From The Screech Owls' Reunion (#20)
It had been a quiet, uneventful mid-june Sunday at the Lake Tamarack public beach — right up until Muck lost his diaper.
The water was still and bright as a mirror. There were nesting robins by the gravel parking lot, and a pair of loons was calling farther out on the lake. The only ripples had come from Muck's chunky legs as he waded out among the reeds, staring down at the freshwater clams and darting minnows in the surprisingly warm water of what had already been a pleasantly warm spring.
Distracted by the wonders in the water, Muck didn't realize how deep he was getting. The water rose over his knees, then crept up his diaper, the tabs straining until, finally, the soaking diaper simply popped off and began floating out into deeper water.
Muck paid it no heed. Giggling at his newfound, bare-bottomed freedom, he began splashing through the shallow waters, much to the amusement of an older couple who had decided to walk home from church by the path that looped down around the bay and back toward the river mouth at the edge of town.
Naked as the minnows, Muck began screeching with delight and splashing the water all around him until a small, quick rainbow formed almost within reach.
The man and woman applauded."Muck!"
a younger woman's voice broke in. "Where is your diaper?"
Muck looked up, bright blue eyes blinking innocently.
He turned his hands palm out and shrugged helplessly, smiling.
"Gone," he said.
Travis Lindsay had been running for nearly an hour, but it still felt good. He had already run down River Road, across the bridge, up to the Lookout, and back down to the new recreation path that would take him down along the river mouth to the beach. The delicious smells of pin cherry blossoms were in the air and his lungs were greedily reaching for even more.
It was a day to be grateful for life, a day to let your mind go, like the young dog running off in all directions around Travis.
Imoo was a golden retriever. He was one year old, and still far more puppy than fully grown dog - especially in his behaviour. He was also Travis Lindsay's new best friend in the world and constant companion, running with him by day and sleeping with him, usually across Travis's legs, by night.
Travis had named him after the toothless, scrappy, hockey-playing Buddhist monk Travis and his former
best friend in the world, Wayne Nishikawa, had met and befriended in Nagano, Japan. With Nish in goal and Mr. Imoo's famous "force shield" helping protect the Owls' net, the Screech Owls of Tamarack had won the gold medal in hockey's first-ever "Junior Olympics."
Travis never forgot that experience - though that had been such a long, long time ago.
Ten years now.
Excerpted from The Complete Screech Owls, Volume 4 by Roy MacGregor. Copyright © 2005 by Roy MacGregor. Excerpted by permission of Screech Owls, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.