Jed loved the train more than anyone he’d ever met. And, to no surprise, she loved him back more than anyone he’d ever known. It wasn’t hard to imagine that a man of his history would grow old with a bitter, calloused heart, but it wasn’t so with Jed. Sure, he was rough around the edges, and the emotional scars of his youth had left their mark, but Jed’s love of trains cleansed his soul in a deeply profound way. The locomotive created in him this odd sentimentality of romantic realism. There was no way for his past to be completely erased, but the black wounds on his heart had been significantly healed. The train and her tracks tended to him in such a way that no one else could.
Before his mother had died, his father died to him. Alcohol took the place of any emotional capacity in his father’s heart. It also warped his mind into a demented state of unrelenting rage. Both Jed and his mother suffered, mentally and physically. By sheer will they escaped that wretched hold.
His mother wasn’t an alcoholic like his father, but she loved Jedediah little more. She tried to teach him what she believed he needed to know, but she couldn’t show him love. She hadn’t received enough of it to be able to give any away. Nonetheless, she equipped her son with enough to keep a steady head on his shoulders. And he’d make do just fine.
Time was beginning to show itself in his features now. Compounded by sun and hard work, the grooves in his face had worn deeper. Oddly enough, they seemed to run in pairs, almost as tracks lay across the land. His dark brown hair was beginning to reveal spots of steely gray, too, like the stakes that project from rail ties. But Jed was none the slower because of it.
He was still sharper than most, and you could see it just by looking in his eyes. They were the most curious shade of pale blue, speckled with brown flecks, and they spoke volumes. It was as if God had given him more to say through his eyes than by his words. It’s not that he never said anything worthwhile; quite the contrary, in fact. His raspy words carried loads of meaning, but he often opted to save them for the proper time. He had this philosophy that words meant more if they were spoken less often, but he couldn’t silence his eyes even if he tried.
Although it wasn’t his own soul that was bared by his eyes; it was that he could see straight to yours. If you were worried, his soothing eyes calmed you. If you were frantic, his peaceful eyes quieted you. If you were arrogant, his eerie eyes humbled you. And if you were lost, his guiding eyes would find you. That’s the kind of man Jed was.