Children Fiction posted February 7, 2015

This work has reached the exceptional level
A Mango & Bert story

Mango and Ranger Joe

by jmdg1954

At first, Mango lifted her head to listen. Then upon hearing the news, she twisted it to one side, confused. Her floppy beagle ears began to twitch. Did she hear this correctly? She needed to confirm what she thought she just heard so she turned to her friend Slushie.

"Did you hear that? This can't be."

Slushie, a five year-old Brittany spaniel was busy rolling on her back, probably trying to soothe an itch and more than likely didn't hear a thing.

"Slushie! I'm talking to you. Focus. We've got a problem. Follow me."

Mango, a five year-old Beagle started to run through the playground. She just heard some news and couldn't wait to share it with Bert, an eleven year-old Saint Bernard who also happened to be her best friend.

"Hey, Mango. Wait for me. Where we headed?" yelled Slushie as she joined Mango by her side."

"To Bert's house. I have some big news I have to share with him."

"Cool. Can I come to Bert's house too?" Asked Hugo-the-Bear as he plodded alongside the two dogs.

"Sure, Hugo." Mango answered. "Just follow us."

Excited, Hugo stopped and clapped his big paws together. "Yeah, I get to go, I get to go." Then he realized Mango and Slushie never stopped running. "Hey, wait up."

"Only a few blocks to go," Mango said. "We'll be there jiffy-quick."

"I don't know what's going on," said Belinda Bunny, "but it sure looks like you're all having loads of fun, can we come?"

"Sure! The more the merrier."

Belinda, Rafferty Raccoon and Gertrude Goose joined Mango, Hugo and Slushie as they ran to Bert's house.

Soon they all arrived. Mango excitedly ran up the three steps onto Bert's porch and spotted him sound asleep on the porch floor.

"Darn. Why is he asleep? I got this great news to tell him. He's gonna love it!" She put her little paw on his large snout and shook. "Bert? Bert! Are you awake?"

By now everyone else joined Mango on the porch and surrounded Bert.

"Hmph," half awake, Bert pawed at his snout. "Hmm, Mango. What're you doing here? I was just about to get up."

"Yeah, sure you were," said Hugo. "You looked sound asleep to me. In dreamy, dreamland, far away."

"Bert, I gotta tell ya something. I gotta tell all'ya something," Mango said. "I just heard it down at the merry-go-round."

"Heard what?" Slushie asked. "I was there too."

"The news about Ranger Joe. Everyone was talking about it. Sounded pretty serious."

"Hold on a minute, Mango," Bert said, now fully awake. "Before you go and tell me anything about our friend, Ranger Joe, I want you to think about this."

"Yeah, yeah, sure. Okay, I will. But hurry. I'm dying to tell you, all of you."

"Remember, pretend you're in school and this is the test. Think about your answer."

"Okay, Bert. I'm gonna explode if you don't hurry-up." Mango was so excited with this information.

"Are you sure what you are about to tell me is true?" Bert asked. "You've known Ranger Joe a long time. Actually your whole life. He helped your mamma when you and the rest of the litter were born."

"True? Umm. Yeah, of course. No. Well maybe. Actually I just heard it on the playground and wanted to..."

"Bup bup bup!" Bert said, interrupting Mango before she could go any further. "Alrighty. So you, yourself don't know if this information you have is true. You're not really sure."

"No, I guess."

"Okay. Keeping that in mind, is what you are about to tell me of our friend, Ranger Joe, something good? Something good about him or for him?"

"No," Mango said with excitement. "On the contrary, it's more like ...."

"So," Bert interrupted again, putting his large paw on her head. "You want to tell me something bad about our good friend, and you're not sure it's true?"

"Hmph," Some of the excitement had diminished from Mango's eyes and she
wasn't standing as tall as she was moments prior.

"Okay, last question. Are you ready? You may still pass the test."

Mango's excitement rejuvenated at the possibility of being able to relay the information.

"Is what you are about to tell me about our good friend, Ranger Joe, whom you have known for your whole life, and was so important to your family, useful to us in any way?"

"Umm. No, not really." When Mango hung her head in disappointment, Hugo came over and gave her a friendly shove. "It's okay, kid."

"Well then," concluded Bert. "If what you are so excited to tell me about Ranger Joe is not true, and neither good or useful, then, Mango, why tell it at all?"

"Bert's right," interjected Belinda Bunny. "Ranger Joe somehow has helped most of us. In the last big storm we had, he gathered up us bunnies and brought us to his ranger station to stay warm and dry."

"I'm sorry, guys, I guess I should've known better," Mango said. "I feel terrible."

"You didn't do anything wrong," Hugo said. "You got caught up in all the excitement. Your learning."

"That's right, little buddy," said Bert. "You just have to learn to separate truths from rumor."

"Got it, Bert. I guess the lesson here is, don't let a rumor injure a great friendship. It's not worth it."

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