Authors: Jeff Brown
For the Real Lily
The hills in San Francisco were so steep that all the parked cars looked as if they were going to roll away. Stanley Lambchop was climbing the sidewalk alongside his old friend Thomas Anthony Jeffrey, whom the Lambchops were visiting on their family vacation.
“I can't believe how much has happened since the last time I saw you,” Stanley said to Thomas as they walked with Stanley's parents and brother, Arthur, up the hill. “You had just moved to California, and it was my first time traveling by mail. I hadn't even been flat long enough to get creased!”
Thomas laughed. “I remember opening your envelope. You smelled like egg salad.”
Arthur shook his head. “I told you, Mom: Egg salad and milk in the mail is a bad idea!”
a bad idea,” corrected Stanley's mother, who was a stickler for good grammar. “I didn't want Stanley to go hungry. After all, it was his first time away from home!”
“I remember thinking,
” Stanley went on. “I'd never traveled so far away. And to think, now I've been all over the world.”
“You have had a lot of excitement,” said Thomas. Then he added playfully, “Though you still kind of smell like egg salad.”
“I do not!” cried Stanley, cracking up.
Since the bulletin board over Stanley's bed had fallen and flattened him, he had been to Egypt, Kenya, France, Australia, and lots of other placesâbut there was still something nice about exploring a city like San Francisco with his family and a good friend. Thomas had shown them Haight-Ashbury, where everyone seemed to be wearing tie-dye T-shirts, and taken them on an old-fashioned-looking cable car to Union Square, where people in business suits hurried in and out of skyscrapers. Except for the moment at Fisherman's Wharf when a group of tourists had recognized Stanley and insisted on taking pictures with him, Stanley felt like a regular sightseer. Now they were heading to the Japantown district for dinner.
As they came to the top of the hill, Stanley suddenly heard a scream. He spun around to see a girl in a wheelchair barreling down the middle of the street.
“HELP!” the girl shrieked.
Stanley leaped into action. “Thomas, throw me! Quick!”
“What?” said Thomas, in shock.
But then Arthur stepped up, took Stanley's hands, and launched him into the air like a boomerang.
“Stanley, don't!” his father yelled after him. As the wheelchair zoomed past, Stanley caught the back of it with both arms. His body ballooned backward like a parachute, and the wheelchair slowed.
“I have you!” Stanley reassured the girl.
But then he felt a tug at his back. His father had caught up and grabbed Stanley's shirt.
“Stanley!” Mr. Lambchop gasped. “It's not safe!”
“Dad! Let go!” yelled Stanley. “I have this under control!”
With his father pulling on him, one of Stanley's hands came loose from the back of the wheelchair, and his body swung backward.
“Eek!” screeched Mr. Lambchop. Now they were all in trouble. It was as if Mr. Lambchop were hang gliding behind the speeding wheelchairâand Stanley was the glider.
Now it was Stanley and his father's turn to scream, “HELP!”
Suddenly, the wheelchair came to a halt. Stanley shot over the girl's head, and his father went flying after him.
They landed with a thunk in the open bay of a cargo van, which was parked at the bottom of the hill. The girl rolled up a ramp into the van after them. She appeared to be in perfect control.
“Let's blow this taco stand!” she called to the driver.
Suddenly the doors swung closed, and the van peeled away.
Stanley sat up. The back of the van was bare, except for a complicated-looking set of instruments and television screens on one wall. There were no windowsâjust a slit at the front, through which Stanley could make out the back of the driver's head.
“My name is Lily Fox,” said the girl in the wheelchair. “It's an honor to meet you, Mr. Lambchop. You're a hero of mine.”
“What? Oh, uh, thank you,” stammered Stanley's father.
“Actually, I was talking to Stanley,” said Lily.
All at once, Stanley realized what was happening. “You're kidnapping me!” he blurted. “Just like my friend Oda Nobu's fans kidnapped him when I was in Japan!”