Frankie wanted to be a Record Breaker. The question was, what could he do well?
Jim was chewing bubblegum.
Frankie watched him. “I bet I could blow a bigger bubble than you.”
“How big?” Jim asked.
“As big as a dog’s house.”
“Which dog’s house?” Jim asked Frankie.
“Stinker’s house!” Frankie said without thinking. Stinker was an Irish Wolfhound. His kennel was a small garden shed.
“Gosh, we will need to buy more gum.” Jim emptied his pockets. “I have two euros and five cents.”
Frankie smiled. “I have one euro and ninety cents. That will buy us a mountain of bubble gum.”
It did. They emptied the bags of bubble gum out into a tray and sat looking at it.
“It’s an awful lot of gum to get in your mouth. It sounds impossible.” Jim said.
“Nope, a dare is a dare and I’m going to do it.” Frankie said. His mum called him to come in for his tea. “Here, Jim we will do this tomorrow after school. You take half home and I will take half home.”
“Yes don’t tell our mums. They will muck up our chance of setting a new World record.’
Next morning Frankie woke up feeling good. The feeling didn’t last long, because he remembered it was “Test” day. Mr. Woods loved giving third class tests.
He met Jim at the school gate. “After years and years of teaching,“ Frankie said, “he should know I’m not going to be turned into a genius overnight.”
“I’ve been practicing blowing bubbles, look!” Jim blew a tiny bubble. The bubble collapsed sticking to his face. Jim was scraping bits of gum off his face as he followed Frankie inside.
Mr. Woods said, “This is a true or false test.”
Frankie wasn’t listening. He yanked a piece of gum from his pocket, then another. It was tough to chew with one squishy gum and one crunchy one in his mouth. But Frankie kept chewing.
Mr. Woods noticed how peculiar Frankie looked. He said, “No need to be so upset Frankie. It is just a test.” As Mr. Woods watched, Frankie’s cheeks bulged horribly and his mouth seemed to turn sideways. Mr. Woods hoped Frankie wasn’t going to be sick.
Frankie loved the strawberry flavour. He wondered how big the bubble would be.
Jim nudged Frankie with his elbow and whispered, “Tick something off or you’ll be in trouble.”
Frankie did. He didn’t look at what he was ticking. He put the third whopper into his mouth. Mr. Woods was busy correcting last night’s homework.
‘It’s now or never, ‘ Frankie decided as he took a deep breath and began to blow.
At first it was tough going but once he got started the bubble grew with ease. The bubble delighted to have escaped the warm clammy depth of Frankie’s mouth grew as big as a tennis ball.
Wow! Frankie hoped nobody noticed. He waited for it to burst but the bubble kept growing.
Frankie was proud. He was actually doing something amazing. He tried to open his mouth. He couldn’t. The gum was stuck to his teeth!
The bubble floated upwards, tugging Frankie out of his chair.
Frankie tucked his knees up and bobbed over Jim who had his eyes shut. Jim was muttering “Ibble , Obble , Chocolate bobble,” to decide which box he should tick.
Frankie floated over Peter who was busy tying Louise’s pigtails together. The rest of third class was busy ticking or rubbing out their answers. Frankie was too surprised to consider if he should be happy or angry with his friends for not noticing.
A small boy entered the room and left the door open. Frankie sailed out into the corridor.
‘It isn’t so bad,’ he thought, ‘if I could get it out of my mouth.’ Using his right hand Frankie tried to pry the gum from his teeth. It worked. But he discovered the gum was stuck to his hand.
He was at the school gates floating towards the lollipop lady. He waved, but she didn’t see him.
The only thing she could see was the giant bubble coming at her. She stood terrified staring at it. Frankie saw the large stop sign fall slowly from her hand.
The bubble swooped low. “Squelch.” It ate her stop sign and rose high in the sky. They were followed by a grumbling lollipop lady. Her sign was floating happily inside the bubble.
A blackbird stopped for a rest on Frankie’s head.
“Get off” Frankie shook his head. The bird, with a loud squawk flew on, straight into the bubble. It landed on the lollipop stick where it took a nap.
They flew close to a man who was eating some pizza. Frankie loved pizza, in particular pepperoni. The bubble flew low. Frankie was ready. He reached out and grasped the pizza just before the bubble could get it.
‘You are not getting this,’ he thought. But the bubble bent towards Frankie neatly enfolding most of the pizza and pulled it inside the bubble.
Frankie watched the pizza spin like a frisbee around the lollipop stick. The sleeping bird was perched on top of the stick.
The man on the ground began to chase them waving his fist in the air.
They were moving away on a warm current of air. Ahead of them he could see his mum going indoors. He wished they were closer. If anyone could stop this stupid bubble in its tracks, it was his mum.
The bubble sank close to the clothes flaping on the line. The bubble gave his Dad’s best shirt a fierce hug. Galoop! In it went.
They darted away. Down below they could see Mr. Dunne walking his dog Penny. Before Frankie could shout out a warning to them, swish. In went a barking Penny. She landed on the spinning pizza and began to lick the topping from it.
“Hoi,“ shouted Mr. Dunne, in surprise. “Bring her back. You can’t dognap her like that. You hoodlum bubble.” Mr. Dunne ran behind the lollipop lady and the angry pizza man.
Frankie decided enough was enough. He had to think of a way of stopping this hungry bubble. Obviously grown-ups were not going to be much help. He shut his eyes and thought of different ways of landing.
Frankie noticed most of the boys from third class were in the park playing football.
Frankie tried to move the bubble close to them. He wriggled his body and feet. Nothing happened. So he tried using his free hand. Flapping it up and down very fast, Frankie began to spin. After twenty circles and with a very buzzy head Frankie stopped. The bubble didn’t. It was spinning and bouncing along, dipping and diving towards the ground.
Then with a loud, ‘snap,’ it gobbled up the flying football.
“Hey” shouted the boys. “You, come back with our ball.” They began to chase the bubble.
Frankie was staring at the amazing sight within the bubble.
The lollipop stick was wearing his Dad’s best shirt.
The bird was happily hovering above it.
Penny was curled up on the pizza asleep. The football was doing nonstop laps of the bubble.
Shouts from below made Frankie glanced down to see the Lollipop lady had dropped back into third place behind the pizza man and Mr. Dunne. Third class, thundered past into first place yelling, “Geronimo!”
“Don’t worry we’ll catch it!” shouted Jim and Ronan, the leaders of the group. They made the mistake of looking back at the grownups. There was an enormous splash as they led the rest of the boys straight into the pond.
Frankie laughed. It was funny watching his friends splash around amongst the ducks and water. The three exhausted adults collapsed on to a park bench.
The bubble was getting tired. It became dented and misshapen. As it lost its spectacular round shape it began to sway and zig zag downwards. Frankie waited until the bubble came close to the ground. Prising his hand free he fell to the ground. He rolled along the grass. He stopped by the railings. With a loud pop, bubble gum flew everywhere.
The Lollipop stick dropped to the ground.
The bird flew away with a grateful cry.
The pizza, Penny and the football landed on a great blob of bubble gum. Penny, he saw was a little pink and sticky.
Frankie’s friends rushed up to him.
“Did you see it Frankie? What was it? Where did it come from? How did it come down? Who was the fella who was holding it? Was it an alien? All I could see were his legs?”
The adults were trying to remove bubble gum from the sign and Penny.
“It was really exciting,“ Frankie said. “I was flying with the bubble. It was great!”
But nobody believed him no matter how hard he tried to explain. When they were on their way home Jim said, “Frankie, you’re in trouble because you left class without permission.” Jim smiled. “But you got every question right in the test. How did you do that?” He shook his head in admiration. “I got most of them wrong. Lucky you.”
Frankie grinned and tried to explain about the bubble. “The giant mad eating bubble was made by me. I…”
Jim said, “Frankie, you are not only the greatest bubble blower in the universe but you are the greatest dreamer.”
Frankie wondered if anyone would ever believe him. Splitting his last piece of gum with Jim he walked all the way home without blowing one single bubble.