(This is a short piece that I’d entered in a contest a while back to no effect.  If you read Absent Hobbes, you may well recognize our protagonist here.  Hope you enjoy.)

It was getting pretty late in the morning when seven-year-old Alvie pushed his glasses back into their proper position on his nose.  Keeping Groogers out of his mom’s bushes was sweaty work, but it needed doing.

Alvie unrolled the hose and wrapped it around the base of his mom’s favorite bush, the one with the purple flowers, until it formed a circle, then he clamped it with a zip tie.

“That old Grooger won’t get in there now.  He won’t get by our trap.  Groogers love the smell of garden hoses too much.  Once he stops to sniff – WHAMMO – it’s up, up and away!” he told Samantha, his best friend and next door neighbor.

“What about sheet nets?  I thought they didn’t like sheet nets.” she replied, carefully minding the bright red, helium-filled balloon that was tied to her wrist.  She pulled open a cardboard box marked Alvie’s Hunting Stuff, “Isn’t that what you said yesterday?”

Alvie made his way over to the box and started going through it; grabbing an empty soda bottle, looking it over and then setting it aside as he went back into the box.  “It’s Moos that don’t like sheet nets.  Where are my sofa springs?”

Samantha crinkled her nose at an old sock stuffed through a toilet paper roll.  “I don’t think you’re right.  Where’s the Book, I’ll look it up.”

Samantha, red balloon bouncing joyfully behind her, made her way over to a green knapsack that had U.S. Army written on the front of it.  Alvie kept only his most prized possessions in that knapsack.  Just then it contained a small coffee can full of little rocks that they had gathered from the planet Bodar (the mound of earth that had been dug up last summer when Alvie’s grandpa had had a pool put in), scrap from an alien spaceship that had flown over Alvie’s back yard (a tool that the cable repair man had dropped last week and was in fact still looking for) and the Book, a store-bought journal that Alvie and Samantha used for taking notes about their adventures.  There was a slot on the side for storing a pen but Alvie had lost the pen, so they used a green crayon instead.

Samantha thumbed through the Book as Alvie found the two springs he’d been looking for.  He placed them on either side of the zip-locked hose.

“Now I just need a stick to tie the balloon to, connect that to the springs and we’re ready.” Alvie said, looking up at Samantha, “Want to help find one?”

Samantha shut the Book and put it back into the knapsack.  “Huh, it really was Moos.  Yeah, okay.  How big of a stick do we need?”

After locating a stick suitable for Grooger repelling, they put everything they hadn’t used back into the box and dragged it to its place in the garage.  Afterwards, they climbed a tree and waited.

“Kip Burrow got the new Wally Weirdo.” Samantha mentioned to Alvie as she peeled bark pieces off the tree, “He says it’s awesome.”

Alvie watched the clouds pass overhead.  “Grandpa says video games make you not able to see things like Groogers.  He says –” Samantha interrupted him with a shushing noise.  Then Alvie heard the low growl coming from the bushes, too.

SNAP! Both Alvie and Samantha saw the stick flip and fly away on the balloon.

“We got him!” Alvie yelled, climbing down the tree.

“Your mom’s bush is safe!” Samantha cheered.  “Okay, I’m going home for lunch.” She crossed Alvie’s yard toward her own, “Don’t start making the fort without me!”

Alvie gathered up the hose and his springs.  “I won’t!”

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