Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Presenting, The Final Ride by Mike Brenner

This is a new ghost story by writer and friend Mike Brenner who was a volunteer at the Connecticut Trolley Museum in East Windsor, CT in the restoration and car maintenance departments. He knew Kelly when she first started volunteering at the museum when she was 21 years old. Mike moved back to Minnesota about two or so years ago where he now volunteers at a trolley museum there.

THE FINAL RIDE by Mike Brenner

“Office, this is North Road Station. Radio check, over.”
            “North Road Station, this is the Office. Roger…”
            “Office, North Road Station Roger, Out.”
            The radio check completed, John Erlanson was about to attach the portable radio to his Motorman uniform belt when the radio came to life. “John, I’m glad you’re here a bit early. It promises to be a very busy day and I’ve been worried about the crews showing up on time.”
            “Who’s on duty? I just got here and I didn’t have a chance to check the schedule.”
             “Bill Schaeffer and Ed Hancock volunteered to operate 16 for the funeral and Mike Stevens is listed as your Conductor for the day.”
             John sighed audibly before replying. “Thank you. Bill and Ed are very reliable so there should be no problem running an extra car for the funeral.” But Mike could be a little bit flakey sometimes. That could make his job as the Dispatcher for the day a bit more difficult. It was John’s job as Chief Motormen to know the guys who volunteered to operate the museum’s hundred year old trolleys. It was also his responsibility to discipline them when they violated standard operating procedures, a part of this job he disliked.
            Now that he had completed his check in with the Front Office, John again reached to attach the radio to his belt. But Janet, the usually calm and confident Office Manager, wasn’t done talking. “Thanks for the reassurance about Bill and Ed. I don’t know why, but I’ve been worried about today. The crowd for the funeral could be huge. There is no way of knowing in advance. When someone who is more than a hundred years old passes away, the number of mourners could be huge or just a handful.”
            John took advantage of a pause to walk to the transmitter microphone in the Dispatch Office and reply “Don’t worry, Janet, we’ll handle it.”
            Janet wasn’t reassured. “Now that all that dreary foggy weather we’ve had for almost a week has finally left us we may have a huge crowd of general visitors. It’s been so dark and dreary lately it’s been almost like someone special has died and the world is in mourning.”
            Trying to lighten up Janet’s dark mood, John replied “Well someone has died. That’s why we’re having a funeral today.”
            John’s attempt at levity didn’t work. “Very funny. Can you hear me laughing? Ha, ha. I’ll be okay. I just had a bad night. I woke up at midnight and couldn’t get back to sleep for over an hour. I had a strange feeling that something was going on that I should know about. That’s not like me.”
           “Sorry to hear that. Can we talk more about it later? We both have work to do and we don’t want to get gigged by that watch dog for using this frequency for unauthorized transmissions.”
           “You’re right. Come up to the office when you get a chance and we’ll talk. I think it will help restore me to my usual cheerful self. Out.”
           John made a mental note to try to squeeze in a talk with Janet into the already busy day’s schedule. They had been friends for all the years he had been volunteering at the museum so it bothered him that she seemed so troubled.
           His chain of thought was broken by the squeak of the door being opened. Bill Schaeffer walked in and reached into the cabinet to take a portable radio. “Hey Bill. Nice to see you. It’s been a while. I really didn’t expect to see you so early. You do know the funeral run isn’t until eleven, right?”
           “Good to see you, too, John. Yes, we meet the hearse at the end of the line at 10:40 so we’ll have time to transfer the coffin and get back here for the service at eleven.
           “Is everything all set?  Is 16 ready to go?”
           “Well, not quite. I came back just before dark last night to take her for a test run. I took her down the line and back ‘cause I wanted to make sure her brakes had been properly adjusted. I didn’t want them screeching during such a solemn occasion. But, I got behind schedule a bit. I had hoped to clean the whole car and drape the black bunting, but by the time I got back it was too dark to see much in Kelly Barn so I had to quit. That’s why I’m here early… to finish everything up.”
           “Did the brakes test out okay?”
           “Great. Frank was such a stickler for proper maintenance that the last thing he would have wanted for his final trolley ride would be to have screeching sound effects. I’m glad 16 is okay for the funeral, but I wish Maintenance could have worked on one of the poles for 355. The weather is so nice for a change I plan to have her on the line for most of the day today.”
           “What’s wrong with 355?”
           "The spring on the pole at the west end needs to be adjusted again. It’s so tight that it’s almost impossible to pull the pole down, And when you set the pole it almost feels like it’s going to pull you off your feet.”
           “Do you know much about him?”
           "The guy who will be riding in the back of 16 today.  All I know is what I read in Janet’s email asking for volunteers and in that short obituary in yesterday’s paper.”
           “Well, yah, Frank Carbone was actually one of my trainers. Quite a character. I operated with him many times my first two years. Then advanced old age caught up with him and he had to retire. For good.”
           “What do you mean?”
           “Frank loved trolleys so much he couldn’t stay away. He’d quit operating for a health reason, but would miraculously recover and come back. He would say that once you become a Motorman it gets in your blood, so you can’t quit even if you want to. But, he eventually had a stroke, so he couldn’t take the steps anymore. However, he managed one final run… how he did it, I still don’t know… and that was it.”
           “That was… how many years ago?”
           “Too many… more than I care to count.”
           “The OB says something about his operating for the Hartford-Springfield. Is that possible?”
           “Sure is. There were several H&S veterans who helped establish this museum. They said they loved the right of way so much they wanted to help preserve it. Some even operated here for a while. But most were so old they didn’t last long. Frank and his old Foreman at H&S were exceptions.”
           “I thought I read that he was one of the original H&S operators on this line. How was that possible?”
           “He started very young. His dad pulled strings to get him the job so he started as a conductor when he was only eighteen. He claimed many times that he was one of the few Motormen to operate exclusively on this line and even claimed he ran one of the last cars before the company went bankrupt in ’26. And, man, was he proud of that.”
           “He constantly reminded all of us that in the early days of the Hartford & Springfield Motormen were looked up to by the general public. He was proud to be seen in uniform, almost like a Marine is today. He was so proud of that uniform that he asked for permission to wear it instead of our regular uniform when he joined the museum. And he wore it smartly. He always looked like he was ready for inspection. Never a wrinkle or a brass button skewed.”
           “Wow. I can’t imagine wearing a wool uniform to operate in the summer.”
           “Frank did. All summer. It would make me start sweating just by looking at him.  He told me he wore the old uniform because he wanted to make sure the H&S and its motormen were never forgotten. He considered himself to be an H&S Motorman instead of a Museum Motorman until the end. His family believes he was the last surviving H&S Motorman to have operated a trolley on this line. All the others are gone.”
           “How would they know that?”
           “His granddaughter says he was able to get copies of the Motorman rosters in the last days before the company went down and he kept in touch with as many of them as he could over the years. She contacted a trolley historian at UCONN who was able to confirm that all the rest of the guys had indeed passed away.”
           “They’re all gone.  That’s kind of sad.”
           “Yah. I actually met a few of them. Several of his buddies came to the museum when Frank and I were operating. Man, could they talk about the old days. They swapped so many trolley stories it reminded me of what happens when two former Navy men meet in a bar…”
           “Nonstop sea stories…”
           “You guessed it. I learned quite a lot about those good old days, but I couldn’t get a word in edgewise even to ask a question. But, there was one comment I heard over and over again: They all agreed that they hated to see the line abandoned and wished there was some way to take one final run just to see it again.”
           “They could. That’s why we’re here.”
           “No. They wished they could go all the way to the end of the line in Rockton. They wanted to see the thirteen miles of track that they had operated on so many times just one more time”
           “What about his Foreman? What happened to him?”
           “He became the museum’s first qualified operator and its first Dispatcher. He was so old when he started with the museum that he didn’t want to operate much. But he sure loved bossing people around. He would say ‘I may be too old to operate a trolley, but I’ll never be too old to sit someplace and tell others what to do.’ And that’s what he did. Constantly gave orders to the active Motormen. He used to lament that the museum didn’t have call boxes along the line so he could keep giving orders when the guys were out operating. When he heard about portable radios he kept pushing the museum to get them “to make his job of riding herd on the operators easier.’ The museum didn’t get them until long after he was gone. He could be a pain but the Museum respected his experience enough to give him Badge number One.”
           “Gosh…how do you know so much?”
           “You may have noticed that I love trolleys and their rich history. On rainy days, when we didn’t have customers, I’d go into the library and read everything I could get my hands on. The archives are quite extensive. And I talk to people, particularly oldsters. I sometimes think I’ve read or heard about just about anything that can happen to a trolley.”
           The portable radios on their belts came to life. “John, this is Janet. I just received a call from one of our neighbors. She’s quite upset because she says she was awakened by one of our trolleys in the middle of the night. Did anybody take out a trolley after hours last night?”
           “Bill took out 16 to check its brakes.”
           “What time was that?”
           Bill picks up his radio. “It was a bit later than I had planned. I took 16 out at about 8:30, but was back by nine. She must have gone to bed pretty early.”
           “That’s not what she says. She was screaming that a trolley woke her up at about 12:15.”
           “That’s impossible.”
           “That’s what I tried to tell her, but she wouldn’t listen.”
           “That’s weird. Thanks, Janet. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about noise over the years, but never one about a trolley making noise after midnight. Out.”
            “Boy I’d like to know what she was drinking before she got into bed.”
            “Hey, tell me more about Frank. What was he like?’
            “Well, as I said, he loved trolleys. 355 was his favorite because he had so many great memories of operating an open car during the summer. And man, could he talk. His end of the line talks were fascinating. I wish I could have recorded a few of them.”
             “A lot of good information?”
             “Yah. He had a knack for mixing historical facts with a lot of personal anecdotes so you really learned what it was like to operate or ride a trolley back then.”
             “One of his favorite stories was about his dog. Beneath his gruff exterior he was a softie and loved animals. He had a Golden Lab named Trolley that he would sometimes take to work with him. Trolley would sit in the seat behind the Motorman’s spot. On the open cars he would sit on the bench next to Frank.”
             “A dog? Was that allowed?”
             “Well, no. His foreman came aboard one day to tell him that Trolley had to go because having a dog aboard a trolley was against regulations. But when he saw how the passengers, especially the kids, related to Trolley and took turns petting him he changed his mind. He told Frank that he would look the other way and make an exception for Trolley, who he called the Third Crew Member. He even gave him a fake number for the log. 13 I think it was.”
             “You know, I heard a story about one of our Motorman bringing a dog with him on all his shifts many years ago. Was that…?”
            “Yep, that was Frank. But, of course, Trolley was long gone by that time. He adopted another yellow lab, whom he named Trolley Two. I got to meet him and ride with him. The customers loved him so much he became the unofficial mascot of the museum. The museum gave him Badge number 13.”
            “I knew Trolley Two toward the end of his life. The first year I operated he was able to follow Frank everywhere. He would climb up into the car and take his seat behind Frank. He would always sit and not lie down so he could watch the track ahead. He would even get off the car with Frank to change the poles.”
             “Yah. I’m a dog lover. I can still picture Trolley Two at his post behind Frank. But the second year was very hard. Frank and Trolley Two both developed arthritis so it was hard for both of them to get in and out of the car. Frank would sometimes have to carry Trolley up and down the steps. Trolley couldn’t sit on the seat anymore so Frank bought a dog bed so Trolley could lie down. Frank tried leaving him home, but his neighbors said Trolley cried the entire time Frank was gone.”
             “Poor dog…”
             “But, Frank wasn’t a sucker just for dogs. He also loved cats. There were many feral cats that hung around the barn when Frank was an operator. They helped keep the mice and rats in check. Most of the guys ignored them and tolerated them as a necessary nuisance. But, not Frank. He told me he often brought milk for them from home and would occasionally even bring catnip. The cats showed their appreciation by following him around the barn. The other guys razzed him about his herd of wild cats, but he didn’t care.
              "In fact, his favorite story seemed to be of the time he forgot that he had brought catnip with him. He says he turned around to check on Trolley before exiting the barn and discovered five cats lined up sitting on the bench next to him.”
             “The dog didn’t mind?”
             “No… it’s as if they were all attentively waiting for the car to go. But Frank used to tell the story much better than I just did. Those cats really took a liking to him.”
            “I wish he could have taken a picture. I bet that would have looked hysterical.”
           “Me, too.”
           “I’ve occasionally seen stray cats around here. Did Frank ever...”
           “Sure did. He was a real prankster, too. You really had to be on your toes or he could really get your goat. Never anything to hurt anyone, but he had a way of keeping us smiling.”
           “Yep. He especially liked to trick the new guys. He’d ask just about every new guy to stop by the hardware store the next time he was in town to get 100 feet of Trolley Line. He even had the hardware store manager, a friend of his, in on it. I fell for it.  When I walked in and asked for it the manager asked me to wait while he checked stock. He kept me waiting for ages while he went through an elaborate charade of checking his shelves, walking back into the warehouse and looking it up in his catalog before showing me a picture of a stretch of trolley track and asking me to verify that’s what I wanted. That’s how he let me know I had been taken for a ride.”
           “You must have been pissed.”
           “Nah. I realized it was a rite of passage when being trained by Frank. We all went through it.”
           “He sounds like quite a guy.”
           “Yah, but he also had a hard, stubborn side. It was either his way or no way here at the museum.”
           “How so?”
           “He was a stickler for the rules, like making sure the trip logs were accurate down to the minute, but he also followed his own set of procedures, especially when it came to putting cars away at the end of the day. He would not follow our standard procedures because he would insist that was not the way he had been taught at H&S. It got so bad he was no longer allowed to put cars away at the end of the shift.”
           “What did he do?”
           “Where do I start…? I told you how he loved 355. He thought that was the only car we should run because the open car was the most popular trolley ever run in Connecticut. The rest should be on static display.”
            “355 is my favorite, too. “
            “But you’re not like Frank was. He insisted 355 should always be parked as ‘the next car out’ on track one. Even though there is very little room for the car’s running boards on that side of Kelly Barn he would go so far as to rearrange the other cars to park her on Track One.”
           “That’s a tight fit. I wouldn’t want to do that.”
           “And, he always felt that cars should be left so they can be taken out in a hurry. He claimed cars in the old days were left with the control handles in place and air in the tanks so the cars could be put into service immediately if needed. He hated having to wait for the compressor to fill the brake tanks so he wouldn’t drain the air from the tanks at the end of his shifts.
           “But the tanks would eventually bleed their air…”
           “That was the worst of it. He would leave the pole up and the power on.”
           “Oh, my God…”
           “Yeah… used to drive the guys in the Maintenance Shop crazy because he wore out so many compressors.”
           The radios came to life again. “John, this is Janet. You’re not going to believe this, but I just took a call from the East Windsor Police Department. They received a formal complaint about excessive trolley noise after midnight and wanted information about our operations last night.”
           “That woman must really be angry. She…”
           Janet keyed her radio while John was speaking. John stopped transmitting and heard “… so strange. It was a different woman, down in the neighborhood off Wells Road. She says she heard trolley whistles at about 12:20 this morning and again at 1:10.”
           “That’s crazy. How can she be so sure the noise was from a trolley?”
           “The cop asked the same question. She said she rides our trolleys a lot and is quite familiar with the whistle signal when one of our cars crosses a road.”
           “Wells Road? We never cross Wells Road. The track ends a few feet on the other side.  I don’t know what to say. It just didn’t happen.”
          “Well, the cop wants to come by to look at our log. He reminded me that the Town Noise Ordinance prohibits us from operating after midnight. He may even be on his way.”
          “He can come. I’ll meet him at North Road Station. I don’t know what good it will do.”
          “Me, neither. Thanks. Out”
          “That’s absolutely bizarre. Well. We’d better get to work. I want to take 355 out for the morning line check and you have to finish getting 16 ready for the funeral. I’d better check the iron on the way up.”
          As they reached the turnouts that controlled which track in Kelly Yard was connected to the main line, John noticed that the switch was set for Track One. He threw the lever to change the switch to Track Two, since Car 355 was always kept on the center track in Kelly Barn where there was more room for its running boards.
          As they walked closer to the trolley barn, John suddenly stopped. “What’s that noise?”
          “What noise?”
          "It sounds like a compressor is running.”
          “I don’t hear anything.”
          “Well, listen harder. It definitely sounds like a compressor is cycling. And it’s coming from Track One.”
          "I hear it now.”
          “I thought we arrived together. Were you here earlier to turn on the power and get 16 ready for service? You know you’re not supposed to leave a powered car unattended in Kelly Barn.”
          “It wasn’t me. I swear. We did pull into the parking lot at the same time.”
          “Did you forget to turn everything off last night since you were here so late?”
          “Of course not. I…" Before Bill could finish answering he was interrupted by the sound of a car driving very fast on the gravel parking lot.
          They both turned to see a car approaching them at a rather high speed. At first they thought it was a police car, but soon realized the car was too old for that. It slid to a stop beside them and the driver, looking very agitated, opened his door.
          “I’m sorry, the museum isn’t open for another forty five minutes and the funeral isn’t until 11:00” John told him.
          “That’s not why I’m here,” the driver replied, his voice almost cracking. “It’s about last night.” His eyes were red and his clothes were rumpled. He reminded John of someone who had not slept for a long time.
          “The police have already asked us about the noise complaints so…”
          "Noise? Not noise. I want to ask about the trolley I saw. The driver, now fully out of the car, interrupted. It really freaked me out.”
          "Well, I’m sorry it bothered you. We had to check out a car to ready it for a funeral this morning. We normally don’t run the cars just after sunset for safety reasons.”
          “Sunset?” the now distraught driver almost screamed. “I’m not asking about that one. I’m asking about the one I think I saw at about one AM.”
          John turned to Bill. “One AM? I thought you said you had 16 back in the barn by 9:30…”
         “I did. Check the trip log if you don’t believe me,” Bill protested.
         They heard the sound of another car on the gravel driveway and turned to see a Squad car arriving. They also saw Ed, John’s assigned Conductor, exiting North Road Station. John picked up the radio.
         “Kelly Barn to North Road Station…”
         “This is North Road Station.”
         “Ed, this is John. You weren’t here earlier, were you?”
         “I need a favor. Would you show the policeman who just arrived yesterday’s trip log and bring it to me at the barn when he’s done?”
         “Sure. What’s going on?”
         “Something weird. I’ll explain later. Please don’t keep the cop waiting.”
         “Wilco. Out.”
         He turned back to the visitor. “You say you saw a trolley at one AM. Where were you?”
         “At a stoplight. In Rockton.”
         “Yeah. I was headed out for a night cap or two before my favorite bar in the center of town closed at two…”
         "So you had been drinking when you supposedly saw a trolley…”
         “No. That’s not what I said. I was headed TO the bar. I hadn’t had a drink in over a week.”
         “Go on.”
         "Well. It was a bit foggy so I was driving slower than usual. I pulled up behind a vehicle to wait for the light and really wasn’t paying much attention. It wasn’t until we both started moving that I realized it was a type of vehicle I had never seen before. I got curious so I followed it for a couple of blocks until it turned a corner and stopped. That allowed me to see it broadside.”
         “I realized it was a trolley.”
         “If it was foggy how could you know that?”
         “Oh, I know a trolley when I see one. My dad brought me here many years ago. We rode a trolley that had large running boards and was open on the sides. I always remembered it because the guy driving it stood next to an old dog.”
         “So you’re saying you came upon a trolley that was moving on its own?”
         “No! It was being driven by someone and there was a group of men aboard. It looked like it was crowded. From what I could see they appeared to be wearing the same clothes – almost like a uniform – and they were all wearing hats like you’re wearing.”
         “You could see all that?”
         "Yeah. They were there for a while because the guy up front got off and went to the back of the trolley. He came back a minute or so later and grabbed a rope that was attached to some sort of pole. Whatever it was he struggled with it.”
          "Are you sure you weren’t dreaming?”
          “Yes, dammit. I wouldn’t be here if I was.”
          "Anything else?"
          “When the guy got off, he seemed to have a radiance about him as if he was lit by some unnatural light. And he was followed by two white dogs and it looked like about six cats.”
         “Then what?”
         ‘Well I always carry a camera. I knew no one would believe be so I reached for it to take a picture. As I raised my camera I heard some bells then poof, it was gone. I took a shot of nothing.”
         “That’s quite a story. Ha, Ha. Did someone who knew Frank put you up to this?”
“Frank Carbone. The Motorman whose funeral is today. He was quite a prankster. But, this one takes the cake. Good job! You’re very convincing.”
         “I swear I’m telling the truth!”
         “Oh, yeah. You realize it’s absolutely impossible because there haven’t been tracks to Rockton for more than half a century. And we don’t run so called trolley busses with rubber tires.”
         “So you don’t believe me. I guess I wouldn’t believe it either. But look at this.”  He reached into his left pocket, quickly pulled out a brass button and handed it to John as if it was very hot. It was a Hartford & Springfield Street Railway uniform button.
         John let out a soft whistle. “Where did you get this? The only ones I’ve ever seen are in our museum display. You didn’t take it from our display case, did you?”
         “Of course not. Before I drove into your driveway just now I didn’t even know you had a building. The last time I was here with my dad there was nothing here but a field and a few trolleys and a short track.”
         “Okay. So where did you get it?”
         “I was so shaken by what I had seen that I went to the bar and had more than a few to try to calm my nerves. It didn’t work. I went home and tried to sleep, but couldn’t. I finally drove around to try to retrace my steps last night. I arrived at the spot where I had seen the trolley just as the sun was coming up. Something sparkled on the edge of the road as if the morning sun was spotlighting it. It was this button.”
         “Now do you believe me?”
         Before John could answer the radio crackled to life again. “John, this is Janet. I got another strange call. The funeral home called to say they were checking things before closing the casket one last time and noticed the uniform coat was missing a brass button. They’re mystified because when they dressed the body yesterday all the buttons were there. They want to know if there is someplace where they can get another.”
         “Tell them to send someone over. I seem to have the missing button in my hand.”
         “Repeat that please. You were garbled, but I thought you said you have it. How could that be?”
         “You heard right. I wish I could explain it. But I can’t. Out.”
         Turning back toward the visitor, a now ashen faced John asked, “This is bizarre. What is it you want from us?”
         “I was hoping to get some answers.  But, since I’m here, could I at least look at your open sided trolley?”
        “From what you’ve told me I think I’d like to see it, too. We’re about to take it out now.” Turning to Bill, “Would you open the doors to track two?”
        “Sure.” Bill disappears through the side door into the darkened barn. In less than a minute the middle set of doors swings open. Bill turns around. “What the…”
        He is facing Car 16. It is draped with black funeral bunting and is glinting in the morning light as if it has just been polished.
        “I thought you said you had more to do. She looks beautiful. But what’s she doing on Track Two? Why did you put 355 behind her?”
        “I didn’t. And 355 is on Track One.”
        As if on cue, the compressor for 355 cycles on again.
        “Bill, you know we never park 355 on One. And we certainly don’t leave the pole up all night. I’m afraid I’m going to have to write you up.”
       “But I didn’t!”
       "Well if you didn’t, who did?”
       “I don’t know! You know I wouldn’t do that. This is like a bad dream!”
       Meanwhile, the visitor has entered the barn and examined 355. “Yep, this is the car I saw alright. Hasn’t changed much since I saw her last night and when I was a kid. Mind if I go aboard?”
        John, who is consumed by anger at Bill for being so careless, hisses “Go ahead. But don’t touch anything.”
        The visitor climbs aboard, but quickly trips over something. “Careful up there. What happened?”
        “Sorry. I was looking at the controls and wasn’t expecting there to be a dog bed on the floor. Does your museum still have a mascot?” He holds up a dog bed that has traces of white fur and a sprinkling of fine green flakes. “Cute idea.”
         John and Bill exchange mystified glances. “What?”
         “It’s not mine” Bill moans.
         The radios crackled to life again. This time Janet didn't bother with normal call procedures “Please tell me this is all a bad dream and wake me up. I just got a call from the circuit monitoring branch of the FCC. We are being given a written warning for violating the rules for using our radio frequency.”
          “For our conversation this morning? Man, they’re being extra picky.”
          “No” Janet almost screamed. “For using the radios after midnight last night. They picked up what sounded like our normal operations traffic, but reminded us that we share that frequency with an emergency agency and are not authorized to transmit after ten pm. The first transmission was monitored just before midnight. The last was logged at about 1:30.
          John began to wonder if it was indeed a dream…some kind of vivid nightmare. He had frequent vivid nightmares due to his sleep disorder, but they never involved the museum.
          He was brought out of his mental stupor by the sound of footsteps on the gravel. He looked up to see Ed hurrying toward them. Ed reaches them and thrusts a piece of paper into John’s hands.
         “What’s this?”
         “A ticket from the East Windsor Police Department for violating the midnight noise ordinance.”
         “Why? I asked you to show him yesterday’s log. Did you?”
         “I did. It clearly shows the last run as Bill taking out car 16. He was back before 9:00. Power was shut off at 9:25 and Bill signed out at 9:30.But I also found today’s log. That’s why he gave us the ticket.”
        “Today’s log? I haven’t had a chance to start one yet. Besides we haven’t had a trolley out yet.”
        “Well, according to this log we have. Here.”
        John looked down to see a fresh log sheet with the day’s date clearly written on the top. He began to read aloud:
         “Car 355. Motorman Badge 7. Conductor Badge 11. Third Crewman Badge 13. Passenger Count 44. Departure Time 1202. Return Time 0132. Destination Rockton Center. Remarks: Special Group Excursion. Brotherhood of Former H&S Motormen. Dispatcher: Badge 1
         “You said something weird was happening. Can you tell me what’s going on? Who is Badge 1? Who is 7?”
         “One was a former H&S motorman who was one of the founders of the museum. He’s been dead for decades. Seven is my old friend, Frank Carbone, the honored guest at the funeral today. I think he has already had his final ride.”


Thank you, Mike, for sharing this wonderful story and for allowing me to post it here!

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