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The Boy Who Called Himself Nameless

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The train, as it turned out, was full of life. Boys younger and older than he himself traversed the compartments, bringing with them tales of bygone times, or rumors of others aboard the train.
“You know the boy Rift? The tall one with the scar over his eye? They say he killed a man once, over a scrap of bread.”
“I’ve heard that once, millions of years ago, there were giant lizards walking around. Lizards as big as a house.”
“They say that when the moon’s full, the conductor of the train goes all funny and turns into a dog.”
The most useful information by far, though, was that regarding the train’s schedule. Anyone with information about the next stop was revered until he gave it up, and those with knowledge about the next police raid was practically royalty. The police raided the trains for the rail riders, shooing them away, or even catching them. The boy spent one memorable afternoon with a teenager who claimed to have been caught no less than thirteen times.
“An’ each time I barely got away with my life.” he swore, solemnly nodding.
When the boy asked another teenager about him, the kid snorted derisively, “That’s just Bo’s talk. He was only caught once, and they only let him go cause he sniveled on the policeman’s jacket. He was so busy wiping it off, he didn’t even notice that Bo got away.”
After that, the boy took everything he heard with a grain of salt.
Signs of the failing economy were everywhere. The train often slowed, but did not stop, in towns too desolate to truly be considered habitable, on a cursory glance, but once the boy grew used to looking for life, he found it. Children would crawl out of muddy caves to watch the train with wide, hopeful eyes. After a while though, the eyes lost their hope, and they simply stared with sadness as the train passed through.
The train drove through one small city, and it was here that the boy saw the true plight of the nation. The streets were full of men, women, and children, begging for scraps or spare coins. A small group of children were playing tag next to a dead horse, heedless of the flies that hovered like a storm could. A man in a suit stood next to a crate of moldy looking vegetables, feebly holding a sign that read ‘Vegetables: 2 cents a pick’.
The boy had been told that something bad had happened with the country’s money, but his twelve year old brain hadn’t been able to comprehend it. He had looked at the old man as they passed, curious.
The man sighed, “When the stocks crashed, not even the rich were truly safe. Better to spend your money than to keep it stored in something as fallible as the stock market. At least then you have something to sell. Truly we all thought that by now the money would be back, but our dearest President Hoover has done little to fix the situation.” Had the man approved of spitting, he would have spat, but he settled for a dark scowl.
When the pair was forced to switch trains, which happened fairly often, they might stay a few days in the town. Small town-like structures had been set up, hobo jungles, as they were called by locals. Tents, campfires, and ramshackle little huts were set up on the outskirts of towns, and everyone seemed to pitch in when it came time to food. On their first stop, the boy had hidden behind the man while he told stories around a boiling pot, his rasping laugh filling the air and breaking any tensions. The night would come, star-studded and navy blue, but the crackling fire would become a beacon to everyone within a fair distance, a symbol of hope.
Of other symbols, there were plenty. Wayfarers like the man and boy, hobos, would mark walls, fences, and other structures with some secret language that warned or else welcomed others. It didn’t take the boy long to pick it up, and after a few close calls with barking dogs and unwelcome campsites, he left a few of his own. Under the supervision of the old man’s sharp eyes he would scratch out a shaky set of parallel lines or circle enclosing an ‘x’. The man would frown and make him redo it, more often than not, but with time, the redoes became few and far between, until they disappeared outright.
By this point nearly three years had passed since he boarded the first train. The boy was no longer the soft, pudgy figure he once was, instead tough times had hardened his body into a lean, muscled shape. To most, he was known as Navnløs, the name the old man had given him that first day. To the old man, however, he was forever known as boy. The boy once asked him why he called him boy, but the man had shrugged and repeated the line he had before.
“When you have seen seventy-six summers, and seventy-six winters, watched the trees turn seventy-six times, and felt the flowers bloom seventy-six ways, then you will no longer be a boy.”
Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 Next »

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This book has 2 comments. Post your own now!

00goat00 said...
Jul. 25, 2011 at 8:26 am

I enjoyed the book from begining to end.


Fedora replied...
Aug. 22, 2011 at 10:13 am
Glad to hear you enjoyed it! Thanks for the review!

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