Short Fiction: Mr Melbow and His Model Trains

Grover Melbow was a model train enthusiast. He took his hobby seriously, and prided himself on attention to detail. The last seventeen years of his life had been devoted to constructing a model train line around his property—all thirty-two acres of it. The crown jewel of his collection was an N Scale replica of The Flying Scotsman; it was the fastest train he had built and could make his train line’s round trip in a little under six days.

Grover’s dream was to spend all his time with his trains, but two things prevented it: his job as a train driver, which he hated; and his family, whom he loved with the utmost reluctance.

During a visit to the dentist (just for a filling, nothing serious), Grover drew inspiration from a poster on the wall. He decided then and there to pursue his dream, at whatever the cost. (How a poster promoting correct flossing technique led him to such a decision is a mystery, yet one that pales in comparison to some of his later dental poster-inspired choices that would baffle criminal psychologists.) He gave his two weeks notice to his employer, and a charitable four weeks notice to his wife and son.

Alone on his property, free to follow his desire, it took Grover less than twenty minutes to realise how empty life was without his family and a way to contribute to society. Partly because he was too proud to apologise, and partly because he forgot his wife’s phone number, Grover never tried to contact her. He dismantled his trains and tracks, piled them up and set fire to them. The blaze spread to neighbouring farms, destroying crops and killing livestock. It caused a few million dollars worth of damage, but at least Grover had a clean conscience—he wouldn’t be led astray by his hobby again.

With a newfound sense of purpose, he devoted himself to protesting the slaughter of wombats for scientific research. No one was actually killing wombats—for scientific reasons or otherwise—but, as Grover always believed, prevention is better then cure.


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