The Astounding Meeting of Albert & Play-So

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

(Once again, kiradault was kind enough to give us schlubs something to write about.  I’ll wait while you go check out her site.  Done?  Amused?  Neat.  This time folks are invited to write about inspiration.  When I was a kid, nothing inspired me to be creative quite like Roald Dahl did, so that’s what we’re shooting for today.)

The Astounding Meeting of Albert & Play-So

A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men.” -Roald Dahl

Albert was a quite sort of a boy.  He often strolled up and down the lake looking for interesting things.  He wanted to do fun activities that typical boys enjoy.  He liked watching fish flop around in the water, picking up slugs with sticks, and of course; swimming.

It was on a nice summer day that Albert had taken off like a shot out the door.  His mother had work to do in the village and therefore he was allowed to have free run of the neighborhood.  The only exceptions were Snow Blanket and Mr. Frumplestick.

Every town has their troublesome dog, and Snow Blanket more than fit that description.  Word had it that he had once glumped down a baby in one swoop just because it cried too loud for him.  His owner, Ol’ Mr. Frumplestick, ignored all the complaints that the citizens and the city had filed against Snow Blanket.  He maintained that if the children would mind their manners and if pesky solicitors would keep off his lawn, then his precious little greyhound wouldn’t harm a soul.

Mr. Frumplestick had such a frightening figure that few had the courage to stand up to him.  He towered at least a head over everyone else, even though he was a third as skinny as any other person.  It was if he had been lashed to a telephone pole as a child and the only way he knew how to grow was up and up.  He lashed out at visitors with surprising speed.  The only signs of his age were his raspy voice and the countless wrinkles that obscured his face.  Children claimed to have lost buttons and marbles in the folds of Mr. Frumplestick’s burlap face, but none dared to get close enough to look.  (This isn’t to say that all old people are mean, or that all tall people have wrinkles; far from it.  There are plenty of grandparents with soft wrinkles in their hands and plenty of dog owners who like small children.  Mr. Fumplestick, however, was an unfortunate gathering of all the worst traits imaginable.)

Mr. Frumplestick liked to take long walks with Snow Blanket along the lake.  Albert tried to avoid them, but he always seemed to bump into the gruesome pair quite often.  Every time the three met, the result was the same.  Albert would freeze in terror.  Snow Blanket would growl and tense his muscles as if ready to pounce.  Mr. Frumplestick would take a swig of the vinegar and beet juice that he kept in a flask that resided in a pouch on his belt.  The children around town all assumed it was what helped preserve his lanky frame and wrinkly face.    Albert had tried to ignore them and go swimming, but each time he did that he returned to find Snow Blanket had eaten his shoes and Mr. Frumplestick had used his shirt to wipe his shoes off.  Albert knew the only way to escape trouble was to hide in the bushes when he saw the pair approach.

Albert would have preferred to enjoy this nice summer day, but as soon as he heard familiar feet plodding towards him, he knew what he had to do.  He climbed up the nearest tree and waited.  A few moments later, along came Mr. Frumplestick.  Sniffling, scarfling, and snarfling behind him, Snow Blanket obviously had something stuck in his nose.  If Albert had ever been scared of the greyhound before he was now terrified of it.  There was something extra eerie about the dog.  Albert clung to the tree branch and waited for what seemed like forever.  Finally, the two went off the same way they came, Mr. Frumplestick mumbling and the canine emanating all sorts of freakish noises.

Albert breathed a sigh of relief and slowly climbed down the tree.  He had seen something from his perch that he wanted to investigate.  He tossed his shirt and shoes in a pile at the base of the tree and swam out to the right bank.  There was a gathering of tall weeds over there which obscured a large section of the lake.  Albert, being a fellow who didn’t like getting stuck in plants, had always tried to steer clear of the area.  But Albert had seen something movie.  He couldn’t explain it, but Albert knew that he was supposed to take a look.

He reached his toes out as he got closer, expecting there to be ground reaching up to meet him.  Albert was in the heart of the weeds, how deep could their roots be?  He kicked and kicked but only water and branches replied.  Albert was confused.  He dove under the water and was met only by plants.  There were more plants than he expected.  Tall leafs and wavy growths gestured towards him.  He lunged to the surface, took a deep breath, and dove back down.

Swimming as fast as he could, Albert made his way through the lake and the foliage.  Ten seconds passed then twenty and then thirty.  Albert was an excellent breath-holder, but he knew he’d have to return soon.  Suddenly, an opening appeared up ahead.  Albert didn’t have time to second guess himself; he swam forward.  A grotto was in his path and cool air met his face as he gasped it in.  Algae on the walls gave a creepy light to the area.  He could see around him, though not as well as he would have liked.

Out of nowhere, Albert heard a sound.  Something was in the grotto with him.  He froze.  An undefined shape was moving about.  It was too big to be a fish.  No cats or dogs could have possibly gotten in here, could they?  Pictures of Snow Blanket wearing scuba masks hopped into Albert’s head and refused to leave.

“Oh, I say.  Is there someone there?”

Albert was too scared to reply.  The shape that had spoken got closer.  It moved and splashed in front of a pungent patch of algae and the light glowed on its face.  Albert couldn’t believe his eyes.  He was staring right at a plesiosaurus!

“’pon my word, you couldn’t have announced yourself or something?  I certainly didn’t mean to give you such a fright.  But my boy, you really must wait for an invitation or some such before you enter any creature’s abode.  It’s simply good manners, don’t you think?”

Albert bobbed up and down, his gape offering no reply.  He had never been taught by his parents what to say when a plesiosaurus inquires as to one’s presence.

“I do fear I’ve frightened you dear boy.  Surely we can start afresh.  What, pray tell, is your name?”

“Al… Albert.”

“Well I wish you the greatest tidings and pleasant day to you, Albert.  It is day, isn’t it?  I must confess that I have yet to venture outside of my abode in quite some time.  Sort of took it ‘pon myself to have a little me-time, if you know what I mean.”

“You’re, you’re really a dinosaur!”

“That I am”, the creature replied.  “Do you know what kind?”

“Sure”, Albert replied.  Clever little boys often know about dinosaurs, and Albert was no exception.  “You’re a pleisaur, a pleasio, a… um…”

“Plesiosaur”, it corrected.  A sigh followed.  “I’ve often commented that the name is a bit long.  You may certainly call me Play-So, if you don’t find it too forward.”

“Hi Play-So.  Sorry to bother you, I didn’t think anyone was down here.”

“Well it’s my own little hide away”, Play-So said, beaming with pride.  “There are so many fish and vegetation cluttering up this lake that I like to have a spot where I can be myself.  I find it to be ever so relaxing, don’t you?”

“It certainly is rather neat”, Albert agreed.  “The air tastes weird, if you don’t mind me saying so.  Plus, my arms are getting tired from treading water.”

“Dear me, how right you are.  I’m being quite the terrible host.  I suppose we could continue this conversation by land.  Though, do try to keep up.  I’m not too fond of large groups of people, so I tend to pick the remote locations.  Is that all right with you?”

Albert nodded and reached out.  Play-So lowered its neck and let Albert grab onto it with both his hands.  As soon as Albert had secured his grip, the two were off.  They swam back down the opening, rushed through the thick cluster of plants, and found themselves on land.  Albert looked around and saw that he was surrounded by trees and no people were about.

Play-So lifted a flipper and put it on Albert’s forehead.  “Are you feeling, quite well, Albert?”  It was then that Albert got his first good look at Play-So.  The dinosaur was much smaller than he would have expected.  While still quite bigger than Albert, the animal couldn’t have been more than twelve feet long from tail to head.  Most surprisingly to Albert, Play-So had attire on his flipper.

“Are those spats?”

Play-So lifted his front right flipper and grinned, all his teeth shining happily.  “Yes they are.  Wonderful, don’t you think?  I know some folks think they’re out of style, but I’ve always been old-fashioned.  If you ask me, a flipper just doesn’t look right without a little decoration.  Anytime I venture out I have to have all four spats.  Splendid, aren’t they?”

Albert nodded.  A question had been building in his mind ever since he saw Play-So for the first time and he had to let it out.  “How have you kept hidden for so long?”

Public Domain in the United States. Click picture for information.

Play-So chuckled.   “It really isn’t as hard as you might think, my good fellow.   I can tell that you’ve noticed my size.  Something happened to mom’s side of the family a few generations ago.  We’re just a bit smaller than the rest.  I choose to believe that it makes us more adaptable.  Still, there are some who think it good sport to belittle this trait.”  Play-So’s smile faded at his last thought.

“You mean there are others of you?  How many?”  Albert was shocked at the idea that he had been swimming in a lake full of dinosaurs all this time.

“Oh, there’s not as many as you might think”, Play-So replied.  “However, I’d rather not say.  I don’t want to make any of them known that prefer their solitude.  You can understand that, can’t you Albert?”

“Sure”, he replied.  “I mean, me stumbling onto you doesn’t mean that your whole family wants to be bothered.”

“Quite right, though I think you’re rather pleasant”, Play-So offered.  “Although I probably am the most out-going out of all of us.”

“Do you mind if I ask another question?”

“Certainly not, go right ahead.”

“What do you find to eat?”  Albert couldn’t understand it.  “I’ve fished here plenty of times and come back empty handed.  Can you survive on the few fish here?”

“Goodness, no”, Play-So replied.  “First off, I’ve never had a taste for fish.  They have that scaly texture about them that my pallet simply doesn’t agree with.  I only eat wonzelberries.”

“Wahnzi… whatsa… what?”

“Wonzelberries; surely you’ve heard of them?”

Albert shook his head.

“Oh my dear boy!”  Play-So was indignant.  “Oh Albert, how you’ve been missing out!  You don’t understand!  Wonzelberries, why they’re like nothing you’ve ever tasted before.  Imagine the feeling you get when someone gives you ice cream cake and a shiny new toy on your birthday then gives you a hug.  Got it?  Well, that’s what wonzelberries taste like!  They make you all fluffy like a pair of pajamas straight out of the drier and fill you up like eight doughnuts fresh from the baker.  Why, wonzelberries are so deliciously perfect that it only takes one or two to fill me up.”  Play-So paused and looked at Albert.  “Hmm… I’m quite a bit bigger than you are.  Perhaps you shouldn’t try one.  Your stomach might explode.”

Albert’s eyes widened as his disbelief became visible.

“Oh you don’t have to believe me, dear friend.  I’ve seen it happen.  My brother thought I was crazy for swearing off fish and so he tried one of them.  Actually, he tried an entire plant.  I tried to warn him, I tried to stop him, but the ruddy fool simply wouldn’t listen.  Poof!  He puffed with so much satisfaction that he floated right up out of the water; shot up like a rocket he did.  Yes, that was the last time we ever saw him.  I suppose he’s broken through the stratosphere by now, if he hasn’t exploded entirely.  Well, I always said that greed would get a plesiosaurus in the end, and it was proven that day.”

“I don’t think I want to try one”, Albert stammered.

“Probably for the best”, Play-So replied.  “Besides, they only grow at the bottom of plants on the bottom of a lake.  Rather hard to get through.  And you have to break through their stone-like shell.  But oh, how it’s worth the effort.”  Play-So looked at Albert then looked at the lake beneath him.  “I say, you don’t have a wagon or a few skateboards around, do you?”

“I have one skateboard at home”, Albert replied.

“Oh no, that won’t support me.  I should need four.”

“What would you ever do with four skateboards?”

“Why dear fellow”, Play-So said.  “How else would I get about on land?  I tried it once and found that my flipper muscles were very adept at navigating those boards on the ground.  I practiced it late at night.  However, the boys that owned the things must have remembered overnight that they had left them here for they reclaimed them in the morning.”  Play-So sighed wistfully.  “I did have such a wonderful time on those skateboards.  There was no place I couldn’t go with those sixteen wheels.”

“If you give me some time I’m sure I could save up and buy some.”

Play-So’s narrow eyes lit up.  “You would?  Oh, would you really?  Why Albert, that would be just terrific of you; I mean bravo!  Are you sure?”

“Isn’t that what friends do for each other?”

“Well said” Play-So declared.  “Couldn’t have put it better myself, dear boy.  Spot on.”

“It will take me a little time, I just have to…”  Albert stopped.

“Why what is it?”  Play-So turned around and saw what had surprised Albert.  There, having just come around the trees, stood Mr. Frumplestick and Snow Blanket.

“What… what is this?”  Mr. Frumplestick ran towards Play-So as Snow Blanket growled his teeth.  “I’ve never seen anything like it?”

“Is this a friend of yours, Albert?”

“Not exactly, Play-So.”

“And it talks!”  Mr. Frumplestick leapt in the air and let his feet tap together with glee.  “I’m rich!”

Play-So waved a flipper at Mr. Frumplestick and nodded to him.  “Good morning to you, Sir.”

Mr. Frumplestick shoved Albert aside and stared the creature in the face.

“I say”, Play-So replied.  “That’s no way to treat a friend of mine, nor any small child.  I think some sort of apology is in order.”

“Beast, I don’t care what you want.”  Mr. Frumplestick was already counting gold coins in his head.  “I can charge whatever I wish for admission.  Ten or twenty a head, maybe even fifty!  They’ll pay it!  They’ll have to!  I’m rich!”

“Pardon me sir, but I think I may take my leave of you.  I do wish to see Albert again, but I’m afraid you are a bit of a ruffian.  I bid you good day.”

“No!”  Mr. Frumplestick screamed as he saw his fortune slipping through his fingers.  “Snow Blanket!  Sick ‘em!”

The greyhound approached slowly, the growl that had been in his belly the whole time only growing louder.  Between the snarfling of his nose and the growl form his teeth; Snow Blanket was turned into a grotesque hunter.  With a start, the dog lunged at Play-So’s throat.

Play-So, stunned at such rude behavior, let his baser instincts kick in.  His head snapped forward and he gulped Snow Blanket down without so much as taking a bite.

“Snow Blanket!”  Mr. Frumplestick screamed in terror as he watched his dog disappear into Play-So’s belly.  “What did you do to my precious Snow Blanket?”

“Ugh”, Play-So replied.  “The foul mongrel doesn’t taste precious.  What have you been feeding this poor animal?  My tongue feels like it licked an oozing snail and then had a bucket of ashes spilled on it.  Clearly this dog was filled with all sorts of atrociousness.  But you’ll get him back, so long as you promise never to bother me or Alfred again.”

“I will!  I promise!”  Mr. Frumplestick’s face was extra wrinkly as he lamented losing his dog.  “Only don’t hurt my lovely Snow Blanket!  He never harmed you!”

“I’m sure he would if I had given him the opportunity; wretched beast.  Well Albert, what do you say?  Should we let the dog go?”

Albert looked to Mr. Frumplestick who he had long loathed.  He had never seen the old man so distraught or frightened.  Albert looked back to Play-So and nodded.

Play-So winced and then wiggled his belly.  He clapped his front two flippers, spats and all, in front of his chest.  He hacked.  He coughed.  He stuck out his tongue.  With an ill look on his face, Play-So managed to cough Snow Blanket up.  The dog landed, wet and terrified, as a defeated blob on the grass.  Mr. Frumplestick squealed with happiness and picked up the soggy animal.  He held the dog close, gave one last look at the dinosaur, and then ran off.

“That was amazing!”  Albert leapt about with elation.  “You were great!”  Albert stopped and looked Play-So in the eye.  “You… you wouldn’t really have eaten him.  Would you?”

“Don’t be absurd”, the creature replied.  “That would be cruel and make for poor nutrition.  I just thought the bloke needed to be taught a lesson.”

And that was how a long and happy friendship was formed between a boy his dinosaur.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

4 Responses to The Astounding Meeting of Albert & Play-So

  1. Pingback: On Inspiration | Small Assignments

  2. Pingback: Stealing from Mament (Weekly Writing Challenge) « Anecdotal Tales

  3. I really enjoyed this! Definitely saw some Ronald Dahl in there.

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