Following the Experts

I’ve read, in several places, that if you are an unknown author (I am), and if you’d like to be noticed (I would), then you write a blog and give out free samples!! I HAVE! Check out “Promised Sample” in this blog.

Additionally, I am publishing (here and now) a very short story based on my Moochie Mockingbird character. This is for one reason…and one reason only…my blog writing and my children’s story writing are not the same. I’d like you to sample my children’s writing. So, would you read my very short Texas tall tale?…here?…and now?…thank you very much.


by Laynie King

“The distance is a long way away,” thought Moochie Mockingbird.  “Not sure where I’m going, either.  Better look for a place to rest.”

Moochie was ready to continue his exploration of Texas.  He’d been to Palo Duro Canyon and Ratcliff Lake and Saragosa.   Someday he’d go down to the Gulf Coast, but not today.

As Moochie settled into the branches of a nearby mesquite tree, he remembered something he’d seen on his way to Pecos.  He’d go back and check on that…first thing in the morning.

Just at dawn, Moochie ate a small beetle and some ants for breakfast.  He had a swallow of water from a puddle and took off into the sky.  His destination was about two hours away.  Looking down from a great height, Moochie saw exactly what he was looking for, off to the east.

Moochie flew in closer to a tall, metal, man-made object that reached far into the sky.  There were a lot of them around, but he decided to pick one that didn’t have humans near it.  He flew in and around the ladder-like structure.  He flew to the very top where he found a flag.  He flew to the middle where he saw a long pipe that went down into the ground.  Parts of this big contraption were going round and round and parts were moving up and down.  It appeared to Moochie as if there had been a little hole in the ground and this ‘whatever-it-was’ was making the hole bigger.  And it was noisy!  Moochie thought this was all very strange.

“I can’t imagine what humans would want with a hole in the ground.  They won’t be able to live down there, I don’t think.  There must be something valuable at the end of that pipe, but I sure don’t know what it is.  And I can’t ask…‘cause I don’t speak human.”  Moochie wasn’t so much confused as bewildered.  He wished there were other animals around.  They might have the answers to his questions.

The mockingbird flew to the shade of a prickly pear cactus.  He ate his fill of little wasps that were flitting in and out of the fruit.  It was getting hot and the sun was very bright.  It reflected off the sandy desert and back into Moochie’s eyes.  He was too smart to exert himself in this West Texas heat.  Just because he was curious didn’t mean he had to be foolish.  Mooch decided to rest a bit.

A couple of hours before sunset, Moochie left the shade.  And just in time!  Off to his right he saw a rodent-like animal.  He thought it was a gopher, but he wasn’t sure.

“Hey, you!” called Moochie.  “Hold up a minute.  I want to talk.”

“Well, this should be interesting,” said the gopher.  “I’ve never talked to a bird before.  Why can I understand you?”

“Oh, it’s just a talent I have.  I can speak every animal language except human.  Anyway, I have a question.  The name’s Moochie, by the way.  What’s yours?”

“Pleased to make your acquaintance.  I’m Gail Gopher.  Full name’s Gail Prairie Pocket Gopher, but that’s bigger than I am.  What’s your question?”

“Well, a few days ago I was flying west and I saw these big tall things sticking up out of the ground here.  I got busy over by Saragosa, and forgot about them for a few days, but I’m here now.  I’ve just got to know what the humans are doing with these things.  Do you know?”

“It’s your lucky day, Moochie.  You’re asking a question about something that’s in my own backyard, so to speak.  These are oil-drilling rigs.  I live underground and every time the humans start drilling, it shakes my burrow nearly to pieces.”

“If humans are drilling for oil, does that mean you have oil in your burrow, too?  Oh, and what’s oil?”  Moochie had finally found something he didn’t know anything about!

Gail laughed, and then answered,  “No, I don’t have oil in my burrow.  The humans have to drill down hundreds of feet to get to the shale that holds the oil.  Oil is a black liquid.  I’m not sure exactly what they do with it, but when it comes up the pipe, it sure does smell.”

“Is that what’s in the air?”

“Sure.  Smells like this all the time.  I can’t imagine that the humans would want this in their houses.  I sure wouldn’t want it in mine.  This is close enough, thank you.  I just don’t know what they
could do with it.  And I never really thought about before you asked.”

Moochie and Gail stood quietly, thinking that they now had more questions than answers.

“Y’all don’t have a clue about that rig, do ya?”

“Who said that?  Where are you?”  Gail Gopher looked around, but couldn’t see anyone with her tiny, beady eyes.  “Come out where we can see you.”

Moochie jumped back quickly.  A big ol’ scorpion appeared right in front of him.  Moochie had seen one before, knew they weren’t edible, and was actually a little scared of it.  “Gail, it’s a scorpion!  Watch out!”

“Oh, I’ll wager that’s Scorpio.  He’s always around here.  Just don’t get him riled up; he’s harmless if you leave him alone.”

“Gail, why are you talking to a mockingbird?  Wait a minute, why am I talking to a mockingbird?  What’s goin’ on?”

Moochie ventured a little closer.  “Well, Gail and I were just wondering what humans do with the oil they drill out of the ground.  Do you know?  Oh, and we can all understand each other, ‘cause I have a talent for language.  When I’m in a group, everybody understands everybody.”

“Okay then!  So, to answer your question.  The humans use the oil for energy and that’s all I know.  Well, I do know there’s a strong smell around here most of the time.  It doesn’t help that there’s oil floating on top of that pond over yonder.”

Scorpio pointed to a rectangular, man-made pond not far from the rig.  Moochie could see the sun reflecting off the oil that floated on top of the water.  It made rainbow colors all over the surface.  As he watched, he saw a small gopher climbing the steep dirt walls that kept the water from draining away.

“Um, Gail, do you let your kids play on the pond walls?”  Moochie was concerned.

“Oh, no!  Never!  I’ll bet that’s Garry; I can’t let that boy out of my sight for a minute.  I told him to not go over there.  Garry!”  Gail shouted out to her son.  “Gar-r-ry!!”

The little gopher didn’t hear his mother.  He continued his trek up the pond wall.

“If I go over there,” said Moochie, “will he listen to me?”

“Probably not.  Garry thinks he’s smart enough to do anything he wants.  He won’t listen.  And I can’t shout loud enough for him to hear me.  If we don’t hurry, he’s going to fall into that stinky water!”

Gail started to worry.  “I’m not going to be fast enough to stop him.  What are we going to do?”

“Scorpio to the rescue!”  And the scorpion took off.  “I’ll just scare him away from the edge.  He’s a bit afraid of me.  It’s our only chance.”  The scorpion ran faster.

“Hurry!  I don’t know what I’ll do if he falls in the water.”

As the scorpion ran toward the pond, he was followed on the ground by Gail and in the air by Moochie.  They’d be there quickly, but not before the scurrying scorpion.

Garry was making his way up the dirt hill.  He’d pretty much forgotten what his mom had said.  He didn’t think once about the water on the other side of the wall.  Just as he was going over the top, Scorpio jumped out.

“Stop right there, boy!”

“What?”  Garry started to back up.  “Why are you talking to me?”

“Because you’re too hard-headed to listen to your mother.  Get away from that pond right this minute or I’ll do more than scare you!”

Garry backed down the hill, away from the scorpion.  His mother called up to him from the flat ground.  “Garry, you get down here this very minute, or I’m gonna tell Scorpio to sting your stubborn tail!”

Moochie laughed… and then tried to pretend he hadn’t.

“Moochie Mockingbird, don’t you laugh when I’m talking to my son!”  Gail was indignant.

As the baby gopher reached flat ground, Moochie said, “I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have.  But you have to admit  that a little sting would have given Garry quite a shock!”

Said Scorpio,  “I wouldn’t have stung him all that hard.”

“Garry, you get back to the burrow and wait for me.  I want to talk to my new friends.”  Gail gave the little gopher a shove in the right direction.  “And don’t you stop anywhere on the way!”

“Thank you for hurrying over here, Scorpio.  Maybe you scared him enough that he won’t go back up, but I wouldn’t count on it.  He’s the orneriest little one I ever had.”

“Moochie, if you hadn’t seen that rascal go toward the pond…well, I don’t know what would have happened.  Thank you for caring.”

“This has certainly been an interesting afternoon!  Here I am, just a prairie pocket gopher talking to a scorpion and a mockingbird as if it were the most natural thing.  Hmm.  I’ll be thinking about this for a while.  Thanks again, hope I’ll see you both later!”  With that, Gail ran back to her burrow to have a few stern words with her son.

Moochie knew he probably wouldn’t be seeing Gail and Garry again.  The gophers wouldn’t be venturing out of the burrow tonight.  And he’d be leaving for parts unknown in the morning.  He turned to speak to Scorpio.

But the scorpion was gone.  Moochie was disappointed.  He really wanted to talk to Scorpio more about oil and drilling and strong smells.  But the arachnid was gone, and so was Moochie’s chance to get more answers.  Well, at least he knew more than he had before.  He supposed that he was just going to have to settle for that.

Maybe someday Moochie would learn human language, and he’d ask them all about big ol’ deep, noisy rigs drilling holes in the West Texas ground.

—The End—

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to your comments.



Filed under The Business of Writing

6 responses to “Following the Experts

  1. Scott Bury

    I like this story. Is it part of a larger arc, with a strong environmental message?
    -Scott, the Big Wolf

    • Scott, the book that’s out on Kindle right now, Palo Duro Panic, has a subtle message about not causing damaging to the environment. (Felicity Fox is very environmentally conscious!) The book “in the works” is about a tornado, so not much you can do about the environment there! However, with the help of the Texas Forest Service, I’ll be writing a Moochie Mockingbir- based book about wildfires. Unfortunately, too many children think about firefighters in the “big red truck, Dalmatian dog” sense, and don’t really know what wildfires can do and how they are fought. This book hasn’t been started yet, since the collaboration was just suggestedtoday. I think the book that I’ll release next is about the Davy Crockett National Forest where Moochie Mockingbird was born. I can put a strong message in that one about saving our forests. Thanks for the idea! Watch for updates!

      • Scott, check my blog tomorrow (Friday) about my new collaboration. I think you’ll find it quite interesting from an environmental standpoint. I think I’ve found a new focus for my books, and I have you to thank for “fueling the fire.”

  2. Scott Bury

    I think you’ve hit something square on here. Congrats!

  3. That is a very clever story there Laynie! I could just imagine it being a really cute animated movie. I think it would make a darling film. The characters are well rounded, and the plot is so cute! All those ones could come to my house, and they would have their own oil rig thing, just two football fields away from us. LOL. Keep up the good work.

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