It was a bright, clear, fall day. It had been a month into the new school year. The Get Along Gang's newest member, Gosalyn Mallard, wasn't looking forward to the school year when she first moved to Green Meadow. She hated school. But then, what kid didn't? Except maybe Montgomery Moose and Braker Turtle, but that was because they were the "brains" of the gang. In actuality, Gosalyn thought school was okay. It was just the work she hated.
"Did you guys do your book reports?" Montgomery asked.
"Mine's all ready," Dotty Dog said.
"Mine, too," Woolma Lamb said.
"I hate to admit it, but the book I read was pretty cool," Gosalyn said with a shrug. "My dad gave it to me when I told him about the assignment. At least we get a cool teacher."
"Yeah, Miss Deering's the best," Montgomery agreed.
"I hope I get Miss Deering for a teacher someday," Portia Porcupine, the youngest member of the Gang, said. She was in a different class from the other kids.
"You'd really like her, Portia," Montgomery replied. "She's the best teacher we ever had!"
Zipper Cat and Bingo "Bet It All" Beaver nodded in agreement, and the seven kids walked to the schoolhouse. They wanted to get there before the first bell rang.
Elsewhere in Green Meadow, the town bully, Catchum Crocodile, was standing outside of the house of his sidekick, Leland Lizard, waiting for him to come out, so they could get to school. Although it didn't really matter to Catchum. School did not interested him. He was only there because his mother made him go every single day. As he was waiting, Leland was rushing around, trying to get himself in order. Mainly looking for his book report, and trying to avoid his grandfather. He was actually thankful for running late. Then he wouldn't have to put up with his grandfather, talking about "the old days."
Unfortunately, Leland wasn't going to be able to avoid his grandfather. He bumped right into him while looking for his book report, which his grandfather was holding in his hand.
"Looking for this?" he asked.
"Uhh, yeah," Leland said, taking his book report. "Thanks, Grandpa. I gotta go, or I'm going to be late for school."
"All right," Grandpa Lizard said. "But you should learn to be more organized with your homework, boy! Why, when I was your age . . . ."
"Sorry, Grandpa, but I gotta go!" Leland shouted, and raced out the door as fast as he could. He knew he usually had to beat a hasty retreat when his grandfather started sentences with the words "when I was your age."
When Leland came out the door, he saw Catchum standing there, looking bored to death.
"What took you so long?" he asked.
"I had to look for my book report," Leland said.
"That's the last time I wait for you before school starts. Come on. Let's get going."
Catchum and Leland ran off to reach school before the bell rang. If they were late, that only meant detention. Even though Catchum hated school, he hated detention even more. He and Leland made it at the very last possible second.
"What takes you two so long to get to school, anyway?" Gosalyn asked.
"Waiting for slowpoke over here," Catchum said, indicating his sidekick. Then the two of them walked to their desks in the back of the room.
The very first thing Miss Deering did was go around the classroom collecting the class's book reports.
"Nice to see you're turning in your homework for once, Gosalyn," Miss Deering said as she took Gosalyn's report.
"What can I say?" Gosalyn said with a shrug. "This assignment was different."
"Maybe I should try to assign book reports more often," Miss Deering said, and she continued to collect the rest of the book reports.
Catchum was flipping through his book report, waiting for Miss Deering to collect it, when he glanced over at Leland, who was frantically throwing papers out of his notebook in every direction imaginable. Catchum gave him a Look.
"Leland, what in the world are you doing?" he asked.
"Looking for my book report," Leland replied. "I know I did it. I had it when I left this morning. My grandfather handed it to me right before I left! I know I had it then, I just know . . . . ."
"Leland," Miss Deering said. "May I have your book report, please?"
"Uhh, well, Miss Deering, I can't find it," Leland said. "But I did do it."
"You know, Leland, this is the third time this semester you haven't turned in your homework. Your grades aren't doing very well, and this isn't helping."
"I know, Miss Deering, but I really did do my book report. It's probably just mixed up with the rest of my stuff."
"All right. I'll give you until the end of the day to find your book report."
Leland nodded, and continued to dig through his notebook. Gosalyn looked around, and then turned to Dotty, who sat next to her.
"It's amazing he can find anything in that notebook," she said, with a slight laugh.
Dotty craned her neck to see what Leland was doing, and stifled a laugh herself. The panic stricken look on Leland's face was pretty funny.
By lunch time, Leland was still looking for his book report. Montgomery came up to him in the lunchroom.
"Still looking for your book report?" he asked.
"Yeah," Leland said. "I don't know what could have happened."
"Maybe you dropped it on the way to school or something. I heard you and Catchum talking about having to race to get to school this morning."
"That's probably it."
Leland gathered up his papers, stood up, and started to leave the lunchroom. Montgomery looked at him as if he were crazy.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"To go look for my book report," Leland replied.
"Wait a minute, you can't leave school grounds now! You'll get in trouble."
"Not if he doesn't get caught," Catchum replied. "I've skipped school dozens of times and I've never gotten caught!"
"You will one of these days," Montgomery said. "I wouldn't attempt leaving school do look for your book report, Leland. It's not worth it."
"It is to me," Leland replied. "If I don't turn in that book report, it'll be another note home about not doing my homework, and then my grandfather will kill me."
And with that, Leland left the lunch room. He was planning on retracing his steps to find his book report. Montgomery wasn't so sure that was a good idea. He went to the table where the rest of the gang was sitting and sat down.
"What was that all about over there, Montgomery?" Woolma asked.
"Oh, I mentioned to Leland that he might have dropped his book report on the way to school today, and he's gone out to look for it," Montgomery said.
"He's leaving school grounds to look for a stupid book report?" Gosalyn asked. "Sheesh, what a looney lizard!"
"I'll bet he gets caught," Bingo said.
"I wonder how long it's going to take before he gets caught," Zipper said.
"It won't take too long," Gosalyn said. "Leland's an idiot."
Montgomery shrugged. He wasn't sure he wanted to get into this conversation.
During the rest of lunch and recess, Leland retraced his steps from the schoolhouse to his house. He was thankful Green Meadow was a small town, or else he'd be in big trouble, even more trouble than he was going to get in for skipping school, although he didn't really think it was skipping, since it wasn't technically during class time. In any case, he nearly made it back to his house when he bumped into Officer Growler, literally.
"Uh oh," he said.
"Aren't you supposed to be in school, Leland?" Officer Growler asked.
"Uhh, well, I was just looking for my book report," Leland said. "See, I had to race out of the house this morning, and I know I had my book report when I left, and then when I got to school, I didn't have it, so Montgomery said I probably dropped it, so I was just looking for it, and it's in the middle of lunch and recess now, so . . . ."
Officer Growler was giving Leland a Look. No way was he buying this, even if it was the truth. Leland nervously turned around, and headed back to school. Officer Growler followed him, to make sure he went back, and not tried to skip school again. By the time they got back, recess was over. Leland wasn't able to find his book report. That only meant Miss Deering was going to send another note home, not only about not turning in homework, but for skipping school, as well. After everyone left school, Miss Deering called Leland to her desk before he left.
"Leland, I'd like you to give this to your parents," she said.
"Okay," Leland said, taking the note from Miss Deering.
"This is happening too much, Leland. You're not turning in homework, you fail almost every test I give you, and you're barely passing the class to begin with. You're doing better with getting to school on time, but you're still late pretty often. If this keeps up, I'm afraid you'll have to be let back. I don't think you're a bad student. You just need to try harder."
"My grandfather is going to kill me," Leland groaned.
Leland somewhat dawdled on the way home. His grandfather expected him to get good grades, and Leland usually got mostly D's and F's. Grandpa Lizard usually blew a gasket whenever that happened. Leland was used to it, but he still didn't like it. When he walked through the front door, he hoped his grandfather was sleeping. Grandpa Lizard was the heaviest sleeper in all of Green Meadow. He could sleep through a sonic boom. Unfortunately, Leland wasn't so lucky that day. Grandpa Lizard was in the kitchen, and he heard Leland coming in.
"Leland, is that you?" he called.
"Uhh, yeah, Grandpa, it's me," Leland replied.
"How was school? Did you turn in your book report?"
"Well . . . ."
Leland wasn't sure if he could bring himself to tell his grandfather he had lost his book report on the way to school that day, and then got caught when he left school to look for it. And he especially didn't want to give his grandfather the note Miss Deering sent home with him. He didn't say anything, but Grandpa Lizard knew something was up.
"All right, what happened?" he asked.
Leland dug through his backpack, pulled out the note from Miss Deering, and handed it to his grandfather. Grandpa Lizard unfolded it, and read through it. Leland braced himself for the explosion.
"What I would like to know is how can you lose a book report when you had it in your hand when you left the house?!" Grandpa Lizard shouted.
"Well, I was in a hurry, and I guess it fell out of my notebook when I was running to school," Leland said.
"And then you left school to go look for it?! What in the world were you thinking?!"
"I guess I wasn't."
"As usual! What's the matter with you, boy? It's like you don't have a brain in that head of yours!"
Leland didn't say anything. Catchum often said that Leland was brainless, but he wasn't so sure if he wanted to say that to his grandfather. He wouldn't have been able to get a word in edgewise, anyway, since Grandpa Lizard was in the middle of a rant.
"This is the third time this semester you haven't turned in your homework!" he shouted. "And skipping school on top of it all! I swear, your father was never this bad a student! I wasn't, either. Nobody in this family has ever been this bad a student! Trouble with you is you don't work hard enough! I've seen you when you study! You read more of those consarn comic books than you do your school books! You'll never learn anything that way! You'll never amount to anything, Leland, you hear me?!"
"Yes sir," Leland said, feebly. There wasn't much he could do about this. This was a normal lecture for him. His grandfather often told him that he'd never amount to anything when he yelled at Leland over school.
Grandpa Lizard stopped yelling after awhile, and sent Leland to his room to do his homework.
"And you'd better work on it, too!" he shouted. "I'm gonna come in there in two minutes, and if you're reading comic books instead of doing your homework, I'll do more than just yell at ya, boy!"
"Yes, Grandpa," Leland said. He figured he'd better get started on his homework right away, and not stop until he finished it, or else his grandfather was going to have a fit. That, and he didn't want to find out what his grandfather had in mind when he said he was going to do more than yell at him.
Almost exactly two minutes later, Grandpa Lizard walked into Leland's room, and found him working on his homework. He was satisfied.
"Glad to see my talk got through to you," he said.
"Mm hmm," Leland said with a nod. That was all. He didn't consider what his grandfather had just given him a talk. It was more like a verbal massacre, but Leland knew better than to say that.
"You know what your problem is, boy?" Grandpa Lizard asked. "You're a lazy lizard. You give up too quickly. You gotta try harder! When the going gets tough, the tough gets going! Remember that, boy. Try harder!"
Leland didn't answer. He just pretended to concentrate on his homework. He hated it when he was being watched while doing his homework, especially his grandfather. It made him incredibly nervous.
The next day, Leland left his house without so much as a word to his grandfather. He wasn't rushing around, this time, and he did have his homework with him. Grandpa Lizard didn't say much to Leland, either. All he said was that if Leland's grades didn't shape up, he'd be on his way to military school. While he was walking to school, he was thinking about what Miss Deering and his grandfather said to him the day before. He didn't particularly want to be let back, but it looked like there was no way out, unless he started passing the tests. The homework situation was pretty easy to fix. Just so long as he didn't lose anymore assignments. But no matter how hard he studied for tests, he always blanked on them. He wondered if being sent back a grade was worse than military school. As he was mulling it over, he tripped, and fell flat on his stomach. His backpack flew open, and nearly every single thing in it spilled out.
"Oh no," he groaned. "Now I'm going to be late again!"
Leland scrambled to pick up his things. He started with his homework before the wind picked up. If that happened, he knew he was one dead lizard. He shoved it in his backpack, and then started picking up his pencils. As he picked them up, he saw something on the ground. It was a funny looking coin. It was gold, and about the size of a silver dollar, but there was a hole punched through the middle of it. It looked really old, too.
"Wow," he said, looking at it. "This is really neat. I wonder where it came from? I'll have to show it to Grandpa when I get home. He knows everything about old coins."
That happened to be true. Grandpa Lizard worked at a museum a little ways outside of Green Meadow. He kept an eye on the museum's coin collection, which was worth millions. Leland put the coin in his pocket and continued picking up his school supplies. As he was putting things back into his backpack, the town clock began to chime. Leland panicked. He only had two minutes to get to school! He finished gathering up his things, and started running. He knew that no matter how fast he ran, he wasn't going to make it on school on time. But as he was running, something suddenly happened. He acquired a sudden burst of speed. He practically flew down the pathway, and skidded to a halt right at the schoolhouse door. The minute he stopped, he glanced at the town clock.
"A minute and a half to spare," he said. "Wow."
And with that, Leland walked into his classroom, on time, no less. The Get Along Gang stared at him strangely.
"Is it going to snow in July now?" Gosalyn asked.
The bell rang just then. Miss Deering walked around, and collected the homework. Leland pulled his out of his backpack, and handed it in.
"I see you have your homework this time," Catchum said.
"I had it yesterday," Leland said.
"Yeah, sure," Catchum said.
Leland didn't say anything else. Once Miss Deering collected everyone's homework, she went to the front of the blackboard and wrote the three words that grade school students fear the most:
POP QUIZ TODAY
Everyone let out groans. Gosalyn banged her head against her desk. Bingo began to panic. Every kid in the class shouted a disapproval about it. Miss Deering ignored the groaning and complaining, and passed out the quiz papers. Everyone got started. Leland looked at his paper, and gulped. This was going to kill him. He might as well just start packing for military school then and there. He sighed, and decided to just answer the questions on the quiz anyway. So, he began writing things down on the paper.
After lunch, the kids filed outside for gym class. They were playing baseball. Gosalyn took her position on the pitcher's mound, and waited. Leland was first up to bat on his team.
"Everybody move in!" Gosalyn shouted.
Leland gulped, and held the bat. He had never hit the ball out of the infield in his life. He usually struck out. Gosalyn pitched the ball, and Leland swung at it.
The ball connected with the bat in such force, the ball sailed straight over the fence. It was gone! Leland hit it so hard, it looked like it flew straight into the next county!
"Whoa!" Gosalyn shouted.
"A home run!" Montgomery shouted, like he couldn't believe it.
"He hit it harder than Portia's ever hit it when we play baseball!" Zipper exclaimed.
Leland couldn't believe it, either. He just stood there at home plate, gaping. He didn't bother to round the bases. After awhile, the teams switched sides. Leland was never that good a fielder, either, which was why he was always stuck out in left field. But today, every time he picked up the ball, he practically hurled it. He threw it to Catchum as Zipper was rounding third and on his way to home plate.
"Ow!" Catchum shouted when he caught the ball. "Hey, Leland, take it easy!"
"You're out, Zipper," Montgomery said.
"How'd you . . . ." Zipper started to say. He looked at Leland, who just shrugged. Nobody could believe it.
Another shock came to the class when they got back to the classroom that day. Miss Deering was handing pack the pop quiz from that morning.
"Very good, Montgomery," she said. "You only missed one question."
"Montgomery always gets A's," Woolma said. She had gotten a B-plus on her quiz, but she was happy with it.
Dotty got an A-minus, Zipper a B-plus, Gosalyn got a C, and Bingo got a C-minus.
"Hey, this is better than the D-minus I always get!" he shouted. "Thanks, Miss Deering!"
Miss Deering handed Catchum's quiz back. He got a D-minus, but he wasn't so surprised. He always got D-minuses on tests. It was nothing new to him. He just shoved it into his desk. It was probably never going to see the light of day again.
"Well, Leland, I can honestly say I'm surprised," Miss Deering said, as she handed Leland is test back. Leland took it, expecting an F written on it. To his surprise, he had gotten an A-plus on it! A perfect score no less!
"A perfect score?" he asked.
"Yes, the highest grade in the class," Miss Deering said.
"Leland got a better score than Montgomery?!" Bingo shouted, incredulously.
"What'd you do, Leland?" Catchum asked. "Cheat?"
"No," Leland said. "Honest, I didn't. But . . . . wow, I don't understand how I . . . . thanks, Miss Deering!"
The Get Along Gang glanced at each other. This completely blew them out of the water. They couldn't believe what they were hearing. It didn't matter to Leland. Just so long as it wasn't an F! After school, the Get Along Gang headed for their clubhouse, talking about what had happened in school that day.
"How in the world did Leland get a perfect score on a pop quiz?" Zipper asked. "And Montgomery missed one question!"
"Usually, it's Montgomery who gets the perfect scores," Dotty replied. "I just don't get it."
"Maybe Leland had an off day or something," Gosalyn said, shrugging. "Did you guys see him during gym class today?"
"I know," Bingo said. "He usually strikes out. And when he throws, it only goes like two inches."
"Let's forget about it," Montgomery said. "I don't know how it happened, either, but I'm not going to worry about it."
The others shrugged, and walked to the clubhouse. In the meantime, Leland was walking back home, thinking about all that happened that day. How he made a perfect score on a pop quiz, and hit a home run during gym class. He couldn't figure it out. As he was thinking about it, Catchum came up to him.
"You know, everybody's wondering how in the world you got that home run during PE," he said.
"I don't know how it happened, either," Leland shrugged. "It just did, that's all."
Catchum rolled his eyes. He picked up his backpack, and walked off, leaving Leland just standing there. Leland shrugged, and walked home. He took the coin he found out of his pocket, and just stared at it.
"Maybe this is a good luck charm," he said. "I don't know how else I could have gotten a perfect score on a pop quiz."
Leland put the coin back, and pulled his house key out of the other pocket. He opened the door and walked inside. The house was empty. Grandpa Lizard was probably at the museum or something. Leland sat down at the kitchen table and started to do his homework. He was still working on it when his grandfather came home.
"Working on your homework I see," he said.
"Yep," Leland replied. "I'm just about finished, though."
"Good. So how was school?"
"Miss Deering gave us a pop quiz. I have it right here."
Leland pulled the quiz out of his backpack and handed it to his grandfather. Grandpa Lizard looked it over, and his eyes nearly popped right out of his head. He put the paper down, took off his bifocals, and cleaned them.
"A perfect score?" he asked. "Well, that's more like it, boy!"
"I'm still kind of surprised," Leland admitted. "I never get scores like this on tests!"
"That's for sure," Grandpa Lizard said. "You didn't change your grade on this, did you?"
Somehow, Leland had a feeling his grandfather was going to ask him that. Later, Leland was perusing his comic book collection when his grandfather came into the room. Leland knew he couldn't yell at him. He had already done his homework.
"Reading those comic book again?" he asked. He looked around the room. "Just look at this pig sty. Is it any wonder you can't find your homework in the morning? It's a wonder you can find anything in here! You put that comic book away and clean up this mess!"
"Okay, Grandpa," Leland said, putting his comic book down. He hated cleaning his room. But he figured he might as well just do it now and get it over with.
Grandpa Lizard left Leland to do his work. And Leland knew he couldn't hide the mess under the bed. He had a lot of junk under there already. As he was contemplating it, he heard Grandpa Lizard yell at him from across the hall.
"And don't forget to clean under your bed!" he shouted. "You can't hide that mess under there! You've got too much stuff under there already!"
"I wonder how he does that," Leland said. "Boy, this is going to take all night."
Leland figured he might as well start by cleaning under his bed. Most of the mess under there was tests, papers, and projects from school, most of which got failing marks. Not to mention some killer dust bunnies. It appeared he hadn't cleaned out under his bed since kindergarten! He sighed, and got down to get under his bed. He pulled out most of the junk under it, and had a major run in with a dust bunny the size of a baseball. He ended up sneezing when he came in contact with it, but the sneeze also blew the papers and dust out from under the bed. Leland crawled out from under his bed and just stared. He wondered how that happened. Nobody can sneeze that hard. He decided not to wonder about it for long. He had to finish cleaning his room before he could get back to his comic book, and since that was going to take awhile, he decided to just get going. He walked to the other side of his room and opened his toy box. Then he began throwing his toys into it, at an alarmingly fast pace. Then he moved to the rest of the stuff in the room. In ten seconds flat, the room was spotless. That was a new record for Leland! Not even Grandpa Lizard could believe it when he came in to see how he was doing. He even checked under the bed to make sure he didn't shove everything under it.
"I don't know how you did it, but you did it," he said.
Leland just shrugged. As he was getting ready for bed, he thought about what had happened during the day. He had only two minutes to get to school the day before, and when he ran, he made it in ten seconds. He also cleaned up his room in ten seconds, and it normally would have taken him all night to finish up. He got a perfect score on a pop quiz, something he had never done before, and he had gotten a home run in gym class. He wondered how in the world he could have done that. Then he remembered something from one of his comic books. He practically ran into his bedroom, and dug through his box of comics, looking for it.
"Here it is," he said. "Super Croc, issue one."
Leland sat down on his bed, and began turning the pages in his comic book, to find exactly what he was looking for.
"Average citizen, Al E. Gator found a strange glowing rock on the ground on his way to work one day," he read. "He picked it up, and realized he was going to be late for work, and he ran, making it there in two seconds. Let's see here . . . . I know it's in here . . . . ah ha! Here it is. Al walked off a cliff and started to fall, but as he was falling, he began to fly, all thanks to the strange rock. That's when he decided to use his strange powers for good, becoming Super Croc! That's kind of like what happened to me. If that coin is anything like that rock that Super Croc found . . . . "
Leland thought it over. He decided there was only one way to find out if the coin he found was anything like the rock that Al E. Gator in his comic book found, and that was to climb up to the roof and jump off, to see if he could fly. He would have to wait until around midnight. That way he would be sure his grandfather would be asleep.
Leland climbed out his bedroom window, and climbed up to the roof, while holding the coin he found. He looked down, and took a deep breath.
"Well, here goes nothing," he said. He jumped off the roof, and fell. He was about to hit the ground when suddenly, he went upward, instead of downward. He flew around his house for awhile, pleased with everything that was happening. That coin he found gave him all the super powers Super Croc had.
"Boy, wait until I tell Catchum!" he shouted, as he flew back into his bedroom window. "He'll never believe it!"
Leland closed his window, and then realized something. He knew Catchum pretty well. If he told him about that coin he found, Catchum would most likely take it from him to cash in on it, if it was worth anything, or use it to give himself super powers. Then he would probably go wreak havoc with them. And Leland knew if he told his grandfather, he'd most likely take away his comic books, saying that he's been reading too many of them. So he decided to keep this under wraps.
Leland was thankful that the next day was Saturday. He had a lot of things to do since he found out he now had super powers, thanks to that coin. As he was eating breakfast, and watching cartoons on the small portable TV in the kitchen, Grandpa Lizard came downstairs. He was grumbling to himself as he walked into the kitchen.
"Of all the rotten things," he said. "Why do I even bother with this?"
"What's the matter, Grandpa?" Leland asked.
"Oh nothing. I just have to get down to the museum right away. There was a break in. Nothing for you to worry about. Most likely I'll be gone all day."
Leland nodded, and continued eating his cereal. He was thankful that his grandfather was going to be gone for most of the day. That would give him some time to work on a project he had in mind.
Elsewhere in Green Meadow, the Get Along Gang was walking around town, on their way to the baseball field for a ball game. They were also giving Gosalyn a hard time about the events in gym class the day before.
"I bet that's the last time you ever call everyone into the field when Leland's up at bat," Bingo said.
"Very funny," Gosalyn said. "I still don't understand how that happened."
"It was like Leland got super strength or something," Zipper said. "Did you see how hard he was throwing the ball whenever he fielded it?"
"It was pretty weird," Dotty said, with a nod. "Especially considering last time we had gym class, he either struck out or barely hit the ball out of the infield."
The rest of the Gang agreed, and continued walking to the ball field. As they were on their way, the bank alarm began to ring. The Gang stopped, and they saw three men wearing masks rush out of the bank carrying bags of money. Officer Growler came running down the street blowing his whistle.
"Stop thieves!" he shouted.
"Cool, a bank robbery!" Gosalyn shouted.
The robbers jumped into their getaway car, and sped off. Officer Growler made a run for his police car. The Get Along Gang just stood there, and watched. Officer Growler tried to start his car, but it wouldn't go. No matter how hard he tried, the car wouldn't start.
"Darn it, why does it always do this when I have to chase down a robber?" he asked.
"Need some help with your car, Officer Growler?" Montgomery asked.
"No, the mechanic I usually go to isn't too far," Officer Growler replied. "But those crooks are long gone."
"Wait a minute," Portia said, looking up in the sky for a moment. "Hey guys, look at that!"
"What is it, Portia?" Dotty asked as she and the others looked up.
"Looks kinda like a flying lizard," Woolma commented.
It definitely was a flying lizard. He flew in the direction of the crooks that robbed the bank. Officer Growler and the Get Along Gang ran off to see what was going to happen. They heard the screeching of tires and stopped in their tracks. What they saw shocked them. The flying lizard had landed, and he was holding the car up above his head. He dropped the car on the ground, and it landed with a loud CRASH! The three crooks crawled out of it, dazed beyond belief. They crawled over to Officer Growler.
"We surrender," one said. "We give up!"
"Wow," Bingo said. "I've never seen anything like that! Outside of a Super Croc comic book, that is."
"That was amazing," Woolma said, walking over to this strange masked lizard. "You must be really strong to have picked up a car like that."
"It wasn't so hard," the masked lizard said. "But I wouldn't recommend it for those who don't have super strength."
"Yeah, you should leave that to professional superheroes," Zipper said. "Who are you, anyway?"
"Just call me Super Lizard," the masked lizard said. "Gotta go."
And with that, Super Lizard took to the air, and flew off. The others just watched as he flew out of sight.
"He seemed awfully familiar to me," Montgomery replied.
"Forget it, Montgomery," Zipper said. "Let's go play some baseball."
Montgomery walked to the ball field with the rest of the gang, but he just couldn't forget it. He knew he had seen "Super Lizard" before, but he couldn't figure out where. However, the others couldn't seem to forget their encounter with Super Lizard, either.
"I've seen a lot of superheroes in comic books and cartoons," Zipper said. "But this is the first time I've ever seen one in real life!"
"Yeah, that was pretty cool," Gosalyn said. "Especially since he's like our age."
"I'd just like to know who he is," Montgomery said.
"Forget it, Montgomery," Dotty said. "You know that super heroes keep their secret identities a secret."
"Right," Portia said with a nod. "Just look at Superman. Nobody knows that he's Clark Kent."
"And nobody knows that Al E. Gator is Super Croc," Bingo said.
Montgomery just shrugged. He knew he had seen Super Lizard somewhere before. It was driving him crazy.
Super Lizard, in the meantime, flew around, until he reached the swamp. Then he ducked behind a tree, and emerged, out of costume. Super Lizard's secret identity (as if your author needs to tell you) was none other than Leland Lizard. Leland was pleased that he had fooled the Get Along Gang. And stopped a bank robbery on top of all that.
"Boy, that was just like how it happened in issue one of Super Croc!" he shouted. "He stopped a bank robbery right in front of the townspeople he knew, and they couldn't figure out his secret identity!"
"What are you babbling about, Leland?" Catchum asked as he came over.
"Oh, hi, Catchum," Leland said, whirling around. He spun around so fast, his coin whacked him in the face. He had forgotten he was still wearing it around his neck. After the coin hit him, he grabbed it, yanked it off, and shoved it into his pocket.
"Uhh, what are you doing here?" he asked.
"I live here, stupid!" Catchum shouted.
"What's the matter with you, anyway?"
"Well, I guess school's getting me down. If my grades don't shape up, my grandfather is going to send me to military school."
"That's terrible! If you go to military school, who am I gonna boss around?! Of course, if you go to military school, it might give me a chance to find a sidekick that has more brains than you do."
Leland said nothing. He was used to this from Catchum. In any case, Catchum started to walk off.
"Come on, let's go do something," he said.
"Like what?" Leland asked, a little nervously.
"I don't know. Maybe torment the Get Along Gang or something."
"Uhh, maybe later. I've got . . . . some stuff to do."
"Like . . . . . study! I've got to go study. I don't really want to go to military school. Or be sent back a grade. Gotta go."
Leland ran behind the tree, grabbed his Super Lizard costume, and ran off as fast as he could. Catchum watched him run off, rolled his eyes, and shook his head.
"He's completely lost it," he said. Then he sighed. "I need a new sidekick."
For the rest of the day, Leland flew around town, wearing his Super Lizard get up so no one would recognize him. He passed the Get Along Gang playing around their caboose. Portia and Dotty were flying kites. Woolma was primping in her mirror. Gosalyn and the boys were throwing around a football.
"Hey Bingo, go long!" Gosalyn shouted, as she threw the ball as hard as she could.
"I got it! I got it!" Bingo shouted as he ran to catch it. He wasn't watching where he was going as he was running, and ran directly into Portia, knocking her to the ground.
"Whoa!" Portia shouted as she and Bingo fell. The string snapped on her kite, and it flew directly into a tree, getting caught in the branches.
"My kite!" she shouted.
"Sorry, Portia," Bingo said. "I guess I should have looked where I was going."
"We'll help you get your kite down, Portia," Montgomery said. "Come on, gang. We'll form a human ladder."
Montgomery stood under the branch Portia's kite was caught in, and Zipper climbed on his shoulders. Bingo climbed on top of Zipper, Dotty on Bingo, Woolma on Dotty, Gosalyn on Woolma, and finally Portia on Gosalyn. The gang made one wobbly ladder. Everyone sort of wobbled around, trying to keep their footing. Portia reached up to grab the kite, but Montgomery lost his footing completely, and fell. As a result, everyone else fell. Portia grabbed the tree branch, and was stuck.
"Hey guys, I'm stuck!" she shouted.
"Don't let go, Portia!" Montgomery called out. "We'll get you down!"
"Hopefully not by the ladder method," Gosalyn commented.
The branch Portia was hanging onto was starting to break. As luck would have it, Leland saw the whole thing happening.
"Wow, this is just like in Super Croc number seven!" he shouted. "The first time Super Croc met Louisa Lamour, when she accidentally fell from the window ledge trying to report a news story!"
Leland swooped down, just as the branch Portia was hanging on completely broke. The rest of the gang was in search for a ladder. He caught Portia in mid air and then flew her to the ground.
"Hey, it's Super Lizard again!" Portia shouted. "Thanks!"
"No problem," Leland said. "That's what us super heroes are for."
"Are you all right, Portia?" Montgomery asked as he and the rest of the gang ran over.
"Yeah, thanks to Super Lizard," Portia said.
"Oh, Super Lizard, you're a real hero!" Woolma shouted, about ready to swoon any minute. Gosalyn rolled her eyes.
"Oh brother," she groaned.
"Well, I'd better get going," Leland said. He took a jump, and flew into the air, and flew off. The gang watched him go.
"He may be a superhero," Montgomery said. "But there's something very familiar about that Super Lizard."
"Yeah, he kinda looks like Catchum's drippy sidekick Leland," Gosalyn said, then she burst out laughing. "Hey, can you just imagine him as a superhero?"
The rest of the gang began cracking up at the thought of it, except Montgomery. He was deep in thought about what Gosalyn just said.
"Maybe I'll have a talk with Leland," he said to himself. The rest of the gang didn't hear him. They were too busy laughing.
A little while later, Montgomery went to Leland's house and knocked on the door. Leland answered it, and was surprised to see Montgomery there.
"Uh, hi, Montgomery," he said. "What are you doing here?"
"I wanted to ask you something," Montgomery said. "Some really strange things have been happening around here lately. Especially with you."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, a couple of weeks ago, Miss Deering gave us a test, and from what I remember, you failed pretty badly, right?"
"Well . . . . yeah . . . ."
"And the pop quiz the other day, you got a perfect score. Not to mention a home run in gym class, and you usually strike out. And you were throwing harder as well."
"Oh, well, I just got lucky, that's all. I mean, everybody has a lucky day, don't they?"
"I guess you're right. Hey, listen, what do you know about Super Lizard?"
Leland choked just then. He just stood there, staring at Montgomery, silent. Montgomery looked at him strangely. He could see Leland starting to sweat a little.
"Leland, are you okay?" he asked.
"Y-yeah," Leland said, stammering a little. "I'm okay. Uhh, yeah, I saw Super Lizard when he stopped those two bank robbers."
"Really? The entire gang was there, and we didn't see you there?"
"Oh, I was there, trust me."
"Yeah. Well, I was just wondering. You know, this Super Lizard does remind me of somebody. Gosalyn said that he kind of looked like you. Actually, you do kind of look like Super Lizard, if you were wearing a mask and a bathroom towel as a cape, like Super Lizard was. But that's kind of silly, isn't it?"
Leland didn't say anything. He just started to look a little nervous. Montgomery had figured it out. But Leland wasn't sure if he wanted to say anything about it. Luckily, he didn't have to. Grandpa Lizard's car was starting to pull up into the driveway.
"Uh, Montgomery, you've got to go," Leland said. "My grandfather's coming, and he's going to think you were over. He's not too crazy about me having people over when he's not home."
"Oh sure," Montgomery said. "I guess I'll see you a little later, Leland."
Montgomery left just as Grandpa Lizard was getting out of his car and coming up the walk.
"Who was that?" he asked. "Friend of yours?"
"That was Montgomery Moose," Leland said. "He's not really a friend, though. So, how did everything go at the museum?"
Grandpa Lizard came into the house, looking pretty mad. He grumbled under his breath as he walked into the kitchen.
"That bad?" Leland asked.
"The worst," Grandpa Lizard said. "Some crooks made off with a good chunk of the coin collection. They got most of the rare ones. That included the Krypton coin."
"Krypton coin? Which one was that?"
"Oh, I showed it to you months ago. It's kind of a weird one. Solid gold, hole punched in the middle of it. Said to give whoever had it in their possession super powers. Like super strength, super speed, and super brains, too. Now ain't that the most ridiculous thing you ever heard in your entire life, Leland?"
Leland looked a little pale when he heard the description of the coin. It was the exact same coin he had found the day before. Only he didn't know at the time the coin had been stolen. He thought that if he told his grandfather he had it, Grandpa Lizard might think he stole it himself to use it to do better in school. Grandpa Lizard looked over at him, and saw the nervous look on his face.
"Well, what's the matter, boy?" he asked. "You look a little pale there."
"Uhhh, it's nothing, Grandpa," Leland said, quickly. "Uhhh, I think I'll go . . . . do my homework!"
"You said you finished it last night. And why you did your homework on a Friday night is beyond me, boy."
"Oh. I did my homework last night because of that talk you and I had the other day. Get it done early so I can read my comic books the rest of the weekend."
"I don't understand what it is with you and those comic books, Leland, I really don't. At least you've finished your homework."
"Well then, uhh, I guess I'll go get some extra studying done then."
"All right. Well, get to it."
Leland raced up the stairs and into his room, shutting the door behind him. He leaned against it, and began thinking about what to do.
"What am I going to do?" he asked. "I can't keep the coin. But if I do, I'll get into big trouble. I might get into even bigger trouble if I give the coin back to Grandpa."
As Leland was contemplating his dilemma, another dilemma was being contemplated. A bunch of rats were gathered in an abandoned warehouse in the waterfront. Their names were Rocky, Riley, and Ray. They were the ones who broke into the museum that Thursday night, and stolen the coin collection.
"I can't believe we lost the most valuable coin in the collection!" Rocky shouted.
"What I can't believe we didn't notice it until right now," Riley groaned. "What are we going to do when the boss finds out we lost the Krypton coin?"
"We'd better find it or else the boss'll kill us!"
"Yeah, but the question is how are we gonna find it?"
The two rats sat there, wondering what in the world they were going to do. Ray was sitting nearby, reading through the newspaper, not really helping out.
"Hey, guys, we made the paper!" he shouted. "Check this out. Green Meadow Museum robbed of priceless coin collection! We're famous!"
"If we don't find that Krypton coin, we're gonna be dead, you idiot!" Rocky yelled at his comrade. He yanked the newspaper out of his hands, rolled it up, and swatted him in the head with it about five times. Riley rat noticed something in the paper, and grabbed it.
"Wait a minute!" he shouted. "In this picture here. That's the Krypton coin!"
"Let me see that," Rocky said, taking the paper. He began to read the article. "New superhero in town . . . . . called Super Lizard . . . blah, blah blah . . . . some superhero. He looks like a kid. But kid or not, that's the Krypton coin, all right."
"Now all we have to do is find out who this Super Lizard kid is," Riley said. "And then get that coin before the boss finds out we lost it!"
The other two rats nodded. They certainly didn't want their boss finding out they lost the most valuable coin.
Morning rolled around. Leland was wondering about his dilemma. He needed some advice, and there was only one place to get it. He was probably going to hate himself in the morning for doing this, but it was the only way he saw out of this mess.
Leland left the house early, while his grandfather was still asleep. He'd rather not have told his grandfather where he was going, or what he was doing. He left the house, wearing the coin around his neck. He tucked it into his shirt, and walked off. He reached his destination, and knocked on the door, nervously. A few minutes later, the door opened, and there stood Montgomery. He was a little surprised to see Leland standing on his front stoop, looking nervous.
"Leland, what are you doing here?" he asked. "It's eight in the morning."
"Yeah, I know, but I've got this problem," Leland said. "I need some advice."
"You need my advice? There's a new one on me. Come on in, what's the problem?"
Leland walked inside, and followed Montgomery to his bedroom. He explained the entire situation from the time he found the coin to when his grandfather told him about the stolen coin collection.
"Let me get this straight," Montgomery said. "You found this strange coin on the way to school and it gave you super powers."
"That's how I got the perfect score on the pop quiz. The coin sort of gave me a super brain."
"And then you decided to become Super Lizard after reading a Super Croc comic book. And you haven't even told Catchum?"
"Yeah. See, he'd either never believe it, or use it himself to cause trouble."
"I can understand why you wouldn't want to tell Catchum. So now that you found out the coin was stolen from the museum, you're afraid to tell your grandfather about it, because you think he'll think you stole it to help with your schoolwork because you heard the legend about it."
"Yeah. What do I do, Montgomery?"
Montgomery thought it over. Only one thing came to mind, and he knew Leland wasn't going to be too crazy about the answer.
"You're going to have to tell you grandfather about this, and give him the coin," he said.
"You don't know my grandfather, Montgomery," Leland said, fiddling around with the string around his neck. "He'll murder me if I tell him about this! He'll never believe me!"
"It can't be that bad."
"Are you kidding? Every time I tell him I failed a test, he yells at me, saying I'll never amount to anything. And he talks about sending me to military school often."
"Well, how about this? I'll go with you and help you out."
And with that, Montgomery and Leland left Montgomery's house, on their way to Leland's. Leland was extremely nervous about confronting his grandfather about the coin. He kept fiddling with the string around his neck. Montgomery kept glancing over at them as they were walking.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
"Nervous," Leland said. "I really don't think my grandfather is going to take this too well. He takes his job at the museum extremely seriously. I just don't know what he's going to say, and I don't think I want to know."
"Don't worry about it, Leland. I'm sure it won't be as bad as you think."
"It'll probably be worse."
Montgomery just shrugged. He and Leland continued walking along. As they did, they ran into Zipper, Dotty, Bingo, Woolma, Portia, and Gosalyn who were on their way to the ball field.
"Hey Montgomery," Zipper said. "We were just going to see you. Wanna go play some baseball?"
"What's Leland doing with you?" Gosalyn asked, before Montgomery could answer.
"Well, I've got something to do right now," Montgomery said. "A favor for Leland, actually, so I'll catch up with you guys at the ball field a little later."
"What kind of favor is it?" Dotty asked, a little suspiciously.
"Uhh," Montgomery said, taking a glance a Leland. Leland shook his head rapidly. He didn't want the other members of the gang to know about this.
"Sorry guys." Montgomery said. "I can't tell you. I'll see you guys later."
"Okay," Zipper said, shrugging. "Come on, guys."
The gang started to head for the ball field, wondering what was up with Montgomery. Leland breathed of relief.
"Thanks," he said.
"Sure," Montgomery said. "Come on, let's get going."
Leland nodded, and he and Montgomery continued on their way.
As they were walking, a car came driving along the other side of the street. It was the rats who stole the coin collection. They were still looking for the Krypton coin.
"This is like looking for a needle in a haystack, Rocky!" Riley shouted. "We're never gonna find that kid!"
"Keep looking," Rocky said. "If we don't get that coin, the boss is gonna kill us! I don't want to end up sleeping with the fishes!"
"Yeah," Ray agreed. "I get seasick. Hey, look there, you guys. That kid over there's wearing some funny looking thing on his neck!"
Riley practically stomped on the brakes. Rocky pulled out a pair of binoculars to get a closer look. Montgomery and Leland walked by the car just then. Rocky turned to his comrades.
"That's the coin," he said. "Come on. We've gotta follow those two kids."
Riley turned the car around and started following Montgomery and Leland slowly up the street. They were trying to be inconspicuous, but it wasn't working. Both Leland and Montgomery sensed they were being followed. They kept glancing behind them and saw the same car following them.
"I think we're being followed," Leland said.
"So do I," Montgomery said. "Pick up the pace."
Montgomery and Leland started to walk a little faster. Riley kept driving the car forward. Montgomery didn't like the looks of this. But there was no time to panic.
"I have an idea," Montgomery said. "Let's go in the other direction."
Leland nodded. He and Montgomery slowly turned around, and started walking in the opposite direction. Riley groaned.
"Okay," he said. "No more Mr. Nice Rats. Come on, guys, we'll have a better chance catching them on foot."
The rats climbed out of the car, and walked nonchalantly up towards Montgomery and Leland. They didn't want to arouse suspicion. Montgomery glanced over his shoulder and saw them coming.
"Leland," he said.
"Yeah?" Leland asked.
Leland looked over his shoulder, and saw the rats. He and Montgomery took off like a shot. The rats ran after them.
"Come on!" Montgomery shouted. "We'll go to the ball field. The gang should be there. They can help us!"
"Right!" Leland shouted.
Luckily, Montgomery and Leland were much too fast for the rats. They quickly ran out of breath.
"We'll never catch them this way," Riley said.
"Ray, you go back to the car," Rocky said. "Riley, you and me are gonna catch those kids if it's the last thing we do!"
"Which it might as well will be," Riley said.
Rocky and Riley ran off. They saw Montgomery and Leland heading for the ball field. The rest of the Get Along Gang was in sight, playing baseball. The boys were nearly home free. Unfortunately, Portia had hit one of her famous home run wallops just moments before. And Leland ran right on to the ball. He slipped, and started to fall. He ended up knocking right into Montgomery, and both of them crashed to the ground. And if that wasn't bad enough, Rocky and Riley had caught up with them.
"I knew we'd get these brats sooner or later," Rocky said. He grabbed Leland by his suspenders, pulled him up, and yanked the coin right off his neck. Riley grabbed Montgomery's arms, and just held him.
"Finally, we found the Krypton coin," Rocky said.
"Good," Riley said. "I don't think I coulda taken much more of the chase!"
"So since all you wanted was the coin, are you gonna let us go?" Montgomery asked.
"No way, kid," Rocky said, shoving the coin in his pocket. "You two are coming with us, so you won't rat out to the cops! And we'll only give you one warning. Any struggle, any noise, any hysteria whatsoever, and you two are gonna get it!"
Montgomery and Leland gulped. Ray pulled the car up a few moments later. Once they were inside, they drove off. However, they didn't go unnoticed. The rest of the gang had seen the whole thing when they went to retrieve their ball.
"Did you guys see that?" Portia asked. "What are we going to do?"
"We'd better tell Officer Growler!" Bingo shouted.
"No, we've gotta follow that car!" Gosalyn shouted. "If we go to Officer Growler first, we'll never know where those rats are going!"
"Let's not argue about it," Zipper said. "I have an idea. Portia and Bingo, you come with me to tell Officer Growler. Dotty, Woolma, and Gosalyn, you follow the car. We'll catch up to you guys later."
The gang nodded, and quickly got their wheels together. Then they rolled off. Zipper, Bingo, and Portia raced to the police station. Officer Growler was talking to Grandpa Lizard about the stolen coin collection from the museum. He was filling out some forms.
"This is completely crazy," he grumbled. "The bulk of the collection. The curator is in an uproar about this!"
"I hope those coins were insured," Officer Growler said.
"Of course they were! The curator made everything was insured just in case of an emergency. Haven't had a coin robbery this bad since Sammy the Sneak."
Officer Growler nodded, and just watched Grandpa Lizard fill out the paperwork. The door opened suddenly, and Zipper, Portia, and Bingo ran inside, nearly running over Grandpa Lizard.
"Watch it there, you whippersnappers," he mumbled. "Can't a body fill out papers in piece?"
"Officer Growler, we have to talk to you, it's very important!" Zipper shouted.
"You've got to come quick!" Portia shouted.
"It's an emergency!" Bingo yelled.
"Whoa, whoa, hold it, hold it," Officer Growler said. "All of you, calm down!"
"Just like younguns today," Grandpa Lizard groaned. "Always in a hurry. If you slowed down and took the time to think . . . . . that's the trouble with my grandson."
"All right, Zipper, what's the matter?" Officer Growler asked.
"These two rats chased down Montgomery and Leland right outside the ball field," Zipper said.
"Leland tripped on the ball I hit," Portia said. "And he and Montgomery fell and the rats caught up with them."
"And Leland was wearing a coin thing on his neck," Bingo said. "And one of the rats pulled it off, and then a third rat came up in a car, and they got in and drove off, taking Montgomery and Leland with them."
"WHAT?!" Grandpa Lizard screeched. "Which way did they go?"
"It looked like they were heading for the Waterfront," Zipper said. "Dotty, Woolma, and Gosalyn were tailing them."
"It was only about five minutes ago," Portia said. "We can still catch them."
"Let's go!" Officer Growler shouted. He headed for his police wagon, with Zipper, Portia, Bingo, and Grandpa Lizard right behind them.
In the meantime, the rats were still driving towards the Waterfront. Riley was going at a normal speed to avoid arousing suspicion.
"I know you don't want to arouse suspicion, Riley, but we're in a hurry here!" Rocky shouted. "Can't you go a little faster?!"
"If I go any faster, I'll arouse suspicion!" Riley shouted.
Rocky groaned. This was driving him crazy. He took out the coin, and began to examine it. Then he began to flip it into the air and catching it.
"Well, at least we're not having any hysteria from the kids," he said. "One thing I can't stand is hysterics."
Montgomery and Leland tried to remain calm. It wasn't easy. Leland was ready to go bananas any second. Montgomery was a little panicked, but he was keeping a cool head. Leland just caught the vibes off Montgomery, and just tried to remain as calm as possible.
"It'll be a lot easier to just do whatever they tell us," Montgomery said. "You don't want to mess with crooks."
"Right," Leland said with a nod. He glanced out the back window, and pulled on Montgomery's sleeve.
"Hey," he said. "Look out there."
Montgomery took a glance, and saw Gosalyn, Dotty, and Woolma rolling down the street. Gosalyn, the fastest skateboarder in Green Meadow, was following the car down the street, as fast as she could. She had two jump ropes tied around her waist. Dotty was on her roller skates, holding on to one, and Woolma was holding onto the other, on her roller skates. Ray looked out the rearview mirror, and saw the girls. Then he laughed.
"Hey there's three little girls chasing us!" he shouted. Then he waved. "Hi little girls!"
"What?!" Rocky shouted, looking out the back window. "Okay, we're being tailed Riley. STEP ON IT!"
Riley slammed his foot on the gas pedal, and took off like a shot. Rocky fell right to the floor of the backseat the minute Riley took off.
"See, that's why your parents always tell you to wear a seatbelt," Montgomery said. Leland nodded. Both of them stifled their laughter. They didn't really want to antagonize Rocky. He looked antagonized enough already.
"They're getting away!" Dotty shouted. "Faster, Gosalyn, faster!"
"I'm going as fast as I can!" Gosalyn shouted. "I wish Dad had let me put a rocket engine on this thing! Hold on, you two!"
Gosalyn practically grinded her foot into the ground and gave a huge push off, over and over again. She didn't want to lose the car. Ray and Rocky were watching their every move.
"I don't believe this," Rocky groaned. "Riley, burn rubber!"
Riley slammed on the gas pedal again. It was all the way down to the floor. Gosalyn took a deep breath and shot off, pushing herself as fast as she could possibly go.
"We're gaining on them!" Dotty shouted. "Keep going, Gosalyn!"
Gosalyn kept up the pace. Rocky was starting to get frustrated.
"Riley, we gotta lose those kids," he said.
"Hang on," Riley said, eyeing an alley nearby. "I know just how to do it."
Riley pressed the gas pedal as hard as he could, and jerked the wheel, turning sharply into the alley. The turn was so sharp, the car practically turned on two wheels. Montgomery thought for sure the car was going to flip over. Amazingly it didn't, much to Montgomery's relief. Leland had latched onto Montgomery the minute they turned, and wouldn't let go.
"You can let go now, Leland," Montgomery said.
"Oh," Leland said, letting go.
"Riley, whattaya tryin' ta do?!" Rocky yelled. "Give us all heart attacks?!"
"Sorry, Rocky," Riley said. "But we lost those kids."
That happened to be true. The car turned so fast, Gosalyn, Dotty, and Woolma hadn't seen it. Gosalyn looked around, a little confused.
"Where'd they go?" she asked.
"Gosalyn, look out!" Dotty shouted.
"What?" Gosalyn asked. Then she realized what Dotty meant. She ended up crashing into a pile of trashcans. Dotty and Woolma crashed into them along with her.
"Oh disaster!" Woolma shouted. "We lost them!"
"What do we do now?" Gosalyn asked.
Luckily, Gosalyn's question was about to get answered. It was at that moment that Officer Growler pulled up to the girls in his police wagon.
"Glad we caught up with you girls," Zipper said as Dotty, Woolma, and Gosalyn climbed into the wagon. "Which way did they go?"
"We lost 'em," Gosalyn said.
"We'll never find them now," Woolma said. "Oh, poor Montgomery!"
"We just lost them a few minutes ago," Dotty said. "Maybe we can still find them."
Officer Growler backed the police wagon up, and the kids climbed out to look for tire tracks. It was going to be easier said than done.
By that time, the rats had reached their abandoned warehouse hideout on the docks. Riley and Ray were sorting the coins (well, Riley was examining, Ray was taking them and spinning them around). Rocky was finishing tying up Montgomery and Leland, back to back to chairs.
"This oughta hold these two brats," he said.
"What are we gonna do with the kids, Rock?" Riley asked, smacking Ray in the hand to get him to quit spinning the coins while he sorted them.
"We'll let the boss take care of 'em," Rocky said.
"When's the boss supposed to get here, Rocky?" Ray asked.
"I dunno, he always shows up unexpectedly," Rocky shrugged.
Rocky sat down at the table, and began sorting through the coins with Riley. All Montgomery and Leland could do was watch them. They had to figure out a way to get free and get those coins, but they couldn't figure out how.
"What are we going to do?" Leland asked.
"I don't know yet," Montgomery replied, as he writhed around, trying to get loose. "I guess the first thing we have to do is get loose. Start moving around. Maybe we can get loose if both of us move around."
Both Montgomery and Leland began writhing around, but to no avail. They were tied too tightly.
"This isn't going to work," Montgomery sighed. "I guess the only thing we can do is wait for the rest of the gang."
"You know, this is just like what happened in Super Croc number sixty-seven," Leland said. "When Rex Ruthless found out Super Croc's secret. He captured Al E. Gator and stole the magic rock that gave him the super powers. Then he tied Al to a chair and was going to leave him in a condemned warehouse which was Rex's hideout, and then he'd let the demolition crew smash it to smithereens!"
"You know, Leland, I never pegged you as a comic book geek."
"Hey! I just thought of something! Al E. Gator got out of the mess by taking the keys to his office and cutting the ropes."
"That doesn't do us any good, Leland. I don't have a key."
"I do. Nobody's home when I get home from school, so I have to let myself in. I always have the house keys with me. All I have to do is get to them."
Leland maneuvered his arm around, trying to get his hand into his pocket. Montgomery shifted a little himself, thinking that would help Leland get to his key.
"Almost . . . ." Leland said, straining. Then, he finally managed to get into his pocket, and grabbed the key. "Got it! Now all we have to do is cut the ropes."
Leland began sawing at the ropes with his key. Montgomery wasn't so sure this was going to work.
"I don't know, Leland," he said. "I don't think this is going to work."
"Sure it'll work," Leland said. "It worked for Super Croc."
"Super Croc is a comic book. Comic book characters can cut through ropes with nothing but a key."
Leland didn't answer. He just continued sawing at the ropes, as hard and as fast as he could. As he was sawing, he thought up another idea.
"Montgomery, start wiggling around again," he said. "Maybe that'll help break the ropes while I'm cutting them with the key."
"It's worth a shot," Montgomery said, and he began writhing around. It took a few moments, but the ropes finally snapped.
"Hey, that worked," Montgomery said, a little surprised. "I don't believe it."
"I told you it would work," Leland said. "Now that we're untied, what do we do now?"
"We have to get the coin collection from those rats before their boss shows up. But I'm not exactly sure how to do it. I mean, they're sitting right there."
Leland just stared at the coin collection on the table for a moment. Then he looked around the warehouse, and saw a ton of crates. They were all over the place. He walked over to one, and began wrenching the top off of it.
"I wonder what's in all these crates?" he asked, as he pulled.
"Mostly anything I guess," Montgomery said. "Here, I'll help you open that."
Montgomery and Leland pulled as hard as they could, and managed to open the crate. Inside of that particular one was a bunch of glasses. They opened another one and found baseballs.
"I guess whoever used this place last forgot to clean it out," Montgomery said, picking up one of the baseballs.
"Boy, this could keep a kid in baseballs for his entire life," Leland replied. "In that same Super Croc comic I was telling you about, after Al E. Gator got loose, he was thinking how to get his magic rock back, and he ended up opening the crates in the warehouse. He used what he found in them to distract Rex Ruthless and his men, and when they were checking it out, Al E. Gator made a grab for his rock. Maybe if we did the same thing with this stuff, we can get the coin collection back."
"Leland, that's a great idea," Montgomery said. "And . . . . a little weird coming from you, considering . . . . ."
"And Grandpa says I'll never learn anything from reading comic books. Grab a glass and smash it."
Montgomery nodded, and he and Leland each picked up a glass from the box. Then they hurled them to the ground as hard as they could. The crash attracted the rats' attention.
"What was that?" Rocky asked.
"Probably mice or something," Riley replied. "I wouldn't worry about it."
Montgomery and Leland took a few more glasses and smashed them. They had to get those rats away from that table. They continued smashing until Rocky began to stand up.
"Okay, that does it," he said. "Come on, you guys. Let's check this out."
Riley and Ray got up and followed Rocky to the crates. Montgomery and Leland snuck away from the crates as the rats were coming. As the rats began investigating the noise, Montgomery and Leland quickly shoved the coins into the leather bag the rats had used to steal them. Montgomery pulled the drawstring closed, and he and Leland raced towards the door to the warehouse.
"What do we do now?" Leland asked.
"Go to the police station," Montgomery replied. "Then we'll be able to lead them to the warehouse, and the police can arrest those rats."
"Right. Let's go."
Montgomery and Leland snuck to the door, trying to avoid getting the rats' attention. They were still inspecting the broken glass. But the minute the boys got to the door, it opened, and there stood a fourth rat, smoking a cigarette.
"What have we got here?" he asked.
"Hey it's the boss," Ray said, as he, Rocky, and Riley came over.
"I think we're in trouble," Montgomery said.
"Darn right you are," Rocky said, yanking the bag out of Montgomery's hand.
"You got the coins?" the boss asked.
"Right here," Rocky said, holding up the bag. "And about the kids, well, they sorta got in the way."
"Never mind that," the boss said. "We'll take care of them later. I don't want to risk knocking 'em off now. Wait until midnight. That's when the boat's supposed to show up to take us to Brazil. We'll knock off the kids off then."
"Right, boss," Rocky said, as he tossed the bag of coins to the boss. He grabbed Montgomery and Leland by the arms, and started dragging them to the other side of the warehouse.
"I don't know how the two of you got loose, but I'll make sure you don't escape this time!" he shouted. "Just wait until midnight."
Montgomery and Leland looked at each other and gulped. They didn't like the sound of this. They had to figure out a way out of this mess and fast.
"I wish the rest of the gang was here," Montgomery said. "Then maybe we could figure a way out of this."
"I think I might have another idea," Leland said.
"I hope it doesn't involve anything out of a Super Croc comic," Montgomery replied.
Leland didn't answer. Instead, he swung his tail around as hard as he could, and smacked Rocky in the shin with it.
"Yeow!" Rocky shouted. Montgomery got the idea and gave Rocky a swift kick in the other shin as hard as he could.
"Ow!" he yelled again. "You little brats, wait'll I get my hands on you!"
"Run!" Montgomery shouted. He and Leland ran off. Rocky was right behind them.
"Don't just stand there, you dopes!" he yelled. "Get them!"
Riley and Ray joined the chase. Montgomery and Leland ran behind some of the crates.
"This isn't a good hiding place," Leland said. "They'll find us behind here."
"But we can stall them so we can get the coins," Montgomery said. "Start pushing!"
Montgomery and Leland began pushing one of the crates. Neither of them knew what was inside it, but it was heavy.
"Push!" Montgomery shouted.
"I am pushing!" Leland shouted. He braced his back against the crate and tried pushing it that way. "I thought you were the strong one in the gang!"
"I am, but it's nothing compared to Zipper! Just push harder!"
"All right, end of the line, kiddies," Boss Rat said. "If you give up now, we'll go easy on ya!"
"On three, Leland, push as hard as you can," Montgomery said. "One, two, three, PUSH!"
Both Montgomery and Leland pushed the crate as hard as possible. That caused it to tip over, and smash against the ground. The impact caused the lid to pop off, and the contents to spill out of it, which happened to be bowling balls. The rats were really "bowled" over by them. The balls crashed into the rats.
"STRIKE!" Ray shouted.
Montgomery and Leland ran back to the rats. Montgomery grabbed the coins away from Boss Rat, and he and Leland ran for the door. The rats pushed the bowling balls off them, and chased after the boys again. Montgomery and Leland climbed up a nearby ladder to one of the higher levels of the warehouse.
"We've got 'em now," Rocky said. "Ray, get climbing!"
"But I'm afraid of heights!" Ray shouted. "I get dizzy climbing up the front stoop!"
"Oh for Pete's sake!" Riley shouted. "I'll go get them!"
Riley began climbing up the ladder. The other rats watched as he climbed. Montgomery and Leland had to think fast. Finally, Leland had an idea. He grabbed the top of the ladder and gave it a huge push. It started falling backwards.
"Uh oh," Riley said. "Look out below!"
The other three rats tried to run off, but the ladder crashed on top of them. SPLAT! The ladder broke into pieces upon impact.
"Ouch," Montgomery said. "That had to hurt."
"Now they can't get up here to get us or the coins," Leland said.
"That's true, they can't. That was a pretty good idea, Leland. But I have one question."
"How do we get down from here without the ladder?"
Montgomery and Leland looked down to see exactly how high up they were. Montgomery sighed, and looked around.
"Maybe we could jump," Leland said.
"Yeah, if you want to break every bone in your body," Montgomery replied. "We'll have to find another way down."
"This thing kind of happened in Super Croc. Same issue I was talking about. He got stuck in a high place, and he used the warehouse crates to climb down. If we push the crates down to the floor . . . ."
"The crates will smash against the floor because of the impact of the drop."
Montgomery and Leland stood on the shelf, thinking. They had to find a way down, without the rats finding a way up. They began yanking lids off the crates to see what was in them, trying to find something to use to get down. The rats were standing there as well, trying to figure out how to get the coins back.
"Let's stack some crates up and go get them," Ray said.
"I have a better idea," Boss Rat said, and he walked closer to the shelf. "Hey, you kids! Let's make a deal."
"What kind of a deal?" Montgomery asked.
"If you give us the coins," Boss Rat said. "We'll help you get down from there. What the heck, we'll even let you go."
Leland thought it over, and was about ready to toss the coins down, but Montgomery grabbed his wrist to stop him.
"Hold it," he said. "Don't throw it."
"Why not?" Leland asked. "They said they'll let us go if we give them the coins."
"Leland, these guys are crooks. You can't trust crooks. Look at Catchum."
"Listen, I have an idea. You up to some teamwork?"
"Sure, I guess."
Montgomery nodded, and he and Leland pulled a lid off of another crate. Inside of it were more baseballs. The boys took a few and walked to the edge of the shelf.
"Going down!" Montgomery shouted, and he and Leland began tossing baseballs left and right. The rats could barely fend them off.
"Now what?" Riley asked.
"That does it!" Rocky shouted. "Start stackin' those crates! I'm going up there to get those brats!"
The rats began stacking the crates. Montgomery and Leland just waited. Finally, the rats managed to build a makeshift staircase out of the crates. Rocky climbed up and faced the boys.
"All right, you two," he said. "I've had it with this. I want those coins and I want them now, or else, I'm gonna have to get mean!"
"Okay," Leland said, taking the bag of coins from Montgomery. "We'll give them to you."
"Leland!" Montgomery shouted, flabbergasted.
"Just trust me," Leland whispered.
"Smart move, kid," Rocky said. "Gimme those coins."
Leland gave him the coins all right. He backed up a little, swung the bag around, and threw it as hard as he could. It hit Rocky right in the head. BONK! The coins fell to the ground. Quickly, Leland swung his tail around again, and hit Rocky in the face as hard as he could. Rocky stumbled backwards and fell down the crates, knocking into the other rats, bowling them over, before they could retrieve the coins. The cigarette Boss Rat had been smoking flew into the air, and landed in a crate filled with fireworks, igniting the fuses.
"YIKES!" Ray shouted. "Let's get outta here before they blow!"
The minute Ray made the suggestion, the fireworks started to go off. They were exploding left and right. Some of them flew towards the ceiling and smashed right through it. Other fireworks crashed into the crates (some of which were filled with more fireworks). Pretty soon, the warehouse began to catch fire.
"Let's get outta here!" Rocky shouted.
"But what about the coins?" Riley asked.
"Forget the coins!" Boss Rat shouted. "Let's split before our tails get fried!"
The rats raced out of the warehouse. Leland looked a little sick.
"Uh oh," he said. "That didn't turn out like I hoped. See, what was supposed to happen was he was supposed to fall, and crash into the other guys. It works all the time for Super Croc when he hits the bad guys with his tail. Never once has a cigarette landed in a crate full of fireworks and they started to go off."
"We'd better get out of here ourselves," Montgomery said. "And fast!"
Montgomery and Leland started climbing down the crates, ducking and dodging flying rockets. They were also dodging falling beams from the ceiling, since the whole building was practically falling apart due to the fire that was rapidly spreading. The boys were just about to race out the door when Leland suddenly turned around and started running back.
"Leland, what are you doing?!" Montgomery shouted.
"I have to get the coins!" Leland shouted. "Or else my grandfather is going to kill me!"
"If you don't get out of here now, this fire's going to kill you!"
Leland didn't listen. He was gathering up the spilled coins and putting them in the bag. Montgomery groaned. Just when he was starting to think Leland had some common sense, he turns around and proves him wrong. Finally, Leland gathered all the coins, and was about ready to race out of there when he bumped into a pile of crates. They came crashing down, smashing to pieces, all on top of Leland. Montgomery ran back over and began pulling the pieces of the crates off him.
"Montgomery, take the coins and get out of here!" Leland shouted.
"No way," Montgomery said. "You and I are in this together!"
Leland was stunned. Never in his life would he think Montgomery Moose would ever say that to him. Actually, he never thought anyone would say that to him! As Montgomery was pulling the pieces of the crates off, a piece of the ceiling began to fall.
"Montgomery, look out!" Leland shouted.
The warning came too late. The piece of the ceiling smacked Montgomery right in the back of his head, knocking him out cold. Leland had to do something. He couldn't just leave Montgomery there. He tried to climb out of the mess, but he couldn't. He was stuck.
"It's no use," he said. "I'm too puny to get out of here."
Leland was about to call it quits, when he remembered about the Krypton coin. He pulled the bag open, and began searching for it, frantically. Much to his shock, and dismay, he couldn't find it.
"Oh no!" he shouted. "It's not in here! What am I going to do now?"
It looked hopeless. Leland was stuck underneath a pile of broken wood, and Montgomery was unconscious. Without the Krypton coin, there was no way Leland could do anything. He was thinking things over when he suddenly thought of something his grandfather was always telling him whenever he brought home bad grades.
"You give up too easily. You've got to try harder!"
"Try harder," Leland said to himself. "That's it!"
Leland held his arms straight out in front of him, and slammed his hands down on the ground. Then he began pulling himself out from underneath the avalanche of broken crates. He kneeled down, grabbed Montgomery's shoulders, and shook them to try to wake him up.
"Montgomery!" he shouted. "Montgomery, wake up!"
It was no use. Montgomery was still out cold. There was only one thing Leland could do. He had to get Montgomery outside, and that wasn't going to be easy. But he knew he had to try. He put the bag of coins in his pocket, grabbed Montgomery's shoulders, and pulled. It wasn't an easy task, considering Montgomery was bigger than Leland. But he inched his way towards the door, trying to avoid getting hit with falling debris, and avoid having Montgomery getting hit with the falling pieces of ceiling.
In the meantime, Officer Growler pulled his police wagon up to the warehouse district. They immediately spotted the warehouse ablaze, and fireworks coming out of it, exploding.
"What in tarnation is going on over there?!" Grandpa Lizard shouted as he and the Gang climbed out of the car.
"Looks like the Fourth of July!" Gosalyn shouted.
"I'll radio for the fire department," Officer Growler said.
Before Officer Growler could do anything, the rats came running down the pathway. Zipper pulled on Officer Growler's sleeve.
"Those are the rats we told you about over there!" he shouted.
"Are you sure?" Officer Growler asked.
"We're positive," Dotty replied.
Officer Growler blew his whistle, and the rats skidded to a halt.
"Oh no!" Rocky shouted. "The cops!"
"Let's get outta here!" Riley shouted.
The four rats were about to take off again, but the Gang surrounded them. Grandpa Lizard and Officer Growler followed.
"All right, all of you are under arrest!" Officer Growler shouted.
The rats all groaned as Officer Growler led them to the police office. Portia looked around suddenly, and turned towards the other.
"Hey, where's Montgomery?" she asked.
"You guys don't think he's in the warehouse, do you?" Bingo asked.
"We didn't until now," Gosalyn said, glaring at Bingo.
"We've got to go in there and save him!" Zipper shouted. He was about to run right into the burning building when Grandpa Lizard caught his arm and stopped him.
"Hold on there, sonny!" he shouted. "You can't go in there! It's too dangerous!"
"But Montgomery . . . ." Zipper shouted.
Zipper didn't get a chance to finish. A cough cut him off. He and the others turned around, and they saw Leland coming out of the burning warehouse with Montgomery in tow. Once safely outside, Leland collapsed to the ground, breathless, and coughing. Montgomery began to regain his senses, and he began coughing as well.
"Montgomery, are you all right?" Dotty asked as she and the rest of the gang came over.
"I think so," Montgomery said, rubbing the back of his head. "What happened?"
"You got hit with a piece of the ceiling," Leland said, from his position on the ground. He was still trying to catch his breath. "It knocked you out, so I pulled myself out from under the crates, and then pulled you outside. It wasn't easy."
"You pulled Montgomery out of there?" Bingo asked. "Are you sure it wasn't the other way around?"
"Bingo, we all saw Leland pull Montgomery out," Zipper said.
Grandpa Lizard pushed his way past the gang, and pulled Leland in a sitting position. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and began wiping the soot off Leland's face.
"Look at you, boy! Just look at you! You're a mess!" he shouted. "You're gonna be the death of me yet! You'd better have a good explanation for getting yourself mixed up in this mess!"
"It's kind of a long story," Leland said, fiddling with the leather bag. "It started on Friday when I found the Krypton coin on the way to school. I was going to show it to you that afternoon, but after I found out it really worked, I decided to use it and . . . ."
"Use it?! Boy, you've been reading too many comic books!"
"No, really, Mr. Lizard," Montgomery said. "The Krypton coin really does have special powers."
"What?" Grandpa Lizard asked. "How can it?"
"It's kind of hard to explain," Leland replied. "I got mixed up in this when I found out the coin was stolen. I wasn't sure what to do, so I went to Montgomery. We were on our way to give you the coin when the rats showed up."
"I see," Grandpa Lizard said. He didn't say much after that. He took the bag of coins from Leland, and went through it. Leland began to get a little nervous. Grandpa Lizard took the coins out one at a time, and inspected them, handing each one to Officer Growler to hold onto for the time being.
"Wait a minute," he said. "Where is it? Where's the Krypton coin, boy?"
"I . . . . I don't know," Leland said, nervously. "I thought it was in the bag at the time, but it must've fallen out when I hit that one rat with it."
Grandpa Lizard said nothing. He just put the coins back into the bag, and closed it. He remained silent. A moment or so later, a news van rolled onto the scene. The crew climbed out of it, and began filming.
"We'll get some better shots up here," the anchorwoman said. She straightened her hair, and held up the microphone. "And we're rolling in five, four, three, two . . . . ."
The red light on the camera went off, and the anchorwoman started her report.
"This is Diane Dachshund here on the Waterfront with the breaking news story of a raging fire at an abandoned warehouse," she said. "We have some witnesses here of what happened."
Diane Dachshund walked over to Officer Growler, and held up her microphone.
"Pardon me, Officer, could you tell us what happened?" she asked.
"I'd like to, but I'm not exactly sure what happened," Officer Growler said.
"I know!" Portia shouted, tugging on Ms. Dachshund's sleeve. "Ask Montgomery! He knows what happened!"
"Yes, it looks like it," Ms. Dachshund said, getting a good look at Montgomery. "Looks like you got up close and personal to that fire, young man. Care to tell us what happened?"
"I could, but you wouldn't get the whole story," Montgomery said. "Leland can give you that."
"Me?" Leland asked, a little nervously. "Uhh, I don't know, I mean . . . ."
"What a time to get stage fright," Bingo teased.
"Well, go on, boy," Grandpa Lizard said, giving Leland a nudge. "Tell the story."
"Well, it's kind of a long story," Leland said. "But okay. See, it started out Friday morning when I was going to school . . . ."
While Leland was talking to Ms. Dachshund, Montgomery told the gang what he knew of the story. He wasn't able to give them most of the details from the beginning, but the gang was riveted when he got to the part about the warehouse.
"Did Leland really get you guys out of this?" Portia asked.
"I don't believe that," Bingo said.
"It's true," Montgomery said. "He came up with most of the ideas to get us out of there."
"Are you sure he still doesn't have that Krypton coin?" Gosalyn asked.
Montgomery shrugged. Ms. Dachshund called him over to get an interview with him. He walked over to talk to her while the rest of the gang climbed into Officer Growler's wagon. Montgomery, Leland, and Grandpa Lizard followed when Ms. Dachshund was finished interviewing.
After the group got back to Green Meadow, Officer Growler deposited the rats in jail, and the Get Along Gang headed for Hoofnagel's for ice cream.
"Come on, Montgomery!" Dotty shouted. "Tell us again!"
"Guys, I've been telling what I know of the story since we left the Waterfront!" Montgomery shouted.
"Yeah, but it's the most exciting thing that's happened since I've been in town!" Gosalyn shouted.
Montgomery groaned. He did not want to tell the story again. He was getting tired of it. Luckily, he could pass the duties on to someone else. The door opened, and Leland, Grandpa Lizard, and Catchum came in. Leland was talking a mile a minute over what happened. Catchum looked disgusted.
"You of all people," he said. "I don't believe it."
"No, really, Catchum," Leland said. "I swear it all happened. Ask Montgomery!"
"Yeah, Catchum, it's true," Montgomery said. "I was there. I saw it."
"Unbelievable," Catchum grumbled. He pulled a chair out and sat down. "Just unbelievable."
Leland shrugged, and sat down. Grandpa Lizard followed. Grandpa Lizard turned to Mr. Hoofnagel.
"Hey turn on the TV over there," he said. "The news story is coming on."
Mr. Hoofnagel walked over to his small portable TV and turned it on. He had to fiddle around with the antennae to get the picture just right. Finally, the story came on.
"Here's the proof, guys," Montgomery said.
"I still think it's unbelievable," Catchum said. "Leland is not smart enough to thwart crooks."
Leland didn't say anything. He just focused on the news story, as did the others. The story got to Ms. Dachshund's interview with Leland.
"I don't really know what happened," Leland said. "I didn't know what the coin was when I found it. I just picked it up to bring it home after school, because my grandfather works at the museum and he's in charge of the coin collection."
The story continued on with the interview. Montgomery had gotten into the interview a little while later as well. The entire gang cheered as Montgomery came onto the screen.
"Oh puh-leeze," Catchum grumbled. The others ignored him and watched Montgomery's interview.
"I don't know the whole story," Montgomery said. "All I do know is that Leland came up with the ideas to get us out of them."
"Yeah, they came from Super Croc comic books," Leland said. "Give or take an idea."
"I never pegged you as a comic book geek, Leland," Zipper commented.
"Yeah, I've got a huge Super Croc collection," Leland replied. "Issues one through a hundred and ten."
Zipper shook his head in amazement, and watched the rest of the interview.
"The warehouse went up in smoke when he smacked one of the rats with the coins," Montgomery continued. "And the big rat's cigarette fell out of his mouth and into the crate of fireworks."
"And KA-BOOM!" Leland shouted, throwing his arms up for dramatic effect. "The fireworks exploded, and the warehouse caught on fire. But I had to go back and get the coins."
"Who in their right mind would go back in a burning building to get a bunch of coins?" Catchum asked. "Leland, you really are an idiot."
"Catchum, shut up," Gosalyn said, smacking Catchum in the arm. "I want to catch the end of the story."
Catchum gave Gosalyn a dirty look and glued his eyes to the TV. Grandpa Lizard had a part in the interview as well.
"Mr. Lizard, how do you feel about your grandson being the hero of the day?" Ms. Dachshund asked.
"Well, it just blew my mind," Grandpa Lizard said. "I'm often telling him that he'll never amount to anything, but I guess he proved me wrong. I'm also surprised that those darn comic books he reads actually came in handy."
"Does this mean you won't get on my case anymore about my grades?" Leland asked.
"Heh, heh, don't count on it, boy," Grandpa Lizard said.
Everyone in the room laughed as Mr. Hoofnagel turned off the TV. Then he started to go behind the counter.
"Not every day we get heroes in here," he said. "Just for that, the ice cream's on me."
"All right!" Bingo shouted. "One perk of being friends with a hero is the freebies!"
"Darn right," Gosalyn said. "So what was the Krypton coin, anyway?"
"Yeah, we want to see it," Zipper said.
"You can't," Leland said, shrugging. "I don't know how I lost it, but I lost it."
"Typical Leland," Catchum replied.
"The authorities searched the warehouse," Grandpa Lizard said. "Nobody could find it. The rarest coin in the collection, gone. Finished."
Leland sort of groaned. He could see where this was going. Grandpa Lizard didn't look at all happy about the Krypton coin being MIA. Since it was the rarest coin in the collection, that meant it was probably worth the most.
"At least it wasn't worth all that much," Grandpa Lizard said. "The rest of the coins were worth more than the Krypton coin, that's about all I can tell ya. Those rats probably heard the legend and probably stole it to cause trouble."
"So I'm not grounded?" Leland asked.
"No, you're not grounded," Grandpa Lizard said. "You found the rest of 'em, didn't ya, boy? I swear, sometimes I wonder what goes on in that brain of yours!"
"I've been wondering the same thing for years," Catchum replied.
Things hit a lull for a moment. Finally, Portia couldn't take it anymore. She bounced up and down in her chair and looked at Montgomery.
"Come on, Montgomery, tell us about it again!" she pleaded.
"Portia, you just saw it on TV!" Montgomery shouted, a little exasperated. "I'm tired of talking about it!"
"But it's exciting Montgomery!" Zipper shouted. "Come on, we want to hear it again!"
"I wish I had your problem, Montgomery," Catchum said. "I can't get Leland to shut up about the whole thing!"
"Yeah," Montgomery said. "Leland, you tell them about it. They're driving me crazy!"
"Cut to the exciting part," Gosalyn said. "Start at the part where the warehouse blew up."
"Yeah, yeah," Bingo said. "When you hit the rat with the coins."
"Won't these kids ever stop talking about this?" Grandpa Lizard asked.
"Probably not for awhile," Mr. Hoofnagel said, as he filled the tray with ice cream sundaes. He brought them out to the table and was about to set it down when Leland was getting to the explosion part of the story.
"So the rats sort of knocked into each other," Leland said. "And the boss rat's cigarette flew out of his mouth and into the crate of fireworks, and then KA-BOOM!"
Leland flung his arms into the air for dramatic effect like he did during the interview. Unfortunately, his arm knocked the tray of sundaes before Mr. Hoofnagel had a chance to put them on the table. All the ice cream fell, and it landed right on Grandpa Lizard. Everyone was silent.
"Uh oh," Leland said, a little nervously.
"Well, I suppose you know what this means," Grandpa Lizard said, taking off his bifocals. "The ice cream's on me!"
And with that, everyone laughed.