from A Grandpa's Notebook, Meyer Moldeven
As Stobey and Slutter enter Super-Rock Playground they are greeted by a Hooten-Nanny. The Hooten-Nannies are a family of jugglers, trapeze artists and clowns who enjoy making people laugh. One job that they really enjoy is to meet visitors at the Super-Rock gate and show them the sights and rides. Stobey and Slutter are lucky; a Hooten-Nanny wants to show them around the park.
Hi,' says the Hooten-Nanny as he twirls about, flips a double somersault, a triple spin and a rollover. 'I'm Chug-a-lug the Hooten-Nanny from over Europa way. Just call me Chug. I'm one of the fellows who work here, and I like to show visitors around our park. May I join you?'
Stobey and Slutter look at Chug. They never met a real Hooten-Nanny, but are not surprised at the way he looks. They've seen pictures of Hooten-Nannies in storybooks, television, and on several Websites of the Solar Wide Web (http://sww if you're interested).
Chug looks like a single length of very thin spaghetti, but stiff, like before it's boiled. Chug's head is long and thin too, and his arms and legs also look like strands of spaghetti. The clown's suit he wears glows with all of the universe's colors; it's made entirely of rainbow mist.
'We certainly would like you to join us,' Stobey and Slutter say together.
'What are you going to show us?' Stobey asks.
'And what are we going to do?' Slutter adds.
Chug bends forward so that his head is close to Stobey's.
'You'll see what I'll show you when you see it,' he whispers with a big grin and a wink. Turning to Slutter he says with the same grin and wink, 'You will know what we'll do when it happens.' Then, to both, 'Ar-r-re you ready?'
'Yes, we ar-r-re ready,' shout Stobey and Slutter together, jumping up and down with excitement.
'Then we're off.' Chug yells a shrill 'whoop' as he reaches down with his long arms and wraps one around Stobey and the other around Slutter. Lifting and hugging them close to his thin chest he springs upward with a mighty leap. Holding on to each other, they soar over the gate and above the road leading into the park. Looking down, Stobey and Slutter see the faces of many people staring up at them.
They hear shouts, 'What are they? Are they birds? Are they spaceships?'
And they hear, 'I know. I know. It's Chug-a-lug, the Hooten-Nanny, and he's flying his friends to see the sights and to take the special rides. Aren't they the lucky ones?'
They approach a mountain peak. With a flip and a flop they land on a tiny platform at the tip of a tall pole. They see the ground far below. Beside them, tied to a railing on the platform is a trapeze bar.
'For goodness sake,' exclaims Stobey, 'What's a trapeze bar doing here at the very top of a mountain?'
'This is my own special trapeze,' Chug replies. 'I use it to travel from one place to another. Very often, when I'm feeling real good, I do somersaults as I go along. Shall we swing?'
'Now just a moment,' Slutter says, looking around and then far up into space above Ganymede. 'A trapeze bar swings through space, that I understand. But the lines that hold the bar need to be fastened to something at its other end. I don't see where the trapeze lines end. What are they fastened to up there in space, Chug?'
Chug grins and points up. Stobey and Slutter look again. The trapeze lines stretch up and up and disappear from sight. Far, far away, beyond where the lines seem to join and disappear they see a flickering light.
'My special trapeze,' Chug says softly, 'is hitched to a star.' Raising his voice, he shouts, 'Are you ready?'
'We ar-r-e ready!'
Chug unties the trapeze from the platform. He grasps the trapeze bar in the middle; Stobey takes a firm grip of the bar on his right and Slutter does the same on his left.
'Don't let go,' Chug shouts and with a powerful shove they swing out and away from the mountaintop. The trapeze gathers speed. Down below, the ground rushes past, much too fast to see the people that they know are watching them.
'Now! See me hang by my feet', Chug calls out.
He flips through a somersault and catches the trapeze bar with his long spaghetti-thin toes. Stobey decides to try. She takes a deep breath, twists, and in an instant she is somersaulting. Completing the twist, her feet reach for the trapeze bar.
The bar isn't there!
Stobey's heart almost stops. She feels herself falling. Out of nowhere, a hand grasps one of her ankles and she feels herself drawn in. Her hands find the bar. Chug holds her until her grip on the bar is firm and she is safe again.
'Hmmm,' Chug smiles, 'maybe we're better off staying together.'
Stobey gulps and nods. She glances at Slutter who nods in return.
'I think I'll put off doing a somersault or holding on with my toes,' Slutter says, 'at least until I practice.'
'I guess you're right,' Stobey says, 'I think I'll wait a while before I try that again.'
The trapeze reaches the end of its swing. Up ahead is another mountain top with a tiny platform at the peak. The platform is attached to a pole like the one they left. As their feet touch the platform they each grasp the railing.
They are on firm footing again. Chug ties the trapeze bar to the rail.
'Did you enjoy the ride?' Chug asks Stobey.
'The same goes for me,' adds Slutter.
'How will you describe this ride to your parents and to your friends?' Chug asks.
Stobey and Slutter whisper to each other, then, together, they gaze up and point to where the trapeze lines disappear into the far, far distance of space.
'We'll tell them all,' Stobey grins up at her tall friend, 'at Super-Rock Park we met Chug-a-lug, the Hooten-Nanny, and the three of us had a wonderful time swinging from a star.'
'I can't think of anything nicer to say,' Chug smiles. 'Let's do some more exploring and see what we can find.'
Chug-a-Lug the Hooten-Nanny reaches down, wraps one arm around Stobey and the other around Slutter, and draws them close. He leaps up and away and, laughing together, the three friends are off to another adventure.
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