For Billy, Shelly and Harold (where every you guys are)
Stephen King’s short story “The Body’ is about group of kids that ventures out into the wilderness to see the body of a boy that had been killed by an oncoming train. The kid had been missing for several days and one of the boys discovers where his body is when he overhears a conversation between his older brother and another friend. Unlike most of King’s work, there’s nothing supernatural in this story: it’s about overcoming fear. That is, fear of bullies, fear of losing one’s friends, fear of being alone, fear of the monsters hiding in the closet and, most important, fear of death. I guess the point of the story has to do with learning to stand one’s ground and face the darkness.
One of the best scenes in the story is when the four boys cross a train trestle to cut several miles off their hike. If the train comes while they are at mid-point in the bridge there will be no way them to avoid being crushed by the locomotive. Also the trestle is also too high for them to jump to safety. I suspect what makes it so frightening is because they put themselves in the same danger as the boy that was killed. The first two make it across the trestle quickly; the last two are much more cautious and are caught at the half-way point when the train appears out of the forest. Both of them get the scare of their lives and narrowly escape by scurrying across the trestle and jumping near the shore at the last minute.
Maybe everyone has a place where they face their fears when they’re young. We, too, had a train trestle that stretched across the lake. I can’t remember what year it was. Maybe it was back in ’78 or ’79. I’m not sure, but it was long before we went our separate ways. We had just gotten out driver’s licenses back then and the world was ours to explore. On hot summer days we’d head out to the lake to swim; it was our place to escape the heat of the Midwestern summer. Butch, one of the guys that knew the area south of town, found a trail when he was out riding his motorcycle. The trail led to a service road that ran along the railroad tracks and ended at a train bridge that sat about twenty-five feet over the water. Now, the area is back close to Piper Glen, a golf-course subdivision that’s supposed to be far from all of the problems of the world. A lot of the trees are gone, all replaced by roads, streetlights, and houses. However, back then, it was wilderness and we had it all to ourselves.
To be continued…
Cross-posted at my Ongoing Struggle with Misanthropy: http://jimmygabacho.com/?p=884