A Wink in a Cloud of Smoke
by Elaine Smith
(Dublin, TX USA)
The electric company must be about to install a new pole in my yard. Hearing a loud “thud-thum-thum” was alarming enough to make me fly out the back door to investigate what monster had fallen out of the sky. Actually, a 25 foot long, blackish pole lay in the grass by the driveway. A cloud of smoke erupted from a truck as it rolled away. The diesel odor was fairly strong, but not as pungent as the fresh creosote treatment coating the wooden pole. The combined smells of diesel and creosote triggered a memory as vivid as the contrast of my white socks against the green grass under the smelly pole.
“Wait a minute! Hold on just a second! Don’t move…NO, not yet! Wait just a little bit longer…” The small tour train, filled with fun seekers, crawled into the station while the tour guide’s metallic voice resounded through rudimentary speakers. “Hang on there, don’t move. Keep your seats…” The tirade continued until the train shuddered to a complete stop. The passengers waited obediently for the much anticipated announcement. “OK. Get OFF!”
Families, teenagers, young couples and groups of friends cheered, abandoned their seats and scattered in all directions toward roller coasters, thrill rides and stage shows in the amusement park. The benches refilled with another batch of patrons wishing to be transported to other sections of the park. Rattling, hissing and belching a cloud of diesel smoke, the train chugged down the rails and across the walkway and past where I sat in the shade, waiting on my friends to exit an intimidating ride of which I wanted no part.
Somehow the friction of the wheels, but more probably the hot, summer sunshine, caused an odorous, tar-like substance to ooze from the creosote soaked rail road ties. This somewhat unpleasant odor stung my nose and combined with the diesel smoke. The train rumbled past with passengers waving and the metallic voice of the announcer warning his passengers to keep their hands and feet inside the cars to avoid certain and horrible injuries.
I could hear my friends approaching, but somehow kept focus on the passing train. At last, the final car was in sight. The combined pungent smells of diesel exhaust and hot creosote almost caused me to grimace and turn away. But instead, I grinned as the announcer caught my eye and winked mischievously, flashing a toothy smile as he rolled past.
Suddenly I became aware of someone standing close by in the driveway. Wheeling around, I looked into my husband’s face.
“Hold on there a minute, just a second,” he said. I was relieved, and happy, to see his toothy smile…and roguish wink.