Léon van Bel is a machinist and mechanic in his fifties, close to his retirement. He is still clinging passionately to his job as a railroad worker and the machine that he works with: the 12.004. He started working at 16 years and together with his 12.004 he has traveled over 2.500.000 kilometers, more than 60 times around the world.
He steals this train, got caught and send to prison. In prison he learns to read the great masters. Eventually he is released with only a few months to live. During his lifetime he has inhaled too much smoke.