Tommy sat astride his uncle’s new motorcycle, trying to look real cool, even though his feet only just reached the ground. John and Dan circled around admiringly, inspecting every aspect of the gleaming machine.
Julie had remained indoors because she said she had to catch up with some homework. But the real reason Julie didn’t go out with the boys was that she had a definite feeling of looming trouble. Julie knew that Tommy and any sort of fast machine with wheels would have a tendency to make Tommy use his imagination to show off and would probably end in disaster.
Dan asked, “Tommy can you really ride it? Can you?” Tommy gave Dan the sort of look that top motorcycle stunt riders give to daft kids. “Course I can ride it. I rode into town on it yes’day and got chased by the cops, but I went cross country and lost ’em.”
Dan looked impressed; John looked disbelieving. “So,” asked John, “how come you can ride a bike all of a sudden, ay?”
Tommy smiled. “Cause my uncle has been giving me lessons, see, although he says I’m a natural born stunt rider.”
“Coo! Gee! That’s cool. Give us a ride around the farm, Tommy. Come on, be a sport. Please.” Tommy looked around to see if his uncle or dad were in sight, but all he saw was Julie’s face at the kitchen window, mouthing the words, “Don’t do it Tommy. Don’t do it.” But by then Dan and John had scrambled onto the bike behind Tommy and there was no turning back.
Tommy pressed the starter and the engine roared into life, frightening the life out of all three of them. Tommy put the bike into gear and then instead of letting the clutch out slowly, he let it go with a bang. The front wheel reared off the ground and the machine roared forward at speed. Dan, who was sitting right behind Tommy, grabbed at the only thing he could find to hang onto, so that he didn’t fall off. Unfortunately, what he had grabbed was Tommy’s nose, which pulled Tommy’s head around so he couldn’t see where they were going.
John hadn’t found a nose to hang onto, so rolled off backwards, did two somersaults, stood up still dazed and fell head-first into the duck pond.
Tommy, trying desperately to prise Dan’s grip off his nose, let go of the handlebars. This allowed the front wheel to wobble, and the bike, now steering itself, careened through the vegetable garden and the flower garden, and then turned back towards the duck pond.
By this time, John had crawled out of the duck pond and stood dripping wet and stinking of mud. The bike’s front wheel drove right between his legs and the handlebars scooped him up. The three friends, now reunited, immediately crashed through the chicken coop then on through the pigsty. When they emerged from the pigsty, Tommy realised that John had fallen off again and had been replaced by a pig.
Suddenly, through the panic in Tommy’s brain, he realised it was up to him to stop the bike, so he closed the throttle and yanked on the brakes. The motorcycle came to a grinding and very sudden halt, but Tommy, Dan and the pig did not. They carried on, sailing through the air towards the duck pond where they landed with an enormous splosh.
John, joined by Julie (who had watched the sorry saga unfold from the kitchen window), raced up. Julie was the first to find words. “You’ve done it this time, Tommy. What were you thinking of, trying to ride your uncle’s bike without knowing what you were doing?”
Quickly Dan came to Tommy’s defence: “Hang on Julie. He did know what he was doing. He’s had lessons with his uncle.”
“Oh!” said Julie. “I never heard about your uncle giving you lessons. When did this all happen?”
Tommy gave one of his silly grins. “As a matter of fact, I was going to get my first real lesson with my uncle today, but I have been having imagination lessons for ages. And anyway, I think I know it all after today.”
Illustrations by Daniel Meecham