Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Railroad of Generations

By Sam Russell, Age 12, Oregon


The old woman turned and smiled as she handed some daffodils to a customer. She enjoyed her job at the flower shop. It was at a train station, so there was plenty of business. Here came her number one customer, Tom Baker, the skater. Why he bought flowers everyday? She didn’t know, but she gave him the benefit of the doubt. Everyday, he’d show up and buy a daffodil, she’d give him a discount and he’d be on his way.

He was riding down the side-walk and slid to a halt like a figure skater on ice. He saw his target. It was a tall man wearing dress pants with his wallet in a back pocket. He had noticed the penny Tom had dropped as bait, it was the first time he hadn’t used a flower. So as the man bent down, Tom swooped down and grabbed the thick leather wallet from his pocket and fled. He rode as fast as a land shark and ollied through the doors of the train just as they closed. Now he needed to pay, so he took out the man’s wallet, took a five dollar bill and handed it to the train attendant.

It had always been like this, ever since he was four. His dad had been a pickpocket and now he was too. He had promised himself that he would never live like this but he really had no choice anymore. Tom’s dad had died when he was 12 and he had never known who his mom was. He was 17 and a junior in high school. He had to provide for himself, and this was no exception. He pick pocketed to get money when he needed it, and his biggest fear was getting caught by the officials. He wasn’t afraid of being caught, as much as he was afraid of having to live in a foster home.

His dad had disappeared mysteriously. He had just disappeared, when he left for school, he was there, and when he got home he wasn’t.

While he was riding the train, he liked to sit listening to music, with his arms hanging over the back of the seat but he was surprised when he felt the cold, hard embrace of handcuffs over his wrists. He stood up and jerked around, in the process cutting his wrists. “DAD!” And there was his dad, standing right in front of him. Both their faces were wide with surprise.

Tom and Mr. Baker talked it up in the station for hours, and at the end of the long day Tom asked, “So what now?”

Mr. Baker said, “I was a pick pocket and you were too. I have learned and you will have to also. I did my time, and now you will too.”

“But what about after jail?” Tom asked.

“I am a police officer, and I’ve turned my life around. Now you will too.”