On Tour

“That was our best show yet,” the lead singer said. He flopped into a neon green chair with a grin. “We should order pizza.”

The guitar player snorted. “You tripped twice and forgot to sing one of the lines, Marcus.”

The percussionist smiled. “And how was my performance, Frank?”

“Acceptable,” the guitar player said. “Except when your were off-beat in the second verse of the third song.”

“Don’t listen to him, Artie,” the lead singer said.   “You were great.”

The percussionist rolled his eyes. “My name isn’t Artie, Marcus. It’s Arthur. And I asked him how I did because I wanted to know.”

“Well, the audience obviously loved it,” Marcus said. “They were on their feet after the last number. We should have done an encore.” He pointed a finger at Arthur and winked. “And call me Markie.”

Frank sighed. “They were standing up to leave, Markie. You can tell because they weren’t clapping anymore when they stood up.”

Marcus laughed. “You couldn’t have seen that from the stage. The lights are shining in our eyes. You can’t see anything.”

“But the house lights came on after the last number,” Arthur said. “So we could see the audience then. Frank is right. It didn’t look like a standing ovation at all.”

“But the girls were fanning themselves like they thought we were too awesome,” Marcus said.

“They were fanning themselves because the room was far too hot,” Frank said. “I think the air conditioner was broken.”

“Nonsense,” Marcus said. I think the temperature was perfect.”

Arthur laughed. “Marcus, you stand in front of that giant fan so that your coat will swirl around you when you dance. You were probably the only one not too hot.”

Marcus frowned and folded his arms. “Why are you guys picking on me? Why hasn’t anyone told Frankie what he did wrong?”

Arthur smiled. “He has a point. You frown too much.”

Frank raised an eyebrow. “I’ll work on that.”

Arthur laughed. “No you won’t.”

Frank sighed. “No I won’t.” Frank and Arthur laughed.

“We should order a pizza,” Arthur said.

“Good idea,” Frank said.

“Hey!” Marcus stood up. “That was my idea! I have all the good ideas around here. I don’t need you at all. Why did I let you in my band in the first place?”

“The band was my idea,” Arthur said. “And I sing half the vocals.”

“I write all the songs,” Frank said.

“But I’m the lead singer. Without me you wouldn’t have a band at all,” Marcus said.

“He has a point,” Frank said. “We should let him order the pizza.”

“Fine,” Arthur said. “Go order the pizza, Markie, and be sure to pick your favorites.”

“I’m going to order garlic bread too,” Marcus said.   “And root beer.”

“I think that sounds great,” Frank said.

“It really was a good concert,” Marcus said.   “Everyone liked it, right?”

“I don’t think you can please everyone,” Frank said.   “But I think we did okay. We’ll keep getting better.”

“We did okay,” Arthur said. “And tomorrow we’ll do the same thing somewhere else, but better.”

“I don’t really want to find new people for the band,” Marcus said. “You know that right? I think you guys are the best.”

“We know that,” Arthur said. “Go order the pizzas.”

“And garlic bread and root beer,” Marcus said, and he started looking for his phone.

The Magical Veterinarian

“Paws and Miles?” the pretty dark haired nurse asked.   When a young man in the crowded waiting room nodded and stood, she smiled. Her fangs showed, just for a moment. “The wizard will see you now. Follow me.”

Miles tugged a little on the lead and his dragon uncurled and stepped carefully over the unicorn and the basket of rainbow colored bats. They followed the nurse further down into the large underground tunnels. She left them in a cave lined with straw after checking the dragon’s vitals.

“We could fit your whole house in here, Paws,” Miles said.

The dragon blew out a puff of smoke and curled up again.   The young man found some chairs lined up along the back wall of the cave. He picked one and set it down next to his friend. There was a little chime, and then someone knocked on the open door.

“Come in,” Miles said. “Are you the wizard?”

“I’m a wizard,” an older man said. “I’m Wizard Andrew.” He pointed to his nametag.

“What does the MV stand for?” Miles asked.

“Magical veterinarian,” Wizard Andrew said. “Are you Miles?”

Miles nodded. “And this is Paws.” He patted the dragon’s side. The dragon opened one eye and snorted.

“What seems to be the problem?” Wizard Andrew asked.

“He loves ice cream,” Miles said. “But it puts his flames out. So he’s too cold all the time. He has a coat he wears around the house, but he won’t wear it outside.” Miles frowned, and Paws curled up even tighter and turned his back on Miles and the wizard.

“That is a problem. Ice cream isn’t very good for dragons,” Wizard Andrew said.

“Yes, I know,” Miles said. “It’s kind of a weird story.”

“I’d love to hear it,” the wizard said.

“Well, my grandparents gave Paws to my parents as a wedding gift. You know, to guard their new home and such.”

The wizard nodded. “It’s not uncommon. I assume he was still pretty young.”

“Just hatched,” Miles said. “I was born a few years later.”

“So you grew up together,” the wizard said.

“Yes,” Miles said. “And I’m a shapeshifter, and Paws was my best friend.”

The wizard laughed. “So, I suppose that half the time, your parents were raising two little dragons.”

Miles smiled. “That’s pretty much it. They tried to limit sweets, and mostly they did pretty well.   We both had a bit of a sweet tooth though.”

“That is unusual,” the doctor said. “Usually dragons prefer spicy food.”

Miles laughed and patted Paws again. “Oh we do. But, we’ve both always liked the same things, and I love sweets too.”

“And you haven’t had a problem with his flame going out before now?” the wizard asked, writing some notes in his chart.

“Before last week, we never gave him all that much ice cream. Just a scoop to go with a slice of cake or whatever,” Miles said. “But, last week Miles was pretty sick, and my parents are out of town. He wasn’t eating, so I took him to the store to see if there was something else he wanted.   All he wanted was the ice cream.   He was better in a day or two, but he’s still refusing to eat anything but ice cream.”

They both looked up at Paws. Paws looked over his shoulder and blew a puff of smoke at them. Wizard Andrew laughed. “A stubborn one, is he?”

Miles looked embarrassed. “Mom says he learned it from me.”

Wizard Andrew laughed again. “Well, I’ll tell you what I think we can do. I’ll prescribe a mix of herbs and peppers to use as an ice cream topping.   I recommend adding some vegetables as well. The topping should balance out the ice cream enough to stabalize his body temperature.”

The wizard wrote a list on his notepad and handed it to Miles. “Thank you, Wizard Andrew,” Miles said.

“I would suggest you offer him his favorite foods first, before you dish up the ice cream,” the wizard said.

Paws grumbled and Miles laughed. “We’ll try it,” he said.

“Now go get him home and back into his warm coat,” the wizard said. He smiled and gently patted Paws on the side.   Then he left to see his next patient.

 

New Kid

“Hi, I’m Jason,” a boy said. “You’re the new kid.” He was wearing a blue shirt with a big red letter J on it. Martha was pretty sure he wasn’t in her class. She’d remember a shirt like that.

Jason raised his eyebrows. Had he asked a question? “Yes, I’m new,” she said when it seemed like Jason wasn’t going to say anything else.

“Are you evil?” he asked.

“No,” Martha said.

“Are you sure? What do you do for fun?” Jason asked.

“I like to draw,” Martha said.

Jason crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes. “What do you draw?”

“Mostly horses,” Martha said. “I like horses.”

“That’s boring,” Jason said. He walked away.

During recess, Susan and Amy introduced themselves to Martha. “What do you think of our school so far?” Susan asked.

“It’s nice,” Martha said.

“You paused before you said that,” Amy said. “Is there something wrong?”

“I met a boy named Jason,” Martha said. “He asked me if I’m evil.”

Susan smiled. “Oh, don’t worry about that. I’m sure he didn’t mean it personally.”

“Then why did he ask me that? And then he said I’m boring,” Martha said.

“Jason wants to be a superhero when he grows up,” Amy said. “He’s been watching everyone since kindergarten.   He’s looking for his arch rival supervillain.”

“So, I’m just the latest suspect?” Martha asked.

“Like all the rest of us,” Susan said. “Like I said, it isn’t personal.”

“He caught a litterer once. And someone cheating on a test,” Amy said.

“Did he try to beat them up or something?” Martha asked.

“No, he held up his hand like he was telling them to stop, and then he started saying pew-pew-pew-pew until a teacher convinced him to tell them what was wrong,” Susan said.

Just then there was some yelling by the slides. Above the other voices, they could hear someone yell.   “Pew-pew-pew-pew!” The recess monitor hurried over and the yelling stopped.

“Was that Jason?” Martha asked.

“Yeah. Someone was probably cutting in line,” Amy said. “Jason hates that. Do you like playing jump rope?   If there are three of us we could take turns jumping.”

Susan clapped her hands. “That’s a great idea! We haven’t been able to jump rope since Linda moved.”

“I love to jump rope,” Martha said.

 

Weeks passed. Martha and Susan and Amy had soon attracted a group of girls who liked to jump rope too. One day a new girl joined them. “Hi, are you new?” Martha asked.

“A weird boy just asked me that,” the girl said.

“It must have been Jason,” Martha said. “He asked me that when I moved in too. Did he ask you if you’re evil?”

“Yes,” the girl said. “Oh, what’s you’re name, by the way? I’m April.”

“I’m Martha,” Martha said. “Do you like to jump rope?”

“I love to jump rope,” April said.

The girls started to jump rope. One verse into Cinderella Dressed in Yellow, Jason walked by and stared at them suspiciously. “I’m watching you, new girl,” he said. He pointed two fingers at his eyes and then pointed them at April. He backed away slowly, only tripping once.

Martha looked at April. “Why is Jason watching you? He said I was boring.”

“I told him that someday I’m going to rule the world,” April said.

 

Charlie’s Room: A Bug on the Wall

“Dad!” Charlie yelled.

Isaac sat up in bed, jolted out of a dream where he had been shopping for green socks to match his favorite necktie. “Charlie?” he said. “I’m coming.”

He stumbled out of bed and stubbed his toe on the stack of books by his nightstand. The top book fell off the stack and hit him in the ankle. He could barely feel it as he hurried out his door and down the hall to check on Charlie.

“Dad!” Charlie yelled again.

Isaac hurried into the room. Charlie was sitting up on his bed. He looked frightened. “What’s wrong?” Isaac asked.

“There’s a bug on the wall,” Charlie said.

Isaac turned on the light. “Where is it?”

Charlie pointed to the wall above his dresser. “Over there,” he said. “It’s giant. As big as my head.”

Isaac walked over and leaned in to look closely at the wall. He couldn’t find any bugs. Not even tiny bugs. He looked up. There was a spider web up in the corner. Perhaps the spider had somehow caught Charlie’s attention and scared him.

“I’ll take care of it,” Isaac said.

The last time Isaac had tried to move a spider, it had been a little stronger than expected. So, this time, Isaac found one of the metal measuring cups. He cut a large square out of the side of a cereal box. Then he put on his thick gardening gloves.

Charlie was still sitting up in bed when Isaac returned. “That took a long time,” Charlie said.

“I had to find everything I needed,” Isaac said. He moved Charlie’s desk chair over to the corner and used it to climb on the dresser. It swayed for a moment, and then steadied. Isaac let out a breath. “Charlie, can you hand me the stuff I left on your desk?” he asked.

“Okay,” Charlie said. He climbed down from his bed and handed Isaac the gloves first.

Isaac put them on and then took the measuring cup and piece of cardboard.   He took a deep breath, then slammed the measuring cup over the little spider and slid the cardboard under it.   He carefully lifted them together and looked in the corner. No spider.

He looked down at the measuring cup and cardboard spider cage. How was he going to climb down? “Charlie, can you help hold the dresser steady?” he asked.   Charlie held onto the edge of the dresser. Isaac sat down and slid off the dresser onto the chair. The dresser wobbled, but he managed to step onto the chair and then hop onto the floor.   “I’ll need you to open the front door,” he said.

“Okay.” Charlie followed him and opened the front door. “I don’t know how the giant bug fit in there,” he said. “Will it pop out when you lift up the measuring cup?”

Isaac hadn’t thought of that. He set the measuring cup on the front step and lifted it quickly. The spider wasn’t on the cardboard on the step. It was crawling up the side of the measuring cup in his hand. Isaac set it down quickly. “We’ll just leave that there for now,” he said. “Let’s go inside.”

Charlie looked down at the spider. “That’s pretty small. I don’t think it’s the same bug.”

“It was the only bug on the wall,” Isaac said.

“Okay,” Charlie said, but he looked doubtful.

Isaac tucked Charlie back in bed and turned out the light. Charlie sat up in bed with a gasp. “Dad, it’s back!” he said.

Isaac looked up at the wall. A giant bug was running around in circles. It looked more like a large shadow than a bug. He walked over to the wall and cautiously reached out his hand.   His hand went right through the bug.

“It’s a ghost bug!” Charlie said. “We need to get out of here.”

Isaac looked back at the nightlight. “I don’t think it’s a ghost bug.” He turned on the light. The bug on the wall disappeared. He turned off the light. It was back.

“It is a ghost,” Charlie said.

“I think there’s a bug on your nightlight,” Isaac said. He turned the light back on.

Charlie leaned over to look. “There is one,” he said. “How did you know? It’s really little.” He brushed it off the nightlight.

Isaac turned the lights off. The bug on the wall was gone. “I think you solved your bug problem,” he said.

“Thanks, Dad,” Charlie said.

“No problem,” Isaac said. “Sweet dreams.”

Isaac tucked Charlie in again. He put away the chair and gloves. He’d get the measuring cup in the morning.

 

Let Them Eat Cake

“Scott,” Mom said.   “Bring this piece of cake to Grandpa. Then come back, and you can have your piece.”

“Okay,” Scott said. “Where’s Grandpa?”

“I think he’s in the office,” Mom said.

Scott took the plate and a fork and a napkin, and he set out to find Grandpa. Unfortunately, Grandpa was not in the office. His little sister Mary was there, cutting printer paper into odd shapes.

“Mary, have you seen Grandpa?” he asked.

“Hey, is that cake?” Mary asked.

“Yes,” Scott said. “It’s for Grandpa.”

“He’s not here,” Mary said. “So, can I eat it?”

She reached for the plate and Scott stepped back and held it a little closer.   “No, go get your own,” he said.

“Fine,” Mary said. She threw the scissors on the floor and started to stomp out.

“Aren’t you going to clean up your mess?” Scott asked. But Mary ignored him.

Scott sighed and went to the living room. Grandma was there, reading. “Is that for me?” she asked. She reached out for the plate. Scott wasn’t sure what to do. It was Grandpa’s cake, but Grandma wanted cake, too.

He let Grandma take the piece of cake. “Here’s your fork and a napkin too,” he said.

“You’re such a good boy. Thank you,” Grandma said. “Tell your mother thank you too.”

“Okay,” Scott said. “Do you know where Grandpa is?” Scott asked.

“I think he’s in the garage,” Grandma said.

Scott went back to the kitchen. Mary was eating cake. She stuck her tongue out at Scott. Mom smiled.   “Thank you for taking Grandpa some cake,” she said.

“I gave it to Grandma. She didn’t have any yet. Can I have another one to take to Grandpa?” he asked.

“Of course,” Mom said. “Thank you, Scott.”

Scott took the plate and another fork and napkin. “Grandma said thank you,” Scott said. “And Mary left a mess in the office.”

Scott left quickly as Mary yelled and Mom sent her to clean up her mess before she took another bite. Scott smiled to himself and went to the garage. Grandpa wasn’t there, but Dad was there, gluing a chair leg back on.

“Hey Scott,” Dad said. “Is that for me?”

“Sure,” Scott said. “Here’s your fork and napkin too.”

“Thanks,” Dad said. “This looks great. Tell Mom thanks for me.”

“Okay,” Scott said. “Do you know where Grandpa is?”

“I think he’s out back in the garden,” Dad said.

So, Scott went back to the kitchen for another piece of cake and fork and napkin.   Grandpa was out back, pulling weeds out of the garden. “Grandpa, I finally found you,” Scott said. “Here’s your cake.”

“I can’t take that now,” Grandpa said. “My hands are all covered in dirt.”

“But I can’t have a piece of cake until I give you your cake,” Scott said. “And I’ve been looking all over for you.”

“Okay,” Grandpa said. “Let me get to the end of this row, and I’ll go in and wash my hands and maybe change my shirt.”

“Will that take a long time?” Scott asked.

“Of course not,” Grandpa said. But it did.

“Are you done yet?” Scott asked.

“Still weeding,” Grandpa said.

“Are you done now?” Scott asked.

“Now I need to go wash my hands,” Grandpa said.

“Now can you take your cake?” Scott asked.

“I’ll be out in a moment,” Grandpa said.

“Do you want your cake now?” Scott asked.

“Yes,” Grandpa said. “Thank you for waiting.”

“Yay!” Scott said. “You’re welcome.”

Scott raced to the kitchen. “I gave Grandpa his cake,” he said.

Mary laughed. “I ate my cake a long time ago,” she said. Scott ignored her.

“Thank you, Scott,” Mom said. “I saved a big piece for you.” And it was the best piece of cake ever.