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The adventures of Chuckle Bear and Vincent (Part Two)

Illustration by Marushka Stipinovich

When her grandson was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Denise Murray decided to write bedside stories to help him cope with the illness. Here, she shares the short stories.

Chuckle Bear and the Supermarket Story

Of all the things Chuckle loved to do with Vincent, it was go shopping – especially to the supermarket.

Trolleys would be whizzing around the aisles. He would pass all sorts of wonderful things to eat and drink, plus toys and clothes and books, and wish that he could reach out and take them. But Vincent held on to him too fast – he could never reach anything.

Sometimes Chuckle would get a bit naughty. He would whisper in Vincent’s ear and tell him to ask his mom to buy all the things that aren’t good for children… too many sweets, cold drinks with additives and colorants in them that can make you sick in funny ways; or expensive toys that he knew he really wouldn’t play with for very long (especially as Chuckle knew that Vincent is a creative boy who can make up his own imaginative games and activities).  

On these occasions, Vincent would whine because his mom was saying “no”, and then, seeing the worried look on mom’s face, Chuckle would realise that he’d gone too far, and would change back to being his very good and caring self again. Even a bear will be naughty sometimes. 

As I said, trips to the supermarket were always fun, until one fateful day. 

As Vincent was being wheeled around in the trolley, he and Chuckle weren’t holding on to one another as fast as they usually did. Chuckle slipped out from under Vincent’s arm and fell into the aisle just under the shelf of baked beans. The fall knocked his breath out so badly that he couldn’t call for help until Vincent and his mom were too far down the aisle to hear him.

It was dark and dusty under the baked bean shelf. Chuckle began to sneeze and wheeze. Above all, he was frightened that he would never be found again.  He was truly sorry that he hadn’t held on to Vincent as fast as he should have done.

He tried to wriggle out where he could be seen, but it just didn’t work. He lay there stiff with fright, watching all the trolley wheels and feet moving past him. All he wanted to see was Vincent’s familiar shoes and everything would be alright again.

Chuckle was in a bad situation, but he had faith in his heart that he would be rescued and reunited with Vincent again. After all, he was a brave bear and he belonged to a winner named Vincent. Everything would be alright! 

Meanwhile, in the biscuit aisle, Vincent was trying to decide between Iced Zoo and Jolly Jammers for his school lunch box when he suddenly realised that Chuckle was missing. He went pale and took a big breath in fright. 

“Mom’, he shouted, ‘Chuckle’s gone!’

Quickly they spun their trolley around, leaving the biscuits behind, and raced back the way they’d come, looking for Chuckle.  But he was nowhere to be seen. 

Up and down they went, asking everyone if they’d seen a handsome purple bear. Nobody had! 

And then the supermarket manager came to their rescue. “Nobody leaves this shop till the purple bear is found,” he said. And so everyone stopped their shopping. The tills closed. And everyone in the store joined in the search for Chuckle. 

It took nearly an hour of poking through the cabbages and carrots, looking beneath the frozen fish boxes, moving all the toilet rolls, checking behind the toothpastes and soaps and shampoos, and storming the toy section, before Chuckle was found.  

A cleaner had been told to mop under all the shelves in case the purple bear had accidentally been kicked out of sight, and Chuckle managed to grab the mop as it swept past him, tight enough to be pulled clear of the baked beans and back into sight.

“I have the bear,” she sang out. 

And as she held Chuckle high for all to see, a huge cheer went up through the supermarket.

Quickly, Chuckle and Vincent were heart-to-heart again. The tills re-opened, ringing cheerfully as people paid for their groceries. The supermarket manager was smiling from ear to ear. The cleaner was the heroine of the day. And Vincent, Chuckle and mom finished their shopping – buying both Iced Zoo and Jolly Jammers to celebrate Chuckle being found.  

Soon they were driving home, singing along the way. Another Chuckle Bear adventure had finished with a happy ending.

***

Chuckle Bear Gets Lost in Lesotho

It all started off with great excitement. Vincent and Chuckle were going to Lesotho to go skiing with Vincent’s dad. Chuckle was looking forward to being in the snow again as he hadn’t seen any since he left New Zealand. 

Sure enough, as they got there, Chuckle could see that the ground was white, and he could feel the icy crispness of it before he even got out of the car. 

That night there was a huge storm, and it was freezing cold. Chuckle and Vincent huddled together in bed as the wind and snow raged outside.

The next morning, everybody came out of their rooms onto the balcony to get warm in the sun which was shining again. It was so crowded that Chuckle couldn’t find space so he went for the next best spot – the boot lid of a car that was parked next to the balcony. 

He got so warm and comfortable that soon he fell asleep. He was so fast asleep that he didn’t hear the owners get into their car and start up the engine. Next thing he was bouncing along on the slippery surface as the car gathered speed on the bumpy road. 

Then it hit a sharp corner. And woooosh, Chuckle slid right off onto the roadside.

Covered in mud from the melting snow, he picked himself up and realised just how far he was from the ski lodge. He began to walk back, but before he got very far a familiar car drove past him with Vincent and his dad inside. 

Worse than being splashed with even more mud, they didn’t see him!

Chuckle wanted to sit down right there and cry. He was scared and lonely and realised that he might never see Vincent again.

There was nothing left but to keep walking. He was getting more and more tired when he met a boy herding his family’s donkeys and goats. Chuckle managed to get a hold on the long hair of one of the goats and pretty soon he found himself in the kraal with the animals for the night.

The goats told Chuckle that they were being sold to a farmer in the Free State and a truck would come for them the next day. If he wanted to get out of Lesotho they advised him to get onto the truck with them. 

Hiding under the shaggy coat of one of the goats, Chuckle was smuggled onto the truck without the driver seeing him, and the long journey to the Free State began. 

That night, after being unloaded, Chuckle again spent the night in a new bigger kraal with even more goats. He told them that his home was in Balgowan, and asked them if they knew where it was. None of them had even heard of Balgowan. But the cows in a nearby paddock told him that they knew there was a railway line in the valley and perhaps the trains that ran along it might go to Balgowan. 

Chuckle felt his hopes rising. And first thing in the morning he set out to find the track. But what he didn’t know was that there were thick forests on all sides and he would have to find his way through them. 

Time after time he went in circles, getting more and more frightened. Every so often a human would come walking along the overgrown pathway, and Chuckle (because he was so scared himself) would leap out and give them the fright of their lives.  

They had never seen a purple bear before and some of them even ran off screaming. Having this little bit of fun made Chuckle feel much better, and in a better mood he soon found the railway line. 

Once there, he waited and waited and waited, keeping his ear to the rails to hear the vibration of any train that might be coming. 

The first one came. But it was going so fast that Chuckle couldn’t sprint alongside to jump on. The second one came, travelling just as fast.  And the third one too. Now it was dark.  Chuckle was SO tired.  He leaned his head on the rail to rest, and then he heard the humming in the rail and saw the engine light in the distance. 

Because it was night, this train was going much more slowly, and running as fast as his little bear legs would carry him, he jumped onto the steps and into the carriage.

There he fell fast asleep. He was exhausted.

As the sun started peeping over the hills next morning, Chuckle positioned himself so he could see the station name signs. When would the train get to Balgowan, he wondered? 

He didn’t have to wonder for long because suddenly he saw B A L G O W A N pass before his eyes in a flash. The train wasn’t stopping there. And it didn’t until it reached Pietermaritzburg. Chuckle still wasn’t home and he was missing Vincent terribly.

Creeping out of the carriage, he crossed the tracks and peered over a wall.  There, on the other side of the road, he saw a shop named Ekerold Yamaha. Chuckle decided to go in. 

The sight of this very filthy bear made the shop manager want to burst out laughing. But he managed to keep a straight face as Chuckle asked him if he perhaps knew a boy named Vincent. Well, it so happened that the man did know him, because Vincent’s dad had bought Vincent a junior motorbike from his shop.

He asked Chuckle to wait whilst he tried to find the phone number. It wasn’t long before Vincent’s dad was on the line, very relieved to hear that Chuckle wasn’t lost any more. But they agreed that he would only be picked up the next day so that Chuckle could be sent to the laundry to be cleaned up and made as good as new again.  

This was done, and the next day a very handsome, fluffy coated and bright-eyed bear was safe in the arms of his beloved Vincent again. 

What a happy ending it was to a great and unexpected adventure. But not one that Chuckle wants to repeat too quickly. DM/ML

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