Flip Takes a Holiday
By Bill Shurkey
Even frogs it seems have pet peeves and Flip would be the first to tell you his. "It's just ghastly," he'd exclaim, "that someone would mistake me for a toad. Why, anyone with a speck of common sense knows toads don't wear glasses." He'd then quickly adjust his on the end of his nose and dive into the pond's murky water.
Flip never came up until he had his fill. Bugs were his favorite but he was never known to turn down a tasty crawfish, if one crossed his path, and he'd thank God for it.
One evening, just after sundown, Flip heard a noise in the weeds along the bank and went to investigate. There coming towards him was a slithery eel-like creature as long as his lily pad was wide. The creature wore a cap on his head and he was humming to himself.
"Stop and desist," yelled Flip. "Who goes there?"
"Why it's me of course," said the creature.
"Are you a worm?" Flip eyed the creature suspiciously.
"Well, I never--! Do I honestly look like a worm to you?"
"Well, yeah," Flip said. "Sort of. You are the same size as a large one, you know."
"Well, I am not, sir!"
"Then what are you?"
"I am a slickerydoo, sir, and proud of it."
"Oh," Flip said. "I see. Do you have a name?"
"Of course I have a name. It's Mr. Wiggly, sir." He smacked his lips. "And what is yours?"
"Why it's Flip, and glad to make your acquaintance, my good fellow. Just passing through?"
"As a matter of fact, I've been on holiday and am at this very minute on my way back to the sewers."
"The sewers? What do you do there?"
"I live there. It's my home."
"Sounds interesting," said Flip. The old pond gets boring after a while. I might enjoy the sewers. What do you do there?"
"I usually sleep during the day. At night I work and eat by sucking stuff off the sides of drains."
Flip took his glasses off and cleaned them. "Very interesting," he said. "Say, you wouldn't consider exchanging places for a week or so, would you, old man?"
"Mmm, I don't know. What would I have to do?"
"You do whatever you like. I mostly eat and sleep."
"And what do you do for fun?" Mr. Wiggly smacked his lips again.
"I jump a lot," Flip said. "And what about you?"
Mr. Wiggly thought a moment then laughed. "I scare women. I wait just inside the drain until they go into the kitchen for a drink of water and then I make loud gurgling sounds." Mr. Wiggly chuckled. "They scream every time. Sometimes I do it in the bathroom. What a hoot!"
Mr. Wiggly chuckled again. "I tried scaring kids but they're too smart for me. Think it's funny. And of course," he added, "it is."
"I could do that," Flip said. "What do you say? Do you want to trade?"
Mr. Wiggly thought a moment. "Well, Flip, sir, the pond would be a nice change and jumping sounds like fun. It sure beats sucking on dirty pipes all night. I must say, I am rather bored with my position in the drains. You've got yourself a deal." He pulled the cap down tighter on his head. "C'mon I'll take you halfway and show you where the sewers are. Once you're inside it's up to you where you go."
Mr. Wiggly stopped thirty minutes later under a scraggly pine tree. "Keep going down this path for another quarter mile and you'll find the sewer. You can't miss the hole. A week from today we'll meet here under this same tree at sundown. Deal?"
"It's a deal," Flip said. "Have fun my friend."
* * *
The week was a long one for them both. At sundown Flip limped up to the pine tree. He had no jump left in him and the trip back had worn him out. He found Mr. Wiggly curled up in a ball against the tree trunk.
"I say, old man, you look a little green around the gills," Flip said.
Mr. Wiggly moved his lips but nothing came out. He groaned and tried to uncoil.
"What's the matter?" Flip said.
"I'm not made for jumping," Mr. Wiggly gasped. God didn't intend it and I must completely agree with the Almighty on this issue. Seems I'm more of a crawler myself."
He groaned again. "Not having legs should have been my first clue." He painfully worked himself into an upright position and sighed. "Furthermore, Flip, sir, I feel very strongly about putting anything into my mouth that moves. Bugs were bad enough but crawfish are downright painful."
"You know, Mr. Wiggly, I must say I missed the little critters and for a whole week I dreamed of nothing but crawfish. Look at my mouth. Look! Look! Look! It's orange. Do you know why it's orange? Rust, that's why. Disgusting, foul tasting rust. How you can put the crud that clings to those drains into your mouth is a mystery I'll never solve."
"Oh but it's delicious. Just the thing for an empty stomach. 'Rust makes the meal but crud makes it a banquet', I always say. Did you at least have fun scaring the women?"
Flip shook his head. "I didn't scare any women; they scared me. I let out a croak just like you said but all they did was scream to their husbands something about creaky floorboards."
"Well, no wonder," Mr. Wiggly chuckled. "I told you to make gurgling noises, not croak."
"But I couldn't make gurgling noises. My mouth's shaped to croak not gurgle. God made me a croaker and croaking's what I have to do."
Mr. Wiggly struggled to straighten himself out. "Well, Flip, sir, I better be heading home. I'm famished."
"Me too, Mr. Wiggly and I could use a nice dip in the pond. There has to be some way to get this rust off, isn't there?"
"Time, sir. It's just going to take time. Well, so long, Flip. I can't say it's been fun."
Flip waved. "Stay strong, my friend. Stay strong."
Mr. Wiggly stopped and turned around. "Maybe next year we could do this again."
"What!" Flip shouted.
"You know, meet under this pine tree and visit."
Flip sighed. "Oh. That would be fun, Mr. Wiggly. We can have a picnic but let's each bring our own food. And if you find my glasses could you please bring them with you?"
"If you'll bring my cap. The last time I saw it a large, very disagreeable crawfish was trying it on."
Bill Shurkey enjoys creating fantasy worlds where unusual characters learn something about their place in God's world that kids can apply to their own lives. In all his children's writing, Bill teaches them that they aren't different, only unique. Each has special gifts and talents from God that only they can use. Bill is also our editor for The Rhythm of Life.
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