At night the town below was a constellation of yellow lights.
The tall streetlamps and the lit bedroom windows in the second floors of the frame houses. At the bottom of the hill the light in the depot office shone white. At four in the morning all the house lights were gone, but the depot light never went out. He knew, he always knew, every time he looked out the window and east toward the rail line that there was someone at the depot desk, no matter the time of night, no matter the weather. He had seen the man there once or twice, when he’d been coming home late at night in the back seat of his parents’ old Ford. Once he saw the man leaving at shift change a six o’clock. The man was tall and straight and wore an overcoat and a brown fedora and looked every inch like a man who would never flinch or tire.
Years later, long after he and the railroad had left the town he remembered the white light that never went out and the comfort he felt then knowing that someone was always on the watch and that all that time and effort had put into motion and all that moved the work of one man or one town or factory from one place to another never stopped; that life, and man’s work to bring order, went on.