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"Mystery & Pirating Peril"

“Okay, enough of introductions. Let’s pick teams Chip. I’m ready to play ball,” Gimme wheezes as he pads leather of his soft, game glove.

“All right, Gimme, everyone. Carlos and Higuchi will be captains,” Chip continues.

Friends mutter and gawk. At first an exercise in futility, like trying to get good sailing hands to row for dangerous Moby Dick, soon, teams form. Two, evenly-matched groups are chosen for play at ShankleShore sandlot; and E.P. Snidely Snicklecutty, attorney at law, prepares to begin the game as umpire.

Then in a skinny minute, “Let’s play ball!” Mr. Snicklecutty shouts. Grinning, he gazes to frizzy-haired Mama Rosie.

“You tell them Snidely! Let’s play, kids!” Mama yells and she jerks like she’d gulped, hot sauce.

Seated comfortably in a red-and-white-checked, lounge chair, at first base line, and left of the wire mesh that serves as backstop to home plate, she raises chunky brown arms and cheers.

“Let’s have chatter going, Cleat!” At third, Eddie yells.

Cleat crouches at shortstop.

“Hey, scatty cat. You’re always playing that position. Why?” Bogey cracks as he plays a shallow, left field. “I’m envious of you, fat cat.”

Fuzzy-faced Cleat pivots. “Why you ask? There’s no one as quick as a cat, simple as that, my biscuit loving swashbuckler. Keep your eyes peeled for those fly balls,” he says and he spins. “Now, hum it in there, pitcher, hum it in there, bucko.”

On the pitcher’s mound, serious as a sand shark stabbing salty sea bass, Shank studies home base.

“Put it in there. Put it in there, pitch,” Plug adds. Playing catcher behind the plate, portly Plug the turtle, hollers, “Smoke it!”

The game begins.

“Whoom! Whack!” Shank’s pitch zooms across the middle of the plate. Fired like a hum-dinger past wildly swinging Kikka Bumplebutt, it smacks Plug’s glove.

“Steeriikke!” Wiry Mr. Snicklecutty yells from behind the plate.

“Ah ha!” Shank shouts. “We’ll see who’s kicking who in this game,” he touts to Kikka. “I’ll smoke this fast ball.”

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