E. Michael Desilets Reads
The Boston and Albany Gang
Conlon the yardmaster smells like an old barbershop. Bay rum
generously splashed on his cheeks. Wildroot dabbed
on his blacktopped head, blended in with a wide-tooth rat-tail comb.
Talcum on his shaved neck.
He dusts the pages of the Daily Record with a powdered doughnut
while he waits for the switching crew to trudge up the stairs,
then gulps his coffee––cream, two sugars––as he rises to full height,
authority glinting in his unsmiling Irish eyes.
Are the savages ready? he asks Bengiovanni the conductor, who
ignores him as he laboriously sorts the switching lists and tugs
on his blistered nose.
Are the savages ready? in a deeper tone, moving closer, smoothing his
pompadour with both hands, the rest of the crew greasy and hovering and
ready for anything but work.
Bengiovanni smiles, showing very few teeth, brushes doughnut dust off
Conlon’s freshly ironed shirt and leads his crew back down the groaning
stairs. Savages ready! he calls back, his voice mockingly operatic
in the stairwell. Conlon is satisfied. He goes to the sink and scrubs newsprint
off his hands.