Friday, August 14, 2009

Chapter 3 "The Penguin"

Question to Madeleine: Who is the funny voice?

Answer: Linda

Madebonne was standing in the dream tent talking to her dreams and her mom had turned into a goldfish and was swimming in her pajama pocket. Things were definitely getting weird on this Adventure. She heard a funny voice behind her. It sounded familiar but she couldn’t place it. Madebonne turned around and saw a penguin with a purple knit hat standing quietly staring at her. Where had that penguin come from? They stared at each other, then stared some more. The penguin shifted from one foot to the other. Finally the penguin couldn’t take it anymore.

“Are we just going to stand here or do you want to catch the train to Brooklyn?” It was the same funny voice.

“Who are you?” asked Madebonne.

“I’m Linda” replied the penguin.

“My mom has a friend named Linda” said Madebonne and her mom, the goldfish, swished her tail in agreement.

“I know” said the penguin. “That’s me.”

“You’re not my mom’s friend Linda” said Madebonne. This penguin was crazy. “Linda is tall and she has brown hair and she wears shoes.”

“Sure, that’s what I look like in Brooklyn. But on this side of the drain I’m a penguin. Look at my hat. It’s just like the one that I knit for you.”

Madebonne looked at the penguin’s hat. It did look just like the one that Linda had knit her for her birthday. But she still wasn’t convinced.

“Just because we have the same hat doesn’t mean that you’re Linda,” said Madebonne.

“True,” said the penguin. “Ask me a question that only Linda could answer.”

Madebonne thought about this. Linda had known her since she was born so she knew a lot of things about her. Madebonne decided to ask her a trick question.

“What’s my name?” she asked.

“Which one?” asked the penguin. “Your real name? Or your nickname?” This penguin was good.

“My nickname” said Madebonne.

“Which one?” the penguin asked again. “Kiddo, Pumpkin Pie, Saucy, Orange Head, The Bubble or Madebonne?”

Madebonne couldn’t believe her ears. The penguin even knew her adventuring name.

“How do you know my adventuring name?” she asked. “I just picked it this morning.”

“Your Fairy Godmother told me. I stopped by the apartment to see your mom and I heard that you were off on a big adventure. So I told your Fairy Godmother that I would pop in and make sure that you could find way back home.”

Madebonne was almost convinced but she had to ask one more question. “What year was I born?” she asked.

“The Year of the Dragon. You were born fiery red and you roared and roared. Your dad fed you ice cubes and patted your belly to cool down the fire in your lungs. You were the most beautiful dragon baby in the whole hospital.”

“I was not a dragon baby” said Madebonne.

“Think about it” said the penguin. “Sometimes you roar and stamp your feet, your face turns red and you flail your arms around like you are trying to fly. Everyone who is born in the Year of the Dragon is part dragon on the inside.”

“What year were you born?” asked Madebonne.

“Isn’t it obvious? The Year of the Penguin” said the penguin. Madebonne agreed. That was pretty obvious.

“So shall we head to the train?” asked the penguin.

“I think I’ll just go back through the rainbow and up the drain,” said Madebonne. “But thanks anyway.”

“You can’t go back up the drain,” said the Penguin. “The suction is too powerful. That’s why water goes down the drain, not up the drain.”

“Hold on a second,” said Madebonne. She walked a few feet away and looked down into her pocket.

“Mom is this really Linda?” Madebonne asked. Her mom looked back up at her with one bulging eye and blew some bubbles. How was Madebonne supposed to make a decision like this on her own? She was only a little kid and she didn’t speak fish. Madebonne turned to her cat.

“What do you think Henry?” asked Madebonne. Henry walked over to the penguin, rubbed his head on her flippers and lay down on her feet. Henry wasn’t too friendly with strangers so Madebonne decided that this must really be Linda.

“O.K. Linda, let’s go to the train,” she said. Madebonne went over to the fountain and said good-bye to the ballerinas and made sure that there was enough water in her pocket for her mom. Then they set out to catch the train back to Brooklyn.

“It’s this way,” said Linda, pointing with her flipper. They walked towards a small orange shack while the ballerinas twirled and waved good-bye.

Even though the shack wasn’t very far away it was slow going. Penguins don’t walk very fast. They waddle. They were going so slowly that Henry lay down in a patch of sun and took a nap. Madebonne decided that it would be more interesting if she walked like Linda. So she squeezed her legs together, pointed her toes out and shifted back and forth on her feet. They waddled and waddled and waddled along until they finally reached the orange shack. Madebonne looked around. They were at the top of a very steep hill covered in snow. She didn’t see any train tracks anywhere.

“Is this where the train stops?” asked Madebonne.

“No,” said Linda. “The train stops over there.” She pointed down the hill. Madebonne looked and looked but she couldn’t see the train station. Linda grabbed a pair of binoculars that were hanging on a nail on the side of the shack and handed them to Madebonne.

“These might help” she said and pointed again. Madebonne looked through the binoculars and sure enough she saw an igloo beside some train tracks. Next to the igloo was a sign reading “Penguin Express. All stops. Next train leaves in 5 minutes.” Madebonne looked at Linda in alarm. Five minutes! They would never make it if Linda had to waddle all the way there.

“How will we make it there in five minutes?” asked Madebonne.

“No problem” said Linda. “I may walk slowly but I slide on my belly faster than any penguin at The North Pole.”

“Oh” said Madebonne, surprised. “What about Henry and me?”

“You’ll have to go the old fashioned way on a sled” said Linda. She opened the shack and it was filled with sleds of every shape and size. Madebonne looked and looked but she knew that she didn’t have a lot of time so she grabbed a sled covered in purple feathers. In the back was a little house with a green cushion where Henry could curl up for the ride.

Madebonne and Linda went outside and set the sled at the top of the hill. Madebonne ran back and picked up Henry who was still having a nap in a patch of sun and carefully set him on the cushion and closed the roof. Madebonne got in front, put on her swimming goggles and grabbed the reins. Linda gave the sled a little push and Madebonne and Henry went flying down the hill. They were going so fast that Madebonne’s cheeks were rippling in the wind like waves. She looked back at Henry. She could see through the windows that he was still sleeping peacefully in his little house at the back of the sled. Madebonne turned back around to pay attention to where she was going and all of a sudden Linda came whizzing up next to her, sliding gracefully on her belly.

“Is everything O.K.?” asked Linda.

“This is great!” said Madebonne. She loved going fast on her sled. “But will we make it to the train on time?”

“I think so” said Linda. “When we hit the next bump, push the button with the wings on it. That will save us a little time.” Madebonne looked down and sure enough, there was an orange button with wings drawn on it. But before she had a chance to ask Linda what the button was for, they hit the bump. Madebonne pressed the button and wings unfolded from each side of the sled. They soared through the air. She looked down and saw Linda speeding along on her belly heading right for the igloo. Just when it looked like she was going to crash she tilted her head up and with a hop, landed right on her feet. Madebonne’s sled flapped its wings and on a gentle current of air, stopped at the front of the train.

They didn’t have a second to lose. Madebonne hopped out of the sled and opened the roof of the house in the back. Henry lifted his head, gave himself a nice stretch and stood up.

“Come on Henry. We have to get on this train,” said Madebonne. Henry leapt out of the sled and they bounded up the stairs of the train. It was beautiful inside. The seats were made out of carved ice and in the center, a fountain gushed hot apple cider. A penguin in a conductor’s hat came waddling over to them.

“Welcome to the Penguin Express,” he said cheerfully. “Where are you headed?”

“We’re going to Brooklyn” said Madebonne. The Conductor pulled out a little machine shaped like a fish and pushed some buttons.

“O.K. one cat, one fish and one kid half price. Is the fish passenger or food?” asked the Conductor.

“Passenger,” said Madebonne alarmed. “She’s my mom.”

“Too bad. She looks tasty,” said the Conductor. “That’ll be twenty six all together.”

Linda was outraged. “I’ve never had to pay on the Penguin Express” she said indignantly.

“That’s because you’re a penguin,” said the conductor. “Penguins ride for free.”

“But I don’t have twenty-six dollars,” said Madebonne in a tiny voice. She was tired after all this adventuring and just wanted to get back home to Brooklyn.

“Dollars!” squawked the Conductor. “What would I do with dollars? I want twenty six fish rubles.”

Madebonne looked at Linda. “What’s a fish ruble?” she asked.

“It’s a little gold coin shaped like a fish” said Linda. “I’m afraid that I didn’t bring my wallet with me. Did you bring any money?”

Madebonne shook her head. A long, low whistle blew. The penguins on the train took their seats and the Conductor started to shoo them towards the exit.

“I’m sorry but if you can’t pay for the tickets you’ll have to get off the train. We’re about to leave” said the Conductor. Madebonne’s eyes began to fill with tears.

“I have to get back to Brooklyn as fast as I can,” said Madebonne to the Conductor. “The longer my mom stays a fish, the harder it will be for my Fairy Godmother to turn her back into my mom.”

“Well, you can always eat her for dinner,” said the Conductor smacking his lips. Madebonne was horrified and hopped off the train as fast as she could.

“Well, I guess we’ll have to get some jobs” said Linda hopping off the train after her. The Conductor leaned out the door as the train pulled away.

“I hear they are hiring over at the Castle,” he said. “The Princess is getting married and they need help preparing for the wedding.” The train picked up speed and was soon out of sight. Madebonne, her mom, Linda and Henry walked into the igloo. Seven penguins stood behind the counter making train tickets and counting fish rubles. They walked up to the counter.

“Hello,” said one of the penguins. “How may we help you?”

“We need to make some money to pay for three non-penguin train tickets to Brooklyn,” said Linda. “The conductor on the train suggested we might find some jobs at the castle.”

“True, true” said the penguin. “It’s been frightfully busy over there since the wedding was announced. Check the Help Wanted section of the Daily Castle. Someone left a copy over there on the bench.” Linda waddled over and picked up the paper. She flipped to the Help Wanted section. There were hundreds of jobs listed. Linda read them out loud to Madebonne and Henry.

“Wash the King’s socks, comb the Prince’s dogs, find the royal baby and feed him lunch, sweep the ballroom, polish the Queen’s jewels, pick the flowers for the banquet table, give the Princess a pedicure, ice the wedding cake….”

And she went on and on.

Question to Madeleine: Which job does Madebonne choose?

1 comment:

  1. She gets the job making wrist corsages for the bridal attendants. Out of strange and exotic vegetables and small animals.