#1
Jim Wiloughby came from nothing and he acknowledged this. In every handshake, every smile, every wink. Jim worked on the railroad for twelve years of his life before he made his first million. Laying tracks of iron and wood, hammering pins every 9 inches to keep it all in place. In eight hours of work, one could barely lay ten yards of track. The construction of railroad track circa 1908 was a long, tedious and dangerous process. Trains at the time weren't equipped with a large enough display window in the conductor cabins to see much of anything that fell into it's course. Railroad mishaps were frequent and violent. Stranded cars on the track. Drunks lodged between the clasping route switches. Children braving the battle of Man Vs. Train. Jim Wiloughby worked ten hour days laying track that served more towards the murder of byfolk than actual steam-engine trasnportation. The town of Sequoiah, Washington kept it's business small and local - Trains seldom dropped off business goods, but rather served as a means of transportation for civilians to travel across the Tri-state area, which was a luxury few could afford in Sequoiah. It wasn't until Fenton Builgise, a seven year old boy, fell onto the E-train track and was clamped by the route-rails that Jim's financial situations were cemented. Jim heroicly cut the boys denim pant leg and and lept to safety with the child in his arms. After suggesting to Hewlitt & Rees Railroad the idea of a system of lights and borders warranting safety for pedestrians, Jim was hired on as head of Safety Development. In four years, Jim Willoughby was unanimously named as Arthur Reese's succesor. Hewlitt and Willoughby Railroad was a new beast.

Jim Willoughby stood half-nude in his office while his undermen paced about with blueprints, manilla folders and stogies.
"It's a suggestion to deny the advances from Cincinatti for at least another year, sir."
"They've got unmarked land out there that I don't own. Best to buy it out for whatever offer they present rather than wait for them to lay the foundation for another goddamn shoe factory."
"We'll look into that, sir."
Thick cigar smoke filled every inch of the office.
The drapes were rarely kept open.
"What about the Barlow Boys in Harrison County?"
"Fucking dump, Ed. Laying track over that mess would make note of every damn pothole, crack and hillock that wasn't visible by the naked eye. Tell them no."
"But what should I say?"
"Just say no, Ed. This has to wait. My boy's been waiting at the foot of the steps with his rod and reel for over an hour. We'll pick up tomorrow."
The men left quickly as Jim finished dressing.
At the bottom of the steps Magnus Willoughby sat fiddling with his fishing reel.
Jim met him at the bottom and picked him up over his head.
"You ready, sport?"

Jim and Magnus walked along the R-train tracks, coming back from the lake.
They threw rocks into the woods and hopped over the planks.
"How do they make railroads, dad?"
"It's a long process, Mag. You have hundreds of men hunched over for hours every day. Real men. Good men. Hammering and nailing every inch of track. I did it for years, you know. That's why I'm as strong as an ox and stubborn as a bull. I have no tolerance for a low work ethic."
"Yeah, but...what do you do now?"
"I hire the men that make the track, boy."
"Then you're not really working. You're talking, writing papers."
Jim stopped on the tracks."
"Look boy. I worked hard so this could happen. I've got more iron and copper and fire in me than half of the men out here every morning at the crack of dawn. Where do you think your mother is now, boy? She fled. A deserter. Abandoned her post. She was just an assett, a setback. Don't waste too much time thinking about her. Us Willoughby men...we acknowledge the future. The past may never be done with us, but we don't waste a thought on it."
Jim stareted to walk again.
Magnus didn't follow.
"Come boy."
"I-I can't, I'm stuck."
Jim hurried to his son to find the boys foot firmly lodged between the rotors of a route line, switched to lead train down a new track. His entire foot clamped, Jim couldn't cut the fabric around it to free him.
"Goddamnit..."
"Pa, do something."
"Just stand there, boy, stop fidgeting."
Jim pulled and pulled to wrestle the limb out of the iron, but it wouldn't budge. The smoke rose over the distant trees and the foghorn was now audible.
"You stay right here! The station's a couple yards away! I'll be right back to switch the rotors! You wait here!"
"Pa, you can't! Don't go! You won't come back, I know it!"
"Don't be a child! Now mind what I say and wait here!

Jim trekked as fast as he could down the track, watching every step as not to get his own foot clutched. Magnus kept pulling at his doomed appendage, crying out for his mother. Jim burst through the station doors and over to the control panel.
"Howdy Jim, everything alright?"
"Rotor switch! Where's the goddamn rotor switch!"
"Jim, what -"
"My boys got his foot stuck on the R-track and the train's coming. I gotta switch the route back! It has to run by the L-station, it can't come through here!"
"Jim the L-track is under construction, why do you think it's running on the R-track?"
"I didn't fucking authorize any goddamn construction!! I'm switching the rotors!"
"Jim, if you do that the tracks will give! The L-track runs right over Morse Bridge, it's too weak to hold it. That's why they're doing construction! If you switch the rotors you'll kill everyone on that train!"
Jim threw the chairs about the station, swept papers across the floor.
"If I don't, my boy dies."
"Jim, you can't just have hundreds of people die on you. It's your responsibility. Think of it."
Jim sat down on the floor and lit a cigarette. He wiped the sweat off of his brow and buried his face into his arms. The operators said nothing, fearing severe consequence at this, the darkest hour.
Jim slowly crawled to his feet and put his hands on the station glass. He took a long, hard drag of his cigarette and wiped his face with a handkerchief. The station started rumbling, and the foghorn's whistle crept up. Within moments the L-train sped past the station, coming down the R-track like planned. The rotor wasn't touched, and the people on board L-train 348 would meet their destination on time.
"Jim....I don't know what to say."
Jim put his cigarette out.
"Don't say anything....Children are nothing but setbacks anyway."
Poor advice.
#2
thats a long song..
Quote by humperdunk

So I just woke up sitting in my desk chair, with my bong on the desk in a bunch of little pieces and my hand super glued to my penis. Speculations as to what the hell just happened and how to unglue my hand from my member would be appreciated.
#4
Wow, that was an intense one. You did a great job a creating a mood here, and it just took me along, I was into it the whole way through.

I hope you'll be able to find some music to fit with it though.
#5
^Oh yeah man. I'm working on a sweet guitar solo for it. It's awesome and has rock...


But yeah, thanks. This is kind of following a theme I'm attempting based on tradgedy..
Poor advice.
#6
Wow, another one, you're proficient. On the whole, I liked it, however it is a little difficult to crit it when i don't know exactly what category to put it under. As a short story, I thought it was very well done. I liked what I first saw to be the ascent and subsequent decay of the main character, but then reassessed as his struggle on the definition of heroism itself. I don't want to put words in your mouth or anything, but if the putting-out of the cigarette was symbolic, i thought it was fabulous, because stuff like that is great. If it was just a man putting out a cigarette, that's cool too.

A few spelling errors, whatevv. I thought the swearing was effective in this one.

One part i didn't get - he refers to his wife as an asset and a setback, are those two things not antonyms?

Thanks for sharing this. I know you gave my piece a glance but didn't really crit, if you could i'd much appreciate it but if not it's fine. Keep it up.
Quote by skater dan0
...and the bassist comes up to the EQ and moves all the sliders into the typical smiley face pattern and in a really thick Jamaican accent said "you can't have de bass without de smiley face"
#7
There's alot going on in this one.
This was extremely difficult to write anbd convey what I wanted, because I'm not even sure what I was fully trying to get across. But now I know.
Poor advice.
#8
you know a fucking lot about choo-choo trains.


this was great. i don't think the message is all that impossible to grasp, but it's presented so well and in such a tragic way. fantastic.

all awesomeness aside, you should probably give it a once-over. there's a good number of little typos here and there.

speaking of once-overs, if you'd be so kind as to comment "drugged", as it's exceedingly unpopular.
Last edited by Arthur Curry at Mar 10, 2008,
#9
there is nothing to relate to in the main character, mainly due to the lack of human emotion. all of my issues with this story came in the ending. it just came off as abstract and, well, inhuman. if that's what you're trying to convey, then it doesn't stick well to the reader because of the clear moral judgment that is given to the man and the fact that, coming back to the beginning of this critique, he is not able to be related to.

i loved the opener though.
Last edited by punchupatatigge at Mar 10, 2008,
#10
Quote by punchupatatigge
there is nothing to relate to in the main character, due to the lack of human emotion in him.


i'd disagree. we're all encouraged from a young age to make something of ourselves, that's the universality. jim's someone who took it too far, going from one imbalance to another, and never fully grasping what's important.
#11
you think there's someone out there like that?
honestly, nobody loses a grasp on their kid. he stopped business to go fishing with his kid, i'm sure that he would shed a tear and run as god damn hard as he could to his kid, because that's what people do.
#13
wow, i don't know what to say. disturbing as hell, but amazing.

only two little things. the first half of the first paragraph seemed a bit choppy and awkward. and the sentence after "jim threw the chairs about the station" seemed abrupt, like he was throwing things and then talking quietly. maybe he could sit with his head in his hands or something...i don't know. but other than that it was pretty much perfectly written.

my take on it was that he did love his son, but he was so driven and mechanical that business always took priority. and it did just that in the end.

all in all, it was both really tragic and quite thought-provoking. top-notch.
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