Ending in a Caboose: Beware the Spider

Railroads stopped using cabooses back in the early 1980s when they developed new, less costly ways to monitor a train from engine to end.

I’ve long thought I’d like to buy an old caboose, refurbish it and use it as my writing “room,” so to speak.

Only two things prevent me:

  1. Money. I expect it would cost about $50,000.
  2. My wife. She doesn’t care how much it costs; I’m not putting a caboose in the back yard. Side yard. Front yard. Back 40. Nowhere. No, it’s not happening.

Since I can’t have a caboose in real life, I’ve put one in my latest Black Orchid Chronicle, Beware the Spider.

I won’t spoil the story, but here’s a line from the book:

 The brownish-orange Southern Pacific caboose carried its cupola toward the rear of the car.

Caboose SP 26 C-30-3

Source: Gene Deimling, Gene’s P48 Blog

As you can see from the floor plan below, there’s plenty of room (in this era of tiny houses) for four or more persons.

A slightly refurbished car would look like this on the inside. Notice the slightly rounded ceiling.

See, there’s a big table to put my laptop and pictures of the wife and kids. Wouldn’t it be cool to have that as a writing studio, someplace to have your writer friends over to critique work and talk about the state of publishing today?

Apparently not, according to a voice calling from the other room.

‘Nuff said. If you want to fantasize about a caboose, pick up Beware the Spider and enjoy the adventure.

Available from all major book-selling platforms on June 3 in both digital and print editions.

Get Beware the Spider and ride the adventure.

A Room Without Windows: Horace Mann

“A house without books is like a room without windows.”

Horace Mann

I feel a special connection with Mann since he served as the first president of my alma mater, Antioch College.

Antioch College seal.png

Windows serve two functions:

  • To let in light.
  • To allow us to see out.

Antioch filled those roles for me wonderfully.

Inquiring Minds (Pilatus Porter) – Mark of the Spider

Pilatus Porter.

Nope. Not the prefect of Judea from the New Testament.

It’s an airplane. One I’ve actually flown in, and one that nature photographer Sebastian Arnett ventures forth in my new book, The Mark of the Spider.

I flew in the Porter back during the Viet-Nam War. Back then, it was a favorite short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft for the CIA throughout Indochina — as was the snub-nosed Helio Courier.

Air_America_Porter_01

Pilatus Porter in Laos, ca. 1970. Photo: Dr. B.R. Lang, Wikimedia Commons.

In Laos, where I spent most of my time in Southeast Asia, the Porter’s missions included “paradropping supplies to troops, passenger transport, psy ops, reconnaissance, prisoner conveyance, airborne radio relay, and other intelligence operations.”

The Porter has a wide wingspan compared to the length of its fuselage (52 feet vs. 36 feet), a distinctive long nose, and a powerful reversible engine that allowed it to land in three airplane lengths (about 110 feet), or two-thirds of the width of a football field. Takeoff required slightly more.

It was quite uncomfortable to fly in as a back seat passenger, quite exciting and far too much like flying in nothing at all, as in there’s nothing under me — or free fall.

And, as Sebastian discovered in The Mark of the Spider, the plane could glide long distances without its engine on.


You can read all about Sebastian’s adventures in trade press print and ebook formats, only from Amazon.