Further adventures in the Amazing Sandbox

Published 8:00 am Thursday, December 10, 2015

PART ONE: The quest begins

Aiden and his cousin Liam were sitting in the middle of the Amazing Sandbox, a very special place for very special people — children with vision and imaginations that have yet to be reined in by the realities of grown-up life. They were on a quest to slay dragons, conquer evil villains, and do the usual things that heroes of the Amazing Sandbox are destined to do. Of course, the one item not on their quest list was the chore of saving any damsels in distress – because, as any five year old boy will attest, “Girls are yucky.”

Their journey began at a narrow, rickety, Popsicle stick bridge that spanned a very wide, but very dry, riverbed. Next to the bridge was a hut emitting the aroma of pocket lint, dirty socks, and unused phone books. Just as the boys started out across the bridge, a troll ran out of the hut, shaking his fists in the air, and acting very troll-like (which is, more or less, not very friendly). The boys knew they were dealing with a troll because he was short, fuzzy headed, and had very large feet. Of course, a lot of creatures match that description, but very few of them wear a name tag that says, “Chuck — Troll in Training.”

“Who are you?” asked Aiden.

“I am Chuck and I am the apprentice, in training — guardian of this bridge. No one may cross. Get back over here.”

This was Chuck’s first day on the job. He had trained on a bridge crossing simulator for seven weeks at Troll Academy and was third in his class with just a 21-percent rating (20 percent is the minimum passing grade for Trolls and other bridge watching personnel).

“No one may cross without first solving the riddle.”

“Okay then,” laughed Liam. “What is the riddle?”

Chuck’s face took on a blank stare, as he tried to recall the riddle of the day (bridge crossing riddles are updated daily, as a security measure). “Come back over here and wait. I’ll be right back.” Chuck ran back into the hut and grabbed his copy of the Big Book of Daily Riddles.

Curiosity got the best of the cousins. They came back to the Troll hut, just to solve the puzzle. Besides, it was the polite thing to do.

Chuck emerged from the hut, opened the stiff pages of his brand new copy of the Big Book, turned to the riddle of the day, and read with his irritatingly squeaky voice, “What is the longest word in the English language?”

“Antidisestablishmentarianism,” answered Aiden – pleased with his kindergarten education.

“No that’s not it,” countered Liam. “It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

“You’re both wrong.” Chuck tried to make the sound of a game show buzzer, but it just sounded like a sneeze, followed by a cough, followed by a burp. “The answer is ‘smiles’ because there is a ‘mile’ between each ‘S.’ You did not solve the riddle. You may not cross my bridge.”

Accepting the answer and consequences of Chuck’s enigma, the duo countered with a two part riddle of their own. Everyone agreed that the boys would abide by the results of Chuck’s answers.

Aiden ran to the apex of the bridge and stopped. “What is this?”

“That is a bridge,” smirked Chuck, pleased with how easy it was to answer the first part of the riddle.

Liam joined his cousin. “What are bridges for?”

“For crossing rivers,” gushed Chuck, overjoyed at the foolish simplicity of the challenge.

“That is correct, Chuck. Excellent job. Keep up the good work,” laughed the boys as they quickly followed Chuck’s instructions, and scampered to the other side.

Having successfully completed their first encounter, the two cousins continued on their quest. Chuck went back to his hut, pleased with his first attempt at bridge guarding.


Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His optimistic “glass full to overflowing” view of life shapes his writing. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. Wilson touts himself as “a dubiously licensed teller of tall tales, sworn to uphold the precept of ‘It’s my story; that’s the way I’m telling it.’” He can be reached at wflw@hotmail.com.