Ellington Owl's Awesome Birthday
Copyright © 2012-2019 by Anthony J. Garot
Release version 8.2
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I dedicate this book to my sister who said,
“Your characters are like friends, I want them to come out and play again.”
The author is grateful to the following for suggestions, edits, and encouragement.
1. Lisa Farr
2. Holly Prevost, my niece, for straight answers.
3. Dave Pankratz. (Hoo hoo)
4. Juli Land-Marx
5. Mark Wells
Portions of the cover were created from clip art found at the following locations:
I started this book for fun. The book you are reading now was meant to be only the first chapter in a full book. As I continued to write, the single chapter took on a life of its own and became a complete, albeit small, story.
There are five central characters in this book. They each came from various sources.
I love lizards, so that is why my protagonist is a lizard. I often photographed lizards when I lived in Florida. Reginald P. Lizard was originally known as Mr. Lizard. He often acts like a real lizard, including push-ups and eating flies. He's a subtle character who speaks few words—usually one or two.
Lady Horse is patterned after a horse near where I lived in Boulder City, NV. I was speaking with my sister over the phone one day when I noticed a horse at the stable down the hill nodding her head vigorously. I mentioned this horse to my sister, and even mimicked, in time with the horse's nodding, “Yes, yes, yes, YES!” The horse literally nodded it’s head four times, over and over again.
Bootsy Bat was originally named “Drat Bat Puppet Roberts,” but I didn't want to get into trouble with the Princess Bride movie people. (That’s a great movie, by the way.) Bootsy Bat was derived from a finger puppet that my sister made for me of a bat for my forty-fourth birthday. In addition to liking lizards, I also like bats.
Ellington Owl and Thelonious Melon were derived from a photograph I saw on a friend's Facebook wall. It was a picture of an owl plush toy and a watermelon of the same size with drawn features to look like an owl. The characters' names were changed to protect the innocent.
The names of most of the characters are based upon famous jazz musicians. The obvious exception is Lady Horse. Bootsy Bat was named to honor a funk bassist, but I felt the parallel was close enough.
I hope you enjoy the story,
Since I dislike long prefaces in books, I will keep this short.
Anthony Garot, email@example.com
I published this first book in early 2013. A month or so later, I completed the second book. Then it wasn’t until over five years later than I wrote the third book. This was mainly as a gift to my sister who helps me keep the characters alive.
I had intended to write other books, but life has a way of getting in the way. I was surprised to see that five full years had elapsed.
Anyway, I felt that my third book, “A Day at the Beach,” was far superior to my prior books in this series. Since this book was the shortest, I decided to spruce it up a bit.
Since each book is a self-contained story, you can read them out of order without missing too much character development. In fact, until I spruce up book two, I recommend reading book 3 next—my writing skills and ideas have improved over time.
I removed the images from this book because drawing is not my forte. Perhaps one day I will find an artist who can capture the essence of the characters in drawing as did E. H. Shepard for the Pooh characters.
I hope you enjoy the story,
Anthony Garot, firstname.lastname@example.org
AN UPSET MELON rolled round and round an empty white mailbox labeled “T. Melon” in an otherwise ordinary melon patch. “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear . . . it still hasn't arrived! Why hasn't it arrived?” Thelonious Melon was beside himself with anxiety. “Surely he hasn’t forgotten me! Could it be that he does not want me at his birthday party? I went last year. Oh dear, oh dear oh dear . . . .”
IT WAS A beautiful spring morning with bees buzzing, as bees do, and butterflies flitting, as butterflies do. A regal horse stood at the fence-line of a meadow lined with fragrant wildflowers and rich green grass. Lady Horse, as she was called, munched on a juicy clump of the tall green grass next to a weathered fence post. When she finished, she spied another clump of grass on the other side of the fence, and she walked over to it. Unfortunately, when she arrived, she found that the grass only looked greener on the other side. She sighed and munched on the grass anyway.
Out of the corner of her eye, Lady Horse spied Reginald P. Lizard who approached from the west. He wore his trusty top hat and carried his knob handle walking stick. Lady Horse smiled in anticipation of this upcoming visitor.
When he arrived she said, “Good morning, Reginald P. Lizard,” in her regal way, which consisted of snorting air and tossing her head. “Where are you going on this lovely spring day?”
Reginald P. Lizard stopped, bowed, tilted his head just a bit, and touched the brim of his top hat with his right hand. “Birthday,” announced the lizard.
His response confused Lady Horse. She chewed a little more green grass while she puzzled it out. “It would seem that you have the wrong day, Reginald P. Lizard, for Ellington Owl's birthday celebration is tomorrow. Yes.” Now that that was settled, at least for Lady Horse, she moved toward another juicy clump of grass. However, she did keep an eye upon her lizard friend. She thought to herself, “Reginald P. Lizard is sensible, but to go to a birthday party on the day before—well! It just isn’t done!”
Nonplussed by the horse’s remark, the lizard touched his hat again. “Preparation,” he declared.
Lady Horse considered his terse reply. Suddenly, she understood, “Yes, yes, yes, YES! That is a capital idea, and also a noble thing to do. I do believe that I will join you.”
“Just so,” replied Reginald P. Lizard. He tipped his top hat forward upon his head.
The two friends walked together side by side. Lady Horse inquired, “Have I ever told you about dream catchers?”
As they walked, Lady Horse recounted her story about dream catchers, but Reginald P. Lizard's mind wandered. First he thought about dinner last night, which was mostly fruit and flowers with the occasional insect. Then he daydreamed banana pancakes (with syrup!) that he had this morning for breakfast.
Lady Horse finished her story, “. . . and that is where dreams go when you wake up. Yes.” Just as she finished her story, two pesky flies caught the lizard's attention. Lady Horse absentmindedly swished her tail to shoo them away, but to no avail—they kept coming back.
Reginald P. Lizard pretended not to see the flies. Although he generally dined upon plants, vegetables, and fruits, (and, of course, pancakes) he adored a nice, juicy, buzzing fly for a snack. He often thought that Lady Horse must be the luckiest horse in the world for she always had flies follow her around everywhere she went! Lady Horse did not see herself lucky in this regard.
A problem faced the lizard—he did not wish to offend the sophisticated Lady Horse. She was proper and dignified, and he was not certain that eating flies in her presence suited her refined and cultured stature. He decided that he would play it safe and ignore these flies. However, the more he tried to remove the flies from his mind, the more he heard their insistent buzz. He wondered why the tastiest flies were those that were the biggest pests. Lady Horse shooed away the flies again with her tail, but they came back again. Soon the mesmerized lizard could think of nothing else—yes, he had fly-on-the-brain. To make matters worse, an emboldened fly landed right upon his nose!
An inspiration came to Reginald P. Lizard. He pointed to a far away stand of trees and said, “What's that?!”
This jarred Lady Horse out of her explanation of “why bees sting but mosquitoes bite,” and she turned her head to look where the lizard had pointed. Snap!—out flashed the lizard’s tongue to catch a fly in midair! He covered his mouth with his left hand and munched upon the fly. He so delighted in its delicate fly-flavor. Lady Horse, who realize she had been duped, shook her head from side-to-side with a sigh, “There is nothing there to be seen in that direction, Reginald P. Lizard.”
Lady Horse thought, “There he goes again. Flies are such filthy creatures, but he’s a lizard, and it’s in his nature. Besides, he’s such a good friend, so I will overlook such uncultured antics. Yes.”
As they continued on their way, Lady Horse resumed talking, “So, Mondays are for important things, and Tuesdays are Shoes-days, and Wednesdays are . . . ,” but Reginald P. Lizard did not hear anything past Wednesdays.
REGINALD P. LIZARD and Lady Horse stood at the base of a tall cottonwood tree with lush green leaves and a sign that read, “E. Owl” on the trunk. The lizard scurried up the tree to the door while Lady Horse remained behind. She looked up the tree and thought, “Even if I could climb this tree, a lady does not ‘scurry’ up trees. It just isn’t done. No.”
The lizard tapped the door and waited. Then he gave three sharp knocks and waited again. He darted back down the tree to the waiting horse. Lady Horse concluded that “darting” and “scurrying” are much the same thing, and neither befit a lady. She lifted her head high at this thought, blinked her eyes, and nodded. She turned to Reginald P. Lizard and asked, “Well?”
“Perhaps our owl friend had a busy night in preparation for his upcoming party. It is best not to wake him. Yes.” She nodded her head once. “I wonder which tiara I should wear to the party.”
Reginald P. Lizard dropped to the ground to do a quick set of push-ups. When finished, he dusted himself off. Out of the corner of his eye he saw objects located at the base of a tall shade tree. He pointed in that direction then stood unblinking and motionless like a statue. Lady Horse couldn't quite make out what the objects were, so they both walked that way to find out.
“Ah, yes, yes, yes, YES!” exclaimed Lady Horse, “tents, tables, chairs, and boxes of decorations! Ellington Owl must have stowed them here last night. Say! I have an idea—let’s surprise him! You and I can set up these tents, tables, and chairs for his party while he sleeps. Will you do some of the heavy lifting for me?”
“Just so,” replied the lizard, who placed his top hat and walking stick next to a tree.
As they got busy Lady Horse said, “Did I ever tell you the story of why we see only one side of the moon? It all began with a wrist watch and a generous mouse who brought home cheese to his people . . . .”
AFTER A FEW hours of hard work, white canvas tents dotted the landscape with collapsible tables and chairs underneath. The tents were fastened to stakes with strong rope to prevent them from blowing away—you know how the wind can get. The trees were tastefully decorated with colored streamers, Chinese lanterns, and L.E.D. lights; and the area appeared festive and inviting. Reginald P. Lizard just finished hanging the final piñata when he heard an unexpected lull in Lady Horse's conversation, which was his cue to listen.
“Oh Ellington Owl!” called Lady Horse with a pleasant trill, “Ellington Owl!” When the owl waved she continued, “Do come down and see what we have done!”
Delighted with the scene below, he waved and dove off the landing. The owl swooped round and round the tents to assay the state of affairs then landed with a thud and a roll next to where they stood. “Hoo, Ow!” he muttered under his breath. Although Ellington Owl was round, soft, and huggable, these were not the best attributes for flight—but he made do.
“Hoo!” said the owl, “I don’t know what to say! You two have done a splendid job preparing for tomorrow's party! You even set up the dunk tank! Thank you so much! Thank you so very much!” H then added, “Hoo, you two must take a break now and have a bite to eat. Let me gather a little something to show my appreciation!”
Ellington Owl, known for his hospitality, gathered fixings for an impromptu picnic lunch. Soon the three friends dined on Glorious Morning muffins, toast with marmalade, and, of course, fragrant hot coffee. Ellington Owl was always prepared for an impromptu picnic lunch.
“I say,” said Lady Horse, “this Glorious Morning muffin is one of the best muffins I have ever eaten! It’s just lovely . . . marvelous! Out of this world!” She chomped down another and rolled her eyes in pleasure. “Bootsy Bat would love these! They literally have a glaze that gives an ever-so-slight slight ‘muffin crunch.’” She turned to Ellington Owl, “I say you were later than usual rising today. Did you have a long night of it?”
“Hoo, yes! After I collected the tents, tables, chairs and decorations, I flew to far side of the nearby swamp to hire the entertainment for the party!” The owl beamed a smile, “Hoo, it took quite a bit of searching, but I found them—the Frog Quartet! They are magnificent. In fact, look there! They approach even as we speak!”
As Lady Horse turned to look, she heard a loud snap! followed by muffled munching sounds. She turned back to see Reginald P. Lizard with his hand over his mouth. She sighed to herself and rolled her eyes. Then she thought, “Hmm. While it surely isn’t ladylike to eat a fly, I must admit, Reginald P. Lizard does keep the flies in check. I believe I shall overlook this odd, sometimes uncouth, idiosyncrasy of my lizard friend. Yes. After all, he is invited to all the best parties.”
Around the bend, four frogs pulled what appeared to be a small stagecoach, each jumped at quarter intervals. The frogs sang as they hopped. As they approached, the alto frog performed an intricate melody trill. The frogs finalized their approach and finished the song at the exact moment that the wagon stopped. Reginald P. Lizard applauded.
“Hoo, let me introduce you to the Frog Quartet whom I just mentioned. They will sing tomorrow at the party. Aren't they a hoot?”
Lady Horse smiled, “Their voices are glorious! Superlative! Do these fine gentlemen have names?”
“Hoo, I tell them apart by their voices. Gentlemen, would you be so kind as to sound off please?”
Mr. “Alto” Frog began by singing the word, “froggieeeeeeee,” and he extended the final “e” sound.
Mr. “Soprano” Frog also sang the word “ froggieeeeeeee,” but at a lower pitch. When he reached the prolonged “e” sound, he blending perfectly.
Mr. “Tenor” Frog and Mr. “Bass” Frog joined them in much the same manner.
All four frog-voices harmonized in a delightful and satisfying way. Then, with no discernible cue, they all stopped at the exact same moment.
Lady Horse was impressed, “Oh my, how extraordinary!” She nodded her head up and down. “Without a doubt, this will be a wonderful treat for the birthday party. Yes, yes, yes, YES!” She turned to the lizard and said, “Reginald P. Lizard, didn't you find them amazing!?”
“Just so.” The lizard tipped his top hat to the frogs then dropped down to the ground for a quick set of push-ups. The four frogs looked at the lizard in wonder and amazement. Mr. Alto Frog attempted to try a pushup himself. He struggled at first, but soon got the hang of it. The other frogs applauded his achievement.
Ellington Owl waved his wing at the frogs, “Hoo, my excellent good frog friends, you can see where the party will take place. I invite you to set up anywhere you find convenient. The party begins tomorrow at 3:00 PM, sharp.”
The frogs began the chore of unloading their wagon, and Reginald P. Lizard added his two strong arms to help out.
IN AN ORDINARY garden existed an ordinary melon patch with dozens of ordinary melons; and in this ordinary melon patch, amid the ordinary melons, stands a single ordinary white mailbox. On this ordinary white mailbox was lettered the name “T. Melon” in black stenciled letters. Rolling round and round this ordinary white mailbox, on a well-worn path, was a not-so-ordinary green melon. “Oh dear, oh dear . . . ” murmured the melon as he continued to roll.
Had the melon looked up in the sky, he would have noticed a black dot appear, then grow larger and larger. This black dot was none other than Bootsy Bat as he approached the melon patch. The furry brown bat sensed instantly the distress of the distraught melon.
“Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear,” continued the melon as he switched from circular to complex elliptical patterns.
Bootsy Bat landed upon the white mailbox with the name “T. Melon” written upon it. Thelonious Melon didn’t notice, or didn’t mind. “Ahem” said the bat. The melon kept rolling and mumbled under his breath. “Ahem,” said the bat a little louder. This still did not get the melon’s attention. “Muffin crunch!” yelled the bat. “What's the matter, Thelonious Melon?!”
Thelonious Melon rolled to a stop and looked up at the bat perched upon his mailbox. “Ellington Owl's birthday is tomorrow—and I did not receive an invitation!” The melon resumed rolling to underscore his unease at his predicament.
“Oh! Really? Well!” said the bat startled by this news. “Well, I'm sure there must be an explanation. There must have been a mistake.” Bootsy Bat scratched behind his left ear, which was sometimes itchier than his right ear. “I received my invitation last week, and it seems everyone we know—and some we don’t know—will be there.”
This last statement of the bat did not appease the melon at all; in fact, it seemed to make things worse. “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!” Thelonious Melon continued to roll in elliptical patterns that would make a mathematician raise his, her, or its eyebrow.
Bootsy Bat grimaced at his lack of tact. He offered, “Don't worry, old chum. I am just certain that you were invited. There must have been an extraordinary mishap with your invitation. You know how things can happen.”
Thelonious Melon did know how things can happen, so he paused. “Do you think so?”
“Yes, of course I do!” replied Bootsy Bat who spread his featherless wings to emphasize his point. “Ellington Owl would never intentionally exclude you. I just know it!”
“Just a mistake you say?” asked the melon who held back tears.
“Surely! It must have been,” replied the bat.
“Lost in the mail, perhaps?”
“Without a doubt!”
“Is that even a word?”
“It is now.”
Thelonious Melon was comforted by this interchange. Bootsy Bat always knew how to cheer him up. In a sheepish manner Thelonious Melon asked, “I don’t want to be an imposition, but . . . could I ask you to . . . . . . I mean . . . would you go and find out? Just to be sure. After all, it would not do for a melon to roll into a party to which he was not invited.”
“That sounds like something Lady Horse would say. Ha! Well, as matter of fact, I'm going to town. I will stop along my way to find out what is what. We will get to the bottom of this, you'll see. Now try to put this out of your mind. I will be back in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”
“How long is a shake?” inquired the melon, who had no sense of time because he had no wrist watch.
“Well, a shake is literally 10 nanoseconds, but that’s not enough time. How about this: you can expect an answer from me just after sunset.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! That is so generous of you. Are you sure it's not an imposition?”
“Not at all. Not for a friend,” said the brown bat.
“It would mean so much to me,” countered the melon.
“And then we will both know for sure!” added the brown bat.
“There will be no doubt.”
“Not even the shadow of a doubt,” said Bootsy Bat as he stretched out his wings and flew off.
“Not even a shadow,” whispered the melon to himself. A tear dripped down his rind.
WITH GREAT SPEED—not haste—Bootsy Bat flew toward the cottonwood tree house of Ellington Owl. The furry brown bat meditated upon his recent conversation with Thelonious Melon. It was not like Ellington Owl to forget anything, especially an invitation to Thelonious Melon who was so sensitive about these things. Something must have happened.
Approaching the tree house, Bootsy Bat spied the owl entertaining his good friends Reginald P. Lizard and Lady Horse with an impromptu picnic lunch. “I do so love a picnic lunch!” he said aloud. “I hope the party isn’t finished yet!” He landed upon the back of an empty chair. “Hello friends!”
“Hoo, welcome Bootsy Bat! How good of you to join us. We have a Glorious Morning muffin with your name on it! Can I offer you a cup of coffee to go with it?” asked Ellington Owl who was already pouring the steaming black coffee for his unexpected guest.
Lady Horse laughed, “You didn’t even wait for an answer before starting to pour!”
“Hoo, who, I say who, could refuse a delicious cup of coffee with a Glorious Morning muffin?”
“Just so,” added the lizard who took a sip of his own coffee.
“Hoo, do you know what? I created a list that I call ‘The Rules of Hospitality.’ They go like so:
“Hoo, the first rule of hospitality is to ‘Always have extra cakes and coffee, just in case an unexpected guest arrives. How appropriate to this situation, for Bootsy Bat is the unexpected guest!
“Hoo, and the second rule of hospitality is, ‘The best coffee is the coffee shared with friends’, and that’s applicable to all of us right now!”
Lady Horse nodded her head in approval and snorted, “Those are fine rules, Ellington Owl. So what is the third rule of hospitality?”
“Hoo, huh. I don’t remember at the moment. I am sure it will come to me.”
Bootsy Bat sipped the delicious coffee and made a squeak of delight. Discerning the white canvas tents, tables, folding chairs, colorful decorations, and the Frog Quartet, the bat said, “Looks like you are ready for the festivities tomorrow.” He nibbled at the Glorious Morning muffin and blurted, “Muffin crunch! This muffin is amazing!”
Lady Horse winked at Reginald P. Lizard who nodded back to her.
“Hoo, with many thanks to Lady Horse and Reginald P. Lizard who did all the work while I slept-in this morning!” Lady Horse's ears went down and she beamed with pride at this remark, for she was a proud horse who enjoyed acknowledgment when it was deserved.
She thought, “There is nothing wrong with pride—it is false pride that gets you into trouble.” She then began rummaging around in her sewing kit. There was a rip in one of the tents that she would mend after this impromptu picnic lunch.
Bootsy Bat struggled with the best method to breach the subject of the melon’s missing invitation. He didn't want to upset Ellington Owl. So, he decided to sneak up on the problem and said, “I rather like the design of your party invitations.” He continued to nibble at his Glorious Morning muffin.
Lady Horse took the bat's cue and nodded her head up and down, “Yes, yes, yes, YES! You did a superlative job Ellington Owl! Simple yet elegant. I very much approve.” Her tiara caught the mid afternoon sun as she placed a spool of heavy white thread on the table from her sewing kit. She murmured to herself, “Will need this thread, yes.”
“Well,” thought Bootsy Bat, “at least I know that Lady Horse received her invitation. I need to probe further.” He said, “So, did you deliver all the invitations yourself, Ellington Owl?”
“Hoo, yes . . . yes I did! Last week as a matter of fact. And I don't mind telling you that it took me all night long, what with landings and takeoffs and all.”
Lady Horse pulled out three different pairs of scissors from her sewing kit. She murmured, “I think the utility scissors will be best for tarp. Yes.”
Bootsy Bat considered the owl's statement. Ellington Owl flew quite well; it was the takeoffs and landings that proved tricky for him. The bat was often surprised that such a round, soft, and huggable owl could fly at all—but he never mentioned it. The furry brown bat said, “Oh, all night? How many invitations did you deliver, then?” Bootsy Bat hoped that this time he asked the correct leading question to get to the bottom of things. He so liked getting to the bottom of things.
“Hoo, I delivered all of them, naturally!” hooted Ellington Owl with a chuckle because he thought the bat was making a joke.
Lady Horse took out a plastic ruler and measuring tape and murmured, “Won’t need these.”
Bootsy Bat thought, “Foo. This is taking too much time, and Thelonious Melon is waiting. OK, time to pull off the Band-Aid and hit the heart of the matter.” He looked directly into Ellington Owl’s eyes and said, quietly and slowly, “Thelonious Melon did not receive an invitation to your birthday party.”
All in attendance at the impromptu picnic lunch fell silent. Even the wind stopped blowing! Lady Horse dropped a pin, and everyone heard it!—yes, it was that quiet.
Ellington Owl's yellow eyes widened, and his beak fell open, “Hoo, what?! That cannot be!” Lady Horse gasped and fretted. Reginald P. Lizard turned his shiny jet black eyes toward the the owl. Thelonious Melon was a sensitive melon—they all knew that.
“Hoo, are you quite sure?”
“Yes. He told me himself,” said Bootsy Bat in a soothing voice.
“Hoo, but it cannot be!”
“Oh, but I am afraid it is,” replied the bat.
“Hoo, he must be quite upset!”
“He is up in arms about it.”
“Hoo, there must have been a mistake.”
“That's exactly what I told him.”
“Hoo, hoo, . . . .” hooted Ellington Owl who was now flustered. He thought for a moment.
“Hoo, friends, I must take care of this important and urgent matter! I will see you at the party tomorrow.” Without waiting for a response, the owl ran and flapped his wings in a most unusual manner. It seemed impossible for this round, soft, and huggable owl to become airborne, but suddenly he was.
Reginald P. Lizard pulled off his hat and scratched his head. Replacing his hat, he looked first at Lady Horse then at Bootsy Bat, and said, “Up in arms.”
A smile instantly formed upon Bootsy Bat’s face, and he nodded to the lizard in acknowledgment.
Lady Horse realized that something was up. She pondered aloud for a moment. “Up in arms . . . hmm . . . up in arms . . . that’s what Bootsy Bat said earlier, but I don’t see . . . .” Then, in a moment of clarity, her faced brightened, and she nodded her head up and down vigorously, “Up in arms! Yes, yes, yes, YES! Thelonious Melon is ‘up in arms about it!’ But melons don’t have arms!”
Reginald P. Lizard said, “Just so.”
The three friends finished their coffee and began to clear the dishes from the impromptu picnic lunch. Bootsy Bat said, “While I sure love an impromptu picnic lunch, I dislike doing dishes.”
Lady Horse suggested, “Why don’t you make a game out of it?”
“How do you mean?”
“One way that works for me is to challenge myself to make up a new song. It doesn’t matter if the song is any good or even if it rhymes,” said Lady Horse.
The brown furry bat considered this then said, “I’m not much of a singer. Do you have any other games?”
“Oh yes! You can make it into a race! But be careful! If you break a dish or glass, you immediately lose the race, so you must know the difference between speed and haste.”
“Muffin crunch! That’s a great idea,” said Bootsy Bat. “Do you have any more suggestions?”
“Of course!” said Lady Horse. “Sometimes I try to do the dishes with my rear-left hoof in the air! You could also try doing the dishes with one eye closed or while holding your breath.”
Reginald P. Lizard tapped Lady Horse on the shoulder and said, “Stories.”
“Yes, yes, yes, YES! That’s the best way to do the dishes—you have someone else there to read stories to you, or they can make them up. There is no reason you can’t have a friend help you do the dishes!”
“Let’s do that now!” said Bootsy Bat.
The three of them brought the dishes from the impromptu picnic lunch to the utility sink in the shed behind Ellington Owl’s tree house. Lady Horse said, “. . . and that is why this utility sink is sometimes called a ‘laundry tub’ and sometimes a ‘slop sink,’ but that, of course, is indecorous language. Yes.”
AN UNGAINLY OWL descended to an ordinary melon patch with a thud. “Hoo, hoo, ow, ow, ow!” he said as he rolled several feet. Rising from the ground proved difficult until he untangled himself from several melon vines. He brushed himself off and walked toward the single white mailbox, which he leaned against. Thelonious Melon watched and waited.
“Hoo, Thelonious Melon! You are just the melon I wish to see.”
With a nothing-is-the-matter attitude, Thelonious Melon said, “Oh, hello Ellington Owl. Pleasant weather we're having, isn’t it.” His voice cracked as he spoke the last words.
Ellington Owl did not beat around the bush, “Hoo, it just came to my attention that you did not receive an invitation to my birthday party! I was startled and upset by this news. I flew straight over when I heard!”
Snuffling a little, the melon said, “Oh, is there a party? That’s right—it’s your birthday soon. Well, if I don’t see you before then, have a happy birthday.” The melon flushed green in embarrassment.
“Hoo, I delivered all the invitations myself last week—including yours. I can only surmise that your invitation was blown out your mailbox. You know how the wind can get.”
Thelonious Melon did know how the wind could get. He began to feel better now that they had gotten to the bottom of things. “Do you know, I was just about to suggest that!”
“Hoo, suggest what?”
“Well—I was going to suggest that ‘you know how the wind can get.’”
“Hoo, quite right, quite right. It would not do for the wind—that cunning trickster—to prevent such an excellent good friend, my dear friend Thelonious Melon, from attending one of my parties. That is, if you still want to come.”
Thelonious Melon said softly, “Excellent good friend? Dear friend?” It was not every melon who was a “dear friend” of an owl!
“Hoo, so please accept my personal invitation.”
This moved the melon. He rolled around his white mailbox in a wide ellipse. “A personal invitation! Personal! Just for me!” Thelonious Melon then remember his manners and stopped rolling. He announced, “Ellington Owl, I am honored to receive your personal invitation. Yes, I will indeed come to your party! Consider this a personal RSVP!”
“Hoo, then it is settled—a personal acceptance for a personal invitation. I will see you tomorrow, then. Now I must be off to finish preparations. Until tomorrow then, my friend.”
Ellington Owl ran down the melon patch while flapping his wings in a ludicrous manner, and, when it seemed impossible for him to take off, he tripped on a vine and was catapulted into the air.
Thelonious Melon thought that it must be wonderful to fly, but watching Ellington Owl's takeoffs and landings, he decided to just stay on the ground. The melon felt relieved about the invitation, but he was exhausted from all the worry. He said out loud, “I think I will have a little lie-down. Time for sleepy bye-bye.” As he dozed off, he thought, “Tomorrow will be a grand day . . . a grand day indeed . . . .”
THE WEATHER ON Ellington Owl’s birthday was warm with just a slight breeze. A few white clouds dotted the sky. At 2 o’ clock precisely, Reginald P. Lizard collected Lady Horse from her barn, and they walked side-by-side toward the tree house of Ellington Owl. Reginald P. Lizard watched the insistent flies that often followed the horse.
Lady Horse's tail was braided all the way down, and her tiara gleamed bright in the sunlight. She said, “. . . and that is why some animals have noses, some have beaks, some have snouts, and some have nothing at all. Yes.”
“Just so,” replied Reginald P. Lizard on cue, although he hadn't listened at all.
“I’m so glad you wore your houndstooth jacket. It fits you well, and you look dapper.”
The lizard blinked.
When they arrived, the two friends went directly to the white canvas tent with bunches of colorful balloons tied to each corner. These balloons indicated the food tent, which contained fine desserts, toast with marmalade, blueberry and Glorious Morning muffins, fruit (including mangoes—a lizard’s favorite), coleslaw and other side dishes, cookies, chips, and many other tasty morsels. One table, which was covered with a red and white checkered tablecloth, held two industrial-sized stainless steel coffee makers. There were an even dozen canisters of coffee and dozens of black ceramic mugs alongside. Indeed, it was the aroma of the coffee drew the horse and lizard to that particular table.
Ellington Owl was farther away hanging colorful streamers that shimmered in the light breeze. The Frog Quartet could be heard preparing in the distance.
Thelonious Melon arrived just after Reginald P. Lizard added cream to his coffee. He rolled up to greet his friends and partake of the delicious brown brew. With a bright smile he said, “Good afternoon Lady Horse and Reginald P. Lizard! I knew I would find you at the coffee table. A delightful day for a party—don't you think?”
Lady Horse nodded her head up and down, “Yes, yes, yes, YES! An outstanding day. We heard about the unfortunate circumstance of your missing invitation, but we are delighted that the issue was resolved.”
“Just so,” added the lizard, who gingerly sipped his hot coffee.
Thelonious Melon beamed with pride, “Did you know that Ellington Owl flew to my humble melon patch to give me a personal invitation?” The melon spun around in a circle.
Lady Horse said, “A personal invitation? Well! Those are the best! Yes, yes, yes, YES! Why that is just the thing to rectify a missing invitation.”
Soon Thelonious Melon had his own cup of coffee. Just then, Bootsy Bat, who wore a black tie and had his hair spiked up, swooped overhead to land on Thelonious Melon’s head. Lady Horse finished her story, “. . . and that is why no one, and I mean no one, gets excited over persimmons. I think it’s safe to say that persimmons are nature’s most uninteresting fruit.”
Reginald P. Lizard nodded toward Bootsy Bat then dropped to do a set of push-ups. When finished, he got up and pointed toward the approaching owl, “Host.”
As Lady Horse turned to greet the host—snap!—she heard a loud sound followed by muffled munching sounds. Lady Horse closed her eyes, snorted, then shook her head a little from side to side.
“Hoo, ah, good!” said the owl. “Hoo, the guests are arriving! Smiles everyone! Smiles! Welcome to the party!” The fastidious owl, who wore a bright Hawaiian shirt, brushed a smudge off one of the coffee makers. “Hoo, do make yourself comfortable and enjoy yourselves. I do hope the coffee is to your liking—it’s a gourmet roast from a little shop I found across the way.” Murmurs and nods of assent abounded. “Hoo, what a grand day for a party!”
WELL-DRESSED GUESTS began to arrive, initially a trickle, then in a steady stream. Ninety-nine friends and kin—all told—attended the party. One hundred guests if you count the wind, who wasn’t strictly speaking invited.
The Frog Quartet sang everyone's favorite songs upon request.
Three enormous cakes—vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry—were so large that guests could have seconds or thirds. In fact, they could have a slice of each, and no one would look twice at them. Guests also had multiple choices of ice cream in flavors of vanilla, chocolate, coffee, Rocky road, butterscotch, and Neapolitan.
The piñata—hit by a young aardvark—burst open and jettisoned candy in all directions—much to the delight of the younger guests who scampered to collect all they could. Mugs and mugs of coffee were served. Although the coffee makers were large, the demand was greater, so the coffee pots were filled and refilled multiple times. Reginald P. Lizard helped in this department. It appeared that the food and beverages were a success.
Some guests chatted with each other in small groups while others played party games. There was pin the tail on the donkey, tag, hide and seek, the three-legged race (and eight-legged race for quadrupeds), egg toss, water balloon toss, melon toss (of course, Thelonious Melon won that game!), Marco Polo, hot potato, red rover, Simon says, and many other inventive games. In fact, Bootsy Bat and Thelonious Melon created their own fun game of “Toss the Peanut Into the Melon’s Mouth.”
Ellington Owl, although elated and exuberant at the turnout, was exhausted. Even with help from his friends, throwing a party of this size was a lot of work. He sneaked away to a shade tree to take a well deserved short rest—just for a few minutes, he thought. The poor tired bird, however, fell fast asleep!
Some time later, the dapper Reginald P. Lizard happened upon the dozing owl. Ellington Owl started awake. “Hoo, what . . what . . . huh? Oh, dear me . . . I must have fallen asleep.” The owl stood up, brushed himself off, and said, “Hoo, hello Reginald P. Lizard. Are you enjoying the party?”
“Just so,” replied the lizard who then handed the owl a gift.
“Hoo, why you shouldn't have!” The owl tore open the elegant wrapping paper and looked at the strange device for a moment. “Hoo, um . . . what is this interesting device?”
“Hoo, what is an ab-a-cus used for?”
“Counting,” said the lizard, then he touched the brim of his top hat, and without another word, he turned and walked toward the coffee table.
Bootsy Bat saw the exchange and was curious, so he flew over. “What ever is that thing?”
“Hoo, I have no idea,” replied Ellington Owl. “Hoo, apparently, it is called an 'abacus,' and it’s used for counting. Do you know, I have a strange feeling that this device will play a significant role in the days to come.”
Bootsy Bat shrugged his shoulders. Gifts from Reginald P. Lizard were often eccentric and puzzling—nothing new here. Bootsy Bat said, “Let's join the next cake walk!” The owl nodded, and they both made their way toward the cakes.
On the way they walked past Lady Horse who chatted with some younger horses. “. . . and I had just a small slice of the chocolate cake with one scoop of Rocky Road ice cream and one scoop of vanilla ice cream. I prefer chocolate ice cream, but there was none—it was all gone!” The younger horses looked at Lady Horse expectantly. “I suspect ghosts!” she said. The younger horses whinnied with wide-open eyes. In a conspiratorial voice, Lady Horse added, “You didn’t hear this from me, but I have it on good authority that ghosts just love chocolate ice cream. This is why chocolate ice cream disappears before any other flavor! Haven’t you noticed this? It doesn’t matter if you are at a party, a picnic, an ice cream shop, or if it’s just a quart of ice cream in your freezer—chocolate ice cream always disappears first!” The other horses nodded in astonishment at the accuracy and veracity of Lady Horse’s suggestion.
AGAINST HIS BETTER judgment, Ellington Owl sat upon a narrow wooden platform above the water in the dunk tank. A lever arm jutted out the side of the tank and sported a small target with red and white concentric rings.
As a rule, owls don’t like being wet, but Ellington Owl was a good sport and agreed to take a turn. After all, he wanted to set a good example to the guests. Reginald P. Lizard stepped forward to pick up a regular baseball with his right hand. He looked at the ball with a puzzled expression—it seemed as though he didn’t understand what to do with it.
Lady Horse stayed back a few paces. She snorted a quiet chuckle. Her head gave a trace of a nod. She could not, however, suppress her brilliant smile. Thelonious Melon whispered to Lady Horse, “That owl’s going to get dunked but good!”
“Hush now,” whispered Lady Horse back. “Don’t give it away!”
Bootsy Bat flew overhead to see the event. He swooped down and landed on Thelonious Melon’s head. He wouldn’t miss this for the world.
Ellington Owl gave a light taunt to the lizard, “Hoo, you'll never dunk me! I am still dry! Dry owl here! Everyone look at the dry owl! Hoo, hoo!”
Reginald P. Lizard stood as motionless as a statue. Then, without warning the lizard moved—snap!—but it was only a fly. Ellington Owl had flinched, however, which made Thelonious Melon giggle, Bootsy Bat grin, and Lady Horse nod her head up and down. Regaining his composure, the owl delivered more light jibes. “Hoo, I'm still dry as a bone here! You throw like a Northern slimy salamander. No one can hit that little target! Are you going to throw the ball or what? I’m waiting!”
The tension mounted. Other guests had gathered around. But Reginald P. Lizard stood motionless. Lady Horse nodded her head and began to scraped her hoof in the dirt. Thelonious Melon whirred in place, which caused Bootsy Bat to fly up into the air, but then he settled back atop the melon. The melon whispered, “Oh dear, oh dear, a wet owl I do fear.”
In the distance, the Frog Quartet sang the song “Oh My Darling, Clementine” in perfect four part harmony. The wind blew through the trees, which rustled the leaves in an eerie sort of way. Still the patient lizard waited.
Out of the corner of his eye, Reginald P. Lizard spotted something white fluttering in the breeze. The sound of the wind blended with the singing of the frogs, louder and louder, until at last, on the final note of the song:
1. Reginald P. Lizard's arm shot out as fast as lightning!
2. The ball slammed against the red and white target.
3. The platform under Ellington Owl released.
4. The lizard snatched the white paper out of the air.
5. The good owl was soaked.
Lady Horse laughed so hard that she fell to her front knees. Thelonious Melon laughed until he cried. Other guests laughed and clapped.
Bootsy Bat said, “This party only gets better and better!” He flew to the wet owl and assisted him out of the dunk tank. Reginald P. Lizard handed the owl a thick cotton towel.
After he dried off, the owl shivered and laughed. “Hoo, that water is cold! C-O-L-D!”
Bootsy Bat said, “What have you got in your hand, Reginald P. Lizard?”
“Invitation.” The lizard then pointed to Thelonious Melon.
Bootsy Bat, Lady Horse, Ellington Owl, and Thelonious Melon moved in to take a closer look at the white piece of paper.
Lady Horse gasped, “Why, it is your invitation, Thelonious Melon! To this very party! So that rascal, the wind, did have it!”
Everyone (except the lizard) said simultaneously, “You know how the wind can get.”
“Just so,” replied the lizard.
“Hoo! I just remembered the 3rd rule of hospitality! You always send an RSVP to a formal invitation. So, Thelonious Melon, will you attend my birthday party?” Everyone laughed while Thelonious Melon beamed green with pride because he received both a personal and a formal invitation—he was the only one who did!
THE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION lasted well into the star-filled evening. Happy guests departed full of food, coffee, and more than a little tired from all the excitement. Ellington Owl was already in his tree house fast asleep—he had made sure to chat with each guest during the day, which was a big effort with ninety-nine guests (one hundred, if you count the wind). Thelonious Melon was fast asleep in his melon patch, and Bootsy Bat’s feet clung to the bottom of the melon’s white mailbox where he slept upside down. Even the flies were asleep.
The last two guests at the party were Reginald P. Lizard and Lady Horse. First to arrive; last to depart.
Weary, Lady Horse said, “The party was a grand success, but this is some awful mess left over. It will take a lot of work to clean it all up. I’m tired now. Will you meet me tomorrow morning to take a stab at this mess before anyone else wakes up?”
Reginald P. Lizard nodded and touched the brim of his top hat, “Just so.”
The lizard picked up his walking stick, and the two friends headed home, side by side.
Lady Horse said, “Have I ever told you why you never find dry ice inside a motorcycle engine? It all stems from the fact that . . . .”
This lizard stopped listening and dreamed of his bed.
* * *
Stay tuned for:
“The Voyage of Captain Reginald P. Lizard And His Amazing Crew”
Always remember, and never forget, in a story with a talking melon, all things are possible.
Reginald Pastorius Lizard
The Frog Quartet
( so far . . . )
» Always have extra cakes and coffee, just in case an unexpected guest arrives.
» The best coffee is the coffee shared with friends.
» Always send an RSVP to a formal invitation.
Stay tuned for more Rules of Hospitality.
I do hope you have enjoyed this book in the world of Reginald P. Lizard!
For the latest news and information about other projects I am doing, go to http://www.garot.com/ .
Keep doing your push-ups, and be mindful of the wind—you know how the wind can get!
Anthony Garot, email@example.com
I invite you, or your kids, to send drawings of your favorite characters.
Or maybe you have an idea for a Rule of Hospitality that Ellington Owl would love to hear?
Or just drop a line to tell me which characters you liked best and why.
You can send images or suggestions via email or post on the Facebook page.
Anthony has always been fond of the written word. He is a self-proclaimed ‘reader,’ who enjoys a variety of genres including philosophy, psychology, motivation, inspiration, trading, leadership, and religion.
His first book was a kids book! The characters are fun and simple for kids, but also have full, rich personalities to appeal to the ‘kid’ inside every adult.
Anthony’s first departure from kids books was ‘A ForEx Trading Plan,’ which combines years of market study into a trading plan for foreign exchange trading. He then went on to write a self-improvement book, ‘A Mantra Way To Better Living.’
In his spare free time, Anthony speculates currencies, shoots photos, reads, listens to audio books, does push-ups, writes software, and drinks coffee. Oh, and a touch of advocacy.
Anthony currently lives in Phoenix, AZ.
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BOOK 1: Ellington Owl's Awesome Birthday