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'And Then What?'

November 13, 2011|By Andy Mitchell
  • "And Then What?"
"And Then What?" (Andy Mitchell )

A blue-gray fog floated eerily over the neighborhood giving our mission a dramatic mood.

"They're everywhere!" Carl said with excitement.

"What did I tell you?" Todd responded. "I bet I catch two dozen."

The day before, Todd came up with the idea to go frog catching at a spot he found. It was the closest thing they had to a stream in their suburban housing tract. A slow current of water from a large drainage pipe snaked along a gully into the park nearby. Green and yellow frogs with brown spots swam in the water, crawled awkwardly in the mud, and clung to every leaf and branch of the bushes along each side. Carl wanted in on the action the moment he heard about it.

Todd had brought a Tupperware tub from his family's kitchen and had poked air holes in the lid. It was then that a fuzzy, half-formed idea started taking root in Carl's mind. But he was having too much fun to pay attention.

They counted each frog they grabbed and put it in the tub but soon lost count. There were so many that for every three new frogs they captured another two would escape. The fog burned off and the sun began to break through as the boys' enthusiasm waned.

"That's enough, I think. We must have 50 frogs in there," Todd said.

"Seventy-five maybe," Carl responded.

Todd checked the seal of the lid on the tub and they began the walk home. A fuzzy idea was forming in Carl's head like a slowly developing photograph.

"What are we going to do with them?"

"We're keeping them." Todd said with confidence.

This was enough to satisfy Carl at first, but the fuzzy idea still nagged at him. He remembered other plans he and Todd had cooked up – like daring his brother to eat a handful of dirt, or teaching the cat to ride a tricycle. They all started out great and ended up– not. There was a question neither one of them had ever asked: "And then what?"

At Todd's house, they agreed to keep the tub at his place temporarily. It was almost noon so Carl ran home to have lunch with his cousins who were visiting. That night when Carl went to bed, the morning's hunt was nearly forgotten. He was so exhausted that he didn't even protest his bedtime and fell fast asleep. Carl was still sleeping when in a dream he found himself at school. It was recess and everyone was on the playground. Something was wrong, though. Kids were yelling and running in all directions. He heard a rumbling belch and looked up. It was a three story tall frog in blue overalls! He held a giant tin pail that he was filling with school children and his massive wet eyes focused right on Carl.

"Get in my bucket, mammal pup!" it bellowed.

Carl tried to run but could only move in slow motion. The monster frog reached down to clutch him. Carl awoke with a jump. It was morning. He hopped out of bed and rushed down the hall to turn on the family computer. Typing furiously, he sent Todd an email. "We must set the frogs loose! We made a big mistake!"

Moments later a message came back from Todd.

"Already done. Yesterday my mom and dad made me get rid of them. I let the frogs loose along the side of the drainpipe. There was so much croaking and peeping that no one here slept last night. Hey! Come by my house later. I have a new idea."

Special thanks to the author for his illustration. To see more of his work, visit ajmitchellart.com.

For more Kids' Reading Room, visit latimes.com/kids.

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