The Gecko and Sticky: The Power Potion is a part of the The Gecko and Sticky collection.
The Gecko & Sticky are a fabulous crime-fighting duo! This quartet of funny adventures will appeal to fans of superheroes both young and old, and would make terrific all-family read-alouds.
Dave Sanchez, crime-fighting courier, has just been handed the scariest package he's ever seen, and it's addressed to none other than the dastardly Damien Black! Dave is well award that he should deliver the package, but when he sees the evil-looking potion inside, he knows he can't. So he comes up with a totally clever ruse to trick the villain and . . . it backfires. Big-time. Soon he's facing off with six-horned goats, terrifying tarantulas, a java-junkie monkey--and, of course, Damien Black!
Don't miss the other Gecko & Sticky Adventures:
1. The Villain's Lair,
2. The Greatest Power,
3. Sinsister Substitute, and
4. The Power Potion.
An Excerpt fromThe Gecko and Sticky: The Power Potion
It began as an ordinary after-school afternoon for Dave Sanchez. He pulled on his red Roadrunner Express sweatshirt, clipped on his bike helmet, and pedaled away from Geronimo Middle School to the sneers and jeers of Lily Espinoza and her sassy, saucygirlfriends. "Hurry, hurry! You don't want to be late, delivery boy." "Have fun couriering packages!" "Don't forget to say please and thank you!" Dave ignored them and pedaled like mad to put distance between him and his alter-life as a dork. This was not just because it's humiliating and intimidating and incredibly infuriating to be sneered at and jeered at by sassy, saucy girls. Oh no. It was also because the behavior of Lily and her friends made it terribly tempting for Dave to throw down his bike and say, OH YEAH? and give away a secret so secret that "top-secret" didn't even begin to describe it. It was more a tippity tip-top secret. A zippity zip-lip secret. A spill-the-beans-and-you'll-lose-everything sort of secret. Fortunately for Dave, he did not spill the beans. Instead, he pushed the pedals. And before long he was downtown, picking up his first delivery envelopes at City Bank. "Here you are!" Ms. Kulee said, handing him three large envelopes. Ms. Kulee had given Dave his start in the business and took real pride in Roadrunner Express's success. "They're all places you've delivered to before," she said as Dave looked over theaddresses. Dave thanked her and started to move away but stopped and pulled from his pocket a pickup request that had come in from a new customer. "Do you know where Moongaze Court is?" Ms. Kulee thought a moment, then shook her head. "But I can look it up for you," she said brightly. "That's all right," Dave said. "I'll just look it up at the gas station." "Are you sure? It'll only take me a minute to punch it into my computer." But Dave, being an impatient thirteen-year-old boy, did not have time to waste on what would surely become ten minutes of unexpected interruptions and "quick" phone calls. Instead, he said, "No, that's okay," and hurried out the door and down the stepsto his bike. Dave, you see, often looked up addresses on a map posted in the office window of a gas station that was located in the old industrial part of the city (a route he took to avoid downtown gridlock). It wasn't so much a gas station as it was an old-fashionedservice station. One with a tired old dog in the office, a soda machine that held glass bottles, and a side lot full of broken-down cars. So, after completing his downtown deliveries, Dave rode over to the service station. Unfortunately, the map posted in the office window was about as old as the axle-greased man who ran the place. "Back again, eh?" the man said as he rubbed his greasy hands on an even greasier red cloth. "Which one's got ya befuddled this time?" Dave glanced away from the map, taking in the old man's oval name patch. His gray shirts were always the same, but the name patches were never the same. Not yet, anyway. Today, the old man was Hal. Last time, he'd been Gary. The time before that, Fred. The time before that, Steve. The time before . . . Well, you get the picture. The point is, there was a body of evidence to support the fact that, despite his consistently axle-greased appearance, the man did, in fact, change his shirt. No, actually, that isn't the point at all. The real point is that the name patch switcheroo was one of the things that drew Dave back to this forlorn service station. It was a sort of curiosity magnet. The other thing was the man himself. He was helpful and friendly and seemed to have enough knowledge to span ten lifetimes. He also wriggled his alarmingly hairy nose when he thought, and seemed to have absolutely no embarrassment about his frequent and flamboyant flatulence (or, if you prefer, firecracker farting). Perhaps he felt it was part of the full-service gas station experience. "I'm looking for Moongaze Court," Dave told him, pointing to the outskirts of town on the map. "I found Moongaze Boulevard, Street, Avenue, Road, Way, and Place . . . but there's no Court." "They do that," the man said. "They keep carvin' up an area and don't have the brains to come up with somethin' creative to name the new streets." He joined Dave's finger on the map's grid with his own, his nose twitching like a rabbit's. "Chances are,it's somewhere thereabouts," he said after a few moments. "That's residential, though. And in Gypsy Town." Dave looked at him. "Gypsy Town? What do you mean?" "Ah, well!" the man said, letting out a battery of butt blasts. "Before the city grew and swallowed everything up, gypsies were said to rule that part of town." He gave Dave a sly grin. "If you'd be wantin' your fortune told or your pocket picked, that'swhere you'd go." "But . . . I've never even heard of that." "People are too polite," the man said with a mighty pop out his backside. "Me, I like to tell it like it is." "But . . . gypsies? Around here? No way." "Ah, sonny," the man said with a gentle shake of the head. "Times may have changed, but the ways carry on." He tapped the glass. "If that's where you're goin', be careful." Still, Dave (being an all-knowing thirteen-year-old) did not believe a word of it. What was a gypsy, anyway? Someone with a lot of scarves and a crystal ball? Someone who could put a curse on you? Who believed that? It was like believing in witches or warlocks, and Dave, you see, did not believe in sorcery of any kind. Which was curious, really, given the nature of his tippity tip-top, zippity zip-lip secret. But still, he did not. And so he simply said thanks to the axle-greased man with the changeable name and pedaled away, barreling blithely toward Gypsy Town.
A Potentially Perilous Situation
Gypsies (or, as many prefer to be known, Romanies) are simply a wandering people who (because they were not welcomed into more established societies) learned to survive by telling fortunes, entertaining, and (yes) swindling. A certain romantic air surroundstheir reputation, as does an uncertain fear. This fear is, in large part, a fear of the foreign, a fear of the unknown. Especially among adults. Now, as Dave left the main road (named, humorously enough, Jackaroo Avenue) and entered the area the axle-greased man with the changeable name had called Gypsy Town, there was a distinct change in scenery. The roads narrowed. The sidewalks disappeared. The houses first shrank, then stacked into multistoried dwellings with business shingles that dangled from first-floor eaves or awnings and said things such as ALTERATIONS, CLOCK REPAIR, ANTIQUES, and FORTUNES. The trees grew larger. Broader. Shadier. The ambient temperature dropped. Slowly. Steadily. Dave, however, did not notice these things. His attention was wholly and solely on the street signs. He'd turned left from Jackaroo Avenue onto Moongaze Boulevard, then left again onto Moongaze Street, and left twice more onto Moongaze Avenue and MoongazeRoad. And now, spotting Moongaze Way, he turned left again. With each new street, Dave questioned whether he'd made the correct turn. But then he'd come upon the next street, where he would again turn (and again wonder if he'd made the correct choice). The road at this point was barely wide enough for a car to drive along, and it was here that Dave started noticing goats. Big, hairy white goats with long, broad horns. To Dave, they looked like billy goats from a storybook. (They were, in fact, mostly nanny goats, but given their sizeable horns and obvious beards, it was an understandable mistake for Dave to make.) And as he rode deeper and deeper into this Moongazemaze, he noticed them grazing on weeds or nibbling at the leaves of shrubs and trees. One was even in a tree. "A goat in a tree?" Dave muttered incredulously (as he did not know that goats are quite good at climbing trees, provided there is at least some slantto the trunk). When Dave came upon Moongaze Place, he turned left (again), and after a short ride past more goats (and now chickens, too), he came to a sign announcing Moongaze Court. Now, this sign wasn't a city-issued green and white metal sign on a tidy metal pole like the rest of the Moongaze signs had been. Oh no. It was crudely carved and nailed to a tree, and its arrow shape was pointing to the (you guessed it) left. Moongaze Court, Dave discovered, was not so much a street as it was a narrow dirt path that led to a beautifully painted and ornately carved vardo. And what, exactly, is a vardo? It's a horse-drawn home. A nomad's dandy domicile, portable pad, and single most prized possession. In short, it's a gypsy wagon. Vardos come in a variety of styles and sizes, and although the one at the end of Moongaze Court was small, it was magnificent. It had a gracefully bowed roof, elaborately scrolled detailing, and quaint, shuttered windows. Like many vardos, this one was brightly painted (the color scheme here being deep violet, forest green, and gold), and it had four gold wagon wheels--two large ones in back and two medium-sized ones up front. Handles (similar to those of a wheelbarrow) rested on the ground, and between these handles was a curved ladder that led to a Dutch door. "Wow," Dave muttered after taking in the scene, "a circus wagon?" He checked the address against his paperwork, and when he was convinced that this was, indeed, the place he needed to be, he leaned his bike against a tree and approached the door. Now, Dave had, left by left, wound his way into a potentially perilous situation. There was nobody within earshot. It was as though the surrounding houses had all turned their backs on the vardo, then put up walls, creating a remote area that was isolatedfrom the rest of the neighborhood. And although there were goats and chickens and large, lovely trees giving the setting an innocent, bucolic feel, Dave was, in fact, in the very heart of what people on the outside called Moongaze Maze. Now, by "people on the outside," I do not mean people hanging around in their yards, or sitting on their porches, or out for an evening stroll. By "people on the outside," I mean the people who did not dare (or care) to come inside. People who had heard rumors of gypsy thieves and bad-luck curses. People like, oh, anyone who lived in a neighborhood north, south, or (especially) east of Moongaze Maze. People like, say, the mailman, and the UPS driver, and the FedEx guy. (Even the garbage collectors didn't like going that deeply into the Maze.) But there Dave was, about to knock on a strange door at the end of a shady dirt path in the heart of a mysteriously mazed neighborhood, completely unfazed by any of it. He was, instead, relieved. Relieved to have found Moongaze Court and relieved to beon his last pickup of the day. (His stomach was protesting the absence of an after-school snack, plus there was the nettling matter of an almost-due social studies project that he had yet to begin.) And so Dave simply mounted the curved ladder's steps and knocked on the vardo's Dutch door, and a few moments later the top half of the door swung in. A tubby little man with impressively large ears and cloudy, almost white eyes said, "Yes?" "Yanko Purran?" Dave asked, referring to his printout. "I am," the man answered. Dave made his voice as deep and professional-sounding as possible. "Roadrunner Express, here for a pickup, sir." The man scratched a long fingernail through the formerly fuzzy blood-red beret that he wore low over his forehead (accentuating his elephant ears). "Very good!" he said pleasantly, and in the brief moments he stepped away, Dave saw the most amazing sight.The vardo was beautiful inside. It had rich wood cabinetry with gilded trim, a bunk to sleep on, and a hand-painted washbasin. But mostly what Dave noticed were flasks bubbling and distilleries dripping and odd-colored liquids in vials. Yanko Purran returned (blocking Dave's view) and handed over a white mailing tube. Now, there was nothing alarming or at all ominous about this tube. It was simply a standard cardboard mailing tube with caps on both ends and a label affixed across the middle. There was, however, something both alarming and ominous about the instructions Yanko Purran gave him. "Deliver this to Mr. Black," the man said firmly. "He says that under no circumstances are you to give it over to anyone else at that address. Is thatunderstood? Give it only to Mr. Black." "Mr. Black?" Dave gasped, and a shiver shinnied up his spine as he saw that the package was addressed to "Monsieur Damien Black, #1 Raven Ridge." "I said, is that understood?" the man demanded. "Uh, y-yes," Dave replied, and his voice was neither deep nor professional-sounding. "Give it to Mr. Black, and only to Mr. Black," he repeated. "Exactly. He wants it by sundown." Dave nodded, as though in a trance. "Did you hear me?" the man demanded. It wasn't until that moment that Dave understood that the man needed to hear his responses because he could not see them. "Uh, yes, sir. Of course, sir," he said, this time using his deepest voice. "We'll get it there by sundown." Well! These were the words that sprang from Dave's mouth, but these words did not reflect what Dave was actually thinking. Dave was actually thinking that he'd rather die than go up to Raven Ridge. Or, more accurately, that he might die if he went up to Raven Ridge. Dave, you see, had been to Number 1 Raven Ridge before. On several occasions, actually. He'd had dealings with Damien Black before. Several times before. And, to his credit, he'd learned that it was wise to stay far, far away from the diabolical man and his monstrous mansion. But Dave had never refused a delivery, and _before he could grasp the notion that refusal was, indeed, an option, Yanko Purran closed the vardo's door, leaving Dave with the terrifying task of delivering a package to Damien Black.