In the red glow of the evening summer sun, a mechanical alligator in a surgeon’s gown crouched over a mechanical frog creature stretched out on a table made of stacked tyres. Ten-year-old mates Mike Himmel and Joe Sakana looked on as Snappy, the alligator they had made out of car parts, flourished his tools like a seasoned surgeon.
“If you insist on knowing,” said Snappy with his long metal jaw, “the jigulator’s wires connect to the crabulon and the fusing of the fourth connection will complete the krumple circuit.”
A puff of smoke rose from the small heart-like electrical unit as Snappy soldered it into the mechanical frog’s chest.
“WHOA! You’re good at that,” Joe said softly, pushing his thick-rimmed glasses back up his nose.
“It’s flippin’–freaky cool,” Mike said. His brown eyes gleamed.
“Poetically stated, young Michael. Now stand back, boys,” said Snappy as the mechanical frog blinked its rubber-gasket eyelids over its motorbike-headlight eyes. With an electric, humming crackle and a smell of burning rust...the frog sat up primly and moved its rubber-hose lips. A reddish dust puffed out along with its first words.
“Oh dear, oh dear! *cough* I must have dozed off. Is the post office already closed? Oh my, how utterly embarrassing.”
The frog stood up; he was as tall as the boys. It patted its shop-cloth vest pockets, then pulled a watch out and flipped the lid open.
“Oh, drat. The time!” The frog finally noticed the curious boys standing before him. “Do we know each other? Where is the post office?”
“Hi. I’m Mike. This is Joe. And this is Snappy.” The frog tilted its mechanical head at the alligator.
“Perhaps we’ve met before? Crick’s the name,” the frog said, introducing himself. The alligator only smiled.
“There’s no post office in our junkyard,” said Mike. “Well, technically it’s my dad's junkyard, but—”
“Oh, of course there is a post office!” The frog sprung off on its long, jointed exhaust-pipe legs. Mike and Joe trotted along behind it.
“Oh, Frog...uh...sir? Wait,” Mike called.
The robot frog was doing anything but waiting. It squatted down with its bottom nearly on the dusty ground then *SPROING!* it leapt into a high, graceful arc and landed on top of a sideways, yellow school bus. The metal bowed under its weight as it landed. *PLUNK-A*
“Sweeeet!” said Mike with a huge smile.
“This is not the Cucumberbury I remember,” the frog said as it pulled out a tiny telescope and surveyed the scrapyard’s vast maze of broken cars, trucks and motorbikes.
“What was that about a cucumber?” Joe asked. Both boys clambered up the scrap pile to join the frog.
“Yes,” sighed the frog, “this village has certainly changed since my youth.”
“So...uh...we actually only just built you today,” explained Joe. “First we built that alligator, who we call Snappy.
”And then we found a heart-thingy,” added Mike, “and put it into him, and then he showed us the rest of the heart-thingies.”
“Your choice of words confuses me, and I’m afraid I have no time for socialising. I must get to the post office before it closes,” said the robot frog.
“Well, like we said, the junkyard doesn't have a post office. But...that doesn’t mean it can’t,” said Mike, who then whispered something to Joe before saying to the frog, “Wait here and we’ll see what we can do.”
Mike and Joe climbed down and pulled their work gloves out of their pockets. Past several bends in the junkyard’s maze of jagged steel and rusty iron, the boys found the spot they were looking for. They moved some car bumpers and tyres to uncover the side of an old, rusted campervan. They fashioned a sign out of cardboard and hung it over the door of the van. Joe then whistled with his fingers. “Mister Crick! We think we found the post office!” The boys smiled at each other.
*SPROING!* *SPROING!* They heard the funny metallic springing and clanking of the robot frog coming towards them. The frog landed on the ground near them with acrobatic flair. It stood, heels together, and read the words on the sign over the campervan door. “POST OFFICE” had been scrawled in thick red lettering. The frog’s rubber-hose lips bent into a wide smile and said, “Indeed! I knew it was here!”
The boys watched the frog pull open the campervan door excitedly and lean inside. It took a small rusted key out of its vest pocket when it spotted the van’s glovebox.
“My letterbox! Just as I left it.”
The boys were tickled by the frog’s enthusiasm. Joe whispered to Mike, “He really does think it’s the post office.”
The frog turned the key in the lock on the glovebox. *CLUNK* Its small, but heavy, steel door flopped open. Inside was an extremely old and yellowed envelope. The boys gave each other a surprised look as Snappy the Alligator joined them to watch.
“You put a letter in there for him?” Mike asked Joe. “Nice touch.”
“Stop joking,” said Joe. “You did that. Right?”
Joe looked confused as Mike shook his head. The frog held up the letter that was clearly addressed to him in a very old-fashioned script: Councilman Tadwell Crick. Carriage 4, Cucumberbury, Olde Swindon.
“Eureka! Just what I had been waiting for. The results are in!” said the robot frog.
“Results?” Mike asked. Mister Crick the frog put his monocle over his lightbulb eye and held the letter up to his face. He stood in the doorway of the van, cleared his engine-hose throat and read the letter.
“Ahem! Dear Councilman Tadwell Crick, it is our highest pleasure to announce that the counting of votes has ended. In a winning tally of five-thousand, six-hundred and twelve to one-hundred eleven, it is justly stated that you have been elected - most certainly and honourably - mayor of the village of Cucumberbury.”
Mayor Crick folded the letter and slid it into his vest pocket.
Mike, Joe and Snappy gave the mayor a round of applause.
“Well, then,” the frog addressed the group. “First order of town business...”
Mike and Joe looked at each other. After today’s events, nothing the frog said next would surprise them.
“I propose,” continued Mayor Crick, “a proper cup of tea. I am downright parched!”
Benefits of reading Junkyard - Old Crick
This short story covers the friendship theme. Old Crick is written and narrated in the third person. We recommend children with a reading age of 4 - 10 years old for this story.
Who are the main characters in Junkyard - Old Crick?
The main character in the Junkyard series is ten-year-old Joe Sakana and his best friend Mike Himmel. This is a sci-fi story series set in Swindon where the boys create robots that become characters. In episode 2 they create a frog-robot.