“Jerry, we should have told the truth,” Tommy protested, as the two brothers made their way through some tall grass which ran alongside the bike path by their home.
“We did,” Jerry replied. “I mean, we told her we’re going on an adventure.”
“Yeah, but we say that to mom all the time, and we usually just set up shelter for a few nights by a pond or a playground or something. That’s not the same as going to Maine to find a secret magical land with a dragon in it.”
Jerry nodded gently to show that he took Tommy’s point, but he wasn’t backing down.
“Look,” he continued, “our adventures often take several days. This one might take several days too. So what’s the difference? The only difference is that she’d worry about us, or stop us from going.”
“And maybe that’s for a good reason,” Tommy argued, as they stepped through a chain-link fence and under a large set of metal bleachers which sat next to the field where Jerry had ridden on a dug a few days earlier.
“Tommy, it’s OK. Look, I’m your big brother – I’m not gonna let anything happen to you.”
Tommy felt uneasy with his brother’s newfound bravery, but he didn’t think they’d get very far anyway – I mean, how on earth would we get to Maine anyway? he thought – so he decided to drop it for now, assuming his brother would eventually figure out this wasn’t going to work. Jerry seemed to have a plan, though.
Climbing around under the bleachers, Jerry was on the lookout for something, and soon, Tommy figured out what it was. Tommy was the one who had shown him this trick, but he didn’t think Jerry would ever want to try it himself.
He was looking for a human’s phone.
With a soccer practice taking place on the field, there were a lot of humans around, and that meant lots of options. He scanned for baby strollers – this was usually the best bet, as humans often left their phones in their stroller while walking around with their smaller humans.
Jerry saw one, and ran ahead.
“Jerry, wait!” his brother shouted. But it was too late. Jerry ran out, and climbed into the hanging basket under the stroller’s seat. Tommy ducked down in place, hoping his brother would do the same to avoid getting seen. As Tommy watched his brother weave and climb his way to the top storage pocket by the stroller’s handle, he grew more and more impressed. Jerry had never done this before, but he seemed like a natural.
Jerry was impressed with himself too, but did his best to stay on target.
As he got to the phone, he remembered what his brother had told him he does to get information. He jumped on the bottom of the screen, and shouted out “HeygoogleheysiriINEEDHELP!”
He was amazed when he heard a beep from the phone, and almost forgot what he was trying to find out. It had worked!
“Um,” he started, not sure whether he was having a conversation with someone. “How do I get to Lake Damariscotta in Maine?”
“Getting directions to Lake Terrace Bennettsville in South Carolina,” the phone replied, and pulled up a map, showing a glowing blue dot in one place and a red dot in another. 842 miles, he read off the screen, but Jerry knew from his brother’s experience that HeygoogleheysiriINEEDHELP! always took a few tries to get the right information.
He tried again, this time speaking slower and more deliberately. “Getting directions to Rocky Top,” the phone replied.
Jerry rolled his eyes. How do humans put up with these things? he wondered.
He tried again. Finally, he got what he needed. 181 miles, the phone showed. He looked at the map, trying to take in as much detail as possible, as well as the names shown around the lake. But how would they get there? The phone showed that it would take 3 hours and 6 minutes by car, or 2 days and 8 hours walking. But that was for regular humans, not people Jerry and Tommy’s size.
He heard cheering from the field, and thought he might need to get out of the stroller. He climbed back down, but as he swung back into the basket underneath, the humans returned to the stroller, and he couldn’t get out without being seen.
Jerry peered over the edge and saw Tommy looking at him from under the bleachers, with a What are you doing? look on his face. Jerry shrugged back at him, to show he didn’t have much choice but to stay.
“Huh,” said the mom as she put her smallest human in the stroller and picked up her phone. “That’s weird.”
One of the two medium-sized humans replied, “what is?”
“Well, my phone is showing directions for somewhere in Maine…”
“To the place we’re going now?”
“Well, no, we’re not going that far – it’s quite a bit further than we’re going, but yeah, we are going to Maine now. That’s so strange…”
Jerry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. This couldn’t have worked out better.
He gestured wildly to Tommy to get his attention. The humans buried Jerry under a couple of bags, though, and as he worked to get out from underneath, he felt the stroller move.
It took a couple of minutes to move things around enough for Jerry to stick his head up again, and at that point, the stroller was behind a large minivan. The mom and kids were opening the doors, and mom was putting the smallest human inside.
Jerry was about to climb out – he was starting to feel nervous about the whole thing, and decided he couldn’t go anywhere without Tommy – but then the kids picked up their bags from the stroller, and he ducked down again to not be seen.
All of a sudden, he felt the stroller fold up around him, and he lost his balance as the whole thing was lifted up and put in the minivan’s trunk.
Oh no! he thought, Tommy was right. This was a huge mistake!
By the time he clambered out of the stroller, the car’s engine was running. He thought through all his options. He decided he’d have to either stay hidden, in which case he may never see Tommy and Mom ever again, or he’d have to get the humans’ attention, which seemed like a violation of everything he’d always been taught. Oh why did I do this? he thought. This is all because of that stupid dug.
Just then, he saw the best sight he could possibly have hoped for. Tommy’s head stuck through from under the kids’ seat in front of him.
“Hi,” Tommy said with a smile.
“Oh Tommy!” Jerry replied so loudly that the kids wondered whether Mom had turned on the radio. “I am so glad to see you!” He wrapped his arms around his big brother with relief.
“I wasn’t gonna let you go on an adventure without me,” Tommy joked.
The brothers whispered to catch up to speed on everything, and made their way forward to sit under the kids’ seats in the back of the minivan. Although the engine was on, though, they hadn’t moved anywhere yet.
“So are we really doing this?” Jerry asked.
“I guess we’re really doing this,” Tommy answered.
“Ah, here they are,” Mom announced, impatiently.
The door opened again, and another large human pulled something towards it. Jerry and Tommy heard a familiar rattling sound. The sliding door closed, and as the large human made his way through another door to the passenger seat, the thing he’d just led into the car made a beeline for Jerry and Tommy. Its large wet nose wedged itself under the kids’ seats, and Jerry and Tommy looked at each other.
“Of course,” Jerry commented.
“Of course,” Tommy replied with a laugh.
It was a dug.