Chester Sparrow’s Trip to Coney Island

Concerning an Extraordinary Journey to the Wildest Nether Regions of Brooklyn, Long Island, with Steadfast Companion Rudy, That was Nearly Aborted Due to Acute Morningitis.

[NB 1: All of the characters in this story are different animals; Rudy is a hedgehog. NB 2: I’m currenty seeking an illustrator for this children’s story. If you’ve got a lead drop me a line!]

Chester Sparrow didn’t like mornings.

Dall-E / OpenAI

When the first rays of sunlight came through his window, he would squeak and hide his head beneath the covers.

When he finally did get out of bed, Chester was sleepy-eyed and clumsy. He wouldn’t even notice if he had put his slippers on the wrong feet. It took several cups of strong bark juice before he was ready to brush his beak and comb his rumpled feathers.

Early one morning, Chester was awakened by a sound at his door.“Knock, knock, knock!” Chester lay very still in his bed and hoped whomever it was would go away and let him get back to dreaming.
“Knock, knock, knock!!!” came the sound again, a bit louder. This time Chester replied, “Please go away, there’s nobody here.”

Dall-E / OpenAI

“Chester, wake up!” someone said from the other side of the door. Chester grumbled and stumbled out of bed. He opened his door to see his friend Rudy standing on his doorstep.
“Good morning!” Rudy said cheerfully. “Are you going to go in your pajamas?”
“Go where?” Chester asked. It was much too early to go anywhere in his opinion.

“To Coney Island, of course—we’ve been planning to go for weeks!”
“Oh yes,” Chester remembered. “But I thought we were to leave at a more civilized hour. And to be honest, I really don’t like going places I haven’t been to before.”
“Why, you’re more fun than a barrel of monkeys,” Rudy teased. Chester yawned.

“Here, let me help you get ready,” Rudy exclaimed as he burst into Chester’s house. “What shoes would you like to wear today?”
“I, err…” Chester started to reply, but Rudy was already rummaging through his wardrobe. Rudy produced Chester’s saddle shoes from the closet. “Now we just need to pick out a snazzy outfit…” he mused.
“I suppose I’ll just go freshen up,” Chester mumbled.

Chester did his usual morning grooming and then put on the knee pants, red shirt, and socks and shoes that Rudy had picked out for him. He was almost starting to feel awake. “Perhaps I’ll be ready to go after a short nap,” he thought. But his friend had other plans.
“Let’s skedaddle,” Rudy said as he shooed Chester out the door of his house. “You can call me lots of things, but don’t call me late for breakfast!”

Rudy took his friend to the Cock-Crow Diner, which was always closed by the time Chester woke up. Inside it was a bustling hive of activity. “Mornin’ Rudy,” the waitress said as they sat down at the counter. “The usual today?”
“Yes, two please.”
“Gimme two specials, and hold the sassafras!” she called to the grumpy cook. In two shakes of a lamb’s tail she set a plate of thin, golden-brown cakes in front of each of them.

Chester was befuddled. He didn’t normally eat breakfast at all. “What are these?” he asked.
“Chester, sometimes I think you have bats in your belfry!” Rudy replied. “Here, watch me.” Rudy put a pat of butter on top of his fluffy stack and then poured some golden maple syrup over it. Chester did the same, and then they each took a bite.
“These are delicious!” they said in unison.

“Pancakes are so good, they should have a song about them,” Chester opined.
“You’re exactly right,” Rudy agreed. “Let’s sing one together!” And then the two friends sang The Pancake Song:

Pancakey, Pan-cake-y
Eat them up, 1-2-3
Flap jack, griddle treat
My favorite things to eat!

When they were done with breakfast, Chester and Rudy left the restaurant and walked to the subway station. They saw many people going about their morning business along the way: children riding bikes to school, shopkeepers sweeping the sidewalk, and a newspaper vendor who called out, “Getcha Daily Post here, hot off the press!” When they got to the subway entrance, they went down the stairs and through a turnstile to get to the underground platform.

A train soon pulled into the station and opened its doors. The conductor said, “This is the train to Coney Island. All aboard!”
Though the train car was crowded, Chester and Rudy found two seats next to each other and sat down. There were sunbathers, gruff old fishermen and even a punk rocker on the train. It was a very interesting ride.

When the train came to its last stop, Chester and Rudy got off. Chester couldn’t believe his eyes as they stepped out of the station into the bright sunshine. Coney Island was a giant amusement park by the seashore!
“Come on Chester, let’s kick up our heels!” Rudy said.

But before they could get very far, the two bumped smack dab into a parade. There were people dressed up like tropical fish, fancy floats that looked like boats, and an old-timey band marching right down the middle of Surf Avenue.
“Hey, what’s this?” they asked a passing pirate.
“Arr, ‘tis the world famous Mermaid Parade, maties!” she answered.
“Arr!” they replied.

Chester and Rudy made their way around the parade and headed toward the boardwalk, which was on the beach. The air smelled salty so close to the ocean. When they got there, they saw an old man pacing back and forth across the sand, hunting for lost treasures.
“Hey mister, what have you found?” they asked.
“Just this old bottle cap,” he said as he held out his hand to show them. “I guess the early bird catches the worm.”
“Sure does!”

A little farther down the boardwalk they came to a building that said “Aquarium” on it. Before Chester had a chance to wonder what that word meant, Rudy disappeared inside.
“Well, I’m not going in there,” Chester thought. “He’s on his own this time,” But soon he started to get lonely. “I guess I should go in and make sure Rudy hasn’t gotten himself into any trouble,” he finally decided.

Chester opened the aquarium’s heavy doors and saw a dark, spooky hallway that resembled a cavern before him. As he crept slowly forward, Chester spotted Rudy standing in front of a long blue window. Some kind of otherworldly creature with a round back, flippers, and a beaked nose hovered quietly above his head.
“Don’t worry, Rudy, I’ll save you from that monster!” Chester cried as he ran to his friend and began tugging at his sleeve.
“Hold your horses, Chester!” Rudy said. “It’s just a sea turtle. An aquarium is like a big fish tank.”
“Oh, of course,” Chester said matter-of-factly. “I just didn’t want you to be afraid.”

“Sea turtles can be quite curious,” a young woman standing beside them said. She was wearing galoshes and a white lab coat. “Don’t worry, I’m an ichthyologist.”
“An icky-theologist?”
“That’s close. It means I study fish,” she answered. She pointed to some of the colorful species swimming busily inside the aquarium. “That’s a parrotfish, and there’s an angelfish, and that funny-looking one is called a monkeyface prickleback.”
“A monkeyface prickleback!” Chester exclaimed. “Well I never!”

Dall-E / OpenAI

After they had seen the many different animals in the aquarium, Chester and Rudy strolled back down the boardwalk looking at the many attractions. A small man wearing a striped vest and a straw hat stood on top of a soapbox outside one storefront. As they passed, he held up a megaphone and announced, “See Dr. Phineas’s Fantastic Flea Circus! Watch in wonder as Mighty Mite and Midge perform feats of strength and derring-do! Admission is just two bits—or only 25 cents for you, kid!”
“That’s a bargain! Two tickets please,” Rudy told the barker.

The lights dimmed as Chester and Rudy took their seats. Soon a spotlight came on and a man wearing a top hat and a coat with long tails stepped into the ring.
“Introducing the Master of Minutiae, Dr. Phineas!” a booming voice said over a loudspeaker.
Dr. Phineas produced a matchbox from his pocket and placed it inside a miniature big top circus in the center of the ring. Suddenly, out jumped two dark specks.

“And now, two tiny termites with a heaping helping of heart, Mighty Mite and Midge!” They watched closely as Mighty Mite pulled a chariot 50 times bigger than himself and Midge walked across a tightrope. For the finale, Dr. Phineas shot the two fleas out of a tiny cannon into a soft bed of cotton balls. The audience gave the performers a standing ovation.

“That was amazing!” Chester said as they exited the show. “But now I’m as hungry as a hippo.”
“I know just the thing,” Rudy said. He led Chester around the corner to a small stand. Rudy walked right up to a big man in an apron who stood behind the counter.
“Two Coney dogs and two egg creams, please,” he said.
“Yes sir, excellent choice,” the man replied.

Soon the man handed a funny-shaped thing on a stick and a bubbly drink to each of the boys.
“I don’t see any dogs or creams,” Chester said. “What are these?”
“Our lunch!” Rudy answered as he took a bite of his corndog. “Mmmm…” he hummed.
Chester didn’t usually eat food on a stick, but he was very hungry, so he bit into the odd-looking snack. Inside a crusty breading was a tasty hot dog! “Mmmm.” Chester said. And his egg cream didn’t taste like eggs at all—it tasted chocolatey! These foods had funny names, but they were delicious.

“Gosh Rudy, I think we’ve done just about everything there is to do in Coney Island,” Chester said when they were done eating.
“Not yet we haven’t,” Rudy said. He led Chester to an archway with “The Cyclone” written in large red letters above it. They bought tickets from a booth beneath the sign and then waited patiently for their turn on the ride. When they got to the front of the line, a shaggy man helped them into their own car on a small train and secured a seatbelt over their laps.
“Are you ready, Chester?”
“I think so,” Chester replied, but he wondered why Rudy was grinning.
Then the man pulled a big handle and the train began to move.

They went around a bend and began to climb slowly up a tall hill made of wooden planks. “Clink, clink, clink, clink,” went the train. As they neared the top, Chester could see all of Coney Island—the beach, the amusements, and the many tiny people on the boardwalk.
“Rudy, I think I can see my tree house from here,” he said as he pointed over the side.
“That’s great,” Rudy said, “but you should probably hold on now.”
“Don’t be silly,” Chester responded, “this ride isn’t moving very fast at all.”
“Chester, The Cyclone isn’t a sightseeing ride—it’s a roller coaster!”

Just then the train plunged down the hill at a breakneck speed. At the bottom, it banked sharply around a corner, smushing Rudy up against Chester in the car.
“Yahoo!” Rudy cried. “Whee!” called the other riders. “Good gravy!” said Chester. Chester’s heart was beating a mile a minute. Everything around them was a blur of shapes and colors. The coaster sped up and down several bumpy hills, through a dark tunnel, and around one last turn. Finally it slowed to a crawl as they pulled back into the same spot from which they’d started.

“Well, what did you think of The Cyclone?” the bushy man asked as he helped them out of the car.
“It … was … awesome!” Chester gushed, his beak still chattering. “That’s the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on!”
“Exactly how many roller coasters have you been on, Chester?” Rudy inquired.
“Just that one!” Chester replied. The three of them shared a good belly laugh together.

“Well, we should be getting home now,” Rudy said at last. Chester was sad to leave Coney Island, but it was starting to get late. So the two friends made their way back to the subway station, back down to the platform, and then took the train all the way back to their station.
“I guess this is where we part ways,” Rudy said at the top of the stairs. “We had quite an adventure today.”
“Yes, we certainly did,” Chester agreed. “Good-bye, Rudy.”
“So long, Chester.”

Chester walked back down the sidewalk past all the buildings in his neighborhood until he arrived at his own quiet block. A big summer moon had risen in the night sky by the time he got back to his treehouse. Just as he was opening his door, he heard a strange sound.
“Yawwwn,” it went, and was followed by a pert “hoot!”
Chester turned around to see Mr. Dimsday perched on a nearby branch.

“Hello Mr. Dimsday,” Chester called out.
“Oh, why good morning, Chester,” Mr. Dimsday replied.
“Morning?” Chester inquired. “But it’s already dark outside!”
Mr. Dimsday checked his pocket watch. “Well, so it is. But you see, I have such a difficult time rising before twilight. And frankly, I just don’t see the point of it.”
“But Mr. Dimsday, there are so many interesting things you can do in the daytime. If you’d wake up early just once you’d see for yourself.”
“Perhaps you’re right, my boy, perhaps you’re right…” Mr. Dimsday said thoughtfully.

And so Chester went into his house, brushed his beak, put away his clothes, and got into his pajamas. Soon he was back in his warm bed, remembering all of the fun things he and Rudy had done that day. As he drifted off to sleep, Chester couldn’t wait to begin discovering the many great things a brand new day had in store for him.