The 11:59

The 11:59

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  •  “They   tell   me   Daddy   Joe could   walk   flatfooted   down   the   center   of   the   coach and   let   down   berths   on   both   sides   of   the   aisle.” 
  • “Any  porter  who  hears  the  whistle  of  the  11:59  has  got  exactly  twenty-four  hours  to  clear  up  earthly  matters.  He  better  be  ready  when  the  train  comes  the  next  night.  All  us  porters  got  to  board  that  train  one  day.  Ain’t  no  way  to  escape  the  final  ride  on  the  11:59.” 
  • “No,  I’m  not  ready.  I’ve  got  plenty  of  living  yet.” 
  • Every day Lester Simmons, a former Pullman car porter, went to the  St.   Louis Union Station to shine shoes for a little extra cash. While he was there he told tall tales and stories about the early Pullman days to the newcomers. One of them was the tale of Daddy Joe, their larger than life hero.
  • “I  won’t  eat  or  drink  anything  all  day. That  way  I  can’t  choke, die  of  food  poisoning, or  cause  a  cooking  fire.” 
  • One story that some of the newcomers had yet to hear was the story of the 11:59. The 11:59 (or the Phantom Death Train) was an old tale told by the porters.
  • “It’s your time, good brother.”
  • As Lester walked home, he heard the horrid sound of a train whistle from a far away distance. He knew no trains were scheduled to come at this time until the morning. Nervously, he checked his watch, 11: 59. Scared, Lester picked up his pace and walked faster.
  • Lester quickly entered his small apartment and started making a plan to cheat death. He was not ready to board the 11: 59 just yet. Scared, he didn't eat, drink or do anything in fear of death.
  • Lester had fallen asleep in his time waiting, shorty after he awoke he heard the train whistle again. This time closer then before. Just then he saw a few of his old Porter buddies who had already taken the 11:59 as ghosts in the porters blue uniform right by his side.
  • Lester saw the shimmering beam of a single headlight and the train whistle one last time. When he didn't come to the shoeshine for two days in a row, his friends went over to his place. They saw poor Lester on the floor with his eyes fixed on something remarkable. His watch that read 11:59. 
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