Meeting Uncle Mortimer (a Polly, Molly& Jolly story)


Some of you suggested that I post one of the stories I used to tell my grandchildren. Here is the adventure in which the Intrepid Three meet a new monster…

           The three cousins, Ben, Kate and Alex, were busy with homework one Saturday afternoon (they had to finish all their homework before they could go off and do things that really mattered). As Ben was careening through his math, he noticed that a pink Volkswagen had pulled up near the back door.

“Guess who’s come to see us?” He said. Kate and Alex raised their heads. “That’s got to be Rolly!”

Rolly was Polly, Molly, and Jolly’s nice cousin. Since he was a decent person, the awful three stayed away from him, and since he was the most intelligent of the four,  he used to find out what his creepy cousins were up to and often warned our Intrepid Three.

“What’s happening, Rolly?” Ben called.

Rolly got out of his Volkswagen and sighed. “I regret to tell you,” he said, “that my reprehensible and disgusting cousins have a houseguest.”

“So?” Alex asked. “Maybe they’ll have a party and stay away from us.”

“What’s that got to do with us?” Kate wondered.

“A great deal, I’m afraid,” Rolly continued. “Uncle Mortimer is coming to visit you.”

“Is he anything like your cousins?” Kate asked.

Rolly sighed so deeply that he actually quivered from head to foot. “Worse,” he announced. “Much, much, much worse.” He got back in his car. “I just wanted to warn you.”

“So… what should we do?” Ben asked.

“There is nothing you can do against Uncle Mortimer,” declared Rolly. “He is big, he is strong, he is meaner than an alligator with a sore tooth. Just… hide till he leaves.”

And with that, Rolly started his car. Before he could ride off, Alex ran to the window. “Isn’t there something else you can tell us?” she shouted.

Rolly’s answer was muffled by the Volkswagen taking off. “What did he say?” Kate asked. Alex looked bewildered.

“Cockroach juice.” Her cousins stared at her. “Honest, that’s what he said. Cockroach juice.”

As she spoke, a huge, roaring sound shook the house. “Thunder?” Kate asked. She looked up at the clear, blue sky. “I don’t see any clouds…”

Another roar… closer this time…  made the house stagger on its foundations. Ben started running around closing windows and locking doors. “Uncle Mortimer,” he gasped. “Quick… shut everything down. It’ll give us some time to figure this out.”

Kate was already flipping open the main computer. Its screen flicked on lazily. “Good afternoon, Kate,” the computer said.

“Computer,” Kate said, “Uncle Mortimer…” she was interrupted by a huge bellow outside. She glanced through the window and saw an enormous, ugly, mean-looking creature clumping toward the house. It was almost as large as a tree. “Oh, my goodness,” she gasped.
“Computer, tell us how to get rid of Uncle Mortimer!”

“Working.” The computer whirred. Then it said, “Cockroach juice.”

Kate just stared. Alex cried, “No way! I refuse to squish cockroaches!”

“There is a formula,” said the computer. “It requires these ingredients…” and on the screen flashed a long list. Ben read it aloud.

“Moldy Bread, stinky cheese, cobwebs, toenail clippings….we have most of those things except tree fungus,” he muttered. “Moldy bread. Do we have any moldy bread around?”

The house shook. Uncle Mortimer had grabbed the house and was shaking it. “He has yellow eyes,” Alex said in a small voice. “Like a cat’s, only meaner. And… and look at those teeth.”

Kate didn’t want to think at Uncle Mortimer’s teeth. “He’s talking,” she whispered. “At least… it sounds as if he’s talking…”

Indeed, Uncle Mortimer was saying, “Come out, now, nice kiddies. Uncle Mortimer would like to shake your hands.” And he laughed a huge, horrible, mean laugh.

“Ben,” Kate wailed, “do something!”

Ben had gone a little pale, but he was thinking hard. “I have my magic net, and we have that shrinking powder. If we get the net over him, we can shrink him.”

“How will you get the net over him?” Kate asked. “Maybe if you drop the net from the window upstairs…”

“His head is higher than the upstairs window,” Alex said, dismally.

“Okay,” Ben said, “ Plan B. We make cockroach juice. I don’t know what it’s supposed to do, but both Rolly and the Computer seem to think it’ll do the trick. You two find moldy bread. I will get stinky cheese from that grilled cheese sandwich I had last night.  It’s in the compost bin. And… and we have to find toenails.”

Alex tucked her feet under her. Kate shook her head.  “Come on, Kate,” Ben pleaded. “You need your toenails clipped, anyway!”

Sighing, Kate snipped off some of her toenails. Alex went to the breadbox and luckily found a piece of old bread that somehow had been forgotten. All the while, Uncle Mortimer kept shaking the house. He also pounded on the door, rattled the windows, and gnashed his teeth at them.  “Come on out,” he roared. “You can’t escape! No one can escape me!”

Soon, all the ingredients for the potion were assembled… all but the tree fungus. “One of us has to run outside and find a tree with fungus on it,” Ben said. “I’ll do it,” he added, bravely.

“No, I will,” Kate said. She was pale, and her teeth were chattering, but she held herself straigh. “You have to get your net ready, Ben. And… and Alex has to stir the potion.”

“I’ll stir it later,” Alex said. “I’m coming with you. Two can find this stupid tree fungus better than one.”

“Go on,” Ben said. “I’ll cover you!”

Cautiously, the girls slipped out of the house. They could hear Uncle Mortimer shrieking and howling with laughter, and they guessed Ben was keeping the awful creature busy at the other end of the house. After a lot of rummaging around in the wood, they found something that looked nasty enough to be tree fungus.

Back to the house they ran. They threw what they hoped was tree fungus into the potion and, as the computer directed, heated it in the microwave. “Ph-ew!”  Alex gasped. “This smells dis-gusting!”

“Okay, we all know what has to be done.” Ben drew a deep breath. “Alex, crack open the door. I’ll hold the magic net ready and drop it over him as soon as Kate gets some of the shrinking powder going. Okay?”

Holding his nose, Ben poured the potion into a bottle and carried it to the front door. He set it on the step and slammed the door shut just as Uncle Mortimer came stomping toward them. “He’s stopping,” Kate breathed.

“He’s sniffing. He’s… I think he’s smiling!” Alex exclaimed. “Yuck. He looks meaner when he smiles.”

“Yum!” Bellowed Uncle Mortimer. “Cockroach Juice!” He reached out a huge paw and scooped up the bottle.

Ben snatched up his magic net.  “Quick, girls!” he shouted.

As Alex cracked open the door, Kate managed to sprinkle some of the magic powder over Uncle Mortimer’s foot. Instantly, the fearsome creature began to shrink. At once Ben flung the net over the shrinking monster, who was shouting and shaking his fists. Soon Uncle Mortimer was no bigger than a pinecone!

“Now, what?” Alex asked, eyeing the struggling Uncle Mortimer. “How long till he gets big again?” Ben estimated a few hours. “Let’s dump him far, far away,” Alex suggested.

“I have a better idea.”

Ben pulled out his magic boomerang and whispered to it. Then, he sent Uncle Mortimer careening far, far into space. “I thought the boomerang was supposed to bring something back,” Kate protested. “We don’t want HIM back!”

Ben shrugged, modestly. “I programmed It to drop Uncle Mortimer off in some far off desert,” he said. Look… here comes the boomerang without Uncle M.”

The three drew sighs of relief. “He’ll stay small for a while,” Alex said, hopefully. “Maybe an iguana will eat him.”

“Poor iguana.” Kate murmured. “What shall we do with the remains of the cockroach juice?”

“Keep it,” Alex said, firmly. “Bottle it and hide it someplace. You never know when we might meet that old cuss again.”

“No,” her cousins agreed. “you NEVER know.”


About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: My blog is here: Or friend me on Facebook!

11 responses »

  1. Maureen, you made those 3 little cousins so real and so wonderful in their cooperative effort to get the horrendous Uncle Mortimer de-legitimized one way or another. A little magic mixed in never hurts in the right hands. Keep writing down those imaginative stories. Love Fran

  2. Maureen,
    Thank you so much for sharing. I can see illustrations of Uncle Mortimer full-sized and shrunk, the computer screen with the cockroach juice recipe, the kids searching for ingredients, etc. What fun! This series needs a home.

    Linda A.

    • Thank you! I laugh out loud when I re-read the stories I’ve managed to remember. Imagine– a new one every week (sometimes more)! Not sure what I can do with them, though… I doubt if they fit any ‘category’ or age group since I wrote them for a very particular audience!

    • The grandchildren ‘loved’ Uncle Mortimer and all the other villains… Octavia of the blue tooth, Cousin Ophelia who loved to eat old sneakers, and many others (many of whom I have forgotten!). I had my moments of inspiration when the stories took wing… I do remember those! Thanks for joining in the fun.

  3. Well, I raced through the story to find out what happened to Uncle Mortimer. I don’t think you need a particular audience. I do like it that those girls are every bit as brave as Alex. Keep them coming!

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