by Dru Jorgensen
(Ankeny, Iowa, USA)
It had been a year since Austin last saw Mr. Sugarcoate. He was the best crossing guard our elementary school had to offer. He really missed him. The principal at his school, Mr. Ritherson, made him go away. Austin's mama says they fired him. When someone gets fired it supposed to mean that they can't work any more. At least not at the elementary school.
"Austin! Hey, Austin! You ready for school?" asked Austin's mom.
Austin grabbed his sack lunch and scurried out the front door. School was only two blocks away so he usually walked. The only thing that scared Austin was the busy road between his school and his house. Thankfully, there is a crossing guard that helps. Now, there is only grumpy Mr. Patterson. He's okay, but, sure isn't as fun as Mr. Sugarcoate.
"Hello, Samantha, are you ready to cross the busy street today?" asked Austin.
Samantha was Austin's neighbor and best friend that is a girl. She had curly blonde hair and a huge pink bow in her hair. Well, the bow was huge compared to Austin's blue headband. His headband, scrunched over his short brown hair, was given to him by Mr. Sugarcoate.
"Oh, I don't like that busy street. I miss the secret underground tunnel that Mr. Sugarcoate made. It was such a fun tunnel," said Samantha.
"And I miss the trained monkeys! They always made the funniest sounds," said Austin.
"I don't want to hear no more talk about that tunnel or those monkeys! It doesn't exist!" yelled Mr. Patterson.
Truth was, it did exist. For some reason, only children and Mr. Sugarcoate were the only ones that could see it. Sadly, the tunnel disappeared ever since Mr. Sugarcoate left.
The road was very busy today. Cars and vans whizzed by. Trucks and jeeps speeded across the 2 way street. It looked like it'd be a while until they would get to pass. Austin decided to get his basketball out of his backpack and pass the ball around with Samantha. He had made the wrong choice.
"No basketball allowed by this road. It's too dangerous. And take off that headband, there's no hats allowed in school!" yelled Mr. Patterson.
Mr. Patterson was right about the basketball being dangerous, but, he didn't have to take his headband! It wasn't even a hat.
"Pssst...pssst!" whispered a small voice coming from behind a bush.
It was Mr. Sugarcoate! He had returned. Austin and Samantha slipped away from the crowd surrounding the crosswalk. Mr. Sugarcoate, the old crossing guard, pushed aside the big rock that usually hides the secret tunnel. Austin had tried to find the tunnel after Mr. Sugarcoate left, but it wouldn't appear.
The three walked down into the mysterious tunnel. The first time Austin went through the tunnel, he couldn't believe it. It had shiny rocks and colorful boulders all around the place. It even had swinging monkeys once you reached the bottom! He had worried about the monkeys. Were they getting fed? Were they stuck in the tunnel?
Once they reached the bottom, they found only left-over monkey hair. Where had the monkeys gone?
"I know what you are thinking. The monkeys will return. They haven't gotten back from the jungle yet," said Mr. Sugarcoate.
Austin didn't know what was above the tunnel. Was it the busy road or something else? Most likely the busy road since the end of the tunnel leads them to a broom closet inside the school. The three finally reached the broom closet. However, the door was locked! It was never locked! There were voices coming from outside the door.
"We are keeping this door locked. I don't want any more kids sneaking though it. I especially don't want that Sugarcoate coming back here. He's been putting crazy ideas into kids' heads that there is a mysterious tunnel. That tunnel doesn't exist!" said the angered principal, Mr. Ritherson.
"If the tunnel doesn't exist, how would the kids get through it?" asked a teacher.
"I am not sure, but its not a tunnel!" said Mr. Ritherson.
Austin scanned the room. There was only three brooms and a dusty mop inside the room. How were they going to get out?
"Well, looks like we are stuck in here," said Samantha.
"Guess we'll have to go back through the tunnel," said Austin.
"The tunnel only works one way. We can't go back. It won't open," explained Mr. Sugarcoate, "but don't worry, I have a plan."
Mr. Sugarcoate reached into his pocket and grabbed his banana-scented chapstick. The monkeys can't resist the smell.
"I hope they're back from the jungle!" said Austin.
All of a sudden there were yelps and screams from the hallway. There were also some very funny noises that Austin found very familiar.
"What!" Are those monkeys!?" yelled Mr. Ritherson, "those kids were telling the truth!?"
The monkeys managed to pick the lock and set the three tunnel-walkers free. Mr. Sugarcoate threw Austin the banana-scented chap-stick and a new green headband.
"Thanks, Mr. Sugarcoate! So does this mean your back?"
"No, I'm off to another school. Got a job as a crossing guard. Keep watch over the tunnel for me. And don't use that chapstick on your lips, I don't know what those monkeys have done to it."
"Oh, and remember to feed the monkeys, they have quite an appetite."