Saturday, May 2, 2009

Eric the Dancer

Eric has a colorful past. He started traveling on his own at a young age and by the time he was 17 he was tramping across the country by freight train.

It was a hazardous life as you might imagine but it was also a great adventure. It would be easy to romanticize those times; however, they were anything but romantic. There were many dangers such as other tramps who saw a teenage boy as as easy prey and yard bulls (security) who did not always treat tramps with the respect deserving of a gentleman of leisure.

Eric learned from his tramp mentor many valuable lessons every aspiring young railroad bum should know. Eric’s skillfull boarding of a moving train while running at top speed over huge chunks of gravel without losing luggage or having his legs severed under the wheels would have scored Eric a score of 9.8 or better at the olympic games. His grace and timing were no less skillful or beautiful to watch than a dancer on the big stage. Tramps in hobo jungles across the country would speak in hushed tones filled with awe and reverence as they shared stories around the campfire about the Railroad Dancer.

But as with all mentor relationships the time comes when a young tramp must venture forth into the world alone. So alone he went, full of daring do and grand visions filled with pans of delicious hobo stew, whole cigarettes with only a little lipstick on them, bottles of thunderbird wine and a warm patch of grass in which he could lay his pallet.

Eric is an old man now and many years have passed since he rode a train, but his old heart still skips a beat and his breath quickens when the moaning of a distant train seems to beckon, calling him to dance just once more. So the next time you’re sitting at a railroad crossing watching a long slow train thundering through town ... say a little prayer and ask the Gods to stay close to the unseen "Dancers" of the world.

Post note: Eric no longer smokes or drinks and sleeps in a bed but the story ain't over til it's over.

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