The Golden Mushroom

6 Mar

Another GSP release from Author of the Week: John Paulits.

The Golden Mushroom by John Paulits

Soon-to-be fifth graders, Paul Drummond and Billy Sparks’ summer vacation at the beach with Lige Drummond, Paul’s grandfather, is interrupted when Lige’s best friend Jess Hubbard disappears, and the boys are off to find him in Shumbus, a strange land deep within the Earth.


An old man peered through the curtains which covered the front windows of his house. He saw no cars coming from either direction, so he went out on the porch, sat in his rocking chair, and lit his favorite pipe.

This old man, Jess Hubbard by name, lived in the town of Seaview. The Atlantic Ocean rolled up onto the beach less than a block from his house, and during the quiet hours of evening, he liked to sit and smoke and listen to the crash of the waves. To him it sounded like a weary giant breathing heavily and slowly. During pleasant weather, Jess liked nothing more than to take quiet walks along the shore.

A green car drove by and stopped a few houses away. Jess stopped rocking, took his pipe out of his mouth, and made a sour face when he saw two children tumble from the car, followed by their parents lugging suitcases. The summer season approached. Seaview, his town, would fill up with the kind of people now getting out of the green car. Families with noisy, annoying children. He had put up with it for years, but now something better had come along, and he wouldn’t have to put up with it much longer. He had pondered for a long time over what he planned to do and where he meant to go before he reached a decision—a firm, unshakeable decision.

He turned away from the newly arrived family, the screeching of the children ringing in his ears, and began to rock. He closed his eyes and pictured his bright and happy future out of Seaview. He smiled and felt quite pleased with himself.

                                                                     ~ * ~
Paul Drummond rejoiced as a long and boring year in fourth grade came to an end. Spelling tests, math tests, social studies tests, citywide tests. Tests, tests, tests! Nothing but tests. But no more now! His mother had recently gone back to work—his father had always worked—and so his parents planned to ship him off to his grandfather’s house for the summer in a beach town called Seaview. Paul invited along his best friend Billy Sparks. Billy didn’t have a father, only a mother who worked all day and who happily gave her permission, when Paul’s mother asked for it, to allow her son to spend the ten weeks of summer vacation with Paul at his grandfather’s house.

Suitcases already packed and in the car, Paul’s mother met them outside the schoolyard as soon as school let out for the summer, and they drove off to Seaview.

                                                                      ~ * ~
Lige Drummond, Paul’s grandfather, woke early as he always did and took his usual before-breakfast walk along the beach. After breakfast he went out to sit on his porch. Jess noticed him from across the street and decided to join him.

Both men had white hair, but Jess Hubbard had a lot more of it. He was a little taller and much heavier than his friend Lige. He often bragged to Lige about his sharp eyesight. Lige Drummond would adjust his spectacles and respond with his usual, “Good for you.” Both men smoked pipes. Jess liked to talk, and Lige Drummond didn’t mind listening. They got along well.

“Good morning, Jess,” said Grandfather Drummond.

“Morning,” replied Mr. Hubbard, stepping onto the porch. They sat in silence and smoked for a while.

“The town’s really filling up with summer coming, isn’t it?” remarked Grandfather Drummond.

Jess watched two cars drive by. “What? Oh, yes. Be too crowded for me soon. I like it best when summer’s over, and these people go home. Then the town is quiet and peaceful, the way it should be, with no one to bother us.”

“These people don’t bother me. Things get mighty lonesome and quiet here during the winter. Heh, heh. Look there.”

Half a dozen children crossed the street in front of Grandfather Drummond’s house. The smallest of the group, a girl about four years old, got tangled up in her baby blue, plastic inner tube and fell down, the tube ringing her neck as if someone had thrown it there hoping to win a prize. The other children laughed, and the little girl started to cry. The oldest of the group, a teenage girl, picked up the crying child and, carrying her in one arm and the inner tube in the other hand, continued across the street, the child’s cries slowly dying away.

Jess rolled his eyes, and the two men returned to their pipes.

“Lige,” said Jess, “ever think about going away? Far away. To a different place. No worries, no troubles.”

“Why would I do that? Don’t have many worries or troubles right here,” said Grandfather Drummond. “Seaview’s good enough for me.”

Jess’s pipe had gone out so he spent some time relighting it. The two men chatted for a while about the way Seaview used to be until Jess rose and said, “I’ve got a bunch of things to do, but I’ll see you again, I hope.”

Grandfather Drummond chuckled. “I certainly hope you do, Jess.”

The two men parted.

Grandfather Drummond also had a number of things to do. His grandson and his grandson’s friend would arrive soon, and he looked forward to having them around. It had been a long, lonely winter, and he’d enjoy the company.

He finished grocery shopping by one-thirty—he remembered how young boys could eat—and returned to his porch to await the boys’ arrival. He lazily watched the cars drive by until the red Jeep carrying the boys pulled in front of his house. Paul and Billy piled out and ran shouting to him. After some hugs and how are yous, the boys carried their suitcases upstairs as Grandfather Drummond made lunch for his guests.

Their appetites would have shrunk considerably, though, if they’d seen the angry look on Jess Hubbard’s face as he stared at them from across the street through his front window. The mumbled word, “Traitor,” slipped from his lips. It won’t be long now, he told himself. Tonight is the night.



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