from A Grandpa's Notebook, Meyer Moldeven

Why does Bingbang Babbaloo guard the treasure in the Great Rock under the Stranger's House in Super Rock Playground? Where did the treasure come from? Why are the treasure and Bingbang Babbaloo in this old house in the Super-Rock Playground? Everyone wants to know.

Stobey and Slutter, Chug-a-lug and Sir Lumpalot, Suzanne and Roger, and of course, Kick-Pow, the Unicorn, gather before Bingbang, whose strange body rests on top of the Great Rock in which the treasure is stored. Bingbang's single, spike-rimmed eye blinks slowly down at them as he speaks in a soft hiss.

'I have traveled to this place from a distant star,' he begins, 'and my journey has been full of adventures and dangers. Many times I had no food and I was often so tired I could barely see. But I had a job to do.'

'Where were you going?' asks Stobey.

'Yes,' adds Slutter, 'and what was your job?'

Bingbang's single eye glares at Stobey and Slutter. 'Now, listen here, you two.' His voice rises to an exasperated screech, changes to a wheeze, and winds up as a whistle. 'If you want to hear this story you'll just have to be quiet and just listen, instead of interrupting. Mind your manners and your questions will be answered. OK?'

'Well, OK,' says Stobey.

'Hmph,' says Slutter.

Bingbang's voice returns to a low hiss, but its sound fills the cavern.

'My voyage begins long ago and far away on Planet Boomboom, which is my home. In the green sky above Planet Boomboom is our Sun, Blooper. That's how we assign names where I come from. So, you see, I am Bingbang Babbaloo from Boomboom near Blooper. Got it?'

No one answers. They're curious to hear more.

'Ah, yes, well, to get on with it,' Bingbang continues, 'one breezy afternoon on Boomboom I am browsing among the books in my basement. A messenger arrives with a letter from Boogie-woogie Boomer, King of Boomboom.

'Bingbang Babbaloo,' the letter says, 'I, King Boogie-woogie Boomer of Boomboom, command you to leave immediately for Planet Boppo which is near the Sun Bippo. Boppo is the home of the evil Burpers who stole my treasure of gold, diamonds and jewels. When you get to Boppo, I command you to recover my treasures from the Burpers, and return it to me here on Boomboom.'

'That, Stobey and Slutter, should answer some of your questions. I was going from the Sun Blooper to the Sun Bippo, from the Planet Boomboom to the Planet Boppo. I, Bingbang Babbaloo was to do battle with the bad Burpers for a batch of King Boogie-woogie Boomer's baubles. Now, do you get it?' They all nod slowly, and mumble ,'Hmm ahh. Yep. Got it, I think. Hmm.'

'I run to my spaceship, Boomerang, and blast off for Boppo. It's a bumpy voyage. On the way I pass suns and planets, many with strange names on my maps, instead of the sensible ones we have where I come from.

'After many months I see Bippo up ahead. Bippo is a funny looking sun with purple stripes and round green spots. I search the area and there, off to one side, is the planet Boppo. It's also funny looking: green stripes and purple spots, just the opposite colors of its sun.

'So here I am at last, ready to land my Boomerang among a lot of Boppoian Burpers near Bippo to do battle for a batch of baubles for my Boomboomaranian King Boogie-woogie Boomer.'

'Now just a minute, Bingbang Babbaloo.' Stobey jumps up from where she's sitting and shakes her finger at the Eye. 'Now just a minute,' she repeats. 'I want to hear your story, and I'm sure my friends also want to hear it, but I would appreciate it very much if you told the story without using so many words that begin with B. It's confusing.'

'Well,' says Bingbang, 'all right, but that's the way we talk at home. Anyhow, back to my story. I scout the planet of the Burpers from far above, and see a castle on a hill. I land my ship in a forest clearing nearby and sneak around and over rocks and along gullies toward the castle that I saw from the sky. Finally, up close, I see that the drawbridge is down. A truck without a driver is the side of the road, that's careless of them, I must say. I climb into the truck, switch on the motor, and drive across the drawbridge.'

Bingbang's huge round eye blinks slowly.

He continues, 'I stop the truck in an alley and wait until night. In the darkness I drive the truck out of the alley and into another and then still another and another, searching for the place where the treasure is hidden. Soon it will be daylight, but no luck. I know that in the morning light I'll be seen and captured. I have very little time.

'I turn a corner and up ahead I see the outline of a large blockhouse. I drive closer and see bars across its windows and doors.

'Aha, I think. This must be the place. I sneak to one of the doors and peek through the bars. Nothing. I slip around to the windows and peek through. Again, nothing. I circle around to another side of the blockhouse and to another, looking through the bars of doorways and windows. Finally, through one of the windows I see my King's stolen chest of diamonds, jewels, gold and silver.

'I look around carefully. No guards. The Burpers must think that the blockhouse is safe in their castle-fortress. They didn't stop to think that I, Bingbang Babbaloo, would come to rescue my King's treasure.

'I drive the truck close to the window behind which the stolen treasure is stored. Drawing my heavy blaster I rake the beam across the doorway. The door dissolves. I enter the blockhouse and load the treasure into the truck. With all the treasure on board, I slip behind the wheel, turn the motor on and race along one narrow, twisty alley after another and soon am at the drawbridge. I'm across the drawbridge and head for my space ship.

'Behind me I hear the noise of sirens and whistles. The alarm. The Burpers are after me. I slam my foot on to the speed pedal. The truck engine races, faster and faster. I must get to my space ship in time. The sirens and whistles are louder. They're close behind me; I mean, lots of them, one Burper after another.

'I drive the truck around tight turns in the road. The enemy is closing in. Luckily, I have an emergency escape plan. It's time to put my plan into action.

'Bingbang Babbaloo to Boomerang,' I call through my radio transmitter. 'Come in, Boomerang, old buddy.'

'Boomerang is in my plan for escape. My space ship Boomerang is also a robot that can follow my orders even when I'm a great distance from it.

'Yes, master,' Boomerang's metallic voice sounds in my ear.

'Zero in on me,' I order, 'and hover just above this truck.'

'Will do.'

'A moment later Boomerang is directly above the truck.

'Lift this truck on the ship's crane,' I order, 'and draw it into the ship's hold.'

'Just as the Burpers are ready to cast a chain around my rear bumper, I feel the truck being lifted from the road. Seconds later, I and the truck and the King's treasure are safely inside my ship. I blast away from Boppo.

'The Boppoian Burpers blast away at Boomerang. My ship dodges one way and then the other. Bam! Bam! Boomerang is caught in a barrage. I barrel roll the ship into space to get away. The barrage follows, but I'm not beaten yet. I give Boomerang all the power it can take.

'The Burpers take after me in their space fighters, firing all their beamers. I keep dodging.

'I release a blockbuster bomb. The Boppoian Burpers see it and blast themselves in another direction to get away from the bomb. This gives me the time I need to escape.

'I do get away, but my ship is damaged. I will not be able to make the long flight home.

'After many weeks of limping along, and wandering a long distance from the flight paths shown on my maps, I find myself here at Super-Rock, only part of my way home. I have brought my ship with its treasure here to this cavern. Since my arrival it's been known as the Stranger's House.

'Now I am waiting.'

'Waiting? Waiting for what?' asks Stobey.

'I am waiting for rescue,' Bingbang hisses softly. 'I have sent a message to my king, telling him where I am. He is sending a ship for me. The loud booming and the other sounds you heard when you came near the Stranger's House were the messages between my rescuers and me. They should be here at any moment.'

Bingbang pauses, and they see his eye blinking in concentration. 'Aha,' he says, 'I hear them.'

They listen. A hum fills the air. It gets louder and louder and the cavern walls shake from the deep vibrations.

Without warning, there is a sudden whoosh, and the roof of the cavern above the huge black rock lifts away. Above is a waffle-shaped spaceship with thousands of flashing lights all across its underside and along its edges. It is much larger than the space liner on which Suzanne and Roger were traveling.

A wide opening appears in the spaceship's underside and a long cable with many nets and hooks lower from it through the opening above the black rock. The hooks and nets wrap around the rock in which the treasure is stored. The cables tighten. Slowly, the rock breaks away from the surface and rises.

Bingbang Babbaloo, standing on the rock, rises with it. Bizz Bazz floats beside him. Bingbang's round, spikey eye blinks.

'Good-bye, good-bye,' he says. I wish you well. Perhaps we will meet again some day.'

'Good-bye, Bingbang Babbaloo,' Stobey cups her hands near her mouth so that her voice carries. 'I hope we do meet again some day.'

Stobey sees Bingbang Babbaloo's eye blink at her. She knows he heard.

The black rock disappears into the spaceship. With a deep roar, the spaceship blasts away, heading for planet Boomboom near the sun Blooper with the treasure for King Boogie-woogie Boomer.

***

Our friends leave the Stranger's House and head for the parking block. Arriving, they see that the space liner is signaling Suzanne and Roger to return. The two Earthlings hug Stobey and Slutter, and Chug-a-lug and Sir Lumpalot. They rub Kick-pow's nose and board the flitter.

The flitter rises in a long curve toward the space liner and disappears through an open panel. The panel closes and the huge ship's powerful motors glow and hum. The spacer rises up and away.

Stobey and Slutter hug Chug-a-lug and Sir Lumpalot and also rub Kick-pow's nose. It is time for them to return home. They board Coconut and Banana and blast into space. Chug-a-lug, Sir Lumpalot and Kick- Pow watch the two tiny spaceships until they disappear into the background of stars.

'Hope they come back soon,' says Chug-a-lug, the Hooten-Nanny, as he, Sir Lumpalot the Knight and Kick-Pow the Unicorn head back through the gate into Super-Rock Playground.

(Grandpa's get away with a lot when it comes to imaginative stories.)

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