Beedoopel patted around the icy packages in the dark of the refrigerator’s top freezer, groping for the popsicle molds until he found them, a layer of frost making them slick. He crawled on top with the six upright popsicle sticks, and pulled on the first one, bracing a foot on each side. It released with a creak and a pop, Beedoopel falling backwards, but hanging on to the stick.
The peemeekado reset his feet and pulled the popsicle by the edges of the dripcatcher until it was up to his head, then licked.
Cherry! Cherry! He sucked on his tongue to get all the flavor and swayed his head to celebrate. He took another lick, then set it back down into the mold. He pulled up the next one, the suction broke with a slurp, and he fell off, landing on an ice tray.
He hopped back on, pulled up the popsicle, and took a lick. Orange! Orange! He opened wide, sealed his lips to the ice, and swirled his tongue around. Orange! To avoid leaving an observable hollow, he raised it high and turned it around, sealing his mouth to the other side and slurping.
Light flooded the freezer. Beedoopel dropped the popsicle back into the mold and back-flipped behind a box of Stouffer’s lasagna, then peered out the side. His little brother, Stingpeesel, held the freezer door open, his head sticking inside. “Beedoop? Beedoop? Where are ya? Beedoop?”
Beedoopel’s brother was a perfect peemeekado, handsome ears taken together as wide as his head, round eyes, and a faultlessly straight, grayish body almost half as tall as the freezer’s opening. Beedoopel sprang up from the lasagna. “Here I am. Here I am.”
“I wanna go to the Grand Canyan.”
“What’s a grancanyan?” asked Beedoopel.
“Big hole. Big, big hole in the ground,” said Stingpeesel. “Geeneeba told me.”
Beedoopel pushed the freezer door further open and dropped to the kitchen floor, Stingpeesel following.
“Are we going? Are we going?” asked Stingpeesel.
Beedoopel led his brother to the crack in the baseboard in the den and squeezed in. “What’s special about a hole?”
“Big hole. Big, big hole.”
“I want to see Niagra Falls,” said Beedoopel. “Ride a barrel to the bottom.”
“C’mon,” said Stingpeesel. “Let’s find the Grand Canyon. Or the ocean. Or the end of the world. Or Disneyland! C’mon. C’mon.”
“Why not Niagra Falls?” said Beedoopel.
Stingpeesel shrugged. “Geeneeba says the whole world fits into the Grand Canyon. And she says it was beeyooteeful!”
Beedoopel grabbed his outdoor hat made from brown construction paper. It looked like the ones worn by the Amish on TV. Seeing him put it on, Stingpeesel clenched his fists in front of him, smiled and shuddered.
“Yes,” said Beedoopel. “Let’s look for it. We’ll go to Niagra Falls next time.”
Inside the walls they climbed over a squirrels nest to get to an opening by the telephone wire, then ran along the wire up to the pole.
“How will we find it? How will we find it?” asked Stingpeesel.
“We’ll run the highest lines,” said Beedoopel. “Best place to see anything.”
Stingpeesel clapped and did a cartwheel on the telephone wire, then followed Beedoopel up a pole to the power lines. They ran the lines, pole-to-pole, tagging the insulators as they hopped over them, wending their way to a substation, down the distribution line, across the grid, up onto the transmission lines, going higher and higher, scaring off whole flocks of birds, hopping over a few stubborn starlings. The world dropped away from them, the business section of town below on one side and the forest on the other.
Beedoopel finally slowed down and dropped his rear end on the wire, feet dangling. Stingpeesel sat next to him.
“Big world,” said Beedoopel.
“Yes,” said Stingpeesel. “Big, big world.”
They looked over the side with the forest, most of it meeting up with farmland, but some suburbs and a business park with a lake and a mall next to it. Many, many things Beedoopel’s eyes could not understand. He laughed and pointed. “Cows.” Stingpeesel looked and grinned.
Stingpeesel sprang up on the wire and pointed, bouncing the powerline and making Beedoopel giggle. “Look! Look!” said Stingpeesel. He pointed off to their left just past the end of the forest. “Grand Canyon!”
Beedoopel peered along his finger and saw what his brother indicated. It was a big hole. Giant machines, like mechanical dinosaurs worked away inside it, the men looking smaller than peemeekadoos. “Let’s go see,” he said.
The way was much straighter over land, so they shimmied down the enormous pole and dropped onto the earth. They sped up into a run, covering distance much faster than people would, dodging rocks, stumps, and startled raccoons.
After a while Stingpeesel’s cheeks puffed in and out, so Beedoopel stopped for rest. They laid back on pine needles and wondered at the amazing heights of the trees, talking about the places they’d been, the house family where they lived, and gummy worms until they both dozed.
Stingpeesel screamed, waking Beedoopel out of his sleep. Beedoopel sat bolt upright, and the ground moved all around him. It didn’t move, it was covered with ants. His feet stung as ants crawled over them. “Ah!” He brushed them off. “Stingpee! Where—?” His brother was completely covered with the monsters as he thrashed about on the ground.
“Beedoop! Beedoop! Help! Help! Help!”
Beedoopel leapt upon him and flailed at the ants that covered him. “I got you! I got you!” The ants latched on tight to his brother, not letting go, and more kept swarming, now up Beedoopel’s legs, biting and holding, stinging like fire. He tried to pull them off but Stingpee screamed.
Beedoopel grabbed Stingpeesel’s leg and ran as fast as he could, dragging his brother behind. “I got you! I got you!” Stingpeesel squealed. The ants wouldn’t let go, but Beedoopel outran the swarm. Finally he broke from the woods and charged for the lake, stubbing his toes on stones and scratching himself on thistles. He leaped into the air and landed in the water with a splash.
Keeping hold of his brother’s leg, he reached toward the bottom with his free hand and grabbed the stem of a water weed. Little by little the ants let go until there were none. Beedoopel let go of the stem and thrashed toward land, floating Stingpeesel with him.
On shore they coughed, sputtered and spat. Stingpeesel squabbled and ranted as Beedoopel rubbed his eyes dry. When he opened them he took in the business park, then he rubbed them again in disbelief. Three breathtaking jets of water blew high into the air, higher than the transmission lines, occasionally receding close to the surface then shooting up again.
He shook Stingpeesel’s shoulders and pointed. “Stingpee, look!”
His brother squawked then glanced where he aimed his finger. His eyes went wide. “What is it? What is it?”
Beedoopel smiled. “Niagra Falls!”
They squealed with joy and held hands like two trapeze artists meeting in the air as the water sprayed them into the sky. “I got you! I got you!”