They crossed the field and entered the woods on the far side. The tracks came down out of the country on a banked rise and ran through the woods. The locomotive was a diesel electric and there were eight stainless steel passenger coaches behind it. He took hold of the boy’s hand. Let’s just sit and watch, he said.
They sat on the embankment and waited. Nothing moved. He handed the pistol to the boy. You take it, Papa, the boy said.
No. That’s not the deal. Take it.
He took the pistol and sat with it in his lap and the man went down the right of way and stood looking at the train. He crossed the tracks to the other side and walked down the length of the cars. When he came out from behind the last coach he waved for the boy to come and the boy rose and put the pistol in his belt.
Everything was covered in ash. The aisles littered. Suitcases stood open in the seats where they’d been lifted down from the overhead racks and rifled long ago. In the club car he found a stack of paper plates and he blew the dust from them and put them inside his parka and that was all.
How did it get here, Papa?
I dont know. I guess someone was taking it south. A group of people. This is probably where they ran out of fuel.
Has it been here for a long time?
Yes. I think so. A pretty long time.
They went through the last of the cars and then walked up the track to the locomotive and climbed up to the catwalk. Rust and scaling paint. They pushed into the cab and he blew away the ash from the engineer’s seat and put the boy at the controls. The controls were very simple. Little to do but push the throttle lever forward. He made train noises and diesel horn noises but he wasnt sure what these might mean to the boy. After a while they just looked out through the silted glass to where the track curved away in the waste of weeds. If they saw different worlds what they knew was the same.
That the train would sit there slowly decomposing for all eternity and that no train would ever run again.

(Cormac McCarthy, The Road)

*

Traversară câmpul şi intrară în pădure, din partea opusă. Şinele veneau din interiorul ţării, pe un terasament înalt, şi traversau pădurea. Locomotiva era un diesel electric, urmată de opt vagoane din oţel, pentru călători. Îl luă pe băiat de mână. Hai să ne-aşezăm şi să privim, spuse el.

Totul era acoperit de cenuşă. Coridoarele, pline de gunoaie. Valizele, deschise pe scaunele unde fuseseră trase din plasele de deasupra şi de mult jefuite. În vagonul-restaurant, găsiră un vraf de farfurii de hârtie, iar el suflă praful de pe ele şi le vârî în hanorac, şi altceva nimic.

Cum a ajuns aici, tati?
Nu ştiu. Poate că-l conducea cineva spre sud. Un grup de oameni. Şi-aici o fi rămas fără combustibil.
E de multă vreme aici?
Da. Aşa cred. De multă vreme.

Trecură şi prin celelalte vagoane, apoi pe şine până la locomotivă şi urcară pe pasarela îngustă. Rugină, vopsea scorojită. Se strecurară în cabină, el suflă praful de pe scaunul mecanicului şi-l puse pe băiat la tabloul de comandă.

Sistemul era foarte simplu. Nu prea era altceva de făcut decât să-mpingi maneta de acceleraţie. Scoase zgomote ca de tren şi şuieră ca o locomotivă, dar nu era sigur că toate astea aveau vreun înţeles pentru băiat. După o vreme, rămaseră pur şi simplu cu privirile la geamul murdar, dincolo de care vedeau şinele care se pierdeau, la o curbă, în pustiul plin de bălării. Chiar dacă vedeau lumi diferite, ce ştiau era unul şi acelaşi lucru. Anume că trenul va rămâne acolo pentru eternitate, descompunându-se lent, şi că nici un tren nu va mai circula vreodată.

(Cormac McCarthy, Drumul, în românește de Irina Horea, București, Humanitas, 2009)

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