This is George.
He was a good little monkey and always very curious.
Today George and the man with the yellow hat were in Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“George,” said the man, “I’m going to buy our tickets. Please wait here and don’t be too curious.”
George waited like a good little monkey, but soon there was a commotion in the street. Hundreds of people came marching by, cheering and carrying signs. Could it be — a parade? George was curious.
How exciting it was to march in a parade! A man with a scarf tied around his face leaned over and handed George a white mask with a big smile and funny mustache.
“Here,” said the man with the scarf. “Put this on.”
George saw that everyone around him was wearing masks, many of them just like his. Oh boy! A costume party parade! He wondered what they were celebrating.
He wasn’t certain but it sounded like they were chanting, “Dump truck! Dump truck! Dump truck!” George certainly loved trucks! He pumped his fist above his head like everybody else.
Suddenly the parade stopped. People started yelling all sorts of things. Had they finally arrived at the dump truck? George took off his mask and sneaked through the crowd. All he wanted was a peek up front. With this much excitement, it’s not easy for a little monkey to be patient.
As he got to the front of the parade, cans of billowing smoke were landing on the ground. Most of the marchers scooted away from them, but some scurried to pick them up and throw them back at police officers lined up down the street. And look — they all had masks on, too!
What a fun game! George wanted to play.
There were so many cans to pick up and throw. In only a second George had returned three back to the police. Monkeys are very fast.
But then there was a loud BOOM! And then another. People ran in every direction. Something hit George in the chest. OUCH! He coughed and tried to catch his breath. His eyes were stinging.
“Hey!” yelled a police officer who was running toward him.
“Get that little hairy guy!” yelled another police officer who was also running toward him. He did not sound happy.
George was scared. They swung sticks at him but he zigged and he zagged and then he zipped between their legs and ran away through the smoke.
There were sirens and screams coming from every direction. The smoke was thicker now. George raced but did not know where he was going. Was that a helicopter he heard?
CRASH! He ran into two people pouring milk into each other’s eyes. George was curious, but also dizzy and very thirsty. He got back up and continued running.
And then the ground disappeared. He was falling!
Luckily, he landed on a pile of boxes. He had fallen into a garbage stairwell! George spotted a shiny door and dashed inside to get away from all the smoke.
Oh my! George could not believe his eyes. He was in a room filled with ghosts! GHOSTS! Hundreds of figures draped in white sheets with pointy tops, sitting in neat rows.
They had been all been chanting together until the moment George burst into the room. Now they were all looking at him. He stood frozen, his brain racing. It’s not easy for a little monkey to make a decision when he’s faced with so many ghosts.
“Ummm…” said the ghost who was standing behind a podium at the front of the room. He raised an arm and pointed at George.
A shriek rose out of George’s mouth. He spun around and bolted for the door, but the ghosts converged on him.
“Get him!” said one ghost who sounded as if he had a cold.
“Sack him, boys!” said another ghost.
So many ghost hands on him! George struggled ferociously but couldn’t stop them from picking him up and jiggling him every which way.
And then everything went dark….
Cold water slapped George awake. Where was he? There was a single lightbulb above him. He tried to jump up, but — oh no! — he was all tied up!
“You — let me tell you — you made a very, very bad mistake,” said a man with a big orange face and a red baseball cap, pointing at George. A group of ghosts stood behind him. “Believe me, a huge mistake. Big league.”
The man with the orange face turned around toward the ghosts. “Which one of you — still? You don’t — you can take ’em off now. I mean, look, it’s a monkey. Oo oo ah ah, am I right?”
A few of the ghosts reached up and pulled off their pointy tops. Why, they weren’t ghosts at all — just men in costumes! More people wearing masks! George wondered if this was still part of the parade, though he doubted it.
“So which one of yous know him?”
“Me, sir.” A man-ghost stepped forward and took off his costume-top. Oh boy!It was the man with the yellow hat! What was he doing here? “I do.”
“You know this monkey?” asked the man with the orange face. “That’s terrific. It’s time to — look, I want to wrap this up.”
“Ok, sir,” said the man with the yellow hat. He walked slowly toward George, a length of rope hanging from his hand. But why wasn’t he smiling?
“You have to be very vigilant. You’re a great guy — I know many, many great guys, I think you’re one of them, but look, we have people — animals! — coming into our country that are looking to do tremendous harm.”
“I know, sir,” said the man with the yellow hat. He stood over George, wrapping the rope tight around his fists.
“You can’t solve a problem until you solve — oh, you’re gonna thank me,” said the man with the orange face. “Believe me. And you’re gonna be so proud of your country again.”
“Sorry, George,” whispered the man with the yellow hat. “You were just too curious.”
“Sad!” said the man with the orange face.
And then everything went dark again.
Illustrations by Luke Eastman.
Sincerest apologies to H. A. Rey and Margaret Rey.