Prank on the Railroad

Prank on the Railroad

By Roger Heid


Once again, Halloween is upon us. Very scary! This reminds me of an incident on the commuter train, on the way home from school, sometime in the late fifties. It was on a cool fall day. Under a gray sky, a brisk wind invited the leaves to depart from their lofty perches, chasing them in swirls all over the landscape below.

By nature, I am not a prankster, but this one I could not resist to partake in. You need to know that the train had to pass through a tunnel along the line, which usually took about twenty seconds or thereabouts. As a rule, prior to entering the tunnel, the conductor would come through to turn the interior lights on.

During the past, we had observed that in one particular car, a Thunder Box, the lights could not be turned on. If you happened to ride on this car you would obviously go through the tunnel in total darkness. That fact was part of this fiendish plot.


There were four of us involved in this, but only three got on that car. One carried a fairly large cardboard box boasting the name of a local department store. There was nothing remarkable about that, at all. However, it contained a folded up human skeleton, made of plastic, such as used for academic purposes. I admit being guilty of having liberated it from the school supply room, the day before. Never mind how I managed to get it off the school grounds. This is a shameful story all by itself.


The fourth guy also got on that car, but you could not recognize him. By virtue of the assistance by the school theater group, he had turned into an old man, pushing 100. He looked outright pathetic. With his crutches, he looked so convincing that a couple of passengers were compelled to help him to get on the train. He happened to be part of that theater group, you might have guessed.

He was ushered into a seat reserved for the ‘Disabled’.

To be continued. Boooo!!


Psssht!! While the train was passing through the tunnel, some covert activity took place.

When the train emerged from the tunnel, everything seemed to be as it should, at first. The difference, however, was the image of who and what sat on the ‘Disabled’ seat. Now there was a skeleton dressed in the same overcoat the old man had worn. It just sat there, minding its own business.

It quickly sank in. The reaction of the passengers at large was indescribable. This should have been filmed, supported by sound. This is best left up to your imagination.

Some girl, her face looking like a paint store sample display, grimaced so hard that some of the paint started to flake off. Then she screeched, effortlessly reaching frequencies which even the most astute operatic soprano would not dare to attempt.

The worst was an elderly lady getting up in a hurry, fainting, and falling back on her seat, accidentally ruining her fancy hat which had fallen on her seat while she was standing up. The funniest was an elderly gentleman spitting out his dentures from laughing so hard. In short, there was quite a ruckus.

What can I say!!


Happy Halloween, y’all!  Don’t overdo it. Don’t faint! Keep your hat on, and keep your teeth in place! You may screech all you want.

PS: Never mind how I managed to smuggle the skeleton back into the school supply room. In my opinion, that was an act of heroism, a notion of mine not shared with the custodian. I don’t want to talk about it.

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