Cooperation or The Perils of Frankie

Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a warm, dry wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

Benson’s mother took him to the big park one day, to play with his friend Mick and Mick’s sister, Bonnie Lou. There were beautiful trees everywhere, and picnic tables and benches. Benson was waiting for his turn on the swing when he noticed a big group of cockatoos hanging around the garbage bin. He went over to have a look.

There were cockatoos on the lid of the garbage bin, and on the picnic table next to it, and lots more cockatoos pecking at the ground around it.

“What are you doing?” Benson asked one of them.

The cockatoo perked up his yellow crest and turned his head sideways to look at Benson. “Nothing. Just waiting around,” he said.

“What for?” Benson asked.

“We’re waiting for Frankie,” the cockatoo said.

“Oh,” said Benson. “Why?”

The cockatoo tapped the lid of the bin a few times with his big, hooked beak. “Some people just had a picnic here and they put lots of scraps in the bin, banana skins and bits of sandwiches and good stuff like that.”

“But you can’t get the lid of the bin open, can you?” Benson said.

“No,” said the cockatoo, “but Frankie can. That’s why we’re waiting for Frankie.”

“Frankie can open the bin?” Benson said. It was way over his head, but he could see the lid of the bin was shut tight. It even had a brick on top to keep it closed.

The cockatoo bobbed and nodded. “Yep, that’s why we’re waiting for Frankie.”

There was a sudden flurry of wings and another big white cockatoo flew down and landed on the bin. He looked exactly like the other cockatoos to Benson.

“Frankie!” all the cockatoos screeched. “Frankie! You’re here!”

“Okay, everyone, settle down, I’ve got it all under control,” Frankie said. He strutted around the top of the bin a few times, then he set to work. He used his beak and his claws to push at the brick, bit by bit, until it fell off the lid of the bin.

“Right now, everyone, stand back!” he said.

He perched on the edge of the bin, grabbed the handle of the lid in his beak and lifted it just enough to get his claw inside. Then he twisted and flipped and the lid was open!

All the cockatoos cheered. “Yay, Frankie!” Then they rushed at the bin, scratching and pecking and pulling out bits of rubbish and dropping mess everywhere.

Benson went back to the swing to tell Mick about it. “I didn’t know birds were that smart,” Mick said. “Was there any good stuff in the bin?”

“Just watermelon peel and squashed tomatoes and crusts with slimy stuff on them,” Benson said.

It was just about time to go home, when one of the cockatoos came flapping over to them. “Help! Help! It’s Frankie!” the bird squawked. “Frankie’s in trouble!”

Benson and Mick ran over to the bin. All the cockatoos were flapping around the bin and yelling as loudly as they could. “What happened?” Benson shouted over the noise.

“It’s Frankie!” they all screeched. “Frankie’s trapped! The lid fell down and Frankie’s inside!”

“Frankie’s trapped inside the bin?” Mick said. “Why don’t you open the lid and let him out?”

“We can’t!” they screeched. “Only Frankie knows how to open the bin!”

Benson said to Mick, “We’ve got to get him out. What if the rubbish truck comes around and Frankie’s still in the bin?”

All the cockatoos squawked at the top of their voices at the thought of Frankie being taken away in a rubbish truck.

“How are we going to get the lid open?” Mick said. “It’s way too high.”

“We could tip the bin over,” Benson suggested.

“No, have a look,” Mick said, “it’s chained up so you can’t tip it over.”

“We’ll just have to climb up then,” Benson said. “You stand here next to the bin, and I’ll climb on your back.”

“Why don’t YOU stand here, and I’ll climb on your back?” Mick said.

“Because you’re bigger,” Benson said. “Hurry up! He probably can’t breathe in there!”

Mick grumbled, but he stood next to the bin. Benson climbed up onto Mick’s back. He reached up, but Mick groaned and collapsed and Benson fell off.

“What’d you do that for?” Benson said.

“You’re too heavy,” Mick said. “You just about squashed me.”

Mick tried climbing on Benson’s back but Benson’s legs folded up and they both toppled over.

The cockatoos were getting more and more upset. The more upset they were, the noisier they got. Mick put his hands over his ears. “Wait here,” he shouted to Benson. “I’ve got an idea.”

He ran off and came back with Bonnie Lou. He got Benson to stand next to the bin, and then he stood next to Benson. “Okay, Bonnie Lou, climb up,” he said.

Bonnie Lou climbed up, one foot on Benson’s back and one on Mick’s. She stood on her tippy toes and lifted the lid of the bin. Frankie flew out, screeching and flapping and spitting out bits of rubbish.

“Frankie! Frankie!” the cockatoos all yelled, mobbing him. They flew up into the sky in a big circle and flew off.

“I guess birds aren’t that smart after all,” Mick said.

“I don’t know,” said Benson. “They were smart enough to come and get us.”

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