Rails to a River: The Story of a Story. The Authors Collection
February 26, 2015
BROTHERS TEE and Jubal Jessup, eight and nine, dismount from their horses and place pennies on the rails at a desolate railroad crossing that marks the entrance to the only home they have ever known, to the ranch that their father has managed longer than they have lived. They step back, remount, and wait for the train to turn their pennies into flattened good luck pieces.
First called Rail Song, then Tee, then The Long Awakening, Rails to a River is not just about trains, rails, or rivers. Meet Tee Jessup. Tee is angry, confused, conflicted, and complicated. As a boy, he seems to be on track, traveling smoothly down the rails of life on the harsh and desolate plains of the Texas Panhandle—sometimes battling, sometimes communing with nature, cattle and horses. He has done it all his life, feels he is good at it, and it’s all he knows. But his life is torn apart by two events over which he has no control.
When he awakens from a coma, everything he loves has been taken—the world he draws love and sustenance from banished to the recesses of his mind. A Catholic priest who is a stranger to him comes bearing two flattened good luck pieces and a message from Tee’s parents, directions for the remainder of his life. Tee resists, but is left without choices.
Thrust into a world of concrete, tall buildings, and crowds, Tee shrivels like a cornstalk in Texas heat. He fails repeatedly in the life he did not choose, does not want. The birth of his son gives him something to live for, a semblance of hope, and raising the boy awakens him yet again. Then his wife leaves him, takes their son. Tee thinks she left because of his failures, but that’s not the real reason. Finding the real reason will awaken him again.