Tales From The Other Railway

The Layabout

Diesel's brakes are continually locking on hard... will this land him in trouble with Steamie?

Steamie was pink with pride at being made Head of the Yard; everyone else, not so much. He had already pissed off most of the engines on his previous visits, and soon made enemies of BoZo and Cromwell. Private Parts the Mad Military Helicopter felt a great surge of resentment towards him too.


"Take care to watch that one!" he advised anyone who would listen (and they didn't). "He's sure to let all the hippies in while the oily bloke is away, what!"


Steamie was very cruel with the trucks and coaches, belting off-key songs about friendship and hugs all day long until their little brains melted into porridge. Pip and Emma were distressed.


"Such awful noise!" they told each other as their coaches babbled incoherently. "It's a nightmare just trying to have an intelligent conversation! Even an unintelligent one’s too much for them!"


But Steamie didn't care. Whenever he was approached about his methods, he'd simply smile sweetly and say:


"Well, they have been so very much trouble for you recently, haven't they? I'm only trying to keep them all in order for you until Diesel got back. I've done that at least, haven't I?"


At which point, the other engines would mutter grudgingly about how much less horrid the coaches and trucks had become and slink off back to their jobs.



A few weeks and lots of duct tape later, Diesel came back from the Works. When the coaches and trucks told him how horrid Steamie had been to them, Diesel was so confused that he forgot to laugh at their suffering.


"It certainly sounds as if Steamie's the same old psycho he's always been," he thought to himself, "but then why keep sucking up to me all those weeks ago, and why save my life at the fuelling depot? Was it all to get my job as Head of the Yard - or has he really changed?"


He was so busy thinking that he'd forgotten he had stopped in the middle of a level crossing. The morning commuters honked their horns and swore loudly, and didn't stop pelting Diesel with their boiling hot coffee cups until the Driver released his brakes and got the hell out of Dodge.


You see, the Works had left Diesel's handbrake very stiff, mainly because they had forgotten where it actually went and stuffed it back in wherever they could find room. It made his brakes very hard to unlock and tighter than the Thin Git's wallet during Happy Hour.


As a result, Diesel and his trains often got stuck at crossings, sidings and platforms. Diesel found this most relaxing, as it meant he didn't actually have to do his jobs, but gradually his Driver learned to be extra careful and kept his lazy lump of an engine rolling with little delays.



One day, however, Diesel's Driver was ill after twenty-eight tequila shots too many at a friend's stag night and a minimum wage Temp had to take his place. At the junction near the airfield, he made Diesel round up all the trucks Arry and Bert couldn't be bothered to shunt that morning and arrange them into one long line. Steamie was due in with the Sh*t Train soon and the line had to be cleared for him pronto.


The Temp had coupled Diesel to the last of the trucks and joined the Guard and Station Master on the platform for a quick f*g before they left. The Temp knew nothing about Diesel's handbrake and so smoked away without care, while the shunter simmered unhappily beside him.


"Not long now!" he called, as he saw Steamie slowly and noisily approaching. "Come on, move your arses!"


The Driver finally scrambled back into the cab and prepared to move out, but Diesel's brakes were still hard-on (No laughing at the back, there!) and suddenly he felt his wheels lock completely.


He tried to start on his own, but he couldn't with his Driver frantically yanking every lever and twisting every knob (Hey, I said no laughing!). He tried to toot a warning, but he couldn't do that either - the Works didn't have a new horn handy, so they simply stuck a bicycle bell on him in the meantime.


Diesel, the Driver and the trucks were all stranded on the platform.


"START! START!" shrieked Steamie in the distance, "I CAN'T STOP AT THIS SPEED!"


He whistled and shouted as loud as he could, but Diesel, with plenty of grip, kept right where he was.


All of a sudden, a boisterous bellow went out down the line.




There, ready for action, was Private Parts. The crazy chopper had heard what was happening from his nearby hanger and spluttered awkwardly into the sky.


About time too, as Diesel was getting desperate.


"I need to move! I need to move!" he wailed pathetically. "Don't let me die now, God! I have a loving Driver and so many friends! Kill them instead!"


As Steamie neared the station, Diesel saw Private Parts swoop overhead. The helicopter dived down low enough for his winch and hook to fly straight into Diesel's cab and skewer his controls. Without stopping to think, he soared into the air and hoisted the screaming shunter high into the air, his trucks squealing in horror behind him.


At last, Steamie thundered through the junction, screeching to a halt as Diesel and the trucks crashed down in a nearby field. Both engines were very relieved; then they thanked Private Parts.


"Think nothing of it!" whirled the Private. "I just didn't want you hippies spraying sh*t all over my airfield! Besides, if that annoying green one hadn't been screaming and whistling his head off at me about you being in trouble, I'd have slept right through the whole thing! What if you had been Communists, or Mongolians, or a hideous race of worm-people? That would never do!"


Diesel ignored Private Parts' insane ramblings and gazed in awe at Steamie. He couldn't believe it. His old enemy had saved his life not once, but twice - and of his own free will, to boot!


For the first time in his little, black-hearted life, Diesel the Diesel Engine actually respected a steam engine.


"Phew!" remarked Steamie. "That's twice I've nearly killed you since I got here! We must never let this happen again, Diesel, old chum!"


Wearily, Diesel agreed with him and the two engines laughed long and loud until well after the credits had finished rolling.



Tales From The Other Railway - Series 6 / Story 7
Based on The Runaway - Written by Christopher Awdry