Salvatore Salamander’s Sensational Sack of Super Socks
by Kevin J Doyle
“I sure am sorry, Ronnie. Don’t know why I didn’t catch that one,” said Norman. “What a throw, anyways! I bet you couldn’t toss a ball through the hole again if you tried seventy-eight bazillion times!”
“It’s all right,Norman. Maybe we can get it back?” said Ronnie.
The boys stood shoulder to shoulder and pressed their heads together as they strained to peer in the fence hole. Each could only see through it with one eye, but it was enough to realize getting the football back was going to be pretty much impossible. There were overgrown weeds on the other side which would have made the wild Amazon jungle look like a perfectly trimmed English garden! Ronnie thought he could count at least fifty yellow dandelion flowers as big as his head! Not to mention tons of other gigantic plants he’d never seen before. The crabgrass clumps were waist high and there were rotted-out, fallen tree trunks crisscrossing the ground. Worst of all, not far from the fence, the ground sloped steeply down into a deep ditch.
Suddenly, a sly voice sounded out from behind them. It was clear and crisp yet the ‘S’s dragged out like hisses of a slithering snake.
“Seems like you silly sallys are in need of some suitable socks!” it said.
Ronnie and Norman were so surprised, they almost leaped out of their shoes (and socks) as they both spun about and fell on their bottoms. The two boys found themselves face to face with a big amphibian that was standing upright on its short hind legs. Its two stubby arms were holding the top of a white sack which was slung over its shoulder. The critter was about the size of a Beagle dog and was black with yellow dots all over its front, back and tail. Its eyes stuck up off its big, thick, circular head and it had a wide, flat mouth. Its fingers and toes were long, skinny and pointy.
“So let’s say something, shall we? Names?” it said.
“Ronnie,” said Ronnie.
“N-N-Norman,” muttered Norman.
“Salutations,” it said back. “So swell to see you. I am Salvatore Salamander and this is my sensational sack of super socks. I was simply skipping along the sidewalk when I sensed some startling struggles stirring up.”
The salamander then walked right between the two boys and up to the fence. The boys’ eyes were as round as bicycle tires as they watched him look along the fence to the left, then to the right and finally stare straight up towards the top.
“It’s settled. We shall scamper over this strong, solid surface and seek your solution on the other side.”
Salvatore laid his white sack on the ground and rummaged through its contents. He pulled out two small bundles and tossed one to Ronnie and one to Norman. Each was now holding a pair of brand new, black and white striped socks. The stripes were in horizontal rows from the foot to the top.
“Swiftly now, slip out of your sad, shabby shoes and socks and slide on these sensational sets.”
The two friends were too amazed to resist so they did as the salamander said. If he could help them get over the fence and find Ronnie’s football, they were certainly going to let him. Norman was the first to notice what happened as soon as he was wearing Salvatore’s fresh socks.
“Ronnie, look! A ladder!” he said.
Two black and white striped ladders had appeared directly in front of them. The ladders looked exactly like the striped rows on the boys’ socks! The salamander gave a little nod of his head and then scurried up one of the sets of rungs, disappearing over the top of the fence. Ronnie and Norman followed him. There were two identical ladders down the opposite side so the boys quickly found themselves standing in the wildly overgrown weeds they’d seen through the fence hole. Salvatore was murmuring to himself with his head buried in his sack.
“Ronnie, this is pretty weird but awesome too!” said Norman.
Ronnie grinned and nodded his head, anxious to find his football.
“Score!” said Salvatore as his head popped out of the sack.
He quickly tossed a pair of socks to each of the two boys. The new ones were also in black and white however these had an overlapping diamond pattern on each one. Ronnie recognized the pattern as argyle.
“Make it snappy! Switch your socks!” said Salvatore.
Ronnie and Norman hopped about on one foot and then the other as they slid off the striped socks and slipped on the argyle pairs.Norman elbowed Ronnie and pointed at the two ladders down which they had climbed. Right before their eyes, each was unraveling and floating away on the breeze! The salamander grabbed their old socks, stuffed them in his sack and then pointed up at the sky.
Looking up, each boy was surprised by a lightweight net softly falling over his head. The nets were made of a see-through, black and white mesh. And each one was covered with the exact same diamond argyle pattern on their fresh socks. Salvatore signaled for silence by pressing his long finger to his lips. Then he motioned for the boys to follow him as he strolled straight into the high clumps of weeds.
After a few steps, both boys heard the sinister buzzing noise at the same time. With all the gigantic wildflowers and dandelion heads around, it was a bee paradise and there were hundreds of them flying around! Ronnie and Norman felt a couple of the insects bump into their nets yet they remained completely protected. Salvatore Salamander carried his sack of socks steadily and silently between the overgrown plants. The boys followed closely behind until they were past the wildflowers. They then stood at the edge of the deep, steep ditch.
“How do you know my football is down there?” whispered Ronnie.
“It looks bottomless!” said Norman.
“It must have skipped down this slope. I scanned both sides as we strolled amongst the bees but didn’t see it sitting anywhere,” said Salvatore. “Don’t be scared stiff, boys, this stumbling block can also be solved with some swell socks!”
Once again, the salamander poked his head into his sensational sack and popped out with two fresh pairs. Ronnie and Norman threw off their nets, pulled off their argyle socks and began slipping on their new ones. These also had black and white stripes only this time, they went vertically up and down the socks. Ronnie had just put his pair on when he heard the loud crinkle sound of a candy wrapper.
“I forgot I had this strawberry lollipop in my pocket!” said Norman as he prepared to pop it in his mouth.
“Suffer and strain!” shouted Salvatore. “Bees salivate at the sweet scents of scrumptious, sticky snacks!”
And sure enough, the buzzing noise had suddenly increased around them as several bees hurried over to inspect the candy smell. Both black and white nets had already disappeared since the boys had removed their argyle socks.Norman chucked his sucker into the weeds and hopped back and forth like he was dancing on fire as he hurriedly put on his new pair of striped socks. When they were finally on, Ronnie slapped Norman on the back and pointed at the ditch. Two twisty, turney, black and white striped slides had appeared! Each slide started at the top edge and descended into the depths of the pit, winding around and between broken trees and ragged bushes along the way.
“Speedily my sidekicks!” said Salvatore. “Don’t slow down until these slides stop!”
With those words, the salamander grabbed hold of his sensational sack and dove on one of the black and white striped slides, shooting off down into the ditch. The boys hesitated for a split second each but the buzzing bees were way too close for safety, so they simultaneously dove onto the slides and sped away! Each wore a smile as big as a whale’s tale as they zoomed down into the ditch, looping around and back and forth all the way to the bottom. When the slides ended, they both skidded to a stop in the dirt.
Norman was stunned by what was directly in front of them. A whole bunch of the brightest, most beautiful red rose bushes he’d ever seen. And every one of them had thorns on it which looked to be at least a foot long!Norman turned to see how his friend was doing. Ronnie was already standing up and pointing at the biggest, gnarliest rose bush. His football was wedged under there amongst all the thorny knives.
“Success! We have scouted out the scene of your sports sphere. Some more socks shall see us save the day!” said Salvatore.
He disappeared again into his sensational sack and pulled out two more new pairs of socks. These were also black and white and were embroidered with several little snails. The boys looked at each other with mouths as wide open as the Grand Canyon.
“Seriously?” said Norman.
“Snails?” said Ronnie.
“Slippery snail socks shall send us to soaring satisfaction!” said the salamander.
Ronnie and Norman swapped out their vertically striped socks for the new ones. Immediately, they both become snails! Neither of them could feel their arms or feet any longer. The only sensation they had was scooting across the ground on their slimy stomachs. It felt so gross and so cool too!
“Your shells will save you from the spiky thorns,” said Salvatore Salamander. “Your small size will let you safely slip and slide under the bushes. And if you struggle together, side by side, you can use your skulls to shove out the ball!”
Ronnie and Norman did as they were told. It was a little slow going, of course, (they were snails after all). But soon enough they slid under the rose bushes, got behind the ball and pushed it clear of the awful thorns. Immediately, the two boys started to wriggle out of their black and white snail socks, both eager to be back in human form. However, Salvatore told them to stop taking off the socks and to wait a moment. He then popped his head into his sensational sack of super socks and quickly emerged with only one pair. These were red and yellow, not the normal black and white the boys had seen on all the other ones. Embroidered on each of the salamander’s new socks was a football player, in complete uniform, preparing to punt kick a football. Salvatore slipped them on and he instantly towered over the boys. He had turned into a man-sized replica of the football player!
Salvatore picked up Ronnie’s football in one hand and carefully lifted the two boys – who were still in snail form – with the other. Then he put the boys on top of the ball, right by the laces. He told them to stick tightly to the surface using all their slime. Next, the salamander – who was still in football player form – turned to face the ditch’s up-slope so he was looking back towards the fence over which they had climbed. He took a few steps forward and without warning, punt kicked the football as high and far as he could! End over end spun Ronnie and Norman as they sailed up in the air, out of the ditch and over the fence.
The boys felt like they were at the State Fair on the wildest Ferris Wheel ride ever. Suddenly, they and the football WHUMPED on the ground and rolled to a stop in the grass. Thanks to their glue like slime and tough snail shells, Ronnie and Norman were not harmed at all. They immediately wiggled out of their socks and found themselves sitting in human form right back in the exact same spots where they had first met Salvatore Salamander. Their own shoes and socks lay right next to them. Ronnie clutched his prized football to his chest and slapped a high-five with his friend.
The sly, hissing voice sounded out from behind them once again, saying “So long my silly sports supporters! Sayonara from Salvatore Salamander and his sensational sack of super socks!”
The boys barely looked back in time to see the friendly amphibian’s face disappear from the same hole in the fence which had eaten Ronnie’s ball.
“Thanks, Salvatore!” said Ronnie.
“You don’t happen to have two pairs of socks with a million bucks on them – do you?” shouted Norman.
Sadly, no reply came from the unusual salamander. So the boys were left with only Ronnie’s football and a simply spectacular story to share with their friends.
1. What had the two boys lost over the fence?
2. What color was Salvatore Salamander?
3. What did the first pair of socks do to help the boys get over the fence?
4. Why did they need nets?
5. How did the boys get back over the fence with the football?