Guess the Song: Railroad

In this series, I am going to take a song and try to re-tell it in the form of a story, based of course on the lyrics of the original song. The idea is of course to guess the original song behind the story 🙂

It was beginning to look like a sunny day and the cool air of the mountain area was very refreshing. Jim however would not be very impressed by it. As soon as dawn struck, he heard the whistle meant to wake everyone up in order to get to work. After all, the railroad that went through the mountains surronding them was not going to build itself.

Jim, along with many of his own kind, was being forced to work on this railroad for a pay of two pence per day. People chose to spend the money in very different ways. Some of them would buy cigarrettes, others would buy an extra portion of food, while he chose to save one penny, while the other was spent on the only thing that seemed to keep him at least a bit sane: alcohol. He seemed a good fit for job when one would glance at him: with a height of approximately 1.95 meters and a very muscular body due to all the housework he used to put in, he had the required human force to get the job done, with also a bit of energy left to help out his comrades who were falling behind. His well worn jeans and white undershirt seemed to tell all the bad moments he went through ever since he was dragged into this operation.

He’d been working on the railroad for a very long time and with each passing day it seemed he was getting closer and closer to madness. His eyes however always let out hope. He knew that someday all this would be over. The only requirement was that he manage to keep himself alive and away from any suicidal temptations. To make sure he kept his spirits up in more ways than just drowning himself in booze, he would always groom his hair and beard whenever he had the time, in order to remind himself he was still human.

Upon hearing the wake up call, he decided to lay down a bit more and almost instantly found himself in the loving arms of his girl Kathy. Kathy was a 1.70m tall girl with long, red curly hair and blue eyes. They had a special spot beneath an age old tree where they would usually hang out. It was a very peaceful place as it was outside the living area and peace and quiet were at a premium. It allowed them to dream about going away from the rural area they’ve grown up in and try to find a better life in the city, as his brother managed to. Jim would always figure he’d live all his troubles behind by telling them he’s far away in a better place, along with his beloved Kathy.

His dream is cut short by the first rays of sunlight of the day waking him up. He picked up his tools and put out the fire which kept him warm through the night. As the ashes went through the air, he got a familiar vibe he has not seen in a while, that of the snow falling.

The mountain next to the camp site was the first place of landform Jim and the guys had seen in months. Unfortunately for them, the trains needed a place to go, and around the mountain was not a good option. So they planted some sticks of dynamite in order to blow a hole through it. The process of course would be a long one, since the mountain was pretty big. And with each hole, Jim felt the hole in his soul get bigger and bigger. And as the people were edging closer and closer to the end of the mountain, disaster happened, as some falling rocks claimed the lives of four workmen. Jim survived this incident, and thus began the process of burying his fallen comrades, a sight all too well known for such projects sadly. As the sun was shining down, the heat was causing extreme dehydration to even the strongest of workers. Jim found himself in the arms of Kathy once again, her kisses taking him from the rubble and hell of the railroad he’d been working on for so long. Sadly though, it was just another hallucination, and Jim was brought back to reality by the captain of the workers. He allowed himself another fantasy about running away to a far away place with Kathy and letting his workers and friends know about it before getting back to work.

Months that seemed liked decades past and the dreaded railroad was taking more and more shape. Jim was beginning to lose hope of ever getting out of this project ever again and the idea of ending it all was growing bigger by the day. It didn’t help that someone mentioned that, judging by his calculations, it was Christmas day, though no trees could be seen for miles on end. The workers started wondering if they could make it one more day. So far, their only will and motivation to keep going was seeing Jim working through heat, rain and snow. But now with his will dying inside, everyone was starting to contemplate if ending it all for themselves would be easier. Their dark thoughts were interrupted when their captain said 5 words that seemed better than any extra money: “Your work here is done.”

People were in awe. A few of them started crying. Jim, who was staring blankly at his last railroad piece he had just put down, didn’t fully grasp the news at first. But when one of his closest friends came to him and thanked him for all his help during these last months, he finally realized what was happening. He was free, free to go home and leave this place one and for all. The long journey home turned out to be easier since the railroad company offered to transport the remaining workers to their hometowns. And as Jim walked down the main road of his village, a sight that he had hoped would not expect him at home unraveled. Due to a massive flood, many homes have been wrecked. He started running towards his house and found it destroyed by the same flood.

It was at this moment that Jim’s spirit finally broke down. He started crying, because after all the time he had spent away from his home, the only thing that kept him from killing himself was this very day, the day he would finally return home. Were the hallucinations actually Kathy’s spirit from beyond? Was there any point to all of this? What is he to do now? He picked himself up and started searching through the remains of his house. Some neighbours tried consoling him, but he ushered them away. And just as all hope seemed lost, he found something in what used to be his kitchen. There was a note that survived the disaster. And the note was written by Kathy. She said that she found some shelter in the woods and that is where Jim found her. She was considerably thinner because of the lack of food caused by the flood, but she was still as beautiful as ever. Jim fell on his knees and hugged her. They both looked at each other and started laughing and crying at the same time.

Jim then started telling her about all the hardships he went through and all the horrors he endured. After a good two hours of reminiscing of everything they both endured, Jim told Kathy about his idea of leaving the village behind and trying to make a life for themselves in the city. Kathy was a bit concerned at first, but Jim assured her that they would find a way to survive. After all, Jim managed to put away a few pennies after all his time away. Adding that to what they had already saved before, it would help them get to the city, and given that he and his brother were pretty close when growing up, they would have a place to live.

Kathy agreed, as any place would be better to live than their broken house. They went back to their home to see if there was anything else salvageable. They found some clothes which they took with them. And while Kathy was packing their stuff, Jim took the time to write a note to whoever would want to know where he’s gone. After they were both finished, they left…and never looked back.