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The following is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck by Stan Swanson. For more information on The Songwriter's Journal please visit For more information on Inspiration for Songwriters, please visit

The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck

It happened so fast, Hobart doubted even a fortune teller like Delphenia Dragonwart would have seen it coming.

The cats came out of nowhere!

At least that’s the way it seemed. And exactly how Pickwick Prattfall knew he was going to be there that morning — well, Hobart never did find out.

Cats darted out from every conceivable direction. They seemed to spring out of every crate and carton stacked and scattered about the alley. They dashed from drain pipes, blossomed out of barrels and bounded out of boxes.

It was a nightmare.

The stampede consisted of every breed imaginable. Cats of every conceivable color and creation seemed to emerge out of thin air. Nefarious Nosenibblers, White-Whiskered Wagtails and Palidromium Purrfects darted across his path. Not to mention two or three Stringtailed Stubbies.

Hobart tried to keep his balance as his airskates attempted to adjust to the situation and navigate the clutter of cats. The skates jerked him to the left and yanked him back to the right. He soared over the top of a huge orange cat and somehow managed to remain upright.

The last cat in the batch was just a kitten, but ironically, it was his downfall. To be precise it was nothing more than a tiny three-toed tangerine tabby. His skates arced up into a dizzying loop to avoid the obstacle. Hobart’s butt bounced off the cobblestone pavement and he cartwheeled flat-faced into the gutter.

He gasped for breath. It seemed like every ounce of air had been forced from his lungs. He lay there stunned. He knew he was alive by the moans escaping from his lips.

He jerked his arm away as something brushed by. He slowly (and a little painfully) opened his eyes and gazed around. Cats continued to zoom around the alley. They reminded Hobart of cardboard cutouts in a carnival shooting gallery. Even in his groggy condition, he knew they were not behaving in normal fashion. Not that anything cats did was normal as far as he was concerned.

The truth was that Hobart Hucklebuck was not fond of cats.

No, that wasn’t quite true. Hobart Hucklebuck was deathly afraid of cats. He had never figured out the reason, but felines of every kind scared the bejeebies out of him.

He watched in horror as dozens of the animals raced frantically around the alley.

Their antics slowed and after a few more long minutes, they resorted to being typical cats doing typical cat things. Not that this diminished Hobart’s fear. The only thing that could do that would be the disappearance of the little monsters. Unfortunately for Hobart that did not come quickly.

Some of the critters yawned and stretched while others simply hissed at each other. A few sat down to lick themselves, but cats being cats, far too many of them seemed curious about the young boy sprawled on the pavement.

As far as Hobart was concerned, this was not a good thing.

The cats approached him tentatively, but he knew their curiosity would soon get the best of them.

He looked frantically about the alley for an avenue of escape, but the cats were everywhere. He shivered uncontrollably. There were easily a million other places he would rather be at the moment. Maybe a million and one!

He would even choose be locked in the Tower of Tribulation than trapped in his current surroundings. Hobart took a deep breath and sat up. His aches and pains were forgotten for the time being.

“Big deal,” he whispered to himself. “It’s only a few little animals. All I need to do is talk my feet into cooperating and get the flooglesnort out of here. Just move nice and slow. Yes... nice and slow...”

But Hobart lost it completely the moment another feline brushed up against him. He yelped and tried to stand, but a wave of dizziness swept over him. He plopped back down on the cobblestone pavement nearly squashing a White-Whiskered Wagtail in the process.

Not trusting his airskates, he pulled them off. He stood up slowly, balancing against a garbage can and pondered his predicament. Maybe he could scare them off with a blastball.

Hobart wiggled the fingers of his right hand and took a deep breath. He closed his eyes and concentrated and felt a familiar tingling in the palm of his hand. But before he could complete the process, his concentration was shattered.

“Afraid of a few little kitty cats, Hucklebuck?”

Hobart glanced up.

A shadowy figure stood at the end of the alley leaning casually against a street sign. Could things get any worse? Had someone actually witnessed the whole ordeal? But then he finally recognized the figure.

 “I should have known,” Hobart muttered, wiping a splotch of blood from his cheek.

It was Pickwick Prattfall.

Hobart took a step forward, still a little unsteady on his feet. He touched a bump forming on his forehead and sent Pickwick a scathing scowl.

“It’s against the law to enchant stuff unless you’re certified, Pick. It’s also against the law to enchant living creatures.”

“What?” the bully asked innocently. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Enchanted cats, you say? My, my, that would be devious. And quite an achievement, too. Of course, using magic to accomplish anything would be an achievement for you, wouldn’t it?”

 “You can deny it all you want,” Hobart shot back out of anger. He was hurt more by Pick’s words than getting bounced around on the cobblestone pavement. “I don’t see anyone else around here. And those cats certainly didn’t behave in a normal fashion. You had to have cast an enchantment on them, Pickwick Pratfall!”

Pick’s eyebrows arched upward.

“It’s your word against mine, Slowbart. Or maybe that garbage can could be a witness for you. Maybe it’s just a full moon or something. Who knows? Besides, whoever heard of anyone being afraid of a few little kitty cats?”

Hobart stepped forward.

“Well, Maybe I’m not fond of cats, Pick, but I’m sure not afraid of you,” he said.

“Oh, yeah? What are you going to do? Throw a few feeble energy balls at me? My kid sister conjures up more powerful blastballs than you. And she’s only two years old.”

“I wasn’t thinking about using blastballs, Pick,” Hobart replied as he formed a fist.

Pickwick immediately took a step back. He was a year older than Hobart, but being older and bigger doesn’t always translate to being brave. He was your typical bully. Lots of nastiness and teasing, but never quite ready to fight.

“Look out, Hucklebuck!” Pick shouted. “There’s a cat sneaking up behind you!”

Hobart jumped to his right and smacked his head on a “Watch Out For Bumps” sign. That, of course, resulted in another lump forming on his already tender skull.

And, of course, there was no cat.

Pickwick broke into a fit of giggles and guffaws.

 “What’s going on here?”

The two boys glanced towards the end of the alley.

“Well, well,” Pick said, “if it isn’t Rosie-Posie, too-darned-nosy.”

Rosie Rumpleskirt knew Pickwick Prattfall was trouble. She stood there with hands firmly on hips, her foot tapping impatiently as she waited for an explanation. She reminded Hobart of a miniature version of Flora. Under different circumstances the image might  have seemed quite humorous.

Pickwick hesitated. He had briefly considered taking on Hobart, but Rosie Rumpleskirt was another matter. With hair pulled back in a tight ponytail and a touch of dirt on her cheek, he didn’t want to tangle with her. The last boy that had teased her ended up with a black eye.

The girl glanced at Hobart.

“Is everything okay, Hobart?” she asked.

“Everything’s fine. Pickwick was just leaving. Weren’t you, Pick?”

The bully grinned revealing two missing front teeth.

“Sure,” he replied casually. “I wouldn’t want to be around when another pack of ferocious felines attack. Maybe you’d better let your girlfriend walk you home, Hucklebuck. Maybe she can kiss your ‘owies’ for you.”

“She’s not my girlfriend!” Hobart blurted.

He felt bad about the remark when he noticed the look on Rosie’s face. He knew she had a small crush on him. He didn’t really mind. Of course, he’d deny it with his last breath if ever asked. Rosie was actually pretty when she cleaned herself up and she was a blast to hang around.

Pickwick laughed again. He stuck out his tongue at Rosie to pretend he wasn’t afraid of her and then strolled casually up the street towards Twirlin’ Merlin’s Enchanted Toy Store.

Rosie walked over to Hobart. She reached out to inspect the scrape on his cheek, but he jerked away.

“I just wanted to see how bad it was,” she said. “You look like you were attacked by a wild rose bush.”

“I’m fine!” Hobart snapped as he struggled to regain his composure.

“Hobart, I’m just trying to help!”

“Who said I needed any help!”

Between his battered body and wounded pride, Hobart Hucklebuck found himself in no mood for sympathy.

A rare tear rolled down Rosie Rumpleskirt’s face. By the time Hobart reacted and properly scolded himself for acting like a jerk, she had turned and began walking away.

“Rosie, wait!”

The girl quickened her pace not even acknowledging she had heard him.

Hobart sighed.

He picked up his airskates and hung them around his neck. He was in no hurry to put them on. You never knew when another cat might pop out of a drain pipe. Besides, he was too sore to bend over and buckle them.

He limped out of the alley and tried not to think about his numerous bruises, bumps, scrapes and scratches. He would contact Specks when he got back to the magic shop. Hobart hoped his friend would understand.

He hobbled back towards Druid Lane wondering when he was going to start enjoying spring break.

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Copyright 2007 by Stan Swanson. Any information from this site can be reprinted as long as a link to this site is included.

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