Tales From The Other Railway

Smokey Screws The Deal

Smokey the Steam Engine wants to help Scarface and Renegade by manipulating Georgina...

Smokey is a little steam engine who works on the Scarface Railway. Come to think of it, he's the only little steam engine who works on the Scarface Railway. No, sorry, scratch that. He's the only little engine who works on the Scarface Railway, full stop. Somebody has to, I suppose.

 

Smokey's best friends are Renegade and Scarface, or at least that's what he tells himself every night. They had a deal; Smokey helps them slack off by doing their work for them in exchange for some half-hearted attention to his cheerful ramblings, but sometimes he works so hard covering up their laziness that the little steam engine forgets to do his own work.

 

One day Smokey returned late to the railway's merchandise museum with last month's unsold stock from the station gift shops. He careered into the yard so quickly that the cheap plastic toys in his trucks rubbed against each other and caught fire. Before you could say "Batteries not included!" the whole yard was alight and Smokey was even smokier than usual. The Wee B*****d was cross once his ears had stopped ringing.

 

"Sorry, sir," Smokey's driver said. "We were, ah, 'helping' Renegade and Scarface."

 

The Wee B*****d scowled. With the merchandise museum burnt down, he could now see the two engines in the sidings behind playing 'Happy Slaps' with their buffers.

 

"I know ya like helping Renegade and Scarface," said the Controller, "but they are, for lack of a better term, gits. And so are you for hiding their laying-aboot! This line is in a bad condition. How can I sell more models and playsets and books when there's only one engine doing all the work?

 

"There's only one thing for it; I'm gonnae double the length of the line! More track means more tourists means more money!"

 

Smokey was delighted. "More work, sir? What fun, sir! But what will Renegade and Scarface do?"

 

"Exactly what I tell them to!" said the Wee B*****d. "Now get tae work! NOW! Don't stick that out at me, Renegade! It's no' big and it's no' clever!"

 

He had made up his mind. There was nothing any of them could do. Not without serving twenty to life for culpible homicide, anyway.

 

So it was that the line was to be extended beyond the old nuclear plant to the caravan park, the gravel pits and that one portaloo left behind by the World Health Organisation's last inspection ("Final grade: D triple minus. An accident waiting to stop happening.")

 

Renegade and Scarface came (i.e. dragged) out of their sidings and were made to pull long, boring works trains all day long. They worked as slowly as they could, but the workmen never missed an opportunity to slap them round the grills and make them get on with it. Most of all, they never missed reminding them of all the horrid passengers that would be coming to the grand reopening.

 

Smokey could see they were not happy, especially when they called him things like "Fat-face squealer!" and "Tell-tale tosspot!" He was intuative like that.

 

Shortly before the extension was completed, the Wee B*****d came to them with important news.

 

"Dinsdale will be blasting for the next two days," he said. "If Farmer Giles won't let us cut through his land, then we'll make sure he doesnae have any land left to cut through! It won't be safe for our profits to have you blown to smithereens before opening day, so I'll have to find ye other work."

 

"Please, sir!" said Smokey. "May we use the two days to properly inspect the line? Then we can go back to all the other jobs you have for us."

 

"Most of the gangers are still recovering from their New Years hangovers," said Smokey's fireman. "We won't have anyone to work for anyway."

 

The Wee B*****d reluctantly agreed.

 

"But you only have two days to make sure everything's spic and span," he said sternly. "This is a site of great prestige and heritage after all. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off tae blow up the balloons for Mr Bubbles' show and book the bloke from Benefit Street for the ribbon ceremony."

 

The extension's rails were made in gleaming scrap iron and the highest quality black market Jobi wood. The tracks were blinding the drivers with their fine polish. Georgina the Excavator thought cleaning up the line was totes McGotes cray-cray. Her words, not more.

 

"OMG, wot a bovver!" she snorted. "This place is gonna be jumpin' once it's all done, innit? All those fathead posho tourists wiv more cash than brains? Ruddy nightmare, betcha!"

 

"She's right," grumbled Scarface. "We've 'ad it now. We'll be pulling passengers from now till doomsday wiv a line this long!"

 

"Fanks a lot, Smokey!" scoffed Renegade. "Now we're gonna be Really Useful and s**t like that! Useful ain't fun!"

 

"Don't give up just yet, friends!" said Smokey brightly. He had just the plan to make them like him again.

 

"Of course you're right, you two," he said, even more innocently than usual. "This place will be ever so decedant and helpful for those wealthy holidaymakers! Oh, if only we knew someone who was good at warding off silly rich folk!"

 

Georgina stopped. Her non-existant ears were burning.

 

"Well, what am I, chopped liver?" she snapped. "I'm a certified toff-trasher!"

 

"Well, we do need a special kind of revolutionary," teased Smokey.

 

"I am a special kind of revolutionary!" protested Georgina.

 

"It requires vandalism," said Smokey

 

"Vandal's my middle name!" said Georgina proudly.

 

"And pulling no punches!" added Smokey.

 

"I never pulls my punches!" said Georgina, smacking Scarface across the grills.

 

"And it requires a mind filled with nothing but half-baked political opinions and stupid buzzwords!"

 

"My driver got me Russell Brand's new book for Christmas and I loved every word of it!"

 

"So you'll do it?" said Smokey.

 

"Already started!" called Georgina. "Take that, you fancy-pants ponces! Viv la revolution!"

 

Georgina was as good as her ravings. She poured rubbish and pulled branches all across the extension line. She helped rip up a proud sychamore tree from the cattle farm nearby and clubbed the workmen's machinary into spare parts. By the end, the whole extension looked like a rollercoaster designed by a drunken hillbilly.

 

"Thank you, Georgina!" cheered Smokey, belching proud black clouds from every cylinder. "We couldn't have done it without you!"

 

"No duh!" said Georgina proudly and she rolled off back to the yard, crane arm held high. But Renegade and Scarface were still puzzled by what had actually happened.

 

"It's all very simple," said Smokey. "The Wee B*****d can't make you work if there's no new extension to work on, and Georgina will happily take credit for smashing up a line just for silly rich tourists, so no-one will suspect it was all a ploy to skive off!"

 

Renegade and Scarface were very impressed. It seemed little Smokey had learned much from them.

 

"Well done, Smokey!" they said. "Maybe now we'll actually listen to what you say when you talk to us!"

 

"Well done indeed, Smokey, ya sly wee beastie!"

 

The engines gulped. Out from the shadows, half-hoarse from blowing up balloons, was the Wee B*****d.

 

"You think this extension isn't CCTVed up the haggis-hole?" he said. "Good way to collect data on buying habits and demographics!"

 

"Sir, I can explain..." Smokey began.

 

"No' a word, Smokey," said the Wee B*****d. "I'm not here tae yell at you. I'm here tae congratulate you! Ye've given me a wonderful idea!"

 

"I have?" said Smokey, brightly.

 

"Oh aye," said the Wee B*****d, darkly. "Now that I know how much effort you put into getting oota work, we're gonnae extend the extension to quadruple the length and film every single second of it with the new cameras! Think of the videos we can sell! The playsets we can make! The cheap, crass, crayon-scribbled childrens books we can crank oot based on your adventures in avoiding your jobs! I'm gonnae be rich, rich! And you're going to be very, very busy for a long, long time."

 

Smokey chuckled nervously as Renegade and Scarface seethed silently next to him.

 

"Ahaha. Ha. Best friends forever?"

 

Renegade and Scarface just snarled.

 

THE END.

Tales From The Other Railway - Series 6 / Story 13
Based on Rusty Saves The Day - Written by Paul Larson / Story by David Mitton