“Too, to-too, too-TOOO,” Solly Hogg the delivery pig whistled happily. He pedalled down Woodpecker Way on his one-wheeled flapicycle. Solly was in a great mood because he was actually ahead of schedule. He’d made all of today’s deliveries, so far, on time or even a little early. He only had a few more deliveries to make.
“If I can stay on track,” Solly said to himself, “I’ll get home in time to go to the swimming pond with my mum and sisters. I’ve been so busy working, I haven't done anything nice with my family in ages.”
Solly rode up the driveway of the Log Cabin Motel at 118 Woodpecker Way. He pulled the small package out of his delivery bag which also held his swimming trunks for later. Solly read the special delivery instructions.
“Deliver to guest in room 23.” Solly leaned his flapicycle against a tree and walked to the door with a 23 on it. He placed the small package on the doormat.
Before he had time to knock, the door swung open and a large brown bear wearing a top hat and bow-tie stood grinning at Solly.
“WELL, HELLO!” said the bear. Solly nervously took a step backwards.
“Pick a card. Any card!” The bear held a deck of fanned-out playing cards and tilted his head at Solly.
“Excuse me? Oh. A card trick!” Solly looked at the cards, then at his watch. “I really want to finish early and go swimming with the family today. But...I do love magic. I guess I have time for one quick trick.” Solly gently picked a card with his hoof. It was the six of clubs.
“Don’t show me what card it is.” The bear smiled. “Memorise it and put the card back in the deck.”
Solly slid his card back into the deck. The bear shuffled the cards. Then he grabbed the package from the doormat and handed it to Solly.
Solly unwrapped the package he’d just delivered. Inside was a playing card.
Solly held the card up. It was the one he’d chosen: six of clubs. “WOW! How’d you do that?” Solly’s eyes went wide.
“That’s just the beginning,” the bear said. “Come in. I know lots more tricks.”
“Oh, no sir. Thanks. I’m meeting the family for a swim...if I finish early today.” Solly gave a gentle bow and turned to leave.
“Whoa, whoa. Wait. You haven’t seen THIS yet!” The bear reached behind his back and brought out a live chicken.
“Oh. It’s...lovely?” Solly forced a smile.
The chicken smiled back.
“Watch!” The bear waved a handkerchief in front of the chicken and *POOF!* It magically turned into three pigeons.
The birds all flapped off in different directions.
“Winkin’ walnuts! That was very neat. Thank you again sir, but I really need to scoot along now.”
“Hold on there, my little pink pal. I’ve got...THIS!” The bear pulled a small box from behind the door and held it out to Solly.
“Go ahead. Open it.”
“Oh,” Solly looked at his watch again. He knew he needed to leave, but also felt very curious about the box. “This is the last one and then I really gotta go.”
Solly lifted the lid on the little box. Inside was a piece of purple bubble gum.
“Go ahead. Chew it,” the bear said.
“What’s your name pal?” the bear asked.
“Solly Hogg,” Solly said, now feeling very anxious to leave.
“Okay. Blow a big bubble,” the bear said.
“I suppose I will, if it’s the final thing.” Solly worked the gum with his tongue, then blew a bubble.
The bubble burst. A small square of paper was stuck to the dangling gum. Solly looked at it. His name was written on the paper in block letters. “HEY! How in the world did you...”
“There’s more,” the bear interrupted. “Step back.”
And the bear did have more. Lots more. This tall, top-hatted animal kept doing his wild magic tricks, one after the other. He karate-chopped an apple and turned it into ten oranges. He pulled a live badger out from under his hat! Then, for his final trick, he put on big butterfly wings and floated up off the ground!
And, yes...Solly stayed the whole time. After an hour had passed, the bear took a bow and declared the show was over. Solly finally was able to leave.
But he finished delivering the rest of his packages...late! The sun was already setting when he was finally done. Solly pulled out his phone as he pedalled towards home.
“Hey, Mum,” Solly said. “Sorry I couldn’t make it back in time to go with the family to the swimming pond.”
“Oh, don’t worry Sol. We didn’t go to the pond after all.”
“Oh, okay. Well, maybe we can try meeting up later,” Solly sighed with relief.
“Yeah,” Mum said. “You can meet us at the show instead.”
“Show?” Solly asked, pedalling along on his flapicycle.
“Yes! The strangest thing happened. We got some surprise free tickets in the mail for a magic show tonight. Someone called ‘Thumpo the Amazing’ is in town. He’s performing later!”
“Oh,” said Solly. “Um...I don’t suppose Thumpo the Amazing is a bear, is he?”
“Yes, he is!” said Mum. “You know of him?”
“I do,” said Solly. “You and the girls will love it. I’m not in the mood for any more magic tonight. I think I’ll call Jenny Wren and go for a swim with her instead.”
“Suit yourself,” Mum said.
“Thanks, Mum. Have a good time at the show.”
Solly pedalled along, towards the swimming pond and far away from the magic show.