Trifecta 79 – A Model Employee


As a boy he’d been obsessed with trains. As an adult very little changed for Vern Easelton. There was only one place Vern had ever wanted to work.

For a year he watched attentively from the learner’s seat. His instructor would drive the shuddering old diesel locomotive on the 50 mile loop from Ganakville to Bolswater and back. He knew what to do. He couldn’t wait to do it himself. He needed a second year said his instructor. Vern was crestfallen but he wasn’t about to give in.  Another year. This time surely he thought. There wasn’t to be a third year.

These memories ate away at Vern. He did end up working for the railways. However, the signal box at Whistler’s Curve never featured in his childhood dreams. “A monkey could do this job” Vern used to mutter to himself. Green Lamp at one end. Red lamp at the other. From his perch on the hillside Vern could clearly see both lamps. If he couldn’t both would be set to red. The line wasn’t even that busy. Two trains rarely approached the short stretch of single track at the same time.

They did the week before Christmas, two years back. The 3:29 from Ganakville and the 4:05 to Bolswater.


“Diminished responsibility” his lawyer said.

“Clinical depression” the state psychiatrist proffered.

Murderer the relatives screamed.

The jury agreed with the state. Vern avoided the chair.

“Was this man really insane?” enquired the media as Vern Easelton was led from the courtroom.

“Managed to appear sane enough to keep his job!” responded Joe Ravansaki the line controller from the Handane County railroad company.

To this day Vern still indulges his love of trains. It’s said he has the finest train set in the county. The wardens at the Sanatorium helped him build it. It even includes a painstakingly created replica of Whistler’s Curve. Hasn’t been a crash yet. One Green lamp. One Red lamp. Vern has learned his lesson.

These 328 words are my entry into the Trifecta Week 79 writing challenge.


39 thoughts on “Trifecta 79 – A Model Employee

  1. k~

    I love trains, and now I love this story about trains. Vern’s dreams became his undoing, but his undoing became his dream. Did you plan that type of interplay? Never mind if you did you are far more clever than most, and if you didn’t keep it to yourself and I will continue to believe that you are. Either way, you are right on track with a great story… and I learned a new word “crestfallen” from this week’s challenge.

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Fantastic comment K. Really appreciate it when people take the time to give their thoughts like you have done. You asked if I meant to be this clever regarding the interplay? All I will say is the story arc is as planned 🙂

      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  2. jannatwrites

    Nicely done! I couldn’t anticipate where this story was going, so you got me on both turns- the train collision and the replica of Whistler’s curve. That ending was kind of eerie. Hope he did learn his lesson!

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Pleased you liked it Bjorn. As much as I enjoy the Friday Fictioneers challenges I’m relishing the extra room for storytelling the 333 word limit allows.

      1. paulmclem Post author

        Just felt there was a danger that if I stayed at 100 word challenges I might struggle to construct longer efforts with the same punch. Will definitely keep doing FF but alongside Trifecta and a few others.

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Always pleasing when the trifectawriting peeps like what I have produced. In return I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to carry on my creative writing apprenticeship via your site. Hoping what you now see is just the start. Plenty more to come!

    1. paulmclem Post author

      Wow. Great compliment there Kelly. Much appreciated. From my point of view I’m just getting started and the best of me could be years away. For now though my plan is simply to keep getting better day by day. Hopefully you might continue to like what I come out with. Thanks again!

  3. KymmInBarcelona

    Well, if it’s all about the lessons learned, Vern’s there!
    Great story in a compact but complete world.

  4. Suzanne

    Great story! Love the way you describe Vern and build up to the event. And I’m happy Vern got to run his own (modified) trains in the end.

  5. Lane

    This is a captivating little story where I could actually empathize with Vern’s passion and disappointment surrounding railways. Thanks for linking it up. I look forward to reading more from you in the future.


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