Strangers on a Train

With a nineteen-year-old Houston street kid as my guide, I hopped freight cars, gave bulls the slip, and tasted freedom—for a day, anyway.

AS ONE MIGHT GUESS, there are simpler ways to hop a freight train than the way a gutter punk does. For instance, you could wait outside a rail yard for a train to stop, find an open boxcar, climb in, and remain inside until the train gets where it’s going. Then, presumably, at that final destination you’d step from the train with a new view of yourself. You’d have shaken free of the confines of schedules and even concrete time. You’d have tweaked the system, gotten something for nothing, and accomplished a feat few dare to attempt, having seen the country by a means of travel that most

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