“Sir sir, please we need you to come see this”, said Micheal, a junior engineer at the Broadway railway station. The small county had one of the most unique railway systems, one you couldn’t help but wonder about.
When trains approach what seems to be a dead end, intelligent engineers have come up with a brilliant idea, one that was replicated in other big cities and made George Twin famous.
Only those who had an intricate understanding of the railway bridge system were made managers, and that was the role of Snr Engr Richard. A friendly man who made sure everyone was okay. But of late, he seemed to have been off his game.
“Yes, Michael, what is it?”
“It seems there is rust in the lever that pulls the bridge together.”
“Is it affecting its ability to function?”
“No, boss, I just wanted you to know”, he responded with a slight smile.
Everyone loved Richard Anderson at work but at home? It had become a different story altogether. He didn’t want their son Andrea to have a broken family, so he endured. Every day was a battle, and he was tired of it all.
Richard entered the house with the same tension he had been experiencing for the past 6 months. He got in and saw her standing in the kitchen, talking to Andrea.
Andrea immediately ran to hug him while he lifted him and ruffled his hair up a bit. Andrea was 13 years old, and his parents married for 14 years.
“Richard, you left your clothes in the washing machine again… I have told you to stop doing that, but you wouldn’t listen, and you forgot to clean the bathroom floor after taking your bath. I can’t be doing this.”
Richard stared blankly at her for a while and walked away. “Not today, darling, not today. Come on, Richie, tell me about your day. Were you able to talk to Chloe?” he asked his teenage son, who had been crushing on a girl. He walked straight into his son’s room to have a father-son moment with him while Tacha’s voice faded in the background with the door closed.
That had become the typical day in Richards’s life; home wasn’t home for him anymore, so he went to work either angry or exhausted, affecting his ability to remain alert. Being the manager of the railway bridge, he was the only one who could request resources from the government agency. Everything went through him. And since Tacha started acting up, he had been swarmed with a lot of paperwork, including an important one that contained a memo for the repair of the lever, an essential component of the railway bridge that ensured it came together for a train to have safe passage.
With each passing day, the rust was getting the best of it, and Micheal had been trying to manage it the best way he could with the hope that the requisition for a new lever system would be hindered soon.
“Sir, the lever is getting worse, I think we should do something about it as soon as possible”, he said.
“Oh right, that’s true, just give me a minute,”…he said as his voice stifled on a message he saw.
“I’m leaving Richard, and I’m taking Andrea along with me; I can’t do this anymore.”
“No, no, no Tasha, you can’t do that”, he said aloud, taking to his phone and immediately picking up his car keys.
“Sir?” Micheal asked, confused because he was sure his wife wasn’t there.
“House troubles?” Micheal asked with a concerned look on his face. The once jovial and happy Mr Richard he once knew was fading into the background and actively replaced by a frustrated young man.
“Whatever happened to him?” Micheal thought to himself.
“I’ll be right back Mike, I’ll be back just give me a moment”, Micheal said with a confused and worried look on g
His face. Andrea was everything to him, and he couldn’t afford to lose him now. Not this time. The sound of his car engine sounded really angry. Even a deaf person could feel the vibrations of his car engines.
He got home and met Tacha at the door, with Andrea reluctantly trailing behind. He knew his son would choose him any day, any time.
He also knew she wanted to take Andrea along with her to make him suffer. He just couldn’t tell what he did wrong. All he ever tried to do was love her, and suddenly, the hate and the chaos in a home he had invested his time and energy building.
“Tacha if you want to leave, you can leave, I won’t hold you back anymore, bring the papers and I will sign but you can’t take my son away. That is not going to happen,” he said, raising his voice with every word that fell from his mouth.
“Come on Andrea, let’s leave this place”, he said, with Andrea immediately entering the front seat of the car while he zoomed off to Uncle Joe’s restaurant.
Uncle Joe, as he was popularly called, was his father’s younger brother and made only the best meals in George Town. He usually dropped Andrea off at his place whenever he and Tacha were unavoidably absent.
Hey, lil man, Uncle Joe greeted with Lit eyes. He knew something was wrong. Immediately, he looked at Richard. And at Andrea, who confided in him on everything happening lately.
“Hey man, you good?” Joe asked.
“Yeah yeah. I’m solid, just here for your extra special” he said, trying to smile and cover up the pain he felt.
“14 years?? Should Count for something?” he kept thinking about it while munching on his food.
After some time, he went home with Andrea, and Tacha was gone. Not like he was expecting to see her.
She made it very clear she didn’t want to be married to him anymore.
The following day, he hit served, and he just wanted it to be over as long as he had custody of his son.
After several court proceedings, he gained custody.
His work, however, took the most significant hit.
“Bye Dad”, Andrea said after dressing up for school. He now had a new routine of picking him up from school.
After he felt he had gained a bit of stability, he sat down at the office with a smile on his face.
Micheal noticed he looked different, more like he looked like his former self.
“Hey boss, don’t forget the Lever, it’s still faulty.”
Okay, I’ll investigate that today Richard replied dismissively. He knew now that Tacha was gone, he would resolve it all.
He worked and did most of the requisitions he had piled up during his divorce process.
He smiled, knowing he was getting his old self back, until Clara, his secretary, said, goodnight, sir.
“Goodnight?” He asked with a huge surprise on his face.
Yes, sir, it is 10 minutes past 5, sir.
“Oh shit!? Andrea… I forgot to pick up my boy from school.”
He immediately picked up the phone to calm the school.
Hello, this is Richard Anderson. I’m calling regarding Andrea Anderson. I just remembered I had to pick him up; is he still on the school premises?
“Oh no, he went with some of his friends, he said he was boarding a train to Uncle Joe’s”, the pretty lady at the administrative office responded politely.
Uncle Joe resided in the Las Vida, a 20-minute train ride, and he could understand why he took the train. He had told him to do that anytime he was in a fix.
“Okay… ma… am”, but before she could complete his sentence.
Mr Pickles came running; he was supervising those who coupled, and I connected the bridge at the right time to prevent fatality.
“Sir sir, we have a problem; the bridge isn’t coupling, and the lever is stiff.”
He quickly dropped the phone and rushed to the operations centre,
“Pull, pull harder… no sir, not working.”
“Activate Code black… code black!” Richard shouted as the workers got to work, signalling the driver of the train to slow down, but they knew it would take a miracle for it to stop
What train is that?
“It’s the Remit train?”
“Come again you said?”
“Las Vida sir”
“No no no no, God no!!”
“Stop the train… pull the lever couple the bridge… do something everyone, my son is on that train. Stop the train somebody please,” he said, breaking down in tears and acting like a psycho.
Everyone, including him, knew the only thing left was to path the brakes held, which was very unlikely. They had contacted the emergency service, who were standing by expecting a multi-casualty incident. The fire services, too, were informed.
He stood out as he heard the loud sound of the train horns as it approached the edge.
“Pull the lever, pull…” he screamed as they attempted to but failed.
The train dived straight into the valley underneath the bridge, causing multiple casualties.
Richard ran to the car site like a madman, while the Police tried to stop him.
“My son, my son is in there; someone please save my son.”
The trauma and emergency care unit, as well as the firefighters, got to work, and by the evening, they had removed everyone they could, dead or alive.
5 persons close to the nozzle of the train died. The Police had announced for everyone who knew anyone on the train to go to St Luke Hospital, which was the biggest trauma centre in George Town.
While family members of injured or potentially dead persons stayed in the waiting room around to identify their relative or friend… the media was in a frenzy as ambulances kept coming in.
Richard kept looking, trying to break free from their grip to cross the barrier the Police had formed.
Soon, he saw the right hand of a patient slip from one of the stretchers carried by two paramedics with a black tag, but he had seen the wristwatch he had given him as a gift on that same hand.
“My son… that’s my son!” he screamed while the chief police officer signalled for him to be let in…
“We are really sorry, sir”, the doctor who had examined him said with sad eyes.
While Michael stayed close to him.
Richard was inconsolable.
A simple fix had led to multiple casualties, and what is more, his son died.
Richard was fired by the railway agency and was saved from prosecution because he had also been a victim… the rest didn’t sue the agency because the manager already knew the pain.
A simple fix in the lever and his son would still be alive.
“A Stitch in a Time Saves Nine.”