Lee's Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends

Stories

Hodge Rodge

Martin Hodge is a kind and friendly man who lives on the Island of Sodor. He helps out wherever he can in his small minibus named Roger. Martin and Roger used to help out as a school bus for children across the Island but they now help out giving lifts and journeys to elderly residents on the Island with trips and activities that have been organised for them. The residents love Martin and they really like Roger too. He's a kind bus and even though he is painted white with only a blue strip along his side for colour, he is brimming with personality.
"We do our best; we do our best…" smiled Roger one morning on a journey.
"We do indeed…" agreed Martin, but the pair's good deed was bringing jealousy to James. Until Martin and Roger had started working for the elderly residents, James was always the engine that was chosen to take them on trips to beaches and shows all across Sodor. James didn't like not having the job any more.
"It's not fair!" he thought to himself as he began to think up a plan to get him his job back…

It was a cold morning and Martin and Roger were taking a slow journey to one of the elderly care homes where they take passengers from. The trip was a simple one of taking the residents on a tour of the Sodor bakery. It was to be a nice and gentle trip – one that Martin and Roger knew wouldn't bring up any problems.
"It's great to see you…" called the care home manager to Roger as he pulled into the car park.
"It's nice to be here again," he said. "We do our best."
"Well, the residents are on their way, so just have a good trip!" the manager then wished with a wide smile. Martin and Roger smiled equally back and as residents boarded Roger, Martin could see James going by in the distance pulling freight. He often saw James on his way round the Sodor roads and always tried to smile whenever he saw him. Roger tried to do the same but he could tell James didn't feel the same about him and Martin.
"Taking my passengers again…" James huffed. "It's not right. That is my job." he then spluttered as he raced along the lines. Later that day, James was waiting at a station and saw Roger pulling into the station car park. He was grinning widely and so was Martin.
"Ay up, James!" grinned Roger. "How are you?"
"Fine…" said James quickly. He wasn't in the mood for talking to Roger but couldn't help but enquire about how he was doing. "Finished your job with the residents for today?" he then asked.
"Oh yes!" said Roger. "It was wonderful. The bakery staff were ever so kind and gave everyone a free loaf of bread on the house! They even gave Martin two loafs!"
"Huh…" snarled James. "Being kind and super-friendly isn't the be all and end all you know?" he then said. Roger was confused.
"What do you mean?" he asked. "I'm only offering to do something good."
"You don't have to though." said James. "Besides, if it was me doing this job still, I'd be taking them to exciting places that'll make them go wow, not bakeries where the most exciting thing is a newly-baked hot cross bun!" he then scoffed snootily. Roger just smiled to himself. He could see James was being serious though and after James had set off with his train, Roger began to think to himself.
"Perhaps James is right…" he thought. "Maybe I'm not making my trips exciting at all."

The next morning, it was another cold and crisp day and Martin opened up his garage door to see Roger already awake.
"Have you been awake long?" he said as he sipped on his morning coffee. Roger just sighed. He wanted to prove to James that both he and Martin could go somewhere interesting and get the elderly residents taking part in something interesting too. Martin was concerned with Roger's quietness though. "Are you ok?" he then asked to his friend. "Is your engine playing silly again?"
"No…" said Roger. "I think I'd just like a change of scenery that's all." he added. "I think we should go and take the residents to High View Valley. We can see the Stones of Sodor then."
"It's a bit cold for an outside jaunt, isn't it?" asked Martin.
"We'll be fine. It's not as cold as it looks." said Roger. "We didn't have anywhere else planned anyway, so it'll be a nice change." he added. Martin soon agreed and Roger was pleased. The Stones of Sodor were a mysterious set of stones laid out on the Sodor valleys. They had a certain mystique about them and Roger thought it was certainly more interesting than a bakery for sure. "James will be pleased." he thought.

The journey had begun well and even though the roads to High View Valley were narrow and tricky to negotiate at times, Roger was enjoying going somewhere different. The strong cold winds may have been battering him along the way but Roger didn't mind at all. Martin was pleased to be going somewhere different too but was getting concerned with how Roger was coping on the roads. Roger was old and his engine was quite worn. Martin had been meaning for it to get looked at but had never got round to it. He grimaced every time Roger's engine crunched and cracked and had to laugh it off to his passengers.
"There's nothing to worry about," he said. "Roger's just showing his age, that's all." he then smiled. The passengers didn't mind and wrapped up warm as the cold winds got even colder the higher up the valley road they got. Roger was glad his idea was going ahead and then suddenly his engine crunched again.
"Ooh…" he said. "Don't do what I think you're about to do, not here of all places." he thought but Roger's fears became a reality as his engine spluttered and crunched again. The noises got louder and louder and Martin got even more worried.
"Are you sure your engine's ok?" he asked to Roger.
"No…" coughed Roger as his engine spluttered one last time before he came to a sudden halt. Steam hissed from Roger's engine loudly and the cold winds spread it out far and wide.
"Oh dear…" said Martin.
"Oh dear…" coughed Roger miserably. He felt awful and knew he'd let everyone down. His wasn't proving himself to be exciting at all; just more of an old nuisance.

The hours passed without any notice and concerns were only raised when James had pulled into his station near one of the care homes. He could see the care home manager looking out on the roads and to the rails and they looked very worried.
"What's wrong?" asked James driver.
"Martin, Roger and the residents haven't returned yet. They were meant to come back a couple of hours ago."
"That's not like Martin or Roger." said the fireman.
"No," agreed the manager. "It's starting to get dark now too. We're all getting worried."
"Where did they go?" James then asked.
"They went to see the Stones of Sodor as far I'm aware," came the answer. "Roger said it was going to be an exciting day for everyone." they then added. It then dawned on James what had happened.
"I didn't think he'd actually do something…" he muttered. His crew looked over suspiciously at him.
"What do you mean?" asked his driver. "What have you done James?"
"I…I…I just made a point that Roger and Martin's trips weren't exciting enough. I said I would do better, and that's obviously set it off."
"You've done it this time, James…" said the fireman angrily.
"I'm sorry." he apologised.
"It's not good enough." cut in the care home manager. "I've got several residents out there up in the valley in freezing cold weather. They're not safe."
"Dryaw's not far away, we'll try and get Harold out there…" said the driver as James soon set off. They raced along the lines and with cold winds battering them at this low level, they all wondered how Martin, Roger and the residents were coping high up in the valley. Soon they arrived at Dryaw and alerted Harold to the problem.
"I'll locate them as fast as I can, chap." he said as he was soon into the air within minutes. James looked on worried and hoped everyone was going to be ok. He wished he hadn't said a thing at all now and just hoped Harold would find them fast. He didn't anticipate anything like this to have happened at all.

The winds battered Harold high in the sky as he struggled to keep level and straight in the air but he fought on and soon located something on the roads with steam hissing out of it.
"There they are!" he called grandly as his pilot messaged across the news down to level land. Martin and Roger could see Harold slowly getting closer to them and soon he had landed on a piece of land next to them. "Get aboard everyone!" Harold then ordered importantly. "I'm here to take you home!" he added grandly. The residents cheered and slowly made their way to the safety of Harold, but Martin was staying put.
"Go on, Harold." he said. "I'm staying here. I can't leave Roger on his own. Not in this cold, it's not happening."
"Fair enough, Mr Hodge." replied Harold. "We'll send out Butch to tow you back home. He'll be here as soon as possible." he added as soon he rose into the sky before heading back to low land and then the care home itself. All then fell silent for a few minutes in the valleys before Roger then spoke.
"You should have gone with them." he said. "I'd have been fine here. It's my own fault for all of this anyway. I just wanted to prove to James that we did interesting trips too."
"It's no matter, Roger." smiled Martin as he tried to keep himself warm. "That's James for you. Besides, it's been an interesting day for sure." he added with a little smile. Roger agreed and the pair of them chatted happily until Butch the breakdown vehicle arrived to tow them home. James was waiting anxiously for them when they got back down the valley. Roger looked worn out and James felt very sorry for him.
"I shouldn't have said what I did," said James. "I was just jealous of not having the job anymore. I'd do it my way and you do it in your own way. I should never have had a go at you. The residents obviously enjoy all your trips. They really like you, I'm sorry for all this."
"Oh, it's no problem," smiled Roger. "A change of scenery was nice but I certainly don't want to be going up High View Valley for a good while at least. Not until it's a lot warmer for sure." he then added with a laugh. James smiled but could see Martin had something else to say.
"Now, it's all fine and good that you two are getting along, but James I think you'll be working with the residents for a while again."
"Why?" asked James with a puzzled scowl. He seemed very perplexed at Martin's statement.
"My engine's knackered…" said Roger simply. "I'll be out of action for a little while. I take it you'll be fine with the job again, won't you?"
"Oh of course!" smiled James widely. "Thank you!"

From now on, whether it's James or Roger on duty, the elderly residents of Sodor always have an option to give them a trip to somewhere special on the island. The pair get along great now and work together well. It may have not begun on the best of terms, but James and Roger certainly are good friends now who live interesting lives enough as it is. There's no need to try and make it any more so indeed…