I entered a contest where they give you a plot and you write about it, I didn’t win. But that’s okay there’s always next time. I thought I’d let you all read my submission anyway. The prompt was “Mystery titled The Empty Trolley.”
Legend has it you can still see a lingering trolley in the middle of Leosville. It has been decades since they were in use and according to officials, they have all been decommissioned and tore apart.
Of course, no one really gets a good look at this trolley, it seems to disappear quickly. And none of the stories ever quite matched up. Frank swore he saw it one day and turned to his wife to tell her, in the instant it took her to look the trolley was gone. Young Jeramiah and Thomas were playing in the street when a police officer jumped out to save them from being ran over by the trolley once, but the other people walking on the sidewalk just laughed at the officer. Jimmy told his tale about slamming on his breaks one afternoon in fear that he would hit the trolley, no one got hurt he would say. But no one believed any of them.
The local paper, Leosville Argus, had one reporter who was always set after the ones who believed they had seen the trolley to tell their story. The article he had written about the trolley stories always got stuck in the section of the paper no body liked to read with all the advertisements. His name was Jackson Fernell and while he thought himself to be a decent reporter for the paper was only referred to as “The Trolley Man” as a joke by his coworkers.
One day Jackson decided to do a little more digging into the story of the disappearing trolley. He found contact information for the three witnesses he had spoke too before and gave them each a call.
The first witness Jackson spoke to was Frank Beauregard. Frank and his wife Suzie were expecting their first child in a short few days but had just a moment to recount his day seeing the trolley. “Clear as day, it was right in front of where that arcade is on Main Street, me and my wife were headed to the movies but decided to walk a little downtown first. Beautiful spring day it was.” Jackson wrote down all the information that he could in his little notebook and called his next witness, the police officer.
“Well, those kids had just come out of the arcade on Main Street, goofing off. I was just patrolling the town like usual and there that trolley came clear as day. Looked like it wasn’t going to stop for them kids and I jumped out and pushed them to the sidewalk. I had a lot of strange looks that day and a lot of laughs back at the station.” Officer Evanston was more than happy to tell someone his side of the story maybe because Jackson seemed genuinely interested in what he had to say.
The third witness was Jimmy. He was tough to get a hold of, turns out his wife had taken a turn for the worst and spent most of his days at the nursing home. Jackson decided to do an in-person interview and met Jimmy and his wife, Mariann, at the nursing home. They were a sweet old couple, married for 54 years.
“I was driving by the old flower shop.” Jimmy smiled.
“Such a shame Julie had to close down.” Mariann put her hand on Jimmy’s.
“Yeh, yeah, poor girl. Well so I was driving by the old flower shop. I couldn’t remember where the new one was, so I hoped driving by the old would jog my memory. And there it was, that old trolley in my damn way!”
“He got home that night with flowers for me, he’s such a sweetheart, and told me all about it. I thought I read in the paper a few years ago that they tore all those apart. Really nice of the town they made them all into benches for the parks. Anyway, I couldn’t believe it when he said he almost ran into it!” She wheezed.
“So, Jimmy, the old arcade…that used to be a flower shop.” Jackson was intrigued now. That was two witnesses that had walked by that arcade-old flower shop who had their women on the mind, but what did the officer have to do with it?
“Oh yes! Our neighbor Julie had the best blooms in springtime!” He chuckled.
Jackson got the information he needed from the sweet old couple and headed to the common place of the trolley sightings. He was missing some big information. The trolley seemed real to these people. These people mostly had romantic intentions during their sighting. Except for the cop… what had the cop have to do with it? He picked up his cell phone and called Officer Evanston again.
“Officer, I know we spoke about the children of that day, but do you mind if I ask a more personal question?”
“Uh…sure I guess.” The Officer sounded apprehensive.
“What did you do for the rest of that day?” Jackson opened his notebook to the other interviews.
“Oh. Well, I finished my shift. A pretty boring day really. Had a few phone calls.”
“I had anniversary dinner with my wife. We’re celebrating this weekend, but I surprised her with flowers and dinner.” Officer Evanston smiled.
Jackson was embarrassed. “Sorry, I think I’ve figured out why people see the trolley! All three of the witnesses had seen the trolley outside of an old flower shop turned into an arcade. And all three of the witnesses bought their wives flowers that day!”
Jackson hung up the phone and stood there staring out into the street from the sidewalk. What did the flowers have to do with the trolley!? Just then, he saw it.
Clear as day, a big trolley with the cables and the train tracks below, it was empty. But there was a ghostly glow about the trolley as well. He stood there, amazed and pondering. A cold breeze seemed to flow from the door of the old flower shop to the trolley and Jackson concentrated. A transparent man, a ghost! A ghost had gotten onto the trolley with a bouquet of flowers.
“Who are you?” Jackson yelled out, not sure of what he was doing.
The ghost just smiled, and the trolley disappeared.
It was two weeks’ worth of more research before Jackson could but together more of a story. He researched the flower shop but didn’t get anywhere with that lead. He investigated anything he could find about trolleys. It wasn’t until he searched death records when he found the name of Paul Ramos. Paul’s obituary told the tragic tale of a trolley accident, he was on the way to propose to his love, Holly.
Jackson decided not to publish his findings in the paper he worked for. He thought it was a perfect story that didn’t need explaining. One of love and romance, hopefully a reminder to all those that see the mysterious empty trolley that their love is precious and fragile.