The Coupler: Friday Fictioneers

Things are connected in many ways. But sometimes, connections can kill…

Each week Rochelle Wisoff-Fields posts a pic to write a 100 word story about.

This week it’s about how important things, not only in a family’s history, but how history itself gets passed along.

© Jennifer Pendergast

© Jennifer Pendergast

The Coupler

“It was the turn of the cen-tur-y.” His hard-wrinkled lips sounded out that last word.

“Y2K, grandpa?”

“Not Y2k. The cen-tur-y before. Now hush up. Your great-great-grandpop was a coupler, a railroad worker. Made sure the cars got connected proper. It was winter and…”

“I know, grandpa,” little Moe said. “He slipped on the ice. Rail cars crushed him. The railroad people didn’t care. Just put the next man on the job.”

“Yessirree,” grandpa Esau agreed. “Things got better after unions came in…”

Little Moe mouthed those same words as he ran out of the room, yelling, “Later, grandpa.”

Esau smiled, mouthing back, “Smart-ass.”

Randy Mazie


54 thoughts on “The Coupler: Friday Fictioneers

  1. I don’t see why we don’t give our written stories to kids to edit; they certainly have the knack of editing the spoken ones… 😉 Nicely captured Randy, I’ve been guilty of a few of these conversations myself.

  2. I think many people will remember such converstations with their grandparents. The interaction between these two is so warm and loving. A wonderful story.

  3. Kids just take for granted the rights won before they were born. Just look at the turn-out on election day.
    Good piece.

    • Coins always have two sides.

      Inventions always serve purposes, otherwise we wouldn’t invent them – and like the coin, every force of energy has an equal and opposite effect.

      My trains were subways and there was a thrill to them, distinct odors, a certain closeness at rush hour, and an isolation, even despair, at late night.


  4. It’s so hard to mix up the generations and yet so important to our development. I suspect the kid’ll look back on this story fondly when time and distance make the repetitions useful rather than frustrating.

    • I was always fascinated by the stories that my aunts and uncles, grandparents, and my parents told.
      I was fortunate enough to think about videotaping my mother and my aunt is they told stories about growing up in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

  5. Nice storytelling. I think Little Moe may have heard the story before, eh?. I remember hearing the same stories over and over from my grandfather too. He’s still a smart ass though. 🙂

  6. I treasure the stories told by my grandmother, father, and mother. My dad’s mother was the only grandparent I had for years. If we’re writers, it gives us some great material. I find I’m repeating things also as I grow older. That’s not all bad as it helps family members to remember. It’s verbal history. Well done, Randy.

    • I repeat myself all the time. My mother did that, too – and would laugh at herself.
      i say if i repeat myself, then it bears repeating.
      I never learned notching the first time. Practice makes for betterment, because nothing is perfect either.

  7. Dear Randy,

    Perfect story in the way you captured real life, subtly letting us know what it was like over a hundred years ago and then returning us to the present as the future runs out of the room and the past mutters, “Smart-ass.” Well done.



  8. Dear Randy,

    There are so many things I wish I’d asked my grandfather, Smiling Sam. I wonder if he every muttered smart-ass under his breath. Little Moe has a lot to learn, doesn’t he. This may be my favorite of your stories thus far. Nice.



  9. Kids these days think they have it hard, or at least the ones I have grown up with.
    Like what was written above, the turn out for the previous GE here in the UK for young people was terrible. In my mind, that is a slap in the face to all those who sacrificed so much for them to be able to make that decision.
    A great story, for as you can tell, it evoked a lot from me.

    • Yes, our kids need to vote, to understand how the “good life” they have has been “won”, and yet we .too, need to remember that they need to be kids for a while (as we once were) and that the life they are entering into now in many ways is just as difficult – maybe more so – from no jobs, salaries that won’t allow them to live lifestyles that their parents were able to live, and terrible weather conditions, wars, and general world mayhem.

      Otherwise, everything is copacetic.

  10. There’s obviously a history of strong connections going back generations in this family. I’m sure the youngster will grow up to value them, in time. Your story shows the relationship between the two characters movingly and realistically.

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