by Kevin J. Doyle -
Ronnie stared at the hole in the fence. His brand new football had just just flown through and simply disappeared. His buddy Norman stood nearby with his head down and his hands on his hips.
“I sure am sorry, Ronnie. Don’t know why I didn’t catch that one,” said Norman. “What a throw, anyways! I bet you couldn’t toss a ball through the hole again if you tried seventy-eight bazillion times!”
“It’s all right, Norman. Maybe we can get it back?” said Ronnie.
The boys stood shoulder to shoulder and pressed their heads together as they studied what was beyond the fence hole. It was fairly obvious that safely getting the football back was basically impossible. There were overgrown weeds on the other side which would have made the wild Amazon jungle look like a perfectly trimmed English garden! Ronnie thought he could count at least fifty yellow dandelion flowers as big as his head! Not to mention tons of other gigantic plants he’d never seen before. The crabgrass clumps were waist high and there were rotted-out, fallen tree trunks crisscrossing the ground. Worst of all, not far from the fence, the ground sloped steeply down into a deep ditch.
Suddenly, a sly voice sounded out from behind them. It was clear and crisp yet the ‘S’s dragged out like hisses of a slithering snake.
“Seems like you silly sallys are in need of some suitable socks!” it said.
Ronnie and Norman were so surprised, they almost leaped out of their shoes (and socks) as they both spun about and fell on their bottoms. The two boys found themselves face to face with a big amphibian that was standing upright on its short hind legs. Its two stubby arms were holding the top of a white sack which was slung over its shoulder. The critter was about the size of a Beagle dog and was black with yellow dots all over its front, back and tail. Its eyes stuck up off its big, thick, circular head and it had a wide, flat mouth. Its fingers and toes were long, skinny and pointy.
“So let’s say something, shall we? Names?” it said.
“Ronnie,” said Ronnie.
“N-N-Norman,” muttered Norman.
“Salutations,” it said back. "So swell to see you. I am Salvatore Salamander and this is my sensational sack of super socks. I was simply skipping along the sidewalk when I sensed some startling struggles stirring up.”
The salamander then walked right between the two boys and up to the fence. The boys’ eyes were as round as bicycle tires as they watched him look along the fence to the left, then to the right and finally stare straight up towards the top.
“It’s settled. We shall scamper over this strong, solid surface and seek your solution on the other side.”
Salvatore laid his white sack on the ground and rummaged through its contents. He pulled out two small bundles and tossed one to each boy. Ronnie and Norman were now holding pairs of brand new, black and white striped socks. The stripes were in horizontal rows from the foot to the top.
“Swiftly now, slip out of your sad, shabby shoes and socks and slide on these sensational sets.”
The two friends were too amazed to resist so they did as the salamander said. If he could help them get over the fence and find Ronnie’s football, they were certainly going to let him. Norman was the first to notice what happened as soon as he was wearing Salvatore’s fresh socks.
“Ronnie, look! A ladder!” he said.
Two black and white striped ladders had appeared directly in front of them. The ladders looked exactly like the striped rows on the boys' socks! The salamander gave a little nod of his head and then scurried up one of the sets of rungs, disappearing over the top of the fence. Ronnie and Norman followed him. There were two identical ladders down the opposite side so the boys quickly found themselves standing in the wildly overgrown weeds they’d seen through the fence hole. Salvatore was murmuring to himself with his head buried in his sack.
“Wow....this is pretty weird, but awesome too!” Norman whispered.
Ronnie grinned and nodded his head, anxious to find his football.
“Score!” said Salvatore as his head popped out of the sack.
He quickly tossed new pairs of socks to the two boys. These were also in black and white however each one had an overlapping diamond pattern. Ronnie recognized the pattern as argyle.
“Make it snappy! Switch your socks!” said Salvatore...