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#302 :: Lionel Engine

December 6, 2004

After hours of construction, the track – all trestles and handmade buildings and elaborate switches and sidings – was wired up to a heavy, black transformer the size of a cinderblock. I eased the control lever forward, and the engine lurched, hauling the hodgepodge train of eight cars we’d collected over a handful of Christmases. It churned around with a cogged, grinding whine – throwing sparks where we had failed to connect the sections tightly enough. Hollow, the boxcars resonated as wheels click-clacked across the gaps – never too fast, or the derailment would force you to spend a minute and a half chewing your tongue trying to set all the wheels back in line – and your mind magnified the sound to a bootsole rumble. The burly little beast’s headlight glowed yellow. It stunk of ozone and fresh machine oil. It’s a Lionel.

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