| Jolly Solly |

The Great Escape

“Oh, no! Everything’s going wrong today. Gimpel’s gone. Tuki’s acting weird. I don’t think even Jolly Solly can help”

Mr. Ingleton the environmental inspector was up to his tricks again. He was going to enter Eli’s animal center in disguise. He wanted to finally find an excuse to close it down. He had tried it in the past, but it had failed. That “awful monkey” had pulled off his hat. But this time, he was sure he would succeed.

Mr. Ingleton knew that a Jewish holiday was coming up. It was called Lag B’omer. This day, he felt, would be the perfect time. There would be many happy children around the animal center. Well, he would soon wipe the smiles off their faces. Ha!

He wound a scarf around his face, leaving only his eyes and nose uncovered. He put a battered hat on his head. He grabbed an old walking stick. Then he practiced walking bent over. He now looked like a very old man.

When he entered the animal center, it was very busy. Nobody paid any attention to him. He saw that Manny and Tuki were the most popular attractions, as usual. Excited kids were crowded around their cages. Manny took out a plastic comb he’d taken from Izzy one day. He pretended to style his hair. Then Tuki sang “This Old Man” at the top of his voice.

Suddenly, the parrot stopped. He flapped his wings. He looked upset.

“What’s the matter with him?” someone asked.

“He looks upset. Maybe his tummy hurts.”

Somebody went to call Izzy. Before Izzy could get there, Tuki stuck his head through the bars of the cage. He screeched at the top of his voice, “Haman! Bang! POP-POP-POP!” Everyone jumped.

Gimpel the goat had been standing lazily in his pen. He got scared when Tuki screeched. Were those fireworks? He hated fireworks! Terrified, Gimpel leaped over the fence around his pen. He ran off as fast as he could.

Eli and Izzy came running.

“I’ll chase Gimpel,” said Izzy. “You go see what’s with Tuki. It’s not like him to carry on like that, out of the blue. Something’s wrong.”

Eli approached the flapping bird.

“What’s up, old fellow?” he asked softly. “Did someone upset you? You feeling alright?”

The parrot wanted to warn Eli that he’d spotted the sly inspector. He hopped up and down. He screeched, “Haman! Bang-Bang!”

Eli couldn’t calm him down. Just then his walkie-talkie crackled.

“It’s me,” said Izzy. “There’s no sign of Gimpel. I’ve called Jolly Solly to come help.”

Eli groaned.

“Oh, no! Everything’s going wrong today. Gimpel’s gone. Tuki’s acting weird. I don’t think even Jolly Solly can help.”

Eli would have been even more distressed if he had seen Mr. Ingleton. The man was in a corner, writing a note to the mayor. “Animal has escaped, placing the public in danger,” he wrote. He ignored the fact that Gimpel was a gentle creature who wouldn’t hurt a fly. “Under Regulation 876, the escape of a dangerous animal is grounds for a place to be shut down without notice.” Smiling to himself, he set off for the mayor’s office.

He didn’t see Jolly Solly arrive in his open-top car. He didn’t see the clown open Manny’s cage. He didn’t see Manny take Jolly Solly’s hand.

“Find Gimpel for me,” urged the clown. He spoke in the low, soft voice he used for animals.

The inspector soon returned to the animal center. The mayor’s assistant was with him. The inspector held a closure order. It was ready for the mayor’s assistant to sign. But there was some commotion going on. They stopped to look.

Children were jumping up and down. Eli and Izzy were clapping Jolly Solly on the back.

“Manny found him,” protested the clown. “At first, I thought he was just being silly. He led me right to Gimpel’s pen. There was Gimpel himself, trying to get back in. He must have regretted his escape. He made his way back on his own.”

Mr. Ingleton gasped.

“I-er-it seems the dangerous animal has been found,” he told the mayor’s assistant.

The assistant looked at Gimpel. The goat was surrounded by excited children.

That’s the dangerous animal?” he asked.

“Um… must’ve been a mistake,” said the inspector. He crumpled up the note and tossed it on the ground.

The wind blew it into Gimpel’s pen.

It made a very nice snack.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 910)

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