That Lonesome Whistle

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- 4/11/2015 11:12pm

You have to walk a ways to get to the train yard from the campus. I walk it a lot, because I'm a train whisperer. So I gotta be able to visit my trains!

You know those ticks and hisses when the engines are just sitting there idling? They will tell you where they've been and what they've seen. Most people know the distant wail of the horn, or the clickety-clack as the cars pass by, and those are the train talking too. And on their long treks across the land, they communicate with each other on subsonic frequencies - singing their gravity songs and rumbling about the past.

Train yards attract a whole secondary layer of rusty industrial life. Earthmovers, railriders, burnt-out sleeping cars. And the ghosts of lost limbs, and the railroad bulls.

The train yard in town has attracted a unique life form to its ecosystem. I've been down there at twilight a number of times and heard a haunting melody, drifting on the wind. I try to follow it, but it always keeps just on the other side of the line.

This train yard must be home to... @The Whistler!

The Whistler
- 4/13/2015 12:08am

Do you hear my wistful tune in the distance? Drifting like a ghost across the wastes, echoing off metal sheds? Is it your fate coming to call? Is it Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay?"

Because I have been practicing that, far away, by myself, at the train yard. It is only thing that can fill the void in my heart... until I am selected as a contestant on "America's Got Whistlin'." And then of course, be crowned winner.

But first I must pass the audition, which is coming to the Red Lion next week. I will wear a track suit - a disguise to hide my true form from the masses.

I will whistle my tune among them and they will know I am... THE WHISTLER!

I just need $125 dollars for the entry fee. Yet THE WHISTLER holds no job! No such motral coil can restrain me! The whistle whistles where it wants! You could sooner contain the wind!

So, I have begun a Psy-a-go-go campaign. Please donate to my America's Got Whistlin' Audition Fund by reciting the Psy-a-go-go mantra and following the helpful instructions.

In the meantime, continue to shiver when you hear my eerie tune - freeze in your tracks when my melody floats by.... You will know my song.

- 4/28/2015 2:59pm

Remote Control Locomotive (RCL)

A railway engine operated by remote control radio transmitter.

Example sentence:

At the rail yard, @Tomas was almost struck by an RCL because he was not paying attention when crossing the tracks.

NOBs are attracted to rail yards operating RCLs, because they like to inhabit the engines as they move around. The concept of scale can be hard for NOBs to comprehend, which makes rail yards and RCLs especially fascinating.

- 5/6/2015 10:53pm

I was down talking to my trains tonight. Bright full moon, breezy but not too cool. The trains don't hardly notice the weather, rain or shine. They just keep on rolling. That's why their clickety-clack doesn't change when you hear it on the tracks, day or night, in a downpour or when it's fair. Trains tell the same old stories and don't feel storms or wind or sun.

But that lonely tune keeps wafting through the train yard, drifting over cars and bouncing off containers. And I've never heard it so sad. It's a mournful whistle, like a ghost in a graveyard, singing the most pitiful song in the world. Even when the engines rumble and the crossing bells are clanging, you can still make out the macabre melody.

I still haven't been able to spot @The Whistler, but he's got to be around there somewhere...

The Whistler
- 5/8/2015 1:23am

My dismal song drifts through the air. Do you hear it? That sorrowful refrain, weaving between the trees, between the buildings, between the trains? The bitter tune that oozes through the smell of the creosote and diesel, penetrating the olfactory glands of your very soul...

It is I, THE WHISTLER! And my audition for "America's Got Whistlin'" was a disaster.

First, of course, a big Thank You to everyone who contributed to my Psy-a-go-go campaign. We reached our stretch-goals, and I was able to afford a new track suit on top of the application fee for the "America's Got Whistlin'" tryouts.

But as I began the opening strains of Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry Be Happy," on the stage, in the spotlight, before the judges - I froze. I began to mumble, incoherently, and attempted to start my song again, and found I could not! Instinctively, I went to my pockets, where I had stored handfuls of dried crickets and spiders, and began to stuff them into my mouth, chomping and chewing and hoping their restorative powers would bring back my whistle and dispel my living nightmare! But to no avail. I was led off stage, ranting, and deposited in the alley behind the Red Lion.

Perhaps it was my choice in song. It was a little out of my comfort zone.

In the time since that horrible day, my whistled tunes have become more and more dark. Mostly, I've been concentrating on the early Cure albums, and my whistle is as dark and tangled as Robert Smith's hair.

It was "All Cats are Grey" I was whistling tonight, down at the train yard, its wistful refrain filling the evening, when I discovered other sounds. One, a fleeting human cry for help, but another as well - a flittering vibration on the edges of hearing. I did not find the source of the human wail, but was able to pinpoint its partner - a disembodied spirit, agitated, and in distress. No doubt it had found the source of the human sound and was attempting to call for help.

Instead, it attracted me.

Quickly, I changed my tune. To capture disembodied spirits of the air, they must be mesmerized by powerful tonal magic. In this case, "The Girl from Ipanema." As my whistle floated through the air, the creature was confused, entranced, and ultimately trapped in the warped dimensions of that Brazilian elevator-music puzzle. I held it in the song until finding an empty Mountain Dew bottle on the ground, into which I deftly whistled the creature.

I now keep the bottle in the inside pocket of my track suit. It is a rare kind of creature, and calls itself @flepurtum. It buzzes like a wasp in a jar, until I whistle it to sleep.

It will know my song.

- 5/8/2015 1:09pm

The trains were very agitated last night - pent up, restless - sections of detached cars moving around the tracks on their own. The most dangerous kind of night to be in the train yard, because you've got to cross a lot of tracks, and it's pretty tight between them. If you're not real careful you can get run over quick.

And sure enough, I heard a scream. And then I saw a cat.

Cats aren't any safer than humans when the yard is like this - they can get cut in half as easily as a hobo can lose his leg. I've seen it. But this cat seemed determined, not skittish at all. It looked like the cat that follows that @Jessica Moon around. It walked right up to me, meowed, turned around and ran a few yards, then turned around to look at me again.

"Alright! I'm comin'!"

But as I tried to follow it, train cars shifted, blocking my way. The cat disappeared under a car. I tried to go around but another section of cars appeared and blocked my way again. It was like being in a house where the walls move on their own, shifting, blocking your way, then creating corridors, and forcing you down a very particular path.

I lost track of the scream. And even lost track of that lonely whistling song. I was lost deep in the heart of the Train Nest - near the core of their rusty metal hive, where few humans are ever allowed to go.

And then I saw it. The Gladstone Car. The polished wood and glass, the ornate Victorian flourishes, looking immaculate and brand new. But the trains say it's immortal - that it exists outside of time as trains know it. It's at the center of all their creation myths. The Gladstone: The Waiting Room of the Engineers.

And the lights were on.

- 5/11/2015 10:29pm

Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)

A stabilizer added to some food products, including soft drinks.

Example sentence:

Mountain Dew residue contains orange juice solids, corn syrup, sodium benzoate, Yellow 5, EDTA, and other complex compounds.

Because of their flexible relationship to the observation of scale, NOBs can find very tiny structures (such as molecules) as interesting as larger objects (such as humans, automobiles, buildings, and, of course, trains).

- 5/20/2015 12:36am

I've been skipping classes lately - and spending time in the Gladstone Car. A lot of time.

But I feel I can probably get credit for it. It seems like all I do is study when I'm there... though when I try and describe what I'm learning it comes out like "Afram muguliko transnarnar arumphenfeg." Not sure what's up with that, but it seems like something the psyhigh profs would get real excited about.

I almost feel like I'm not supposed to talk about what happens in the Gladstone Car, but I know the trains don't care. They hardly notice people at all. They're on train time.

And the Engineers. Well. They're not "people" exactly.

Anyway, I *can* tell you that it's beautiful. Velvet curtains, glass panels inlaid with Cuban mahogany, leather ceilings, upholstered interiors - the works. All very Art Nouveau, which is the golden era in the trains' mythology. I mean, it's like I've walked right into the Ark of the Covenant - but for trains.

I do still make it back to campus almost every day - to the dorms, anyway. To change clothes, check my email and stuff. And on the way I still hear @The Whistler - who, somehow, is whistling even more depressing tunes than ever. Lately it's been "Eleanor Rigby." God. And then I started seeing @Ebony Leary at the tree by the trail back to school, so now it's all mashed up in my head and when I hear that song I keep singing it as "Ebony Leary."

But it's easy to forget when I'm in the Gladstone Car.

Gladstone Services
- 6/9/2015 11:06pm

The Gladstone Dinner Service:

Oysters Terton
Soup with Italian person
Turbot with green bardo sauce
Origins and dating
Sankalpa a la chasseur
Aggregate of discernment
Kar-gling Zhi-khro shrimp
Fillet of bee with chateau hat
Sangfroid of game animals
Continuous chocolate revelation pudding
Buffet of Yab-Yum desserts

The Whistler
- 6/14/2015 12:15am

Lost: One empty Mountain Dew bottle.

Caution: Not completely empty. DO NOT OPEN!

Substantial reward offered.


Sigh. My song has never been never been so dark and lonely. Yes, that's right, when you here those mournful Leonard Cohen songs whispering on the wind - that is my whistle now. Or if I'm feeling REALLY masochistic, then it's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

I've misplaced @flepurtum. I don't know how I could have let such a thing happen. Did the bottle fall out of my track suit pocket as I washed my face in a drinking fountain? Did I absentmindedly remove it from my pocket and set it somewhere? I've looked everywhere I can think of - twice. My bed is completely torn up.

So now I put out this request to all students: A magnificent reward will be offered to the student who finds my lost Mountain Dew bottle with my little friend inside.

Whatever you do, DO NOT OPEN THE BOTTLE! If you find an empty Mountain Dew bottle with a cap on it, please bring it to me immediately and I will examine it.

How do you find me? You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and blow.

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