PREVIOUS NEXT FIRST Beaky Mixto and The Butterfly Bush.

Beaky Mixto
The Butterfly Bush.

The Hot Day.

Perhaps the best thing about being a bully is
professional courtesy (most other bullies leave you alone).
The worst is that, sooner or later, every bully
has to bully somebody. And, "Oh!" Whom to pick to pick on!

It was too hot a day for Beaky Mixto to try to
figure that one out as coolly as all that:

The sun had been so yellow in the sky at dawn
(when it peeked over the horizon
to see how long it would take to get to the other side of town)
that... when it got half way as far as it was going
(around noon) the day turned hot, hazy, and began
steaming up everybody in a rather personal way:

Beaky Mixto himself was quite on the point of boiling over:
"Fofztph! Fofztph," went whatever droplet of his sweat
hit the pavement. (Spit "scheeched" with a
quite heated resentment before it finally "fofztphed.")

It made it extremely hard to keep an eye on the busy goings on
in Beaky Mixto's neighborhood:

All around him short-panted men's legs swirled,
skipping in and out of the haze so gingerly
that people looked like they were trying to go about their business
without having to step on the individual rays of the sun.

Women's legs also skipped by Beaky as well that morning,
sticking down from rippling umbrella-like hemlines
as their owners leapt about
wearing every manner of color and design.

The whole world seemed to be passing by Beaky Mixto
(that morning) in a wildly overheated hurry to get to
any possible shade they might find, no matter how far away.

Protection from the sun could be had (here and there):
Beaky Mixto himself was already hiding
as much of his skin as he could fit under the thin, twitching shade
of a handy little sidewalk tree where he happened to be that morning
(in front of Mrs. Brakenitch's yard):

The shaky foliage of the little tree grasped thinly above him
after every passing breeze (and made Beaky look like
some sort of grey Camouflage Creature hiding under it).

But it helped some.

Panting badly, a strange dog wandered by
looking for any spigots of dripping cool water this far
(probably on the lam from some much drier neighborhood
beyond Beaky Mixto's).

With squinting eyes that seemed downright unwilling to come out
from behind their thin-as-cracks eye-slits
the pooch seemed to be asking Beaky if he'd seen any.
And, as if he had understood him,
Beaky Mixto apologized with a shrug.

The thirsty mutt then trotted off to try another neighborhood
farther away still, dancing that hot pavement all the way
--wherever it was going-- as if happy to be moving on.

Beaky Mixto would've thought it funny, but
all he had been able to think about that entire Saturday morning
was... the coldest-possible ice-cream cone
imaginable (by man or beast):

"Ah!" It would be sweet, soft, delicious strawberry!
(Exactly like the one he'd got his hot lips on
after school the day before.)

Too bad that had been the last of his week's allowance:
Just thinking about it moved Beaky to kick the dust on the sidewalk
so angrily that it bounced up twice and twice again
(like frying droplets of water on a heated pan)
before it finally settled down for good.

The only thing his parched lips had been tasting
since he had bailed out of his house earlier that morning
was his own salty sweat.

His arms, cheeks, and the tip of his nose (especially)
dripped drop after drop of it like it would never end!

Worse still, his forehead kept trying to drown out his eyes
with an un-quitting stream of it:

Even after he had wringed out his eyesockets with his knuckles
(his fingertips being too dirty even for him to use them for the job)
Beaky Mixto found that he had to rub out of his eyes
the salty rubble which the drying moisture always left behind
(sticking to his eyelids like painfully oversized dust pebbles).

Small wonder he was having such difficulties
keeping an eye on things!

"Holly McCarol!" He marvelled,
measuring by sheer degrees of pain
the burning sunshine over the palm of one of his hands
against whatever shaky shade he was able to grab with his other hand
(under that almost life-saving little tree there).

But, like tinder floating on a hot breeze,
his thoughts were soon drifting back to
that strawberry ice-cream cone
he had been dreaming about since dawn:

It was as if the sun had burned the image of it
right into his brain: Nothing could wipe
the scrumptiously cool fantasy
out of there for any length of time...

Certainly not Mrs. Pollie's hollering to a neighbor
at the top of her voice (as if
they could've kept the whole thing
just between the two of them that way).

And not even the whiz and whir of the automobiles
cracking the thin dry blanket of dust that covered the street
like a crunchy crust (end to end) as they warped their way
through the thick mist of glare over it.

Prey In Sight.

Suddenly, across the glare and haze of that awful hot day,
Beaky Mixto was convinced he could see
Bobby Decker heading his way
--Or maybe it was only some half-baked mirage...

After all, even the crazy shapes clouds took hold of
(passing above him as swiftly as thoughts)
always turned immediately into mounds and mounds of
an odd sort of white-swirled strawberry ice-cream
before it all melted away from view:

There was certainly no trusting too much anything one saw
out there on a hot blurry day like that one
--But in another dry and salty instant
Beaky Mixto was again staring at Bobby Decker.

And this time very clearly too:

The little boy seemed to be carrying a great big shiny coin
between his fingers (holding it before him
like a victory pennant):

Beaky Mixto wondered how much
the sun might be affecting his eyes.

But, "Holly McCarol!" It was a fifty-cent coin, all right
(and no less... by the size of it): "Oh!"

Could that be the ticket
to the frosty strawberry ice-cream cone of his dreams
dancing his way there?

He quickly made sure that he still had the last bit of money
left him, a single quarter, in his pocket--He had.
That, with the help of fifty cents more, equalled
the strawberry ice-cream cone of his dreams at the sweets shop.

Naturally, the rotten little voice that had made a home for itself
at the back of Beaky Mixto's mind
suggested right away that he make a grab for it.

And, "Oh, to be," he was instantly debating, "or not to be
... a bully!"

"Think!" The rotten little voice pushed at Beaky Mixto
as he watched that beautiful sparkling coin
(so ripe for the taking) dancing closer
with every step Bobby Decker took in his direction.

"Think what a beautiful ice-cream cone you could buy
with those fifty cents," the rotten little voice said
(pouring googols and googols of dreamy ice-cream
over Beaky Mixto's overheated brain).

Beaky certainly could have made
Bobby Decker turn the coin over to him without much of a hassle
(compared to him Bobby Decker was practically a baby).

But, "Really, I shouldn't," Beaky Mixto tried
(half-heartedly) to fight the rotten little voice.

And, "Oh, go ahead!" The rotten little voice argued back:
"You know you're going to give in (in the end
you always do): Why not save yourself a lot of grief
... and give in at the beginning!"

"Well," unfortunately, the rotten little voice's arguments
almost always made a very "bad" sort of "good" sense
to Beaky Mixto: "Well, okay
--When you put it that way." (See!)

"O, to be--"

Still, Beaky Mixto knew that out-and-out bullying
could also buy him a lot more trouble than
just fifty cents' worth...

"Most definitely!" Of this he was convinced:
Out-and-out bullying was not what "a smart guy" (like him)
ought to be getting himself into.

As long as one had to be a bully
(and a bully he was looking forward to becoming now),
as long as one had to be a bully
... better to be a subtle bully than an out-and-out one.

That meant coming up with some subtle plan
to cheat the little boy out of his fifty cents
--And as quickly as he could, too:
Bobby Decker was already almost on top of him.

Certainly before the sun melted away even
the idea of a strawberry ice-cream cone
right out of his sizzling head!

Beaky Mixto snapped and snapped his fingers repeatedly then
(trying to make something click), until:
"Yes!" His fingers finally came up with something
--where his brains seemed to have flatly failed him.

Without giving it another thought
(which would have forced him to actually use his head),
Beaky Mixto stepped out from under
the shaky thin shade which had been protecting his skin
until that moment (and maybe into even shakier things).

Then he parked himself squarely in the middle of the sidewalk
in order to block Bobby Decker's path:

Naturally, Bobby Decker tried to walk right through him
as if he hadn't been there at all. But, quickly enough,
Beaky Mixto planted a hand firmly over the little boy's chest
(really about the only way to make a youngster Bobby Decker's age
come to a complete stop
where and when one wanted him to).

The Beehive Con.

Beaky Mixto challenged the little boy at once:

"Betcha fifty cents you don't know how to get honey out of
a beehive without getting stung!"

"Huh?!" Bobby Decker grunted
(as if he'd been a little troll under some rotting log
somebody had momentarily stept on).

He gave the older boy a puzzled look
(dripping with gallons of suspicion).

For a moment he even seemed to be trying to figure out
exactly what language Beaky Mixto was speaking in.

Then Bobby Decker stepped back
(and out from under Beaky Mixto's straight-arm):
He studied his fifty-cent piece carefully
(perhaps to make sure he was still holding it).

But Bobby Decker had seen a television program on bees
just last evening (the very same one
which had given Beaky Mixto's snappy fingers the buggy idea
he was now trying to cheat him with),
and he immediately realized that he did
know how to get honey out of a beehive without getting stung!

So, "Bet!" He instantly took up Beaky Mixto's challenge
(with such a hurried glee that he almost spat at Beaky Mixto).

Then, painting a broad smile on his face,
Bobby Decker was well on his way to explaining how it was
one got honey out of a beehive without getting stung,
when, with the quick flick of his older (and lightning fast) hand
Beaky Mixto swiped the fifty-cent piece away from the two fingers
Bobby Decker had been holding it with until that instant!

"Wrong!" Beaky Mixto told the just absolutely stunned little boy:
"The correct answer to getting honey from a beehive
without getting stung
is to send somebody else for it.
Everybody knows that! So there: You lose!"

His hand still holding fast to the ghost of
the coin Beaky Mixto was already pocketing
Bobby Decker thought and thought and thought about this
for a long, long instant
(like the instant would never, never end).

"Hey!" He suddenly hollered at Beaky Mixto
once he had become perfectly satisfied that he had
given the whole crooked matter enough thought:


And with all of the rage of anybody that age
who has just discovered that he has been thoroughly cheated:

   "Hey! That's cheating!"

"No it's not!" Beaky Mixto quickly tried to explain to him
(looking around to make sure that no grownups were watching
him commit his hold-up out there in broad daylight):

"You lost fair and square," he whispered to the little boy
(even as he was trying to push the shady business between them
under the checkerboard shade of the little sidewalk tree there
... to make the matter less obvious to the
people who were passing by on the sidewalk).

Well, Bobby Decker might not have been old enough
to know much about fairs and squares,
but he was definitely certain that he'd been robbed:

"Gimme back my fifty cents," he warned Beaky Mixto,
giving him a mean enough look so the older boy would know
he really meant it: "Gimme back my fifty cents or
... I'll tell on you!"

For his part, Beaky Mixto wasn't about to give up that easily
on a strawberry ice-cream cone he had been dreaming about
for such a long time now (and no matter
whom Bobby Decker might have had it in mind to tell on him to):
Especially since he himself was by now almost as certain
(in his own mind) that the coin was his
by every rule--in his favor--he could think of judging it:

Still, something about this loud-mouthed little guy
going around telling people he was a dirty rotten thief
just didn't sit well at all with Beaky Mixto.

No, sir, if there was any possible way
to make Bobby Decker shut up (short of
his having to out-and-out bully him into it)
Beaky certainly wanted to make sure he had given it a shot:

"Tell you what," he proposed to the hopping mad youngster,
again trying to come up with some quick scheme
to get him to play the good loser:
"I still say the coin's mine," he told him,
snapping and snapping his fingers in pursuit of
any possible scheme (any at all), "but
I'm willing to give you another chance to win it back--Deal?"

Bobby Decker stopped jumping up and down long enough
to allow every one of his little brain cells to
work as calmly as they could on all the possible crooked angles
to Beaky Mixto's snappy new offer:

But, "Awh, gawan, you ninny!" Right away
Beaky Mixto began needling him without mercy:
"Gawan! Gawan! Gawan!" He urged AND urged the little boy
who was trying (to the best of his ability)
to figure out what he ought to do next:

"You in or out?" Beaky Mixto demanded,
hurrying Bobby Decker (to keep him from considering things
too carefully): "Awwwh... You couldn't win a bet from me with a hose
if your mom was on fire!" Beaky Mixto snapped at him.

That last wisecrack there did it
(for it really burned Bobby Decker
that anybody should think so little of
his ability to put out his own mom):

"Yes I could!" He bravely bucked up to the much older boy,
pushing his small face right up to Beaky Mixto's
(and immediately giving up on any further and more careful
consideration of the really important matter before him).

"If it's a fair bet," Bobby Decker added: "AND
if you gimme back my fifty cents now. Right now!"

"Shake on it!" Beaky Mixto snapped at this,
with more than just his fingers
(for the very words Bobby Decker had spoken
had suddenly given him the marvelously wicked plan
he would now use to trick the little boy)...

The Fifty Cents Con.

After shaking hands
Beaky Mixto handed Bobby Decker's coin back to him
at once (hoping he would be able to get his cheating 'con'
over and done with before Bobby Decker had a chance to
change his mind... and, certainly before the little guy realized
that his fifty cents was the only money in the pot).

Bobby Decker took another long and suspicious look
at the coin he'd just been handed (making very sure
it was indeed a fifty-cent piece):

But it was. So he again shook Beaky Mixto's hand quite willingly.

Now... what was their new bet going to be?

"Simple," Beaky Mixto proposed: "Betcha fifty cents
you don't ... have a fifty-cent piece on you right now!"

"Huh?" Bobby Decker groaned, really confused now.

He took an even closer look at the coin in his hand:
It was certainly his fifty-cent piece!

Then he glanced at Beaky Mixto... out of the corner of an eye
(as if he'd been looking at a talking tricycle of something),
his face all wrinkled up in bewilderment.

It all had the smell of some stinking trick to Bobby Decker:

He was certain Beaky Mixto could see
that the coin he was holding up
(practically under Beaky Mixto's own nose)
was a fifty-cent piece...

But, maybe because he just couldn't imagine any way
one could possibly lose an easy bet like that one
(even by hook or by crook):

"Okay!" He agreed to the bet: "I'm in!"
Letting that always so over-confident smile of his (itself
as big as a slice of a fifty-cent piece 'fool' moon)
again wash over his gullible little face
... even as he clamped down harder on his valuable coin.

And yet, no sooner had he agreed to the new bet
than Beaky Mixto merrily announced
that he had just lost again because:

  "You do not have a fifty-cent piece on you!"

"Hu-huh?!" Bobby Decker grunted again
(like the troll's rotten little log had really been stept on now)
... eyeing his coin like one of those tiny parrots that pop out
a great big eye for a closer look when it's holding a
really gigantic cracker by its toes:

"You're crazy!" He told Beaky Mixto,
taking a step back (away
from him) just in case he really was.

"I do too have a fifty-cent piece!" He testified
(with such unshakable confidence that even the sweat
which was shaking off him
made it seem like he was gushing nothing but).
Only to find himself being laughed at
by the older boy for all his trouble:

"You have a fifty-cent piece?!" Beaky Mixto asked him
mockingly, faking as much disbelief
as if the little guy had been trying to convince him Martians
were bobbing for doughnuts with their ears just around the corner.

    It angered Bobby Decker something fierce:

"Of course I have a fifty-cent piece!"
He spewed out at Beaky Mixto,
furious as an itty-bitty volcano blowing its top,
asking him: "What do you call this?!"
And teasing Beaky Mixto pitilessly with the coin,
twitching and twirling it at him (pushing it
almost right up under Beaky Mixto's very nose).

But: "That is a fifty-cent piece?!" Beaky Mixto was
still asking with an utterly cruel disbelief
(as if laughing at a great big joke).

Then he made a grand show of pretending to be as amazed
at Bobby Decker's "wild" claim
as if the little guy had been showing him a shirt button
and claiming it to be a polka dancing dog or some such.

Finally Beaky put his open hand out for Bobby Decker
and asked him flat-out to: "Prove it!" (Obviously
by handing over the coin to him for a closer look.)

But even though Beaky Mixto had done all he could
to make Bobby Decker feel extremely foolish about not cooperating
(and had practically dressed him up in a clown's suit)
the little boy still wasn't about to just hand him his precious coin
as easily as all that:

In fact, Bobby Decker pulled back a couple of steps.

"How do you expect me to tell if it's a fifty-cent piece
when you won't even let me see it?" Beaky Mixto protested
angrily (beginning to suspect that he was going to have to work
a lot harder if he ever wanted to get his hands again on that coin):
"Holly McCarol!" (It would've been easier to just get a job.)

And yet, he spoke to Bobby Decker with such sincere-sounding voice
that there could be no possible doubt whatever
whose fault it really was that it remained unproven between them
what coin they had there...

"Let's have it here!" He was repeating at Bobby Decker by then
... with such breathtaking authority that for a split second
Bobby Decker almost did hand his coin over to him.

Only, at the last moment, Bobby Decker just couldn't bring himself
to trust the older boy's almost-always dishonest intentions:

"I'm not stupid!" Bobby Decker assured him,
clamping down even harder on his fifty-cent piece.

"Ha!" Beaky Mixto shot back in mock triumph:
"The reason you won't let me see it is
because you know you've lost the bet!"

"I have NOT lost the bet!" Bobby Decker fought him bravely:
"I have NOT lost the bet!" Not at all happy
that he might've really lost a bet he had believed so easy to win.

Yet, "I'll thank you to kindly pay up the fifty cents you owe me!"
Beaky Mixto insisted: "No way that's a fifty-cent piece
you've got there!" (Practically convinced by now that he'd earned it.)

"This is too a fifty-cent piece!" Bobby Decker argued at him fiercely
(from as safe a distance as possible): "It is! It is!"

And, "So you say," Beaky Mixto accused the little boy
when it was his turn
(his voice dripping with an utterly gooey disbelief).

Then Beaky crossed his arms over his chest
and turned his back on the little guy,
pretending a deadly cool indifference to him (no easy trick
as hot as it was out there)... to show Bobby Decker
that he wasn't even worth bothering with.

It had the desired effect, too:

Slowly but surely the little boy was starting to show definite signs
that he was beginning to have his doubts:

Bobby Decker scrounged his eyes and his forehead, and
even appeared to be trying to find an answer
on the back of his eyebrows.

"IF," Beaky Mixto kept goading him and goading him
without mercy: "IF it really were a fifty-cent piece
(like you're saying)," suddenly swinging around dramatically:
"You'd show it to me like that! Only it's not--Is it! It's not!"

"It is! It is!" Bobby Decker cried, deeply pained
that he should not be believed: "It is!"

"Okay! Then, let's have it!" Beaky Mixto coolly urged him:
"Just let me see it so I can check for myself
whether it is or it isn't! Is that too much to ask?!"

And although Bobby Decker was never really convinced
Beaky Mixto could be trusted--not for a moment--
he still couldn't see any way around the fact that
if he was going to prove to Beaky
that the coin was a fifty-cent piece
he would have to prove it to him (and to nobody else):

Confused as much by the terrible heat as by
Beaky Mixto's terribly cool pressure
... "Drats!" Bobby Decker angrily conceded at last
and handed over his precious coin... with extreme reluctance
and many, many regrets--All of them
very, very justified, as it turned out:

"Yep!" Beaky Mixto said as soon as he again had the coin
in his hands: "It's a fifty-cent piece, all right!"

And, as coolly as if the entire day had been air conditioned
from dawn until then... he slipped it into one of his pockets!

"Hey!" Bobby Decker cried out in absolute shock
at this (snapping out of his trance): "You just said
it was a fifty-cent piece, yourself!
That means I win the bet--Doesn't it?!"

"It does not," Beaky Mixto casually assured
the hot-tempered little boy: "It means exactly the opposite!
It means you lost the bet!"

"Huh!?!" Bobby Decker was stunned
(and he had every right to be):

"Was that the only fifty-cent piece you had?"
Beaky Mixto asked him, as matter-of-fact
as a frog wallowing in a spring: "You don't happen
to have any other fifty-cent coins on you? Now, do you?"
(Something which was true enough, of course.)

"Sure, there was some doubt about it being or not being
a fifty-cent piece," Beaky Mixto explained,
as if reminiscing over ancient history:
"But, what has that to do with our bet?" Until...

"Nothing!" He suddenly answered his own question:
"Do you now have a fifty-cent piece?"

He pointedly asked the little boy: "Now? Right now?"
Never giving him a chance to answer, and stabbing at him
with his index finger (throwing the youngster
even more off balance than he already was).

"Of course I don't have a fifty-cent piece now! Right now!"
Bobby Decker somehow managed to shoot back
(stabbing at Beaky Mixto with a finger of his own):
"But I had a fifty-cent piece then. Back then!"

"Ah-Ha!!" Beaky Mixto shouted out in victory
(certain he now had him): "Was our bet
about all the millions of fifty-cent pieces you might have had
throughout your whole life?" He demanded to know
(always asking AND answering his own questions):
"No! I don't doubt you've had millions and millions of them,"
he told Bobby Decker (very quickly and without a pause):

"But our bet is you don't have a fifty-cent piece NOW!
And do you have a fifty-cent piece NOW?"
He asked Bobby Decker, making it sound
as if Bobby Decker was risking being thought too stupid to
even understand something as simple as the fact that
he had lost--Period:

"Well? Do you? Do you?!" Beaky pressed the little boy.
Answering himself triumphantly: "No! No! and No!"

The Bully.

Quite a marvelous performance it was, too
... Beaky Mixto threw his arms up over his head
in a big display of helplessness (that
Bobby Decker should be so dumb). Then:

"Do I care what you did with all those fifty-cent pieces
you've had throughout your life?"
He shouted at Bobby Decker (just about):

"Of course not!" (No doubt thinking himself cleverer and cleverer
as he went on.) Talking faster and louder:
"Is it any of my business whether you've lost them all,
had them all stolen, or simply threw them away
yourself? No! No! and No!"

"Bobby Decker," he finally told the little guy,
placing a patronizing hand on his shoulder:
"This bet you have lost fair and square
BECAUSE you do not have a fifty-cent piece on you now:
Right now!"

A most reasonable way of looking at it (Beaky Mixto thought).

And there he rested his so very obviously 'reasonable' case.
No less so because that was where he had also run out of breath.

And yet, as 'sound' as Beaky Mixto's reasonable reasons
might have been (especially to himself), in the end
Bobby Decker simply proved too young to understand the logic
behind any of Beaky Mixto's so sound-sounding reasons:

"That's cheating," he reminded the older boy,
pointing his index finger right at him too
(so there would be no question whom he was accusing).

"What a dense kid!" Beaky Mixto fumed
and he scratched his chin (only now learning how useless it is
to try to cheat too cleverly the very un-clever).

"All I know," Bobby Decker summed up his case
against Beaky Mixto (with no doubts at all about this),
"All I know is...  I had fifty cents
and you took'em from me like that!"

Truly, "Listen you," Beaky Mixto warned him then:
"In the first place, I didn't take anything from you
--You gave it to me!" (His anger getting the better of
his wickedly 'good' reason.)

"And in the second place," he followed it up with,
pulling bravely at his pants (while completely failing to notice
that all the reasons with which he was arguing his side of it
were strengthening the youngster's suspicions of him):
"And in the second place--Of course you had fifty cents!
You don't think I would have bet you if I had
thought you couldn't pay off the bet--Do you?!"

Unfortunately, by this time Bobby Decker wasn't buying any
of what Beaky Mixto was selling
(not any more... least of all for fifty cents):

By this time Bobby Decker was only repeating
and repeating: "Gimme back my fifty cents! Gimme back
my fifty cents! Gimme back my fifty cents!"
(Like a never-ending tide of waves all by himself.)

"Gimme back my fifty cents! Gimme back my fifty cents,"
he told Beaky Mixto, having shut down his ears
(and locked up his brains it seems) against the older boy:

"Gimme back my fifty cents! Gimme back my fifty cents,"
he wouldn't quit demanding--quite loudly, too: "Gimme back
my fifty cents! Gimme back my fifty cents!"

It edged poor Beaky Mixto right off the deep end (after all,
grownups were walking by not all that far from where he was
trying to keep his little crime undercover):

"Gawan!" Beaky Mixto suddenly heard himself
challenging the little boy (chucking over the side
whatever was left of his cool): "Tell anybody you want to!
See if I care," he demanded --heroically--
trying to appear even more outraged than Bobby Decker himself,
at last glorying in his own just rights.

And, well, Beaky Mixto was able to 'glory' in his own just rights
... oh, for approximately about one good puff portion of
a single split second.

That was how long it took for every doubt in the world
to jump back into him again--as soon as Bobby Decker ran off
to indeed tell somebody on him.

Once the little boy was out of sight: "Holly McCarol!"
Beaky Mixto fell right off his feet like a bowling ball balanced
over a couple of match-sticks which had burned up
all of a sudden:

Full of dread
he dropped to that sidewalk there
in front of Mrs. Brakenitch's yard
... the full weight of a zillion second thoughts
weighing over his flattened head:

How could he have let himself get stuck in such an obvious trap?

"It's the heat," he concluded,
lamenting his terribly awful: "Bad luck!"

(Perish the thought he should have to admit
he had only himself to blame.)

Scooting into Mrs. Brakenitch's lawn and off the sidewalk
on which he'd been sitting (since it was too hot
to be sitting on hot pavement for very long on a day like that one),
Beaky Mixto then gingerly slithered over
on his burning bottom
like a perfect snake (or very nearly)
all the way onto the soft grass.

There he sat (sweating salt atop that shock-absorbing grass),
still and quiet, his legs crossed under him
and his brains all twisted into many and many cross-purposes
above him (just waiting for the whole sky to fall on him, maybe):

It certainly wouldn't have surprised him if it did:
"So much bother over fifty cents!"
(Boy did he ever regret now how things had turned out!)

So much so that if Bobby Decker had returned that instant
he would've given him back his lousy dirty coin
and thought himself lucky to be able to wash his hands (of
bullying) once and for all that cheaply and cleanly.

Only, "Now I'm an out-and-out bully for sure," he moaned
(definitely NOT wanting to be one).
But isn't that the way it always is after... "It's too late!"

Regrets, Regrets, Regrets.

Now he would probably have to try to convince
whoever Bobby Decker brought back with him
of the 'fairness' of the whole crooked deal he'd cooked up
--just to cheat Bobby Decker. And,
by how fast Bobby Decker was running,
he'd certainly have to figure out something in a big hurry.

"Holly McCarol!" Suddenly Beaky Mixto was hoping (and hoping
real hard) that it wouldn't be Bobby Decker's older brother
Christopher Decker--Not only was Chris Decker even less
able than his little brother to patiently reason things out,
he was also much meaner and hot-tempered
(and a lot bigger than Beaky Mixto himself)... by a lot!

"I'd forgot about him!" Beaky Mixto was surely doomed
now: "Lost for sure!" Completely... "Gone!"

His spinning head hurt so much
from thinking about the merry-go-round of pains he had hopped on
that for a moment he thought he was going to throw up:

"Is there no hope for me in this whole world?!" he cried.

And, for The Great Master Criminal Beaky Mixto,
the silence that followed his cry was
... certainly the same as dying (no doubt):

"Double Holly Holly McCarol McCarol!! for sure!"
(Only a miracle could have saved him then.)

"Too late! Too late," he repeated to himself over and over
like his last words on earth:

"What am I going to do?"

Already he was starting out with no better a plan than
just a slim hope of stumbling into a miracle
which might somehow get him off the hook...

After a couple of moments more
(riding such stomach-churning thoughts)
it 'dawned' on the criminal mind of Beaky Mixto
that the best thing he could do was to (definitely) NOT
hang around like some dope waiting for
all the bad stuff hanging over his head
to actually drop down on him!

In fact there was even a kind of 'logic' to the idea of
starting out for the sweets shop
where The Strawberry Ice-Cream Dream was waiting for him
... like a last meal on earth
(and out of THERE as quickly as possible):

"Holly McCarol!"

What else could a criminal with absolutely no hope in the world
--like him--
do except try to get away.
(But... get away with even worse things?)

"What a mess!"

Did it matter, anyway? Sooner or later
the Law (and Bobby Decker's big brother)
would catch up with his crime. And then--

"Yes," one way or another
he was bound to have to pay for that strawberry ice-cream cone:
"That's for sure!" So he might as well enjoy it,
and leave the rest of it up to Fate (which, after all,
was something also completely beyond him).

Believing he had so little more to lose
by spending the money he'd stolen,
Beaky Mixto never gave a thought to how much
... much worse trouble he could yet get himself into.

He rose to his feet to try to make his getaway
(feeling just like a weary old man
in spite of the fact that he was, quite understandably,
in 'something' of a hurry)...

  "God help me!" he prayed in earnest now.

And, maybe it was the heat, but, right out of the blue
it suddenly appeared to him as if he had indeed
stumbled upon some sort of miracle:

The Swarm!

Just then (inside Mrs. Brakenitch's always so very well kept yard)
Beaky Mixto noticed a small bush
which looked for all the world like it was shimmering with
a powerful bloom of blue
all over its squashed little lollipop-shape:

It was as if some impossibly bouncy all-blue balloon
had settled around its neatly-trimmed foliage
and was everywhere boiling over like a spectacularly bluish sun
--only in miniature!

Curious to know how such a solitary little bush
might have managed to burst out into
such a tremendous riot of blue blossoms
(especially on a hot day like that one),
Beaky Mixto slowly let himself in deeper
into Mrs. Brakenitch's yard for a closer look.

He hadn't even walked half way to it
before he realized that the shimmering explosion of blue
wind-blown blossoms covering the little bush
was not due to flowers at all
but because that little bush was just wrapped
with a living blob of tiny blue butterflies!

"Wow!" He had never seen butterflies that small.

And there were millions of them: For some reason
oodles and oodles of the tiny blue butterflies
were massed over every last possible square inch
of its wind-tossed branches, its leaves, its twigs and tendrils
... even its trunk right down to its very roots!

Beaky Mixto couldn't bring himself to take his eyes off
the living writhing goop of seething
and tumbling little living wings
which, constantly jockeying for room on the little bush,
trembled and bumped each other's jittery bodies,
their antennae dancing every breeze sweeping over
the whole mob of them like a zillion legs
while they tumbled over one another
--all of their agitated tiny wings opening and closing endlessly!

Their never-ceasing dance was so overwhelming a sight
that it even drew him in closer still
--Small wonder their so vividly blue shimmering
had caught his eye even from as far away as the street.

Suddenly they actually began to take to their wings!

A few at first. But almost immediately the entire little bush
looked like a galaxy pouring out
a never-ending torrent of bluish star dust!

Beaky Mixto took a couple of steps back
from the marvelously moving show in absolute shock
at the suddenness with which so many living wild creatures
were taking wing there that close to him
(however tiny they might be).

Wave after wave of them kept coming off the little bush
until practically every one of the butterflies was in the air,
clumped into a swirling blue dust storm above him
that looked like a blot of sky had quite literally fallen out of the blue
and was going around and around trying to find
a way to patch things up again with the heavens
... all of them flying higher and higher
every time they circled up there!

The blustery plume of butterflies
then began describing a huge circle above him
(from the little bush from which they had just taken off
all the way to where he himself was standing),
as if they had been trying to make up their minds
whether to land again on it or on him!

Around and around they flew back and forth in their great circle
until the whole cloud of tiny fluttering wings slowly started
drawing their grand celestial circle down closer and closer to him
as if every one of the little butterflies had made up its mind
to do so in mid-flight.

It startled Beaky Mixto so much
to find himself the target of so huge a wild gathering
of living animals (after all)
that he was sorely tempted to run away there and then
from the great twisted doughnut of wings
slowly but surely circling and circling down closer and closer to him
with every one of its huge revolutions...

Beaky Mixto had never heard of such a thing as a 'biting' butterfly,
however; and he found in that the courage to stay where he was.

In any case he was very absolutely--definitely--sure
that, come what may, he wanted to see
what the thick swirl of blue butterflies was going to do next.

So, quiet and still, he stood there
under the ever-growing shadow of
that butterfly jet stream above him...

Ever so slowly the tangles of little swirling wings
came closer to him (so many of them that they blocked the sun)
circling, circling down on top of him
like a mute swarm of busybodies
floating down wave after wave of the gentle breeze
... so silently that it was as if Nothingness itself
had been hovering over his head!

  "What an amazing sight," he thought.

It drove every other thought completely from his mind
(Bobby Decker and his coin, and even how hot a day it was
out there, strawberry ice-cream cone and all):

In a few more seconds some of the busy little bugs were
actually starting to land right on him.

But before Beaky Mixto could even think
about whether he ought to brush those tickling little creatures off
... hundreds and hundreds more were already slithering
up and down his arms, legs, forehead, neck (and every other part
of his body covered or not covered by his clothes):

 Their ticklish legs was the weirdest feeling ever!

In a flash his shoulders were bulging with their overly-busy bustle.

Mobs and mobs and mobs more of the hustling living wings-with-legs
were quickly and furiously battling to take over
the bridge of his nose... right in front of his wide-opened eyes!

Still more and more of them were soon playing King-of-The-Hill
on his ears: "Holly McCarol!" And the odd little beings
(so full of life) were utterly fearless, too
... up and down his limbs they ticklishly skated and slid
without a single concern for their personal safety
in their... whatever minds.

Beaky Mixto had to blink--endlessly--just to keep
the slippery little fellows out of his eyes.

And he wasn't left wondering for very long
whether they were all going to land on him, either
... Almost at once practically every one of the tiny blue butterflies
seemed vent on doing exactly that!

Endless and endless numbers of twitching and twirling bugs
scampered across his neck, over his hair,
or tried their many-legged footing on his T-shirt
and short-pants (like unimaginably small elves
playing atop some monstrously huge dinosaur).

Beaky Mixto quickly discovered that he had to breathe
through his nose if he was going to keep them from
dropping right into his mouth:

Not wanting to frighten any away
himself, Beaky Mixto stood very still then
(under that ever-burning sun), without moving a single muscle
while the shower of twinkling blue little butterflies
kept gently landing and landing on him:

There finally came a moment
when he found that he had to spread out his arms like a scarecrow
just to make room for the ones that were being pushed off him
all the time now (just from the lack of available space on his body)
... and which then kept flying around him
endlessly trying to spot some clear(ed) bit of him
upon which to attempt landing again.

By the time every last one of the butterflies had settled on him,
Beaky Mixto had come to the conclusion that
--he had absolutely no idea what (if anything) he ought to do
about this marvelously strange thing happening right on top of him
... and just sweeping him up into it as well!

Maybe the overly-friendly butterflies had mistaken him
for some sort of walking bush, he thought
(reasoning that maybe in butterfly logic
a moving bush might be a much better location than
one that didn't get around much):

He certainly hadn't heard of anything even remotely like this
ever happening to anyone else!

A thought struck him, though: It was quite possible
that these were not only brave butterflies but also very fickle ones
(and would soon turn their backs on him
as quickly as they had turned their backs on the little bush
they had just come from).

From where he was Beaky Mixto could see that
the little bush (now standing all by its lonely out there
in the middle of Mrs. Brakenitch's yard)
was indeed looking very kind-of-blue,
even though it no longer had so much as a single
solitary blue butterfly left anywhere on it...

Yet, however long Beaky Mixto waited,
not one butterfly in the entire flock of frantic little legs
crawling over him like blue molasses-alive
showed any sign that it was wearying of him
and beginning to think about taking off:

    Might they be frightened away, though?

He slowly waved an arm--Just slightly at first (to see
how many would react to that unexpected motion).

A few did. But most of the ones that fell away
were soon back on him again:

Now he could be sure he would really have to holler
and hoop like mad to frighten these odd little bugs off him
... and have them stay away for good.

But it wasn't that uncomfortable an experience really.

And meanwhile he was also discovering just how much he
really enjoyed the way they'd all taken to him...

In fact... being swamped so by all those little butterflies
was almost as if somehow the entire flock of them had
in some unimaginably mysterious way
... fallen in love with him!

And love is something always certain to make
anyone, even a bully-in-the-rough like Beaky Mixto,
happy enough with life
and with the entire world, in fact.

Truth be told, the last thing Beaky Mixto would have wished
(just then) would have been
that the outlandish little butterflies should have cut short
their wonderful visit to him
and flown away never to return again!

So there he stood then,
as quietly and motionless as he could manage it;
even holding his breath in check... so not even his breathing
would scare away any of them.

Emperor of The Butterflies!

"Ah!" In Beaky Mixto's mind
it was as if more sheer raw power had suddenly fallen into his hands
than had ever fallen into the hands of anyone ever before him
(maybe even in the entire history of mankind)
... even if it was only power over so many little toy bugs.

Ever so patiently, Beaky Mixto waited them out
constantly wondering exactly how long they would stick it out
with him, literally... after all, they sure enjoyed
sloshing over his slippery salty skin
(even hoping against hope that they'd stay with him
just a bit and just a bit longer still)...

He even went so far as to
try to think of himself as a kind of living and breathing bush,
too... frozen there under that burning sun sweating salt,
maybe, (but a bush nevertheless).

Not even walking seemed to faze the brave little bugs:
Beaky Mixto took a few careful steps
(naturally never too quickly) and
watched with ever growing fascination
how easily he could leave a blue trail
of 'lost' living butterflies floating behind him.

Long streamers of many, many teeter-tottering tiny wings
floated behind his every step,
made up of the butterflies that didn't seem to
be able to hang on as well as the rest
and so were constantly slipping off him (only to then
start desperately trying to catch up to wherever he went).

All he had to do was wave an arm in any given direction
and thick clumps of the most unbalanced of
the always edge-skating little beings
would break off in that direction by the hundreds and hundreds
(fluttering away in a noiselessly jittery mess of blue wings).

"They probably think my arms are tree branches
swinging with the breeze," he cried, delighted,
hardly able to keep his body from shaking more of them off
just from his sheer joy at that thought!

Beaky Mixto never tired of launching more and more streamers
and streamers of the little living blue wings at (anything)
... in order to watch in ever harder to restrain merriment
as fuzzy-shaped globs of them went out
tumbling madly head-over-heels
almost exactly all the way to
any spot at which he would aim them...

There they would literally disintegrate
out of whatever 'raggedly posy' shape
they had ended up in
(hovering around anything he circled
as they tore away from one another
to immediately begin scrambling back toward him
in a chaotic royal battle of wings
... to start settling on him again and again):

He had to fight hard not to shake with laughter
over the way they always fluttered back to him
"like buggy little babies awkwardly stumbling
toward their mother's call"
(no matter how many times he sent them along their way)...

"They probably figure that the wind is swinging my
'living' tree branches about for fun!" Beaky Mixto thought...

And so good did he become at driving his butterflies
that he had soon convinced himself
there was nothing in this world they wouldn't have done for him
(if he but pushed them into it)...

"Wow!" He 'told' the world
over which he was chucking thick clumps of blue little butterflies:
"If only telling people what to do were as easy!"

(By then almost believing himself absolutely
the greatest butterfly master who had ever lived.)

"Yes!" So skilled was The Great Beaky Mixto
at pushing around his butterflies
that he could leave molten floating halos of trailing little blue wings
lingering around anything he chose to (a pole, say,
or any shrub, a tree or two, the low-hanging bird-feeder,
or the rusty old bird bath... anything at all)
just by walking around it a few times dripping butterflies
(like pixie dust) and then quickly stepping aside.

"Go!..." Commanded Master of Butterflies Beaky Mixto,
proudly sweeping regiment after regiment of
his fiercely faithful winged troops upon the rusty birdbath,
or at the very holey wicker recliner, or
over that everywhere-cracked oversized enamelled toad:

"Off! Off! Off!"

And, "Off," indeed went bunches and bunches of
the giddy blue numberless numbers of them
--all-- like faithful knights
obeying without question their king's every order:

After which they would always parade back to him victorious
over His Majesty Beaky Mixto's every last enemy on earth
--every time--
without fail (not even so much as once):

"Sic'em!" Cried the Leader of All Butterflies Alive (Beaky Mixto)
causing more and more plumes and plumes of
the dizzily blue flying wonders
to sally forth against anything he deemed his enemy
(even the very same little bush
upon which he had found them gathered
before they had come around to taking him up
as their absolute ruler).

And, "Off," flowed airborne battalion after airborne battalion
of the wondrously brave bugs
against whatever he wished them to war...

Wads, wads and wads of them
spiralled off the great and mighty arms of His Majesty Beaky Mixto
(even against the entire world out there,
had he ordered them to): All of them
ready to smite everything standing against Beaky Mixto
which The Emperor of The Butterflies might wish conquered
in Mrs. Brakenitch's yard:

Then... "Brrreee!!!" They would all fly back to him
in a wildly fantastic formation of twitching slaphappy wings
flapping about like little blue flames
... once they had gone out as far as
the force of his push had carried them
--always tumbling and tumbling back to him
in a frantic swirl of true blue wings:

The sense of power bullying that many of his fellow living creatures
gave Beaky Mixto made his head spin!

It was almost like becoming the greatest living force of Nature
in the entire universe--maybe even in most of his neighborhood:

A tornado of little blue wings all by himself
... or even an entire hurricane of butterflies!

No wonder it had him again convinced in no time at all
that becoming a bully might not be as bad an idea as
he had come around to believing just moments before
(so fickle are a little boy's convictions, after all).

The Emperor Beaky's Great Fall!

"Brrreee!!! Brrreee!!!" Went all of his little butterflies
everywhere Beaky Mixto sent them.

Why, even when he spotted Bobby Decker's big brother
(that mere mortal Christopher Decker)
making a bee line straight for him
(a really mean look on his already always nasty-looking face)
... Invincible Butterfly Master Beaky Mixto
never even so much as twitched an eyelash
with the slightest hint of worry (so carried away was he by then
with his buggy sense of power).

With all the cockiness of someone who knows
he is the world's mightiest military leader
(one whose tiniest orders are always instantly obeyed
by the millions), Invincible Master of The Butterflies Beaky Mixto
raised his all-conquering arm (like he'd been holding in it
the most powerful, greatest sword on earth)
... in the direction of poor unsuspecting Christopher Decker,
approaching him in a fury now:

"Get him!" Beaky Mixto commanded his fierce troops of butterflies
with a dramatic sweep of his Great (even if invisible) Sword
toward Christopher Decker: "Forward at once!"

Sending forth before him such a huge plume of butterflies
to destroy his ever-approaching enemy Christopher Decker
(once AND for all) that they seemed to blot out
the very distance between the two of them...

"Crush him!" He ordered, full-voiced
(and full of self-confidence), chucking forth
still more and more clumps and clumps of his terrible
shimmering troops upon The Approaching Enemy.

And, indeed, "Off!" Went marvelous googols and googols
of his true blue soldiers to battle the Evil Black Knight
Sir Christopher Decker on behalf of King Beaky The Good
(while he remained safely behind their sky-darkening charge,
naturally, confidently smiling).

Only, well, apparently, and quite unfortunately for Beaky Mixto,
Bobby Decker's big brother was never even the least
remotely impressed with the military little bugs' knack for
never losing the battles they were pushed into
(and no matter how many of the butterflies there were):

Christopher Decker simply breathed out a single breath's worth
of his own powerful enough breath over the first few
shimmering troops of charging winged knights
which came closest to him... and that was the end
of the much ballyhooed charge of the blue butterflies
right there and then.

"Brrreee!!!" They went: "Brrreee!!! Brrreee!!! Brrreee!!!"

All of them suddenly fluttering away (trembling,
scurrying and scattering off in all possible directions)
to make way for Christopher Decker
like so many dainty ladies-in-waiting bowing out of the way
of the biggest, ugliest ogre alive!

Scattering Beaky Mixto's entire flying army of butterflies before him
as easily as if it had been some piddling small puddle
angrily stumped on by a really heavy foot,
Christopher Decker never even had to slow down
by so much as a single step
his straight-as-an-arrow charge at the suddenly
really and truly shocked and defenseless Beaky Mixto:

"Holly McCarol!" Indeed, so powerful a swath
did Christopher Decker cut through the swirling clouds of
scattering little wings in front of him that
it was like a destroyer slicing through the ocean blue!...

At the end of which charge
Christopher Decker then proceeded to land
... the prettiest little punch you've ever seen
smack on the already pretty stunned
-frozen and dry-docked Beaky Mixto:

"Pow!" It knocked Beaky Mixto right back on the seat of his pants.

And he fell all the way from the sidewalk where he had been standing
just outside Mrs. Brakenitch's always neatly-kept lawn
--right into it--
leaving not so much as a single butterfly still remaining
anywhere on his entire uprooted body:

"Brrreee!!! Brrreee!!!" Went the last couple of handfuls of butterflies
which had held out on his person until that very instant,
scattering every whichway they could
--smack on the punch--
especially most of all away from Bobby Decker's big brother.

Christopher Decker then shoved the palm of his hand
at the shaken up Beaky Mixto (where he sat stunned):
It was all he needed to do for the now very humbled Chief
of Butterflies to understand exactly what it was
that he wanted from him:

Quick as a whip, Beaky Mixto reached into his pocket
(the one with Bobby Decker's coin). And,
perhaps even quicker still, he then placed that very same coin
on the palm of the bigger boy's impatiently flapping hand.

     That was all there was to it, really.

Christopher Decker turned around (on the spot)
and went on his way away from there
without even having said so much as a single word at all.

His little brother Bobby Decker, meanwhile,
who had been standing behind that big brother of his
all this time (unseen by Beaky Mixto until that instant)
... Bobby Decker himself stayed behind just long enough
to tease the overthrown Emperor of The Butterflies
with the coin his big brother had just given back to him--

As well as with the full length of his tongue (which he stuck out
at poor Beaky Mixto where he was all-Deckered out
across Mrs. Brakenitch's neatly groomed grass).

Then he too hurried off (an instant after
Beaky Mixto made a brief jerking motion
... as if he might get up and chase after him).

He really needn't have been concerned about that at all:

Beaky Mixto had not made a threatening move
at Bobby Decker (it was only that just then
Beaky Mixto had finally realized how completely
he'd really gotten it in the end
--any way one looked at it--
having discovered at that moment that he had been sitting on
a quite pointy thorn all this time
without taking notice of it until he had):

The Miracle In The Butterfly Bush.

"Ouch!" He lamented painfully (from both ends of it):

"Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!"

Although he was soon again--in fact, almost immediately--bravely
thinking: "I should have said to him, I should have..."

"... Found the courage to stand up to Bobby Decker's big brother,"
a voice as big as the whole world was suddenly asking him,
"instead of merely pretending to be brave
behind all those little blue butterflies?"

"Well," Beaky Mixto reconsidered things: "Maybe
I could have made Christopher Decker see--"

"... That you'd taken his little brother's coin from him fairly?"
The very big voice again butted in. And this time
it actually made Beaky Mixto think a little better of it.

Maybe if he hadn't pushed around Bobby Decker the way he had
he might feel better about himself now
... in some way, any whatever way.

"Ouch!" A huge figure was suddenly
standing almost right on top of him:

"Holly McCarol!"

(And Beaky Mixto was certainly relieved to find that
it was only his Uncle Dan standing there.)

"I've been watching you from the other side
of the street," his uncle warned him.

"I've learned my lesson," Beaky Mixto
quickly tried to excuse himself.

But, "People who don't control themselves
are merely handing control of themselves over to others,
you know," his uncle told him (apparently unconvinced
that he should accept Beaky Mixto's excuses).
Then he reminded his nephew how overdue he was at home.

"Double Ouch!" (By then Beaky Mixto's thoughts were
out in left field somewhere.) "Triple Ouch!"
If Beaky also counted that painfully sharp
thorn he'd been sitting on...

"No one escapes this rule," his uncle was still
trying to reach him (with a long ball):
"Not you, I, the President of The United States..."

But Beaky Mixto's uncle was just talking to himself now:
Beaky's attention had drifted away again
--this time right out of the ball park altogether...

"Not Caesar or Alexander, Stalin or
Saddam Hussein," his uncle finished saying
--although he could see it was doing Beaky Mixto
no good at all: "Not even Queen Victoria, who by every account
always managed to control herself very nicely..."

Uncle Dan gave up then and hit the showers
--He had better things to do than stand there talking to himself:
His entire effort just left Beaky Mixto wondering what in the world
his uncle could have possibly been pitching there...

For, "Holly McCarol!" At least
as far as Beaky Mixto was concerned
... it sure was hard to get a fix on exactly what it was
that grownups were trying to get at!

In any case, his overtaxed brain was already wandering off again.
This time to
--Where could his once so proud army of butterflies have gone?

Turning right and left, Beaky Mixto discovered that
practically all of them had made their way back to
the same little bush upon which he had originally found them:

"Holly McCarol!" There they all were now
shaking and trembling as ever:

A marvelously shimmering tide of, "little blue cowards all,"
(he thought, somehow feeling a bit betrayed):
"It sure doesn't take much to be leader of those troops!"

And, "Holly McCarol!" All those little blue fellow-bullies of his
were even less brave than he was!

(To have been leader of that bunch certainly hadn't gained him much
... outside of one beautiful shiner, of course.)

"I wonder if Napoleon felt like this," wondered Beaky Mixto,
"after Waterloo. Oh, well," (everybody always had told him
how cowardly bullies were).

But, where had Uncle Dan disappeared to?

Beaky Mixto turned around and
--it was as if his uncle had vanished in a puff of smoke
right off the face of the earth:

Sitting on that lawn then, his pride hurting a lot worse than his shiner
(feeling very much like a perfect fool)... strange to say,
suddenly Beaky Mixto nevertheless found himself actually smiling!

In truth, he was even glad about how it had all turned out.

Overwhelmingly relieved, in fact... that the worse thing
now before him was just a spanking
new shiner (to be nursed at leisure for the next day or so):

"Practically nothing!" He realized, happier AND happier
the more thought he gave to it.

He even jumped to his feet
in a quite suddenly high-spirited hurry to get back home
--Hadn't Uncle Dan mentioned something about
his being overdue there?

He certainly wouldn't want to get punched out like that again
any time soon! But now he could actually laugh about it,
in fact (and did):

If nothing else, "Wow!" Christopher Decker's 'beautiful' little punch
finally seemed to have knocked all lingering notions he might have still had
--of becoming a bully-- clean out of his head:

"Holly McCarol!" If a pretty little punch like that one
(early on in one's life) could cure a person
out of spending the rest of his or her life
looking to get many and many more of them--he reasoned,
brushing the dust off his clothes: "Well, then, who knows..."
Maybe it was worth one pretty good punch in the first place
to save nine really ugly ones later on!

And then... "Brrreee!!! Brrreee!!! Brrreee!!!"
Went all the little blue butterflies suddenly
... the millions and millions of them--to a one:

"Brrreee!! Brrreee!!!" The instant Beaky Mixto took off
running (to get home) themselves taken up with the sheer joy of
returning again to whatever happier world they had come from
(now that they had done all they could
for the soul of one little boy... in this one).