1: Miko and Four Left Paws
Jul 29 2005 Belle
Small and fuzzy and brown, Miko had little black button eyes that blinked when his whiskers twitched. Even for a mouse he seemed small, but that worked to his great advantage. The ability to escape through narrow cracks saved his life many times.
He called home the Los Lonely Boys’ tour bus. He had been born somewhere around Phoenix, but that didn't really matter. Miko rarely left the bus. He often went to his favorite place, behind the small propane stove where crumbs would fall, leaving him a feast.
Most of the time, he had the bus to himself. But lately, his home had been invaded when the giants got on, the bus engine hummed, and the noise began. Not any one particular kind of noise — more a blend. The bus brakes would squeal; there would be music sometimes. And sometimes loud giant voices would fill the air with laughter or conversation.
Miko hid whenever this happened. He didn't like the noise, and everything made him nervous. Even then, giants or not, he would have to sneak out to find food.
Late, late one night, when the giants had funny noises coming from where they slept, like snorts or growling, Miko crept quietly across the floor toward the kitchen.
Suddenly, one of the giants awoke and put his feet on the floor right next to Miko! The feet looked so big, they could have squashed the little mouse and never even noticed. Miko gave a frightened squeak and jumped into the nearest place he could find. He didn't recognize it as it had never been there before, but the dark interior felt safe.
To his great fear, whatever he jumped into moved higher and higher. He pushed himself into as small a ball as possible in the furthest part of his hiding place.
* * *
Ringo yawned and picked up his left shoe, not knowing anything about Miko's presence in it.
2: Mouse Traps
Henry had a burrito halfway to his mouth when he heard the oddest noise. Tilting his head, he listened carefully for a full three seconds before he put down his burrito.
“Touch that and die!” he warned Jojo just before he stood and walked over to his guitar case. Henry could still hear the strings vibrating. Reaching down, he undid the clasps and slowly opened the case.
“What on earth!?” he exclaimed, jumping back.
Aug 03 2005 Mel
Henry stepped back, only to take another look in his case. Is this for real?
Miko and Lil enjoyed their little experiment on the strings so much that they didn’t notice the case open and Henry staring at them. But a faint draft caught Miko's attention. He stopped Lil and gave her a sign that they were not alone anymore.
Her eyes widened and slowly, very slowly, they both turned around to face the giant. Their little hearts pounded in their throats as they looked into a pair of big brown eyes. Minutes seemed to pass without anyone moving. Lil squeezed Miko's paws so hard that he had to hold himself back not to scream with pain. He breathed flatly, not making any noise at all.
When Henry bent down, his shadow covered the two mice and it got very dark inside the case again. Miko started to panic, not knowing what to do, Lil's grip getting even tighter. He looked left and right, searching for a way to escape. But the giant’s long hair covered one side of the case when he bent down, and the other side was too dark to see. For all Miko knew, they could jump to their death trying to run that way!
"Hello, you two," Henry whispered softly.
Jojo, who watched in astonishment, shook his head, thinking his brother had gone mad. Kissing his guitar after each concert was one thing, but now talking to it?
“Hey, Henry," he said, "we all know that you’re the Man to Beat and Magic Man and all that, but aren’t you going overboard talking to your Strat now?”
"Shush," Henry waved his hand. "They'll run off if you don't keep quiet. Stay where you are, Jojo!"
Miko stood on the strings, electrified, realizing that this was the giant he had heard singing! This was his Magic Man! Before he could stop himself, Miko held out his front paw to Henry, speaking in his strongest voice.
"Hello, Mister Magic Man. I am Miko and this is my sweetheart Lil. We are so honored to meet you because your music made me dance for the first time in my life! I wanted to thank you for this from the bottom of my heart!"
Henry exhaled deeply and nearly blew over both mice with his breath! He looked at the little paw offered to him as it dawned on him that he had just heard a mouse talking.
Aug 03 2005 Cree
Ringo and Jojo looked over when they heard ka-thunk! Henry lay toe up on the floor.
"Henry? Big brother?" Ringo waved a hand in front of Henry's face. "Oh dang," he chuckled. "Henry fainted."
Ringo looked into the case and saw nothing except Henry's guitar. He looked back down at Henry. "I told you he was stressed out." He nudged his older brother's leg. He reached for a tortilla and waved it under his nose. "Man, he's out cold. That's a dead man right there. Not even a tortilla will wake him up."
"Shut up and help me get him on the couch," Jojo said. Jojo grabbed him beneath his arms and Ringo grabbed his legs to hoist Henry up.
Before Miko could give her a thank-you kiss, he felt someone step onto the bus. Looking over his shoulder, he expected to see the bus driver. But, no! Two young women walked in, acting very suspiciously. They were bent over, giggling, as they hurried down the aisle.
“Quick!” Miko said as he scurried under a seat, Lil right behind him.
The first girl said, “Come on, April, hurry!”
April was fifteen, with light brown hair and dark brown eyes. She was sweet, and a little plump, and followed her best friend everywhere.
“I am hurrying,” April insisted to Judy, the ringleader. Taller and one year older that April, if ever they got in trouble, you could bet it had been one of Judy's ideas.
“Can you believe that we’re on their bus? This is so cool!” Judy shook from her excitement.
“Where shall we hide?”
“I dunno? Let’s look around.”
Miko stuck his nose out from underneath his hiding place to watch them. The two girls looked at the empty bunks and under the table. Finally, Judy said, “I guess in here will have to do.”
She opened the door to the small bathroom, where she and April hid.
“Oh, Lil!” Miko exclaimed once the door closed. “What are we going to do? We’ve got stowaways.”
“We’ll just have to tell Magic Man,” Lil suggested. “Until then, all we can do is wait.”
A few minutes later, George returned to his seat, satisfied that all the tires were properly aired. There was no way now that Miko could wait for Magic Man at the bus door. The driver didn't know about him and Lil. Miko's whiskers twitched in his nervous worry. How could he tell Magic Man about the two girls before the bus left town?
Aug 09 2005 Belle
“Calm down, Miko,” Lil soothed. “You’ll think of something. You always do.”
Miko looked at her and caught her wink. He raised his head and breathed deeply. If she had faith in him, then he could do this.
He began pacing as he thought. Every time he turned to retrace his steps, his tail would whip around behind him. Pace – pace – pace – pace – pace – turn – whip. Lil watched him from where she sat, wishing she could think of some way to help.
Every now and then, they could hear the girls trying to subdue their excited giggles. Lil just shook her head at the girls’ foolishness. What were they thinking, anyway? Sneaking onto a strange bus that, any minute now, would be headed out of town, away from their home.
What did those girls expect to happen when Magic Man or Jojo or Ringo found them? The brothers would not be happy. They would not think it was funny. The girls had parents who could cause all kinds of trouble. What if they called the police?
At that last thought, Lil became even more worried than Miko. She watched her sweetie continue pacing and thinking.
“It’s too bad we’re not scary looking,” she muttered.
“What?” Miko stopped in mid-pace. “What did you say?”
“I said, it’s too bad we’re not scary looking.”
Miko clapped his paws in delight.
“That’s it! Oh, Lil, you are such a treasure!”
He faced the bathroom door, carefully studying the bottom.
“You know,” he mused, “I think I could squeeze between the bottom of the door and the floor.”
“Why do you want to?”
“You remember how the women at the meet-n-greet and the woman in the hotel reacted when they saw us. I bet these are no different.”
“Oh, I get it.” Lil’s eyes lit up with understanding. “Well, if you can squeeze through there, so can I.”
“Oh, Lil, no. I don’t want you getting hurt.”
“Don’t tell me ‘no’, buster. Two girls, two mice. Let’s go!”
Without waiting for him, she scurried over to the bathroom door and, within a few moments, had squeezed herself into the bathroom. Miko just shook his head at her stubbornness and soon stood beside her.
Judy and April hadn’t noticed their new visitors. They were too busy whispering and giggling at their adventure.
Miko looked at Lil and nodded once. At his cue, the two mice approached the girls. Lil climbed onto Judy’s sneaker and then began nibbling at her ankle. Miko jumped on April and ran up her jeans leg.
“EEEEYYOOOOWWWW!” Judy screamed. “A mouse!”
“AH, AH, AH, AH,” April stuttered, unable to form a word as she hopped on one foot, trying desperately to shake Miko off.
The bathroom door burst opened. The two girls came flying out, wild-eyed and terrified. George twisted in his seat, absolutely stunned to see the teenagers running for their lives toward the bus door.
“Let us out!” Judy screamed. “Now!”
“Please, oh, please, oh, please,” April managed to say.
The driver opened the door and watched the two girls jump to the pavement. Their feet never touched the bus steps.
12: La Onda to the Rescue
"Shut up!" The man suddenly became unsure of his kidnapping scheme.
"Do it, man!" the girl yelled, bumping his hand. Ringo and Jojo saw their opportunity. Ringo dropped the mice into his pocket and pushed Jojo to the door.
"Haannng ooonnnn!" he said to the mice. "Run, Jojo!" They tumbled out of the bus, the man and woman following.
Ringo and Jojo ran across the back parking area toward the venue. The distance seemed so long! Ringo looked up at the sky.
"Lord, please help us!"
Jojo looked over his shoulder and sped up. "They're gaining!"
La Onda members, mingling with fans, stood waiting outside the fenced area, and when the brothers came out running, they went wild, screaming their names.
Jojo poked Ringo in the shoulder and pointed toward the fans. A corner of the fence was peeled back, leaving a small opening. "I think your prayer's been answered!"
"A bunch of screaming fans?" Ringo yelled incredulously as they ran. A rock from one of the thieves whizzed by his ear. "Okay. I hear you, God."
"Open the fence!" Jojo yelled as they ran toward the throng.
"Oh, man! They're coming over here!" Cass screamed. The crowd got wilder. "Did he say open the fence?"
"I don't know. I think so," Tasina said. "Think we can get them to do the LLB Shuffle?" She stopped shouting for a minute. "Hey, they're not slowing down." Her mouth dropped and her face turned beet red. "Are those two people trying to HURT OUR FAVORITE BAND?!?!"
"Oh, NO THEY'RE NOT!" Cass piped up. The women quickly peeled the fence corner back further.
"AAHHH!" Ringo and Jojo yelled as they ran toward them, their arms flapping in the air. They dove through the hole and ran straight into the middle of the horde.
"Geez, they're not stopping! You ladies better run!" Jojo yelled. He and Ringo heaved and ho'd, trying to catch their breath.
They watched in astonishment as the women opened the fence even further and rushed through.
"NOBODY touches the Garza brothers!" Amore snarled. Knuckles cracked, sleeves rolled up, and hair got ponytailed.
The man and woman stopped, uncertain of going any further. "Bring it on, sister," LoveMusic LoveMusic challenged, practicing her dukes.
"Dang!" the man breathed. They turned to run in the opposite direction.
"Get ˈem!" Tasina shouted. Ringo and Jojo watched as they were left in the dust, all alone on the roadside. The pile of women chased the kidnappers around the back parking lot, screaming.
"Well," Jojo said, straightening his collar. "Wow! La Onda, huh?"
They watched the kidnappers whiz by, hollering, followed by a pack of incensed La Onda women. Ringo blinked. "Whoa."
Ringo and Jojo climbed in and pushed the fence back together. Henry came running out of the arena upon seeing all the action from the dressing room window. "What happened?" he asked breathlessly.
"The kidnappers," Jojo said, unable to take his eyes off the chase. "And La Onda," he grinned.
15: Tortillas, Anyone?
"Welcome, everyone, to a little educational class on Los Lonely Boys' 'Burrito Theory'. So listen in, and then line up to try one of their burritos!" Gigi sparked up. "Ringo will roll out the tortillas, Henry will chop the burrito ingredients, and Jojo will fill the tortillas with beef and chicken."
All three bowed and everyone clapped. Ringo saw movement out of the corner of his eye and looked behind Henry. His eyes bulged out as he saw a little tail disappear under their table. He had no time to respond as Gigi called his name. I am not sharing my tortillas, he thought. He pounded the dough and rolled it with his pin.
"My, what strong hands," Gigi said, nervously watching Ringo.
Only Henry and Jojo could see smoke coming out of his ears. Henry grimaced because it was obvious that Gigi sensed Ringo's irritation.
"Let's move on to Henry while Ringo finishes, er, making the tortilla rounds," she said. She moved behind Henry and the cameraman followed.
"So Henry, tell us a little about your 'Burrito Theory'."
"Well," Henry blinked over the fume of freshly chopped onions. "Basically, we take a little of everything and mix it all together… like Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Ritchie Valens," he sniffed as his eyes teared up, "…and our own little creativeness. It's how we became the Los Lonely Boys."
"And what about you, Jojo?" Gigi asked, stepping over to him.
* * *
With a devilish gleam in his eye, Miko peeked out from beneath the Boys’ work table.
"We should have stayed home," Lil argued. "This is not very nice!"
"No way!" Miko said. "I wanna get Ringo back for not wanting to share his tortillas."
Lil sighed and then perked up. "This could be lots of fun," she agreed.
Miko winked at her. "That's my girl!" he said, rubbing her nose with his own, then scampered toward Ringo. "Now, let's go..."
* * *
Ringo finished rolling out the last tortilla round. "Fifty!" he called out to everyone. The fans outside the bakery clapped and cheered.
“By the way,” Henry interrupted, “as good as these are, our Tía Susie makes the best tortillas in the world.”
“She sure does!” Ringo eagerly agreed. “You ain’t lived till you put your feet under her table. Tío Lupe is one lucky hombre.”
As Jojo cooked the ground beef and chicken, Henry still sniffled over the onions.
Ringo felt something climbing up his apron and looked down. Miko waved tauntingly as he dove into the apron pocket, followed by Lil. Ringo inhaled sharply, pulling in flour dust and choking on it.
"I knew it!" he muttered under his breath. He scooted over to Henry and kicked him under the table.
"What?" Henry said, irritated, fully crying and wiping his eyes constantly with a napkin.
"Look in my pocket!" Ringo said, his ears turning red with anger.
"Bro — can't you see I'm busy cryinˈ over onions?" Henry complained. He sighed when Ringo glared and managed to dry his stinging eyes to look. Sure enough, Miko and Lil crouched there, their tails twitching.
Henry stared straight ahead, his heart hammering. "This could be very bad."
"What could be bad?" Gigi asked, the cameraman popping over with her.
"Uh, this is very sad!" Henry said, boo-hooing. "These onions make me so sad."
"Oooo-kay," Gigi gave Henry a queer look. "Let's move over to Jojo and see how the beef and chicken are coming."
"Get rid of them!" Henry whispered to Ringo. "They are clearly up to no good."
"I can't!" Ringo argued. "I can't just walk away! We're in the middle of a taping!" He looked down in his pocket to see Miko and Lil glaring up at him. Ringo's mouth opened and then closed in fearful silence. They looked positively rabid.
"Don't wanna share tortillas, huh?" Miko squeaked loud enough for only Ringo to hear. "Well Mr. Tortilla King, we're gonna make this taping a promotion you'll never forget!"
"No," Ringo begged in a whisper. "Miko — Lil — I'm sorry! Please don't! Kevin will never forgive us this time!"
Miko took slow, menacing steps out of the pocket. "Don't worry. We won't bite. Except maybe a tortilla or two — AFTER we mess up your show."
"Oh, no!" Ringo said a little louder this time.
"What?" Jojo asked as he brought over the large skillet filled with cooked ground beef and chicken, setting it on the table. He eyed Miko and Lil as they made their way up Ringo's apron. "Uh oh."
When Kevin saw the mice, his eyes became as big as golf balls. He shook his head 'no'. Henry looked over and froze. The crowd outside became suddenly quiet as they watched the mice climb into view. His eyes stared at them and then darted to Henry.
"Are those mice?" Ringo heard a fan ask loudly. The three brothers looked at each other, their expressions saying, How do we save this?