Saturday, January 16, 2016



By Terri DelCampo
Kid Joey crammed important stuff into his backpack, almost ready to leave to go to Mimi and Poppop's. They were going to take Kid Joey and his sister Ro to see a play, go someplace cool for dinner (Mimi and Poppop knew all the best places!) and then back to their house to spend the night. 
Kid Joey packed his compass (theaters were big places, you never know when you might need to see what direction to walk in), his leash for Kato (he rarely used it, only when leashes were required, and even then, Kato never pulled against it, but walked right next to Kid Joey's legs), and then after breakfast tomorrow they would probably go to the park and race around with Kato, then they would bring Kid Joey and Ro home after an early dinner. 
"You might need these," Ro said, coming into Kid Joey's room with an armload of clean clothes: underwear, two shirts, two pairs of cargo pants, a hoodie, and some mittens and hat. 
"I can't fit all that into my pack," Kid Joey said.
"Well you're wearing half of it," Ro reminded, rolling her eyes. 
"Oh yeah.  Okay, I think I can fit it then."

Mimi and Poppop arrived with hugs and big smiles, and after chatting with Mom and Dad for a few minutes, Poppop said, "So are you all ready for the play?"
"What play is it?" Kid Joey asked, ready for the fun to begin, but he had no idea that there would be some intrigue involved. 
"The Boy King and His Dragon," Mimi answered. 
"It's about King Arthur when he was very young, and the legend of Pendragon." 
"Cool!  But I forgot something I left in Ro's room!  I'll be right back!"
"Well, hurry, because we don't want to miss the beginning of the play!" Mimi called out. 
Kid Joey was already to Ro's bedroom door when he called back: "I will!" 
Two giant leaps brought him across Ro's room to land before Sir WHIP's house (a converted doll house that was perfect for him when he made himself small), and he flipped up the flap of his backpack's front compartment.  "Hop in, Sir WHIP!  I have a surprise for you!) 
Without question, Sir WHIP, completely trusting his friend, Kid Joey, leapt into the backpack's smaller front compartment, and held on for dear life.  (Kid Joey, after all, was not known for his delicacy.) 
Kid Joey sped back up the hallway and burst into the living room where Mimi and Poppop waited without even having had a chance to become impatient. 
"Okay, ready!" Kid Joey said, leading the way to the door, giving Mom and Dad hugs along the way. 
Ro knew, the minute she heard the word dragon from Mimi, what Kid Joey had forgotten; or perhaps, she thought, who he had forgotten.  She smiled as she climbed into the back seat of Mimi & Poppop's car, with Kato seated happily between she and Kid Joey.  When she saw how carefully Kid Joey handled his backpack, and then noticed Kato sniffing away at the front compartment, wagging his tail, she knew for sure. 
Sir WHIP was a theater-going stowaway. 

When Poppop parked the car in front of the theater, and the kids began to climb out, Mimi stopped Kid Joey, who at that moment was trying to shoulder his back pack, gently so as not to jostle Sir WHIP too much. 
"You aren't going to be able to take that inside, dude," she said, grabbing the strap, and aiming the pack toward the back seat. 
Kid Joey grabbed the strap and gently lowered the pack to the seat.  Before it even touched down, Sir WHIP climbed out of the front compartment and leapt into Ro's purse, which was smaller and acceptable for her to carry into the theater, but still left Sir WHIP enough room to hide. 
Kato, on the other hand, presented more of a problem.  Kid Joey went nowhere without his trusty sidekick, and so the dog would have to be smuggled in quietly, under Poppop's long overcoat.
Once inside the theater, Kato sat very quietly on the floor between Ro and Kid Joey.  As soon as the house lights went down he might be able to sit on Ro's lap, and enjoy the play too.  And Sir WHIP would be able to sit upon Kid Joey's shoulder and have a perfect view of the stage, and whisper in his ear if he recognized any of the dragons in the play. 
Of course they would be humans playing dragons, but some of the stories, Kid Joey knew, would no doubt be about Sir WHIP's relatives from long ago. 

About ten minutes into the play, Ro nudged Kid Joey, and glanced over toward a bobbing flashlight beam headed down the main aisle of the theater, and slowing up at their row.  Apparently someone was late arriving, and their seat was past Poppop, Ro, (and Kato), Kid Joey, and Mimi, right smack in the center of the row.  Kid Joey and Ro's eyes widened as they both nudged Kato, who would be thrown out of the theater if he was discovered, even though his manners were better than many of the children's who were seeing the play today. 
The blue tick hound mutt knew exactly what to do.  When Ro and Kid Joey moved their legs sideways, to allow the late person to climb over them, Kato ducked under the seat, behind the hem of Ro's coat that was draped over her seat where she'd shrugged out of it.  As soon as Ro and Kid Joey sat normally again, Kato very carefully peeked out from beneath the seat, looked around to make sure the coast was clear, and sat between them on the floor again.  When everything was perfectly quiet, he sat up on his haunches and could just see between the shoulders of the people sitting in front of him.  But all he could really see of the stage was the very top of the Red Dragon's head, so he gave up and curled up on the floor between his two very favorite people in the whole world. 
Kid Joey looked over at Ro and mouthed the words, "Whew!  That was close."  Ro nodded.  Too close, really, but friends were friends, and sometimes you had to go out of your way to help them out and include them in your world. 
The man who had arrived late had excused himself as he'd climbed over Kid Joey and Ro and Mimi and Poppop (and unknowingly, Kato and Sir WHIP), and now sat looking mostly forward, having joined his wife and daughter for the play. 
However, he happened to be looking over at the decorations in the theater when Kato had tried to see some of the play. 
Now that was something you didn't see every day, he thought, and tapped his daughter very quietly on the shoulder, and tilted his head toward Kato. 
The little girl's eyes brightened at the sight of the doggie in the theater, and Ro saw her start to reach to pet Kato.  Ro shook her head, and placed her pointer finger over her lips, signaling to the little girl to be quiet and keep their secret. 
She did, but she and her daddy smiled in knowing the secret of the cute stowaway doggie. 
The secret that they didn't know, was that there was an even cooler stowaway in the theater that afternoon.  And sitting closer to them than even Kato had been. 
The tiny orange dragon, Sir WHIP, sat on Kid Joey's shoulder, whispering in his ear about his relatives that the play was indeed about.  The Red Dragon was in fact his great, great, Uncle MacIntyre from Scotland. 
But the little girl and her mom and dad had no idea (for Sir WHIP was invisible to other kids and adults, especially strangers) that that day was Kid Joey and Sir WHIP's day for an adventure at the theater. 
And what an adventure it was for Kid Joey and Ro, smuggling their friends into the theater and seeing a terrific play about Sir WHIP's ancestors! 
And of course there would be ice-cream for dessert later! 
And maybe even hot chocolate before bed! 
Yay, Mimi & Poppop! 

TD – 1/16/2016

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