johnny woke up.
the rhinoceros was gone.
he got up and went to the refrigerator and took out his 333.
it was loaded with 17 b-5 pellets.
johnny stuck the 333 in his pocket and went downstairs,
outside in the wilderness the street was dark and silent.
but three blocks away the top floor of hogan’s headquarters was lit up like a birthday cake.
because sometimes the prime minister of england has to put ice in his own drink.
hogan’s gorillas were patrolling the sidewalk outside his headquarters.
i got a message for hogan, johnny said to the biggest gorilla.
sure you do, punk, the gorilla laughed.
tell him the time for action has passed, johnny said. everything is frozen now. we are all our own ice cubes, no matter how pink or green or blue we were.
the gorillas pretended they had not heard him, but johnny didn’t care.
he went down to the river.
it was quiet.
he could see a single canoe on it, slowly making its way toward him in the darkness.
he remembered the county fair.
he remembered winning a teddy bear for nellie.
but now the good times were over, and he had to do what had to be done.
the canoe reached the shore.
johnny got in, and the blue kid turned the canoe around and headed back across the river to the mountain.
the blue kid thought he had johnny’s number was johnny was hip to the scene.
when they were halfway across johnny took the 333 out of his pocket and wrote the kid a new ticket.
he threw the kid in the river and started paddling himself.
a star came out from behind a cloud.
when johnny reached the other shore, nellie was waiting for him.
she was wearing the pink dress she had worn to the senior prom.
it started to rain.
they went on up to the big house.
bascomb had built a big fire in the library fireplace.
tell me what happened with the president, nellie said, after bascomb had served coffee and closed the library door behind him.
fifteen fricasseed orangutans went to the county fair, johnny said. thirteen of them got on the ferris wheel.
the fourteenth went to the shooting gallery and won a raggedy ann doll for his girl.
the fifteenth hid behind the big tent. when night came he went down the country road and started hitchhking to columbus ohio.
i guess that says it all, nellie said.
not quite, johnny told her.
i know all about the president. and about hogan. you should not have worn that pink dress.
you can guess what happened next.
johnny went back down to the river.
the sun was starting to come up.
but it did not stop.
it kept coming up and up and up until it filled the sky.
i could have told this story a trillion ways, but this is how i told it.