The Case of the Missing Locomotive II

The Case of the Missing Locomotive II


By Roger Heid



By mid afternoon, Bruno and I had left the club house empty handed. A real bummer it was, indeed. On the way home, neither one of us spoke a word. I had nothing to say; Bruno didn’t know what to say. He finally broke the silence:

“My old man won’t be very happy. But I will be able to deal with the situation. His bark is much louder than his bite, you know. I will give Eugen one of my crocodiles. I have three of them. One of them, I got from my brother, the other two came from two different uncles I have. One of them I haven’t even opened up yet. Eugen can have that one, but we have to test it first to make sure it works.”

“Why can’t it wait until Monday? The deadline is not before that. That way, Eugen will get what’s his; you keep what is yours.”

“Naw! There are two strikes against it. Number one, I know this club member. I am almost certain that the loco will stay in Zurich until the show is over, another week from now. This club member knows about the disposition of the loco. I explained it to him. Number two, I know my Dad. He is dead set to return the locomotive before the day is over, no matter what. That I’m sure of.”

Once back home, it took about five minutes before Bruno handed the boxed crocodile to his father who promptly launched himself out of the house, stirring up an imaginary cloud of dust. Bruno and I resorted to our rather complex railroad operation.

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For that particular day, the teacher’s wife had invited me to stay for supper and also to stay overnight. When I had approached my Mom with this proposal, several days before, I ducked to avoid being hit by a rain of flying gaskets. Much to my surprise, she retained all her gaskets. Instead, she smiled sweetly and gave me permission. What a sweetheart she was. Really!

Shortly before supper, the teacher returned from his dreadful mission. There was an aura of contentment about him; his precious metal teeth shone on brightly. The mission must have been a success. Obviously, he had escaped from a pending death sentence.

We seated ourselves around the table. I could hardly believe mine eyes when a plate adorned by a couple of the most beautiful pork chops I had ever seen was placed in front of me. The rest of the family indulged in something different. How could that be? How on earth could she have known? Out of some notion, I looked at Bruno. His face turned red like a strawberry. He concentrated on the food in front him. Generally speaking, I don’t care much for tattle tales. In this case I was glad he was one.

Then the phone rang. Wilhelm, seated closest to the phone, picked it up. After a few moments of intense listening he said:

“I have to talk to my father about this. He is not here right now. He should be back shortly. He will call you back.”

Then he hung up.

“I can’ believe this. It was Eugen’s father. He said that his son told him that the locomotive was not his. On his, there was a small piece of something broken off. On the one he got back, the piece was intact. He insists he wants his own locomotive back. Today.”

After a brief moment of silence, the teacher’s wife wondered if Eugen could be persuaded to wait until Monday. Bruno informed her that the loco would most likely not return until about a week from now. The teacher looked very ill; I think his precious metal teeth started to tarnish. The teacher’s wife looked very worried; Bruno looked very desperate; Wilhelm looked very furious. Uh oh! I decided to call Eugen’s father and explain the whole thing to him, in the hope there would be traces of reason hidden in that man’s very soul.

After I had gathered all of my moral strength, I reached for the phone and dialed the number. I introduced myself as being one of Eugen’s class mates and a friend. I carefully explained the whole situation. Everything.

The man on the other end of the line laughed and assured me that the current status quo would be all right by him, but he would have to talk to his son about it. He should return from a friend’s house shortly and to expect his call.

The teacher’s wife disappeared into her kitchen; the teacher and Wilhelm sought refuge in their studies; Bruno withdrew to his room; I remained in the Dining Room, desperately awaiting a phone call. A cloud of gloom and doom had been forming in this room.

I never thought a phone bell could be this loud, so I quickly picked up.

“Roger, you son-of-a-gun! What are you doing at the math teacher’s house?”

“Never mind that. I will tell you on Monday. Did you make a decision?”

“Oh yeah! I’ll keep it. Either it is not the one I originally had, or someone fixed the damage. Yeah! I’ll keep it. Thank the teach for me, for giving it back. See ya Monday.” Click!

I stepped into the hallway and shouted:

“All is well!”

In no time flat, we were all re-assembled in the Dining Room. The cloud of gloom and doom had all but disappeared. The teacher’s wife served a desert fit for all the kings in the world. After all the plates, bowls and spoons were licked clean, Wilhelm took a spoon and tapped on a glass bowl. Uh oh! Things were about to become formal and official.

“Dad, I know you never want to impose punishment on any of your students. You are too good-hearted for that. But here some punishment needs to be imposed. Here I will take over, and I have a plan, and I insist.”

He proceeded to give us a song and dance about crime and punishment, and all that jazz. He explained what a plaintiff is and what a defendant is. Furthermore, he explained that his father would be the plaintiff, and that the ‘Clique’, Eugen, Roger and Bruno would be the defendants.

The ‘Clique’ was accused of instigating Eugen to transport contraband to the class room which led me to be accused of inattentiveness while a class was in session. Bruno’s case would be tried separately. He was charged with unlawful, unauthorized removal of private property from private property, resulting in illegal interstate trafficking, and Grand Theft Loco.

I could already see myself rotting in a dungeon for the next 300 years. Eugen? Well, I could already see him dangle from the highest branch of a very tall oak tree. Bruno? I figured he would be tied to the end of an express train and dragged for 200 miles. In lieu of a body, the rope would be buried during a closed casket ceremony. The ‘Clique’? There I could see two possibilities. They could be thrown into a snake pit, collectively, or sold on the international slave market, individually.

Wilhelm banging on a glass bowl yanked me back to reality.

“This court is now adjourned. Verdict and Judgment will be passed at 10 am, tomorrow morning, after breakfast.”

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The court room cleared out. Bruno and I resumed our complex railroad operation. There was some hill. The train needed pusher service.

“Gee, Roger, why don’t we use the other Crocodile I have. Lemme go get it.”

By the time he returned, a Crocodile in his hands, I had noticed something.

“Say, Bruno, the tracks across that hill are not electrified.”

“Poop! Well, just a moment.”

He opened the sliding doors of a walk-in closet. After rummaging around for a little bit, he came back and dumped some stuff on one of his work benches. About 20 minutes later, the track section in question was electrified.

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During the installation process, I could not help but ask:

“Say, Bruno, is your brother serious about this punishment deal?”

“Him? Serious? Naw. He gets a kick out of this. He will follow through, all right, but it will be a lot of fun. Just you wait and see.”

“So, he won’t be some kind of lawyer or judge?”


“A cop, an engineer, a brain surgeon?”

“None of that. He’s a musician, and he wants to open a Gourmet Restaurant of his own. He takes after our mother. I taught him a little bit about electricity and the model railroad. Now he can turn on a flashlight on his own.”

It had gotten late, and I quickly fell asleep, relieved from the pending possibility of rotting in a dungeon.

(To be continued)

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