Max nearly eats a Party Magician
Max is a very special 9 year old: he can turn himself into a monster whenever he wants – he just has to BURP.
And he can turn himself back into a small, grubby boy again just by SNEEZING.
Sometimes he burps by mistake, which is a nasty surprise if you happen to be standing next to him in the supermarket. And flowers make Max sneeze, so he often finds himself far from home in just his pants.
It was Saturday and there was no school but Max had a busy day ahead of him.
In the morning, he had promised to help his dad collect as many worms as they could from the garden, then, in the afternoon, he was going to Millie Fortnum-Smythe’s house for a birthday party. Her parents were very rich: so there was going to be a giant cake (probably bright pink, or in the shape of a horse, or both), about a ton of sweets and a magician – Bonkers Bobby Bubbles, to be precise.
‘Remember,’ said his dad as they slowly filled the buckets with muddy worms, ‘no fizzy drinks – they make you burp, and we all know what happens when you burp.’ Yes, I usually have fun, thought Max. Turning into a hairy monster with super strength was a very good way to relax.
‘Why are we doing this?’ asked Max holding up an earthy worm. His dad looked shifty.
‘It’s a secret,’ he said and, before Max could ask anything else, he announced, ‘well, I think we’ve got enough now! I’ll take it from here, you need to get going young man.’
It was his mother’s day for her Pogo-Karate class, so Madame Pinky Ponkey was taking him to the party. She had lived with them since Max was a baby and she was like a granny to him: she made cakes, gave eccentric but surprisingly good advice and she hardly ever went out: so this was a massive treat for both of them. She wore her Special Going Out Hat, which is impossible to describe except to say that apart from the Great Wall of China it’s the only other human-made object visible from space.
Millie’s mum, Mrs Fortnum-Smythe, opened the door.
‘Max!’ she cried, ‘soooo delighted to see you,’ she beamed at Max and then her eyes went sort of wide and very surprised – like she’d just seen a camel in a bikini – at the sight of Madame Pinky Ponkey’s hat. However, Millie’s mum was too well brought up to say anything except, ‘and you must be Max’s granny! Come in and we’ll get you a cup of tea.’
‘Thank you dear,’ said Madame PP, ‘that would be lovely.’ She held up a parcel, ‘I’ve knitted madamoiselle Millie a present,’ she said handing it over. ‘Woolly pants: bit itchy, but you get used to them.’
The party was full of kids from Max’s class and pretty soon he was having a fantastic time with his friends, stuffing his face with cake (very pink, no surprises), doing Ninja jumps from the tree onto the trampoline and … drinking tap water.
‘No, that’s fine,’ said Max politely, to Millie’s dad as everyone guzzled brightly coloured drinks to wash the cake down, ‘fizzy drinks don’t really agree with me.’
‘Me neither,’ said Millie’s dad patting his tummy, which was rather large.
‘Bonkers Bobby Bubbles is here!’ someone shouted before Max had to think up a polite reply.
‘Goooooooood afterballooooooon ….. kiddywinkles and parentypeoples!’
A man with a veiny nose wearing a top hat and a green suit (that definitely could have done with a wash) shuffled onto the stage that Millie’s parents had installed at the end of the garden. There was a pitter patter of polite clapping that faded away quickly.
Then dead silence.
Bonkers Bobby frowned.
‘I said good afternoon all you ‘orrible little monsters and bigger monsters – aka paying customers … I can’t ear you!!’
This time the clapping was a bit louder and a few kids chorused, ‘Good afternoon.’ Someone said ‘Happy Birthday,’ by mistake which caused some nervous giggles.
Max kept quiet. Invisible monster hair on the back of his neck bristled. He didn’t like this man already.
Bonkers Bobby frowned even more but obviously decided it was time to get on with things.
‘Right, for my first trick,’ he rummaged around in a box that had been placed behind him, and pulled out a cage with a startled-looking rabbit inside, ‘I shall make this rabbit disappear from this hat, using this wand,’ he pulled a wand out of his pocket and gave it a flourish as he popped the unhappy rabbit inside his top hat.
Up until now, the audience had been kids in his class and a couple of adults. However, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Madame Pinky Ponkey join the small crowd. Unfortunately, Mr Bubbles the not-very-nice magician, saw her too.
‘Blimey!’ he cried, taking a step back, ‘I thought this was a kids party, no-one said it was fancy dress!’ he pointed at Madame PP who looked surprised at being pointed out.
Everyone turned around and stared at Madame Pinky Ponkey. There were a few titters.
‘Maybe I could use this old dear’s hat for the trick … not sure I could lift it, though, have you got a license for that thing?’ More titters and Bonkers Bobby grinned nastily. He knew when he was on a roll and had a good victim in his sights. Anything for a laugh, in his book.
Poor Madame Pinkey Ponkey had begun to realise she was being made fun of and went bright pink.
Max’s eyes narrowed and he edged towards the table with the fizzy drinks …
‘Have they let you out for the day, deary? It’s alright, we’ll have you safely back at the home later,’ he stuck his hand out and mock-whispered to the audience, ‘locked-up for our safety.’ Madam Pinkey Ponky looked around for somewhere to escape. The kids were laughing but only because they didn’t know what else to do.
That’s it, thought Max and he grabbed the largest bottle of cola and snuck behind the screen.
By now Bonkers Bobby was laughing so hard at his own joke, he didn’t notice Max burp.
However, he did notice when something hairy jumped over the screen and landed with a heavy thud on the stage. Max gave Madame Pinky Ponkey a little wave to reassure her.
‘Oi, oi! who let the dogs out?’
‘Grello, Mr Grajician!’ said Max through a mouthful of teeth the size of sharp swords.
‘Oooh,’ said all the children, then, ‘OOOOHHHHH!’ as Monster Max’s clawed hand shot out, grabbed the wand and ate it.
‘Ah, hahahahahahah!’ said Bonkers Bobby nervously, ‘nice doggy!’
‘And grib me dat!’ Max then snatched the top hat which he put in his mouth. Before he swallowed it, Max spat the rabbit out. The rabbit looked around, blinked, then ran off for freedom in the green fields behind the Fortum-Smythe house.
‘Er, um,’ the magician looked scared, but not half as terrified as when Max ate his trousers.
‘Help!’ he cried running for the car in his grey boxer shorts.
Before he had time to drive off, Monster Max pulled the doors off with his strong monster arms and squashed the roof by jumping up and down on it.
‘Ha ha!’ cried the kids, as Bonkers Bobby Bubbles drove off in a cloud of black smoke, his head sticking out of the roof. ‘Hooray,’ they all clapped, convinced it had all been part of the show as the adults looked on in confusion.
When no-one was looking, Max went behind a hedge where there were some flowers.
‘That’s the best magician show I’ve ever seen,’ said Max’s friend, Tom, as they left together. ‘Cool monster suit, it looked completely real.’
‘What’s this I hear about Millie’s party and the Magician’s trousers being eaten by a small monster?’ His dad asked later that evening, when Max was watching TV. ‘Apparently he’s not going to do children’s parties anymore, and he donated today’s money to the old folks home.’
‘Um, I dunno,’ Max played for time, ‘what did Madame PP say?’
‘She claims she didn’t see anything because she didn’t have her glasses on.’
‘Er, what’s that?’ Max thought it was a good moment to change the subject. He pointed at the sheets of glass with earth in between that his father was carrying.
‘It’s a worm farm,’ said his dad looking far too pleased with himself.
‘What, can they drive tractors and everything?’
‘No, they just make tunnels and wriggle about doing wormy stuff. Then after a bit you change the soil – it’s very good for the garden and it’s good for you to learn to look after something. If you can prove you are responsible you can have a proper pet.’ Max’s eyes lit up.
‘Like a cat?’
‘Yes,’ replied Max’s Mum, coming into the living room carrying her Pongo stick. She smiled at them both, ‘like a cat.’
‘Anyway, as you like animals, we’re going to the zoo.’ It was true, Max loved the zoo.
‘Oh, great, when?’ he asked.
‘Next weekend, if you’re good,’ said his mum.
‘I’m always good,’ said Max.
‘Um,’ said his dad. He looked at Max’s mum. ‘You might want to phone Mrs Fortnum-Smythe.’