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The Young Man from Proviso and His Monkey Friends Meet the Hamburglar

First draft, first chapter, of a children’s book I’m writing.

There was a young man from Proviso, California. He was a kind young man, and a smart young man, and he had three monkey friends: Provo, Rebozo, and Lobo. 

Provo, Rebozo, and Lobo were magical monkeys who could shrink down so small you could barely see them, or grow to full size, or anything in-between. Provo was pink, Rebozo was blue, and Lobo was purple. They wore fancy three-piece custom-tailored suits in bold colors that complemented and contrasted with the color of their fur. Pink Provo, for example, wore a blue suit with bright yellow piping on the collar and shiny green buttons.

The three monkeys resided inside magical bubbles, which could grow very big or very small, just as each monkey desired. The three bubbles were generally to be found in the top pocket of the Young Man’s excellent tweed jacket. To keep the bubbles from flying away, and protect the monkeys from prying hands, the top pocket of the Young Man’s excellent tweed jacket closed with a zipper, plus a button, plus three snaps. Nobody could open the pocket except the Young Man himself, and the monkeys, of course.

Now, Proviso, California, where the Young Man and his three monkeys hailed from, is a lovely place. But this Young Man had a yearning for adventure. So he left California and set out for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which he had always been told was a magical city of hills, rivers, and bridges.

And so it was that on a fine Spring day, the Young Man found himself strolling delightedly across a big yellow bridge that spanned a river between the South Hills of Pittsburgh and the old downtown business district.

And so delighted was this Young Man with the conversation he and his monkeys were having—for the monkeys’ voices were magical voices that the Young Man could hear even when the monkeys were at their smallest, and inside their bubbles, and securely snapped away in his top pocket—

So enraptured in conversation were the four friends, that they failed to notice as a stranger approached them from the opposite side of the river.

The stranger wore a black mask over his eyes, and a black cape on his back, and his black-and-white, horizontally striped shirt proclaimed that he was a criminal.

He was, in fact, the Hamburglar, who had recently escaped from McDonald’s restaurant, and as he came up to meet the Young Man and his pocket friends, he pulled a large blue blunderbuss from the lining of his cloak, and jabbed it against the Young Man’s ribs.

Now, a blunderbuss is a big old-fashioned weapon, and that jab in the ribs informed the Young Man that the Hamburglar was not a well-meaning person.

“This is a stick-up! Give me all your money,” the Hamburglar shouted.

The Young Man fumbled to open his top pocket, and the robber, seeing this, relaxed and smiled. The robber thought the Young Man must keep a wallet in that pocket, and he imagined that he would soon grab that wallet and be off.

But instead of a wallet, three tiny bubbles floated out of the Young Man’s pocket and hovered in the air between the Young Man and the robber. As the Hamburglar watched in baffled amazement, the three bubbles grew larger and larger and settled down on the ground where they popped open, revealing the three colorful monkeys in their equally colorful suits.

“These are my friends, Provo, Rebozo, and Lobo,” said the Young Man.

“Never mind all that, give me your money,” cried the robber, who was beginning to become confused by the situation.

“Certainly, certainly,” said the Young Man, “but first, may I ask you a question? Why do you dress like a robber and carry a blunderbuss? Why do you try to take other people’s money?”

The robber thought a moment. “I have no other skills except waving a blunderbuss and acting scary,” he explained.

“Well, what if we could change that?” the Young Man asked. “What if we could help you get skills and be a magical scientist, like we are?”

“I would like that very much,” said the robber, and to demonstrate his sincerity, he tossed the blunderbuss over the side of the bridge, letting it sink to the bottom of the river where it would never hurt anyone and never be seen again.

And with that, the three monkeys and the Young Man smiled, pulled thin white wands from their pockets, and waved the wands in unison, creating four small circles in the air. 

The Hamburglar looked down and found that he was now wearing a clean white lab coat. In the top pocket of his lab coat there were some small medical and magical instruments whose use he did not know but would soon learn. And on the top of the pocket, his name had been stitched. It read “Professor Hamilton Burglar.”

Everyone smiled, and then they heard the wail of an approaching police siren. Professor Burglar looked afraid when he heard that sound! But his three new monkey friends smiled and waved their wands again, causing a magical bubble of privacy and safety to arise from the tips of their wands and cover the professor completely. The monkeys then waved their own bubbles back into existence, and stepped gently inside them.

Then all four bubbles shrank and rose, gliding through the air and shrinking, always shrinking, until the four bubbles had come to rest in the safety and secrecy of the Young Man’s top pocket.

The Young Man zipped, buttoned, and snapped the pocket, then continued on his walk across the bridge, enjoying the beautiful day. He smiled at the police car as it passed.

Next time, we’ll learn more about Provo, Rebozo, Lobo, and the Young Man, and their new friend Professor Burglar.

By Jeffrey Zeldman

“King of Web Standards”—Bloomberg Businessweek.

Hi! I’m a principal designer at Automattic, Inc. Also: Publisher and founder, A List Apart “for people who make websites.” Publisher and co-founder, A Book Apart—brief books for people who design, write, and code. Co-founder and co-host, An Event Apart UX & front-end conference. Faculty, MFA Interaction Design, School of Visual Arts, NYC. Host, The Big Web Show. Have written two books, notably ”Designing With Web Standards,“ currently in its 3rd Edition, and, on last count, translated into 15 languages and used as a text in 85 universities.