Working on the railroad


Today at my parents’ house, all of us watching the TV. A segment came on about someone and his miniature railroad, which features some unusual elements. One was a house on fire, tiny firefighters trying everlastingly to put it out.

“I love that,” I said. “If I had a miniature railroad, I’d have a burning house, and a car accident, all stuff like that.”

“I want to have a miniature railroad where everything is from a Tom Waits song,” my brother said. “You know, there’d be a Heartattack Street that intersects with Vine Street.”

“And a doughnut shop at 9th and Hennepin, with doughnuts all named after prostitutes,” I said.

“The corner where Small Change got shot,” he said. “With his own 38.”

His imaginary miniature railroad was so awesome, much better than mine. A red barn where there had been a murder, and a woman drinking alone in her room. A house where someone was building something, where the tire swing had been taken down. And on the highway going out of town, a series of Burma Shave signs. It was perfect.