| Jolly Solly |

Time to Leave

“Tell you what! Bet they’re waiting to be planted. Let’s do it, and save Mr. Krankowitz the trouble!”

Mr. Krankowitz groaned loudly as he tried standing up straight. Ooh! Ouch! His back was acting up again. It must be all that time he’d spent pulling up those pesky weeds. He looked around his garden sourly. There were still all those autumn leaves lying on the ground that needed removing. How on earth was he going to manage it with a bad back?

There was nothing for it; he’d have to get some help. The old man wondered whom to ask. Unfortunately, Jolly Solly was away. Just then he heard voices from the garden next door. It was those annoying Friedman boys that always seemed to be causing trouble. They were far from ideal, thought Mr. Krankowitz. On the other hand, they were young and energetic, and could probably do the job in no time at all.

“You there!” he called gruffly.

Fishel and Faivish turned to him in surprise.

“I didn’t do anything,” declared Fishel right away. “It wasn’t my fault that our Frisbee fell into your garden yesterday. The wind carried it across. And I only climbed over to get it back and not spoil your nice lawn.”

“Yeah, and I helped him, to keep you garden nice and uncluttered,” added Faivish piously.

The old man waved aside their words. “Never mind all that,” he declared. “You can make yourselves useful instead. I need someone to sweep up my dead leaves.”

“Oh, we can do that,” said Fishel helpfully. It wouldn’t hurt to get into the old man’s good books. Hopefully it would also help him forget about the Frisbee incident.

“Certainly,” echoed Faivish.

The troublesome two leaped over the garden fence, as Mr. Krankowitz closed his eyes and winced, and stood there eagerly awaiting instructions.

Mr. Krankowitz told them what to do. Then he went inside to sink into his favorite armchair. He soon dozed off, while Fishel and Faivish raked the leaves.

They finished quickly. Then they looked around.

“Let’s do another job,” suggested Fishel.

“Yeah, we’ll surprise him,” Faivish agreed with his brother for a change.

However, it didn’t look like there was anything left to do. The garden, now that the leaves had been cleared away, looked absolutely shipshape.

“Hey, what’s that in the shed?” asked Fishel. He was looking through the window at a pile of items in a dark corner.

“Dunno. Looks like some sort of flower bulbs to me.”

“Tell you what! Bet they’re waiting to be planted. Let’s do it, and save Mr. Krankowitz the trouble!”

“Great!” exclaimed Faivish. “Let’s go!”

The brothers got to work. They got hot and muddy, but they didn’t stop until every single bulb had been planted.

Just then, Mr. Krankowitz shuffled outside.

“Time for my lunch,” he muttered to himself. “I’ll have a nice bit of kipper, with fried onions.”

He went into the shed, where the boys could see him rummaging around.

There came a shout.

“Where are my onions? Someone’s stolen them! What a nerve!”

The old man marched out, looking red and angry.

“Boys! Did you see someone lurking around the shed?” he demanded. “A thief’s stolen my onions.”

“No,” replied Fishel. “We went in there to get the flower bulbs, but we didn’t see anyone else around.”

“What flower bulbs?” asked Mr. Krankowitz.

“The ones in the shed. We planted them for you,” said Faivish proudly.

The old man stared at him.

“There weren’t any bulbs in my shed, as far as I know. Where exactly did you find them?”

“Over there, in the corner,” said Fishel, pointing.

Mr. Krankowitz looked as though he were about to explode.

“Those weren’t bulbs!” he roared. “They were my onions! I dug them up myself not long ago — and now you’ve buried them again!”

The old man waved his stick angrily. Fishel and Faivish backed away nervously.

“S-sorry, sir. We’ll dig them up again.”

“We didn’t realize. We only meant to help.”

Poor Fishel and Faivish. It was back to work again! At last, they were done.

They eyed Mr. Krankowitz nervously. To their surprise, he was smiling. He’d suddenly found, to his great astonishment, that his back was all right. Somehow, in all the excitement, it seemed to have fixed itself. He dug out a few coins from his pocket for Fishel and Faivish.

Any way you looked at it, he was back to himself.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 882)

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