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
Books4Songwriters.com. For more information on Inspiration
for Songwriters, please visit
The Misadventures of Hobart
happened so fast, Hobart doubted even a fortune teller like
Delphenia Dragonwart would have seen it coming.
came out of nowhere!
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
truth was that Hobart Hucklebuck was not fond of cats.
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.
watched in horror as dozens of the animals raced frantically around
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.
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
as Hobart was concerned, this was not a good thing.
approached him tentatively, but he knew their curiosity would soon
get the best of them.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
of a few little kitty cats, Hucklebuck?”
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
should have known,” Hobart muttered, wiping a splotch of blood from
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.
against the law to enchant stuff unless you’re certified, Pick. It’s
also against the law to enchant living creatures.”
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?”
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!”
eyebrows arched upward.
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
Maybe I’m not fond of cats, Pick, but I’m sure not afraid of you,”
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.”
wasn’t thinking about using blastballs, Pick,” Hobart replied as he
formed a fist.
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.
out, Hucklebuck!” Pick shouted. “There’s a cat sneaking up behind
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.
course, there was no cat.
broke into a fit of giggles and guffaws.
going on here?”
boys glanced towards the end of the alley.
well,” Pick said, “if it isn’t Rosie-Posie, too-darned-nosy.”
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.
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
glanced at Hobart.
everything okay, Hobart?” she asked.
“Everything’s fine. Pickwick was just leaving. Weren’t you, Pick?”
bully grinned revealing two missing front teeth.
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.”
not my girlfriend!” Hobart blurted.
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
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.
walked over to Hobart. She reached out to inspect the scrape on his
cheek, but he jerked away.
wanted to see how bad it was,” she said. “You look like you were
attacked by a wild rose bush.”
fine!” Hobart snapped as he struggled to regain his composure.
I’m just trying to help!”
said I needed any help!”
his battered body and wounded pride, Hobart Hucklebuck found himself
in no mood for sympathy.
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.
quickened her pace not even acknowledging she had heard him.
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
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
hobbled back towards Druid Lane wondering when he was going to start
enjoying spring break.
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