Now that Malcolm had decided his immediate course of action, he had some planning to do. So Malcolm took a deep breath to steady himself and decided to ask his new friend for some advice. “Do you know where I could sleep tonight?” he asked Ozzie.
“Sure,” Ozzie exclaimed. “Use my napping tree. It’s just about time for me to go out and about anyway. I’m meeting up with some of my other friends. It’s berry night tonight so we’re going to stock up. I don’t suppose you would like to join us?”
Oh my goodness, thought Malcolm. Berry night sounded very interesting, but he knew that if he went out with Ozzie and his friends he might become even more delayed in getting to Nana Owl’s. So he made the decision that he thought would get him to where he really wanted to go and so he told Ozzie, “Thank you, I really appreciate your offer, but I need to get a good night’s sleep tonight so I can head out first thing tomorrow morning.”
“No worries,” Ozzie told him. “Another time. But we’ll have plenty of berries to spare. Do you want me to leave you some?”
“That would be great,” said Malcolm.
“Of course,” said Ozzie like it really was nothing at all. “Well, I’ll see you later,” and as Malcolm waved goodbye, Ozzie ran off into the twilight.
Wow, thought Malcolm as he headed towards his new bed for the night, Ozzie sure is nice. At that moment Malcolm felt so glad he had gotten to know Ozzie for who he was instead of assuming the worst of him just because he was a skunk.
As he burrowed down into the log, Malcolm couldn’t believe the wonderful day he had. He thought back over it and he felt like he was one lucky fox. “Thank you, Carl,” Malcolm whispered into the night. “And thank you, Jersey, and thank you Ozzie, too.” Malcolm closed his eyes, but for some reason he kept thinking about Ozzie and berry night. He wondered if they were having tons of fun.
Malcolm tried flopping over to get comfortable, but it didn’t help. No matter what position he lay in or how he curled himself up, visions of Ozzie and berry night danced before his eyes. Oh, this is ridiculous, Malcolm told himself. I said no to berry night to get a good night’s sleep and now here I am not sleeping.
With a sense of defeat and annoyance, Malcolm finally opened his eyes. Ozzie’s napping tree which had but a few moments ago seemed so comfortable and cozy to Malcolm, now seemed cramped and rough. He didn’t think he could stay in there one moment longer. He popped out into the darkness and looked around.
Darkness loomed in every part of the forest, but for nighttime it was surprisingly noisy. Malcolm could hear bugs rustling and tiny critters scurrying around. Every so often the leaves would ruffle in the wind. Then he heard a sound he wasn’t expecting, or at least he thought he did.
Malcolm jumped up on Ozzie’s napping tree and strained his ears. He heard it again. Yes, it was exactly what he thought it was — laughter. Malcolm decided not to wait another minute and he tore off in the direction the laughter was coming from.
To be continued….