All Aboard The Black Train Of Death

All Aboard The Black Train Of Death

A Story by Marie Harrison

A story about a day of adventure at the grocery store.




















All Aboard The Black Train Of Death


One never knows when their time is up in this world.  You never know exactly when that shiny black train of death will sound it’s horn, when it has finally arrived for you.   You could be eighty-five years old, forty-seven years old or six years old that fateful day when it arrives at your stop.


That fierce old steam engine might gently pull up at your private room in a nursing home down the street where you live.  It might smash into your car as you’re crossing the train tracks going to work in the morning.  Or it might come barreling through the front pane window of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store in Okmulgee, Oklahoma on the corner of Main Street and Fifth Street at 3:00 pm on a blistery cold Thursday.  At least that’s when my old black train of death arrived for me just days before Christmas.


Grandma Hamilton was in the car listening to some man talk about the price of crude oil in Texas, puffing away on her Virginia Slims menthol cigarettes.  While Grandpa and I went in to buy a pecan pie from the store bakery, a gallon of vanilla bean ice cream and a carton of Virginia Slims. 


After our trip to the grocery store, we were going to be on our way to Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Don’s house to enjoy an early Christmas celebration. My Grandpa Hamilton was actually Aunt Dorothy’s uncle, but I was always told to call them Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Don.  They were fun.  Hopefully, their granddaughter would be there too.  Michelle and I were about the same age and always had fun together.  We mostly played charades and house with our dolls.


Regardless if she was there or not, the plan was that I was going to get to ride their new quarter horse for my first time.  Her name was Trudie; chestnut brown and white were her markings.  I was so excited, I could hardly stand it!  I just loved horses and horseback riding.  Grandpa said that I could probably brush Trudie and feed her too.  He said, it depended on if we got there in time for her last feeding.


Just for the Christmas celebration, I dressed in my best Levi blue jeans, my salmon colored ruffled denim blouse and my tan leather cowboy boots.  I had my Mrs. Beasley doll with me too.  Since I got her for Christmas from Santa last year, she went everywhere with me.  My Grandpa pleaded for me to leave her in the car, but I stubbornly refused.   He told me that I was too spoiled for my own good.  I replied by sticking my tongue out at him.


Maybe I am, but Mrs. Beasley still comes with me regardless of what anyone says.  Mrs. Beasley was so excited about riding Trudie, she could hardly stand it.  But first, she had to come with me into the grocery store to be with me in the powder room and to escape Grandma’s clouds of cigarette smoke. 


Mrs. Beasley’s eyes always burned and watered while trapped inside with all Grandma’s smoke. We were also hoping to buy us a blood orange too.  They are in season right now and were Mrs. Beasley’s favorite!


Luckily for Mrs. Beasley, Grandpa escorted us to the powder room lobby first.  He waited outside the door, while we went inside.  Afterwards we went to the produce section.  They were out of blood oranges, but Grandpa found a little box of tangerines for us instead.  Mrs. Beasley was very pleased with the tangerines.


Next we went to the bakery section and selected our pecan pie.  Then we went to the refrigerated section of the store and picked our ice cream, the cigarettes would be at the cash register.  Grandpa grabbed my hand and led me to the refrigerated beer aisle.  He got two six packs of beer and put them in the buggy.  Then he stuck his tongue out at me and crossed his eyes.  I giggled.  He could be fun when he wanted to be fun!


Then we got in line.  You wouldn’t think there would be long lines at that time of the day at the grocery store, but Christmas was only a few days away.  I guess people were shopping early for their Christmas dinner or Christmas parties too. We took our place in the line and were moving up fairly quickly.  But this lady in front of us had a buggy full of groceries.  There’s always someone with this enormous mountain of groceries in line!


Grandpa and I would be next after this guy that was in front of us was finished.  The man in front of us was wearing a quilted, maroon and black plaid flannel jacket with a denim shirt underneath, blue jeans and a pair of steal toed construction boots. 


He was a white man about the age of my father, with curly brown hair and a pair of thick chunky black framed eyeglasses. He looked as if he hadn’t shaved like Daddy does in days!  His beard was pretty thick, like a grizzly bear’s beard! Don’t they have beards?


His hands were very rough and cracked.  I noticed them as I watched him hold a blue flowered box of special napkins.  I noticed that Grandpa Hamilton kept looking at the box and grinning.  I’m not sure why?  I was standing to the side of our buggy near the man.


Mom always got onto me for standing too close to strangers.  I suppose she was right.  But I always forgot.  Plus, I was in a hurry to be the next in line.  Trudie the quarter horse was waiting, she needed to be brushed too.  Plus, Mrs. Beasley was getting very sleepy at this time of the day.  She normally took a nap at this time in the afternoon.  But she was trying to stay awake, so she wouldn’t look like a little baby!


I let go of Grandpa’s hand while he put our groceries on the counter.  The man in front of us, asked for a carton of Marlboro menthol cigarettes.   The grocery store clerk turned around to get them from behind her.  She had to reach up high up above to get them. While her arms were stretched out and her back was turned, the man with the grizzly beard threw his blue box of special napkins at my Grandfather’s head.   Guess he didn’t appreciate, Grandfather laughing at him?


Grandpa was six-foot- five-inches tall, so his head sort of stood out no matter where he was.  Bless his heart; he was always the first to duck when it started lightening.  He was easily the tallest man there at the grocery store.  Then the grizzly bearded man quickly and gracefully pulled a black pistol out and I heard a loud click. 


Since I had watched a ton of westerns with Grandpa almost every afternoon after school, I’m guessing that he had cocked the trigger.  He calmly pointed the barrel of the shiny weapon at the cashier that was reaching for his cigarettes.  He said, “Happy Halloween lady, your being robbed!”


His voice sounded high pitched and stuffed up sounding.  Almost as if he was talking through his nose.  It was funny because he didn’t yell or make a big scene.  But I knew he was nervous because his gun was shaking, just like my Uncle Jimmy if he’s been without beer for too long. Maybe he needs one of Grandpa’s beers. Perhaps, that would help him chill out.


By the time the pregnant lady behind us in line shrieked and fainted.  Everyone in the front of the store knew that the store was being robbed.  It took a few minutes for me to realize the urgency and serious situation that I found myself in, as I stood clutching my Mrs. Beasley doll and sucking my thumb.


Our shopping cart stood between my Grandfather and me, so my Grandfather couldn’t grab me.  At the time, I was right beside the man with the gun.  My Mother was right; it’s not a good idea to stand too close to strangers.   At the time, I hoped I would get the chance to tell her one day soon.  Damn, now I wouldn’t be able to ride Trudie.  That’s the first thing that came into my mind.


I just kept thinking about how much I wanted to ride Trudie, as I saw the man wave the pistol around.  Why would that even enter your mind while you were being robbed?  He was having Idabel, our chubby white cashier empty the contents of her cash register into a paper grocery bag.  Idabel was sobbing loudly and her bright blue mascara was running down her cheeks. 


I just kept getting madder and madder, thinking this wise guy is going to keep me from enjoying my horseback ride.  I’ve got my cowboy boots and…  Hey wait a minute, I thought.  I’ve got my sharp cowboy boots on.  I’m known for being the best shin kicking girl in kindergarten.  I wonder if…


Before I knew it, I pulled back my leg and gave the robber next to me the biggest kick I’ve ever given anyone, right on the shin.  I had been practicing all year at recess on Scotty Dutton.  The very end of my left pointed cowboy boot landed right in between the robber’s kneecap and his foot.  Then I ducked down and dove to the right, underneath the magazine and candy rack, next to our check out station.


About the same time, my Grandfather rammed our grocery cart into the beared man holding us up, as hard as he could.  Then a shot rang out. Soon multiple shots rang out.  Suddenly the robber fell down holding his shoulder.  A gang of men piled on top of him, as the gun fell out onto the floor where the groceries are bagged.


It was all a blur after that, because I passed out.  Apparently, I had a seizure from the excitement.  You see I’ve had epilepsy all of my life.  I’m not sure if it was the sound of the guns firing or the excitement of the moment that caused me to react.   But once I dove underneath the magazine rack, I completely blacked out with a grand mal seizure.


When I woke up, I was in the emergency room at the St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa.  My Grandparents, Uncle Don, Aunt Dorothy, and Mrs. Beasley were there with me.  Mrs. Beasley looked a mess!  Her head had been stepped on and was now concave in shape.  She had a big shoe print on her face and her eyeglasses were broken too.  But I was so glad to have her by my side again.  Apparently when I kicked the robber, I dropped her.  Not sure who stepped on her.


My Grandfather Hamilton was unharmed.  Everyone was happy and relieved that things ended up okay.  Idabel was struck in the arm with a bullet from the robber’s pistol, thanks to me.  But fortunately, she had big thick arms and she was going to be alright in a few weeks. 


Unfortunately, I had to spend the night at the hospital that night.  But my Uncle Don assured me that as soon as I could, I would get to ride Trudie his quarter horse.  He showed me a picture of her.   I was so excited now that I saw her brown chestnut coat.  Mrs. Beasley was excited too.   We were even going to help Uncle Don give her a bath and feed her.  Wow, we can’t wait.


It had been an exciting day at the grocery store.  Yes, I did see that black steam engine crash through the grocery store window and come to pick me up.  Glass shattered everywhere, but the engineer just nodded his head and waved his cap at me.  Apparently it wasn’t my time or Grandpa’s time to board just yet.  Even the robber escaped boarding the black train of death.  Boy, we were all lucky that day!




© 2011 Marie Harrison

Author's Note

Marie Harrison
When I was little, My Grandfather and I were held up at a grocery store robbing at Christmas time. I decided to write a short story about it. This is my story. I'm still a little blurry about what all happened, but this is what I remember.

My Review

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Such a smart starting line that was, catchy and spiked with questions and wondering. You indicated misleading forshadowing in some of the paragraphs. This has kept me nervous throughout the whole piece. All in all, adapting a child's mentality years after we've crossed that stage is a job for good writers, and you're one of those. Thank you for the beautiful short tale. Poor Mrs. Beasley! : )


Posted 10 Years Ago

Wow I love this story! I can't believe what you wrote it about but thanks so much for sharing this amazing write with us! :)

Posted 11 Years Ago

I thought that the way this poem was written with an extended metaphor of black trains of death was quite interesting. Also, I enjoyed the nice smooth, but quick development of the characters. I had an issue with the first line. You started that paragraph with the indefinite pronoun "one". Then you switch from third person to second person "you". I found the ending quite interesting, and kind of cute in a way it reminds me of a happy story, Anyways, great job!

Posted 11 Years Ago

Great story, lots of scary excitement going on in it. You recalled a lot of events quite well seeing that this all occurred a very long time ago.

Posted 12 Years Ago

Quite an amazing story! I love the concept of death as a train, coming to collect passengers. Glad everyone was ok in the end. Thanks for sharing!

Posted 12 Years Ago

wow! what an experience! good thing nothing happened to you though!! >.

Posted 12 Years Ago

Wow. That' A good write and wow...that experience...

Posted 12 Years Ago

Nice. The symbolic train. I robbery leaves an impression I bet too. Real cool. You should do more short stories!

Posted 12 Years Ago

Great story! Captured me till the end. An excellent write.

Posted 12 Years Ago

You never do know....

Posted 12 Years Ago

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28 Reviews
Shelved in 4 Libraries
Added on January 1, 2011
Last Updated on August 5, 2011
Tags: Robbery, Shootings, Horses, Baby Doll, Stubborn Nature, Family, Love Of Animals


Marie Harrison
Marie Harrison

Atlanta, GA

Momma told me to get out and enjoy life, so now I'm going to dance. more..


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