from A Grandpa's Notebook, Meyer Moldeven

Stobey's and Slutter's families have moved to the Outer Region of the Solar System and built homes on Jupiter's moon Callisto. Earthlings were overrunning Mars.

One morning Stobey calls Slutter on her space visi-phone.

'Slutter,' says Stobey, 'let's get together.'

'Right,' Slutter answers. 'Where's a good place to meet?'

'If we leave now in our new spaceships, Coconut and Banana,' says Stobey, 'we'll reach the space lanes' junction near the gate to Super-Rock Playground on Moon Ganymede. Will you meet me there?'

'Yes,' Slutter says. 'I'll leave now in Banana and meet you where the space lanes join. I'll be there in an hour, Stobey. See you.'

They switch off, dash for their spaceships and launch. Coconut and Banana are fast, but the distance each must fly is so great that it will take at least an hour to reach the junction.

Super-Rock is the children's playground in the outer region of our solar system, which includes all the planets and space colonies beyond the Asteroids. The playground has roller coasters, a merry-go-round, tunnels to explore, music bands, and many rides for children. It's really cool. Since it's such a special and favorite park, Super-Rock gets lots of visitors.

As Stobey and Slutter approach Super-Rock Playground, the space lanes leading into it become crowded with other spaceships and space buggies. There are big bus line spaceships, each loaded with hundreds of passengers, private spaceships with families, and lots of single-seat space buggies like Coconut and Banana. There are also hot rod space buggies that switch at high speed from one lane to another, driven by boys and girls who sport fancy haircuts, twisty earrings, and leather jackets.

Stobey and Slutter handle their single-seaters carefully to keep from having an accident. The junction to which they are headed is complicated. Hundreds of spacers are in coming in from the right and underneath to join up with hundreds of others from the left and overhead. Everyone is careful. That is, almost everyone. Stobey switches on her space radio.

'Stobey calling Slutter,' she says into her microphone. 'Come in, Slutter.'

Slutter is waiting for the call.

'Slutter here,' he replies. 'Where are you, Stobey?'

'I'm in the holding pattern at the junction,' Stobey says, 'and I'm flashing my green and yellow lights. Can you spot me?'

'Not yet. I've got my greens and yellows on, too,' Slutter answers. 'Let's watch for each other.'

A moment later, Stobey says, 'I see you in my finder; you're still some distance behind me. I'll cut out and line up ahead of you. When you catch up we'll head for the parking block. Let's park next to each other. OK?'

'That's fine. Let's do that.'

Without warning, Stobey feels a slam on the rear of her space-buggy. She looks in her rear-view mirror. It's a hot rodder and he's bumping the nose of his buggy against the back of hers.

'Slutter,' Stobey shouts. 'I'm having a problem with a hot rodder. He's bumping my tail. If he doesn't stop he'll damage my buggy.'

'I'm speeding up and closing,' Slutter replies. 'I'll check him out.'

Slutter rams power into Banana's motor and, a moment later, sees Coconut up ahead. The hot rodder's ship is pushing and bumping Coconut.

Slutter maneuvers Banana behind the hot rodder. Lowering Banana's nose, he slips it under the rear bumper of the hot rodder. He quickly raises Banana's nose and flips the hot rodder away.

Slutter moves Banana up alongside Coconut. The hot rodder, seeing the Coconut has a Banana for a buddy, veers off. Together, they're too much for him.

'Thank you, Slutter,' says Stobey. 'If you hadn't stopped that hot rodder he might have cracked my Coconut. You sure saved me.'

'I'm glad I was here to help,' Slutter replies. 'If it was the other way round I'm sure you would have done the same for me. Come to think of it, Stobey, if that hot rodder had bumped against my buggy, and you weren't here to help me, he might've peeled my Banana.'

Stobey and Slutter think that's funny. They laugh and they laugh as, flying along side by side, they move along the space lanes into the Super-Rock parking block.

They find parking spaces next to each other. When they step out from their space buggies they come together with smiles and a hug. Hand in hand, they head for the gate that leads into Super-Rock, the most spectacular children's park and playground in the entire outer region of the solar system.

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