now.
“What was that noise? Sounded like goddamn typing”
“Some writer,” Nick said. “It would be good if you told us you’re name.”
“There it is again!” I said. Then the noise stopped as we listened. “Anyway, my name's Holden Caulfield and--" the noise began tapping again. It was going to be a long ride to Penn Station.