Hyrum Ledder is waiting on the train tracks. It's been three hours and still no train. He’s already missed the Saturday matinee at the Grand Theater with his friends. He's a bit upset about that but patience is something Hyrum was blessed with. It’s nearly 4:00 P.M. now. He will wait another two hours. If he isn’t home by 6:00 P.M. his mother will be worried. The last time he went on one of his quests he lost all track of time and was grounded for one week. He won’t make that mistake again.
Hyrum has an innocence rarely seen in a child his age. Unfortunately this innocence makes him the most gullible kid in the neighborhood. If you tell him something is so - then it must be so. If he sees it on TV then it must be real. If he ears it on the radio or reads it in a book then who is he to doubt it?
He has been the brunt of many practical jokes over his few years. His ego has the scars to prove it but deep in his soul he has this overwhelming need to believe in the honesty and goodness of people. Fiction is a concept he struggles with. He can’t understand why anyone would say or do anything that wasn’t true.
He joined the Cub Scouts once. His membership lasted one month and came to an abrupt end on his mother’s insistence after his first outdoor day camp. The other boys in his troop took him on a snipe hunt. He stayed in the forest for hours looking for the illusive birds. He got lost during the hunt. It took the Shire Search and Rescue Team half a day to find him. He couldn’t believe his friends would do that to him and so, even to this day, he watches for snipes in the trees.
Last Friday night he was watching a old TV western with his teenaged sister. One scene caught Hyrum’s fancy. There was an masked robber waiting to hold up the train. He barricaded the tracks and waited. From time to time the bandit bent down and placed his ear on the tracks to listen for the sound of the train in the far distance.
Hyrum asked his older sister if it was really possible to hear an oncoming train by putting your ear to the track. His sister rolled her eyes at him for asking what she considered a stupid question. Seeing another opportunity to mess with his mind she told him to go and find out himself. She suggest a set of tracks near the old meat packing plant. She knew the plant closed several years ago. She knew trains no longer traveled on those tracks. That’s what made the whole thing funny.
On Saturday morning she helped him pack a lunch and sent him on his way with instructions not to come home until knew one way or the other if a train could be heard from miles away by placing your ear on the tracks.
And so Hyrum waits. Every couple minutes he bends down and puts his ear the to track. He listens, and listens...... and then listens some more. He will wait another two hours and go home. Tomorrow is Sunday. He will come back after breakfast and his morning chores.
Hyrum is a patient and curious boy.