The train passes a long feild. A red barn and farmhouse sit angled toward each other at the back end of it. The white of a passing post is bright under the midday light.
“Braden”, he says.
In front of him, a large toddler lays mounted on top of the the green bench back two rows ahead. The child looks at the man with a smile of dare and challenge.
The man looks at him and then looks back at his paper. His dark hair is thin and close-chopped to his head. He has black horn-rimmed glasses on and a green a and purple and white plaid shirt. His hair is graying at the base of his head.
The child struggles and clutches to the bench back like it is a horse galloping. Except he stares at the man, the smile on his face.
“Mister, your child is gonna fall”, a black woman with short hair and big gold earrings lobs at the reader.
He looks up, first at her, then at the child on the bench adjacent to hers, and then at his watch.
He gets up and steps up the aisle a row and sits in the seat behind the boy.
He turns and offers a swift, sympathetic smile to her. She looks at him as if trying to answer questions for herself, and then she looks back at the boy, wondering what he will do. The boy looks up at her and then picks his nose with his right index finger.
Like that, the child slipped off the bench back and fell side first on the floor at the reading man’s feet.
A wail begins.
The man reacted too slowly to catch the falling boy who now lays shrieking in pain at his feet.
The woman’s jaw has fallen as she looks behind her, and her eyes scowl at the man.
“Lord, have mercy- you shouldn’t have no children!” she shouts after her long assessment, turning forward again and covering her ears.
The man slowly picks up the bellowing child with hands under back and knees, and cradles him on his lap as he looks over his head for wounds or mounds. The child’s yells settle into nasally sobbing, and the man returns to reading the newspaper on the seat to his right.
Two men talk to each other through the open windows of their opposite facing trucks on the line road by the tracks.
The train engine sounds a loud blast from its horn as it approaches and intersection.