Rolling hills and sprawling plains scrolled outside the window like a dream rushing to finish before the dreamer awakes. In the distance, Max could see the green canopy of trees and a glint of tin roof of a homestead fast approaching.
In another time and place, the farm could have been Max’s, handed down from his daddy. Instead, the railroad took their land and laid tracks where the house once stood, and the stress of the ordeal buried Daddy not two months later.
It was remarkable how far Max had come in a few short years, and that he could bear the pain of working for the company that had widowed his sweet mama. But Max had a goal, and plans.
“Boy!” a gruff voice sounded behind him, breaking the tranquility of the passing scenery. “You about finished making my tea? I’m ready to settle in for a nap.”
“Nearly finished, Mr. Reardon.” Max smiled over his shoulder as the salty old man propped up on a pillow in a corner of the luxury car. “You take three sugar cubes, correct?”
The corpulent founder of Reardon Rail grunted his agreement, and Max turned back to his work. He slid a small folded paper from his jacket pocket and angled it toward the piping hot tea, depositing a thin stream of fine white powder.
Then the sugar …
Plop! Plop! Plop!
Then a couple of stirs, and the potion was ready to go.
“All ready, Mr. Reardon,” Max said. “I think you’ll like my tea. In fact, I’ll wager you’ll never forget it.”