Yellow buttercups and dandelions swayed in the seasonably warm, summer breeze alongside the tall grasses along the side of the freeway. In the driver seat of a dark-blue pickup truck a middle-aged raccoon guided the vehicle around the gentle
curves, while also keeping an eye on the other vehicles around the truck and occasionally glancing in the interior rear view
mirror, which revealed a dozing eight-year old raccoon sitting in a booster seat, wearing a blue t-shirt and orange flame shorts.
"Tuckered out already, Timothy?" the father raccoon chuckled.
"It is quite a long journey back home." The raccoon's wife responded to her husband, before turning to look at her sleeping son in the back. "Poor Timothy."
"What about poor me?" pouted Timothy's dad, "I'm the one doing all the driving."
"Yeah, but you're not eight years old. Long journeys really aren't kind to kids."
Timothy's dad chuckled and returned to his vigil at the wheel.
A little while later, the truck turned off the freeway into a large town. The little raccoon - whom had continued to sleep soundly in the back seat, stirred as he felt the truck slowing down.
"A... are we home yet?" he murmured, rubbing his eyes and swallowing a couple of times as he felt his throat was dry.
"Not yet kiddo, we're gonna visit your Grandma and Grandpa for a little while."
"Oh..." answered Timothy - while he did like to see his grandparents, he found he could easily get bored as his parents and grandparents talked endlessly while he just wanted someone to play with.
"We should be there in less than half-an-hour, are you okay Timothy? Still dry, little buddy?"
"Yeah." Timothy answered, fidgeting in his booster seat to get more comfortable - a loud crinkling noise emanating from the seat of his shorts as he did so, making him blush.
Timothy's grandparents were expecting him and his parents to arrive. His grandma had already put a joint of beef in the oven to cook, and had prepared vegetables and potatoes in pots and pans beside the oven to cook as well. As she took a break from preparing the dinner, she sat in her rocking chair by the window and watched some local boys playing together in the street - it brought back some bittersweet memories from her own childhood, but she smiled wistfully as she sipped a freshly-made cup of tea and watched for the pickup truck she knew her grown-up son-in-law was driving.
"Are they here yet, darling?" asked Timothy's grandfather.
"No, but everything's ready to go for when they do arrive." she answered, continuing to watch the boys playing outside.
Timothy's grandpa noticed his wife's wistful look and smiled. "It's such a nice day, let's sit outside on the porch."
As the two rested in their fold-out deck chairs, they listened to the playful antics of the two boys - a four-year old duck-tolling retriever puppy wearing a particularly soaked burgundy shirt with green and white underwear briefs was riding his bike in the street as his five-year old wolf friend ran behind him, wearing a two-tone green shirt and camoflage shorts.
"I'mma catch you Seamus!" laughed the wolf, as he playfully ran behind the little retriever's bike - ever so slowly catching up with him. "I'm the big, bad wolf!"
"You can run, you can huff, and you can puff, but you won't catch me Norman!" giggled Seamus, as he rode his red bike along the street and past the front porch where Timothy's grandparents were sitting in fold-out chairs. The two senior raccoons watched the boys playing, wistfully.
"Remember when we used to play games like that, dear?"
"Yeah, oh but to be young and innocent again, huh?"
Just then, an adult duck-tolling retriever stopped just outside their front gate, panting heavily and leaning on the picket fence.
"Oh hi there! You okay, kiddo?"
The adult retriever chuckled at being called 'kiddo' but pointed out his son, Seamus, and began to speak as he regained his breath. "It's... my little guy Seamus. I'm trying to get him indoors so I can change him outta his wet clothes but I just can't catch the little rascal. Could you lend a paw?"
For the next few minutes, the adults tried to corral the excitable four-year old retriever puppy to get him to change into a dry outfit, but try as they might Seamus was too fast and too evasive.
As Seamus rode past Timothy's grandma, she noticed the little plastic training wheels rattling along the street helping to keep the puppy upright on his bike. This gave her an idea.
"Seamus! Come on buddy, you need dry clothes!" panted his dad, struggling to keep up with the energetic puppy.
"Say, I have an idea. See that pothole in the street over there?"
"Yeah, what about it?" panted the retriever.
"Well, potholes give our grandson a lot of grief with his training wheels - if we could get Seamus to ride his bike over it, then it might keep him still long enough for you to catch him."
"Hmmm..." pondered the retriever. "Worth a try, I guess."
So, the three grown-ups lined themselves up with the pothole to divert Seamus towards it.
"You can't catch me, daddy!" laughed Seamus, as he veered around the adults - straight towards the pothole.
"Wait for it..." grinned Timothy's grandma.
Seamus continued pumping his pedals - but as his bike rolled into the pothole the rear wheel became high-centred, his training wheels holding it high-enough over the dip that it just spun uselessly.
"Huh? What's happened?" said Seamus, as he tried to get his bike moving again. The puppy turned his pedals as fast as he could - but with all his effort his bike didn't move an inch.
"Gotcha!" laughed Seamus' dad, as he lifted his son off his high-centred bike.
"Nooo! The daddy monster got me!" wailed Seamus, as he was lifted off and carried towards his house.
"Come on trouble, you need dry clothes after that big water fight of ours." said his Daddy, "You can come out to play again as soon as I've got you changed."
"Yay!" the puppy exclaimed, wagging his tail as he realized his Daddy wasn't going to keep him indoors for very long.
Norman held onto Seamus' bike and mounted it, momentarily spinning the wheels in the pothole before dismounting it and taking it over to the sidewalk to ride around Seamus' driveway, waiting for his best friend to come out again.
A little while later, Timothy's grandfather had returned to his deck chair, as Timothy's grandmother checked on the beef and began to roast the potatoes. A moment after she had joined her husband outside, the dark-blue pickup truck rolled into their driveway.
"Ah, they're here!"
"At last." chuckled Timothy's grandfather.
Timothy's parents emerged from the pickup as the loud rumbling noise of the engine died. Timothy's mom went to help her son out of his booster seat. Just as Timothy disembarked from the truck, Seamus - now sporting a yellow basketball shirt and similar yellow pants with a blue stripe down the legs - rode up to him with his bike.
"Hi there! I'm Seamus! Come play with us!" Seamus waved, pointing out Norman who was running over.
Momentarily, Timothy beamed happily - maybe he wasn't going to be so bored after all! However, his smile faded as he remembered something, with an audible crinkle emanating from beneath the waistband of his orange flame shorts.
"I will! Just gimme a minute." Timothy answered, making his way into his grandparents house - with a considerable waddle to his step.
Once safely indoors, Timothy tapped his daddy's arm.
"Daddy, can you help me with my... uhm... my diaper? I wanna go outside and play."
"Sure, okay buddy." said Timothy's dad, taking the slightly chubby raccoon upstairs into the bathroom.
Moments later, Timothy emerged from the bathroom and went outside as fast as he could. His dad emerged a moment later, still holding the thick, white diaper that Timothy had been wearing under his shorts.
"Is poor Timothy still waking up wet all the time?" asked Timothy's grandmother.
"Yeah, poor little guy. The racecar pull-ups he used to wear were no longer enough. He has to wear these now."
"How's he taking it?"
"Honestly, I think he's become used to waking up wet. He doesn't seem too upset he still has to wear diapers to bed."
Outside, Timothy opened the tailgate and canopy door of the truck. He grabbed hold of his red bike and tried to pull it out, but it was too heavy for him to lift down to the ground.
Seamus' dad - having returned outside to watch over his son and Norman, saw Timothy struggling and paced over.
"Need a hand, buddy?"
Timothy was most grateful for the help.
"My little guy has his little red bike out too, would you two like to play?"
Timothy nodded, introducing himself as he mounted his bike.
"Seamus! Timothy would like to play." called Seamus' dad, as Timothy rode over.
Seamus beamed happily as the older raccoon joined him and he rode around on his own little red bike, his training wheels clattering along merrily. Timothy chuckled and joined in, his own training wheels clattering along the pavement too.
Seamus rode onto the driveway of his house and headed for a pothole full of water - from the waterfight earlier on.
"Timothy, watch!" giggled Seamus, as he rode his bike over the pothole and stopped so the rear wheel was high-centered.
With that, Seamus began to pump his pedals. The high-centered back wheel of his little bike sprayed water all over his back as it spun, and spun, and spun.
"Heeheehee!!" Seamus laughed, as he felt the water soaking through his shirt and the seat of his pants.
Timothy was most perplexed. Seamus was stuck in a puddle, but despite this he seemed most exhilarated - almost overjoyed.
"Timothy! Timothy, look!" the puppy laughed, as he pumped his pedals and made his bike's back wheel spin faster - spraying water all over his back and soaking his shirt and pants. "This is so much fun!"
The raccoon could only look even more confused as Seamus continued pumping his pedals.
"Don't you find that uncomfortable? I mean uh... you're stuck." Timothy managed to say.
"I love it!" giggled Seamus, pumping his pedals as fast as his legs would let him and continuing to shower himself with water from the puddle underneath his bike. "I've never done this before! It's so much fun. Come on Timothy, join in with me!"
"N...no thanks. I don't like getting stuck." Timothy stuttered, "Besides, I don't have anyone to push me."
"I can push you!" chimed in Norman, standing in front of Seamus' bike and chuckling as his friend continued spraying water.
"Come on Timothy, please!" yipped Seamus.
"Oh... alright." sighed Timothy, as he rode his bike alongside Seamus' so the back wheel of his bike too was high-centered.
He turned his pedals, making the back wheel spin helplessly and spray water all over the back of his blue t-shirt and orange shorts.
"Yay! Now we're both making water wheels!" giggled Seamus as he continued pumping his pedals as fast as he could. His previously yellow pants and shirt now a two-tone of yellow and light brown.
Despite the fact Timothy was now stuck in a rut, he found he was having a bit of fun spinning his bike's back wheel with his new friend doing the same.
"Timothy, supper's ready!" called Timothy's mother.
"Oh... I gotta go. I'll be back out after supper though! Um, could you push me now?"
Norman stood behind Timothy's bike and gave the raccoon a push, though it wasn't enough to clear the bigger bike of the pothole. Timothy turned his pedals, but his bike's back wheel still just spun.
"I need another push!" cried Timothy, still trying to free his bike.
"Now it's my turn!" Seamus called, as Norman gave him a push and was able to push the retriever pup's bike free. Seamus rode up behind Timothy's bike and aimed the front wheel at Timothy's back wheel. He slowed down so his front tire gently bumped into Timothy's rear one. With that, Seamus began to pedal. It was very hard work. Unlike Timothy's bike, his bike didn't have any tread on its' tires. The back tire continually slipped and spun as Seamus tried to push Timothy and his bigger bike out of the pothole. Eventually, Timothy's bike had been pushed far enough that the rear wheel could get a grip again, and as Timothy turned his pedals his bike moved on its' own, as Seamus ended up in the pothole again and spun his bike's back wheel in midair.
"Bye Timothy! Come and play with us again soon!" Seamus barked.
After Timothy had finished his supper, he did just that. Seamus' dad confered with Timothy's parents and asked if there was enough time to take the boys to the playground in the nearby woodland park.
"I always like to try and tire my little guy out before his bedtime." he explained.
"Well, we do have a couple of hours before we need to be heading home. Sure." said Timothy's dad. "I'm sure Timothy would be happy to join you."
Seamus had been a little upset since Norman had had to go home for his supper, but when he heard that Timothy would be joining him at the park, he felt much happier.
"Yay! Timothy and I can ride our bikes together!" he yipped.
The park was only accessible by a dirt path, which could be particularly muddy. Seamus had never rode his bike up there before, he was excited to be doing so.
"Come on Timothy!" called Seamus, riding alongside the older raccoon. Both boys rode their bikes along the dirt path.
Timothy rode in front. He was careful to avoid the parts that looked muddy, but Seamus rode straight through them. Shortly the boys approached a particularly big muddy patch. Timothy rode around the side of it, his back wheel slipping as he tried to regain the speed he had lost with cornering around the worst of it. Luckily his bike managed to clear the mud, but it was another matter entirely for Seamus and his smaller bike.
Seamus rode his bike straight into the mud. Predictably the back wheel of his bike began to slip and just spun uselessly, spraying mud over the seat of his pants and the back of his shirt. Seamus giggled at first, he pumped his pedals and sprayed mud merrily - but as he saw Timothy riding on he began to feel much less content about his situation, maybe a little scared.
"Timothy, wait! I'm stuck! I'm stuck! Help!" cried Seamus, continuing to pump his pedals in a futile effort to free his stuck bike, but the back tire just groaned as it kept slipping in the thick, muddy mess.
Timothy turned his bike around and stopped on the edge of the mud patch.
"Timothy, help me!" Seamus cried, as he began to tire of his efforts to free his bike.
"I can't... I'll get stuck too." Timothy squeaked.
Just then, Seamus' dad caught up to the boys and gasped.
"Seamus!" he called, "You're covered in mud!"
"I'm stuck!" the terrified puppy yelped, "I can't get out!"
Seamus' dad sighed, he knew he didn't want to go in the mud either, he had neglected to put on rubber boots. Luckily he did have a long bungy cord in his pants pocket, though. This gave him an idea.
"Glad I forgot to take this out now..." he thought, as he helped Timothy back up to the mud and attached the bungy cord to the seatpost under Timothy's saddle.
"Seamus, catch this cord and put it under your bike's handlebar. Timothy can help pull you out.
"I'll try..." Timothy mumbled, knowing he all-too-often was the one needing help out of the mud.
As Seamus put the bungy cord under the handlebar of his little red bike, he turned his pedals again - though more slowly to see if it helped. It didn't, the treadless rear tire of his bike just slipped and spun uselessly.
Timothy turned his pedals too, but the rear wheel of his bike had been pulled into the mud by the taughtness of the bungy cord and his bike's back wheel slipped and spun uselessly as well.
"Oh no! Timothy's stuck too! Dad, you gotta help him!" cried Seamus.
Timothy squeaked as he felt his bike slipping in the mud. The front of his bike was on more solid ground, and Seamus' dad was able to hold onto the handlebar of the raccoon's bike and push, as Timothy pedaled, and Seamus tried to help too.
Before long, both boys were free of the mud.
"Phew... that was something else... I'm sorry I had to ask for your help Timothy."
"I... I um... I'm okay. Really." said Timothy, "I've always been the one getting stuck in the mud. It's nice to have been the one helping out for a change."
"C..can we go home now daddy, please?"
"You don't wanna go to the park with Timothy?"
"I... I just feel too tired."
"That's a first..." chuckled Seamus' dad to himself.
So Seamus and Timothy rode back the way they had come. Timothy let Seamus ride in front and watched as the little retriever puppy seemed much more careful about where his bike was going.
Only on one instance did Seamus get stuck again, and Timothy was able to push him free with his own, bigger bike.
When they arrived back at Seamus' house, Timothy's parents were getting ready to leave.
"Ready to go home, Timothy?"
"Uh-huh." answered Timothy, as he turned to Seamus.
"Come visit me sometime, Seamus! You can come on bike rides with me and my friends!"
"That'll be sweet! Thanks Timothy. Bye!" called Seamus, as he went and put his bike in the garage.
-- The End --