This is a story told to me some 20-odd years ago, when I was still enamored with toy trains. I still like toy trains, but I had to change parts of this story: the story of the Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo Train.
That’s right, a Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo train. I write bad stories, so here goes.
Once upon a time, there was a little one-car train that pulled a coach along the rail line.
Every day, the train carried its coach along the line. It went, Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! It passed along the lake, through the dale, over the hill, and under the bridge where the schoolchildren passed by every day.
One spring morning, the controller decided to add a coal truck to the train. That way, they didn’t have to load up the train’s tiny tender too often.
So the train went, Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! The lake was full of fish, the dale was full of cows, the hill’s sides were covered with flowers, and the schoolchildren marched in single file on the bridge to the schoolhouse on that spring morning.
The next day, the controller decided to add another coach to the train. He thought that by having two coaches, they could get more people to board the train every day.
So the train went, Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! The lake now had some boats, the dale now had a barn, the hill’s sides had a few houses, and the schoolchildren rode their bikes on the bridge to the schoolhouse on that spring morning.
One summer, the controller added a flat truck to the train. The flat truck was to carry more goods, like containers and boxes and crates and machines.
So the train went, Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! The lake was teeming with fishermen, the dale now had fences and silos, the hill’s sides were now full of beautiful white houses, and the teenagers hung out on the bridge to the schoolhouse that summer afternoon.
A few summers later, the controller took the old coaches and trucks and the flatbed away so that the train can haul the circus coaches. Elephants, lions, trapeze artists, they all rode the train. The Ferris wheels, the carousels, and all the attractions were loaded up on the coaches and hitched onto the train.
So the train went, Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! The lake reflected the fireworks shot off to the sky, the dale filled with the glowing and spinning and whirring rides, the hill’s sides had tents all shapes and sizes, and the parents walked their kids on the bridge to the Big Top near the schoolhouse that summer evening.
Winter came, and the controller brought back the old, heavy clunky trucks to hitch up on the train. The train was to deliver coal to all the houses and villages. The loaded trucks themselves weighed more than the elephants, and the wheels rusted out by snow, salt, and age.
So the train went, Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! The lake was frozen, the dale was quiet and snowed in, the hill’s sides covered with snowy rooftops of factories spewing out soot and smoke, and the poor people thrown out of their houses by the factory owners lived under the old bridge keeping themselves warm that cold winter’s night.
Many years later, in the fall, the controller attached Super Duper coaches to the train. Everyone loved the Super Duper coaches, with full reclining seats, fluorescent lighted floors, and satellite TV and Internet. They didn’t bother replacing the train, since the coaches were Super Duper. What mattered was that the train got the Super Duper coaches where they were supposed to go.
So the train went, Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo! The lake dried up and there stood the Super Duper Mall, the dale was gone and became the Super Duper Used Car Lot, the hill’s sides became the Super Duper Condominum Complex, and the Super Duper Employees of Super Duper Corporation rode their Super Duper scooters over the bridge to the Super Duper Headquarters that autumn dawn.
A few years later, summer arrived and the train was battered. Beat from the trucks, beat from the coaches, beat from the flatbed, beat from the Super Duper Coaches, and just plain old beat. The controller tried adding cars and coaches, but the hooks didn’t bite into the chains as well as they used to. The wheels of the train didn’t coast along the rails as fast as they did before. And try as the old and aging controller may, the old boiler of the old train had just enough left to get the little train moving to the scrap yard.
So the train went, Chugga Choo-Choo! Chugga Choo-Choo! But it was chugging along on a very different line. There was no lake, no dale, no hill, and no bridge where it was going. It was just a short, moss-covered, rusty old line from the station, passing by the quarry, up and over the dump and into the old scrap yard.
That same night, as it moved along the conveyor belt that led to the furnace, the train went, Choo-Choo! Choo-Choo! for the very last time. Chugga, Chugga… CRASH! And the silence in the yard said it all, that the little train was no more.
The original story had the controller fix the train. The controller repaired the boiler, gave the train a new set of wheels, and the old-brand-new-train was speeding along the lake, through the dale, over the hill and under the bridge.
Then again, 20-odd years or so after I first heard that story, I don’t see a lot of Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Choo-Choo trains anymore.