J.J., a small, dark-haired boy with one freckle on his nose, sleeps in a room by himself, and always has his ten toes sticking out from beneath the bedcovers.
Early one morning, just past dawn and before it was time for J.J. to get out of bed, a fly tickled J.J.'s toes. J.J wiggled his toes. The fly stayed put.
J.J. squirmed, and tossed and turned, but the fly stayed put.
J.J. kicked both of his feet in the air.
Thump! One foot hit the bedroom wall.
Thump! The other foot hit the bedroom wall.
On the other side of the wall, in the living room, hung two pictures. On the floor beneath the pictures slept Pretzel the cat.
Not for long.
With the second thump, one of the pictures got knocked loose from the wall and it fell to the floor with a tremendous WHAMshattertinkle!!, just missing Pretzel the peacefully sleeping cat.
|The terrified Pretzel let out such a screech that it startled J.J.'s mother, who was in the kitchen, mixing up a big batch of pancakes for breakfast. She jumped straight up in the air, and when she did, the great big bowl of pancake batter flew right out of her hands.||
Up, up, up, the bowl full of pancake batter flew, almost to the kitchen ceiling. Flippity-flippity-flip, it rolled, raining great big thick yucky glops of pancake batter all over J.J.'s father's face and his hair, and his eyebrows, and his glasses, and his newspaper, and his morning cup of coffee.
Pretzel the cat just KNEW she was going to get the blame for this mess, so out the door she flew.
And meanwhile J.J. snored on.
J.J.'s dog Chipper saw the cat.
TAG, you're it, said the expression on Chipper's face.
Pretzel the cat took one look at the expression on the dog's face, let out a howl and over the backyard fence she sailed. Pretzel landed right smack on top of Petunia Plumbottom, J.J.'s neighbor, who was up early, watering her garden.
Petunia Plumbottom, suddenly discovering that something furry with very sharp claws was sitting on her head, began to scream. Very loudly.
Pretzel, finding herself perched on something that was jumping up and down and screaming, held on for dear life and began to screech at the top of HER lungs.
Meanwhile J. J. snored on.
Petunia's husband Huey heard his wife scream. "I'll save you, Petunia!" he shouted. Still wearing his pajamas, he charged out of the house, and tore across the yard. He was going so fast that he lost his balance and began to slip and roll and tumble on the wet grass.
|"Yeeeoweeeeee!!" he shouted, as he slid headfirst across the yard, landing with a SPLOOSH in the middle of their fishpond. A sopping wet Huey surfaced with a lily pad in his mouth, a big green frog on his head, and a very surprised fish clutched in one hand.||
"Huey! My hair!, screamed Petunia, clasping her hands to her head.
Petunia's bright red wig had suddenly taken on a life of its own. It had leapt from her head, sprouted feet and was now careening erratically around the yard.
|Pretzel, all tangled up in the mass of fluffy red curls, was now howling at the top of her lungs, frantically running in circles and rolling about the yard, clearly convinced that some curly red haired, cat-eating monster had gotten hold of her.||
J.J.'s father, his whole face still covered with a lumpy mask of pancake goo, heard all the shouting and quickly rushed out back to see what was the matter. He walked up to the fence.
"My word!" he said, as he looked into the Plumbottom's yard. "Is that some sort of red-haired skunk?" Then he looked at Petunia Plumbottom. Something about her looked different. "I like your new, shorter hairdo, Petunia", he said politely. He turned his attention to the fishpond. "Hello Huey", he smiled, making the gooey pancake mask crinkle up at the corners, "When did you start swimming in the morning?" he inquired.
At the sound of J.J's father's voice, Petunia looked up. She didn't see J.J.'s father though. What she saw was a horrible gooey dough-colored blob, peering at her from behind the fence. "Yeeeeeek!" she screamed.
Mrs. Plumbottom fainted. She keeled right over and landed "KerPlop!"on the ground. Her husband, Huey Plumbottom was still flailing about in the fishpond, splashing and sputtering, and waving a distressed looking fish in the air.
J.J.'s father surveyed the scene in his neighbor's yard. "Uhhh...Huey?" he began. "Is everything OK over there?"
"Those Plumbottoms certainly are strange people," he thought to himself, as he began to wipe some of the pancake batter off his chin.
"Petunia, my precious! Wake UP!" Huey yelled.
"RIBBIT!" croaked the frog who sat decoratively on top of Mr. Plumbottom's head.
"GASP!" gasped the unhappy fish, who was still being waved aloft.
"Very strange people, indeed." muttered J.J.'s father to himself, as he surveyed the Plumbottom's yard.
"Screech!" howled Petunia Plumbottom's hairpiece, as it suddenly began to race across the grass, heading straight for the fence and J.J.'s father. It was moving really, really fast. It jumped onto a box, onto a table, then sprang up onto the top of the fence, scurrying lickety-split, right past J.J.'s father's startled eyes.
"That's a pretty strange looking skunk," he thought to himself as the mass of red curls tore past him.
Meanwhile back at the fishpond, Huey Plumbottom's eyes peered up and the big green frog peered down. Huey jumped one way, the frog jumped the opposite way, and the fish popped out of Huey's hand like a greased banana. It sailed through the air, just like a...just like a...well, just like a big wet fish!.
"SPLAT!" The fish smacked J.J.'s father on top the head, slid down his nose and landed right in his hands.
"Myrtle!" J.J.'s father yelled to his wife, as he raced towards the kitchen door. "Myrtle, come quick! You won't believe this!"
J.J.'s, mother, thinking it was probably some sort of an emergency, didn't even stop what she was doing, (which was mixing a fresh batch of pancake batter). She simply dashed towards the door, bowl in hand, and promptly crashed into her husband.
SPLOOOOSH, SPLAT! One big glob of pancake batter landed on her, another big glob of batter landed on him.
A whole second glop of pancake batter now covered J.J.'s Father's face. He cautiously scraped away some of the batter covering his eyes so he could see better.
"Look at THIS, Myrtle!" he said excitedly, holding his airborne catch by the tail. "It's raining fish!"
Chipper, J.J.'s dog, who had seen everything that was happening, looked at the red, curly haired skunk that screeched like a cat and was now howling like a banshee from the roof of the Plumbottom's house. He looked at J.J.'s Mother all covered in pancake batter. He looked at J.J.'s Father covered in pancake batter and waving a large, thoroughly confused fish.
"A dog a can only take so much," Chipper said to himself. He turned and jumped the fence.
"Chipper's running away!" shouted J.J.'s mother. "Hurry! Hurry! Run! Catch him!" she yelled to her husband.
J.J's Father raced toward the fence gate that Chipper had just leaped over. He didn't take the time to open the gate, he was in pretty good shape, so he simply leaped over the top, just like Chipper.
Well --- not exactly like Chipper. The seat of J.J.'s father's pajamas caught on top of the gatepost, "Rippppppppppppp!!!" There was now a great big rip in the seat of J.J.'s fathers pajamas.
J.J's Father had been breathlessly pounding down the street, and he was a full three blocks away before he began to realize that there was one heck of a draft coming from the vicinity of his pajama bottoms.
"Oh well, nobody will see me this time of morning...it's too early, nobody's up yet," he reasoned, as he made a quick lunge for Chipper, who had just dashed around a wall.
J.J.'s father bumped right into a milkman who had been making an early-morning delivery to the neighborhood bakery. J.J.'s father had been running so fast that twelve quarts of milk, three dozen eggs, and five pounds of butter all went flying through the air. "Crack, Splash! Blooop, Sploot, Splash, Gurgle! Milk and eggs and butter were splattered all over the street.
A lady with curlers in her hair and wearing bunny slippers on her feet had been driving down the street, and she saw it all happen. She tried to swerve to avoid the gooey mess all over the road, but she swerved too hard. "Swoosh! Bang! Her car crashed into a squat little red fire hydrant.
BonnnnkFWOOOOSH! The fire hydrant broke. High pressure water squirted EVERYwhere, knocking the milkman right off his feet and into the slippery, slimy, gooey mess of eggs and milk and butter.
The milkman scrambled to his feet then fell down again. He was beginning to lose ground, the blast of hydrant water was making him move faster and faster, and in a second he was slip-sliding away, on a frothy white wave of milk and eggs and butter.
"Yeeeeeeeoweeeeee!" yelled the milkman, as he whizzed past J.J.'s father, doing about a zillion miles an hour, heading straight for an open manhole and a "Men At Work" sign.
The lady in the car started to open her door so she could get out and take a closer look at the damage, but all she got was really, really wet.
J.J.'s father saw the very wet lady in the curlers and bunny slippers yelling and waving her arms at the fire hydrant, and he watched the goo-covered milkman whiz down the little hill and disappear KATHUNK!, into the manhole.
"Sure are strange people around here," he said to himself.
Meanwhile, back at the Plumbottom's, Huey was tearing around on the roof his house, chasing something short that looked for all the world like a curly red haired skunk. Petunia Plumbottom was down in the yard yelling encouragement to her husband. "Hurry, Huey!" she shouted.
Huey was just about to catch the wig, or rather Pretzel, who was underneath the wig, when Pretzel suddenly made a wild leap for the top of the chimney. Just at that moment, the curly red wig finally came loose and started to slip off Pretzel's head and fall over the edge of the chimney.
Everything happened at once, Pretzel jumped back down, Huey made a valiant dive for the wig. Either he wasn't fast enough, or he was too fast, depending on how you looked at the situation once the cloud of soot finally settled. All Petunia could see was Huey's legs sticking out of the chimney, thrashing angrily in the air. "Git me OUT of here Petunia!" came a muffled yell.
"Oh my goodness," screamed Petunia. And then she fainted. Again.
J.J's Mother, who had turned up the hose water full blast and was busy washing pancake batter off the patio, heard Petunia go "KERPLOP!"
When she turned to look, the garden hose she was using slipped from her hand. It suddenly reared up on its own, like an angry snake.
Uh-oh! J.J.'s Mother knew she was in big trouble.
"Swish, Swish" went the water from the hose.
First J.J's Mother chased the hose, then the hose chased her. Next door, Mrs. Plumbottom was revived by all the screaming, yelling and swishing. Petunia Plumbottom tiptoed slowly over to the fence and peered cautiously over the top.
SPLOOSH! The angry hose rose up and ambushed Mrs. Plumbottom, scaring her half to death and squirting her right in the face. "KERPLOP!" Mrs. Plumbottom fainted. Again.
From the direction of the Plumbottom's chimney, a muffled voice called out again, "Help! Get me OUT of here Petunia!"
From beneath the street in front of J.J.'s house, a cranky milkman's voice yelled "If I ever find my way out of here, I will never EVER come back to this neighborhood."
In the distance, a voice could be heard calling, "Here Chipper! Here Chipper!"
And inside J.J's house, J.J. snored on.
Suddenly, sirens could be heard. They were coming from every direction. Down one street came a red fire truck. Down another street came a wrecker, and behind it came a tow truck. Behind THEM came an ambulance and a policeman and a city sewer truck.
They all stopped in front of J.J.'s house.
Flashing lights were everywhere. There were red lights and blue lights and amber lights. Uniformed men and women rushed everywhere. Some were putting a ladder up to the Plumbottom's roof. Some were putting a latter down the manhole in front of J.J.'s house; others were carrying wrenches, hammers and brooms.
The firemen finally got Huey out of the chimney and onto a stretcher. Petunia's curly red hairpiece, now covered with soot, had been stuck on his head by somebody who apparently thought the wig belonged to Mr. Plumbottom.
The people carrying Mr. Plumbottom's stretcher accidentally crashed into the ones carrying Mrs. Plumbottom's stretcher. Petunia was raving about goo-faced monsters, mutant red-haired skunks, flying fish and killer garden-hoses.
"That does it!" yelled Mr. Plumbottom. He jumped up off his stretcher and ran into his garage. A moment later he came running out with a sign in his hand. He pounded the sign post into the ground.
"You can take me away now," he said, laying back down on the stretcher.
"Huey, what does the sign say?" wailed Petunia.
"You'll find out soon enough," he said.
Meanwhile, some of the other rescue workers had helped the yelling, red-faced milkman out of the manhole and turned the water hydrant off so that the lady in the car would quit hollering.
Just when everything had been turned off, and everybody rescued, down the street came another police car.
Sitting in the back seat was J.J.'s father. Behind the police car came a dog-catchers truck. Peeking out of the truck's back window was Chipper.
"I blame the cat for all this", Chipper thought to himself, as the truck passed his house.
"But officer..." J.J.'s Father was saying to the policeman driving the car.
"The idea...you running around a family neighborhood half dressed", the policeman growled at J.J.'s father. "Tell it to the Judge."
J.J.'s Father saw all the commotion in front of the house. He saw the Plumbottoms being loaded into the ambulance. And then he saw the For Sale sign.
"Those are my neighbors," he said conversationally to the policeman. "They're putting their house up for sale. They just moved in. Why would they do that? They sure were strange people. I wonder whatever happened to that odd-looking curly red haired skunk they had."
"Quiet!" snapped the policeman. He turned on his siren and roared on down the street. Right behind them in the dog-catcher truck rode Chipper, glumly wondering what was going to happen next.
Soon after the Policemen drove off with J.J.'s Father, all of the rescue trucks were also gone. It was quiet on the street J.J. lived on. Quiet, except for the "Swish, swish," of the garden hose that was still chasing J.J.'s Mother.
All of the rescue workers had been so busy saving the Plumbottoms and the milkman, and the lady in the car, that they forgot to rescue J.J.'s mother from the garden hose.
J.J.'s mother was getting tired. Fortunately she was smarter than the hose though. With one last burst of speed she raced around and around a big tree in the yard. Around and around the tree, the garden hose followed her, until it was completely wrapped around the tree trunk. Then J. J.'s Mother quickly ran over to the faucet and turned the water off. She took a deep breath. "Hmmm," she said to herself. It's awfully quiet around here. I wonder where everybody's gone?"
Pretzel was back sleeping in her favorite spot. J.J.'s Father was in jail ( he would be out as soon as he explained everything to the judge). The milkman was busy explaining to his boss how all that milk, eggs and butter had been spilled. The lady in the curlers and bunny slippers who had run into the fire hydrant, was busy explaining to the repairman who was going to fix her car, how it had come to be full of water. The Plumbottoms were sleeping comfortably in hospital beds (where they planned on staying until their house was sold).
And the fly that really had started everything was still buzzing around in the air, right over the other top of J.J's other foot.
In the kitchen, J.J.'s Mother, who was still a bit jumpy from the morning's excitement, was mixing an extra big batch of pancake batter.
The fly tickled J.J.'s toes. J.J. wiggled and squirmed and tossed and turned.
Finally J.J. kicked. His foot hit the wall.
On the OTHER side of the wall, where Pretzel the cat napped peacefully, the remaining picture quivered and then crashed to the floor, narrowly missing Pretzel's nose.
SCREEEEEEEECH! yelled Pretzel, and she shot into the air with all four feet going a mile a minute.
"Oh, no!!, wailed J.J.'s mother. Not AGAIN!!"
Meanwhile J.J. snored on.
Most Interim Illustrations Courtesy of Bedtime-Story. Interim Illustration of JJ sleeping borrowed from Bedtime-Story "Sam's Rainy Day Boots", courtesy of Anita Knox
About the Author: - John C. Newby retired now, is a widower who was married to his beautiful wife for some 42 years, John is by profession a mechanical engineer whose talents lent themselves to numerous projects, including trucks, spacecraft, the FMC Bradley, and the IBM bank teller. Today, when asked to describe himself, he will tell you that he is "basically a unicyle-riding inventer". That's because at the age of 52 he spied a unicycle at a flea market, bought it, and taught himself to ride, (yep, he's still at it). With patents for two inventions processed and another two pending, our unicycle-riding inventor is still hard at it. You are invited to contact John Newby at firstname.lastname@example.org
Johns' personal background is interesting in its own right, and we thought you might enjoy reading a bit more about him. You'll find that information located towards the bottom of another of his tales we know you'll enjoy reading, Alligator Eyes.