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Blissful Birdsong

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by AlittleMayhem, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    [pushing a brick wall with ‘WRITER’S BLOCK’ and ‘LIFE’ written on it, intending on bringing it down but without much success] Nnnrrggh! Nnnnrrgghh! Grrrr! ARGH!

    [Kicks it out of frustration. After a beat, a crack appears]

    YES! I’m nearly through!
  2. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    Chapter 4

    After breakfast the next morning, the rain returned, more unmerciful and wild than the previous day. Janice, dressed in a Japanese morning robe, peeked through the florescent curtains and frowned.

    “Bummer,” she said, disappointed. “I was hoping to do some shopping today!”

    Zoot only hummed in response, polishing the neck of his saxophone with an old rag and watching a bit of TV. Or rather, he was listening to the audio as his eyes were more focused on the task at hand. From what he could hear, a strange character with an Eastern-European accent was counting to ten. Twice. The other end of the couch felt heavy as Janice sat down.

    “Oh, well. So, did you sleep okay last night?” she asked, crossing a slender leg over the other. “I know the couch isn’t, like, totally comfy.” Zoot shrugged a little, briefly checking the inside of the bell.

    “’S’okay,” he replied. “I can sleep anywhere.” He meant it. His experience as a down-on-his-luck musician taught him that anything could be a bed when the streets were the only ‘hotels’ to crash. Boxes, rocks, fish netting, dumpsters, you name it! He could sleep on it.

    Satisfied that his sax was clean, he detached the parts and put them away in the case. He then turned to face Janice. “Hey, thanks for letting me stay here,” he said. “I didn’t have any money so-”

    “Oh!” she said, surprised, but then waved her hand modestly. “Like, erm, think nothing of it!”

    “No really, I mean it. I was going to-umm, do something and-”

    “Really, it’s nothing! I, like, totally bring homeless folks in all the time-”

    “But, my hat-”

    “Oh yeah, that! Well, you’re totally welcome! I think…”

    They were quiet for a while, with Zoot shifting uncomfortably and Janice looking away, her lips pursed. He noticed that the TV was still on, now showing an odd-looking frog with a star-pointed collar sitting neatly on a brick wall and explaining to the audience about the letter ‘B’, while a hairy monster slowly devoured it. He smirked.

    “My niece is nuts about this show,” he said. “She forced me to watch it with her every morning when I was staying at my sister’s.”

    At this, Janice smiled. “Aww, how cute! Is she the little girl with the blonde hair? Isn’t she, like, the sweetest thing ever?”

    “Yeah. Weird little kid sometimes. The other day, she wanted to-” he stopped midsentence, realising what she just said. “Yeah, about that. What were you doing at the park that day?”

    Flustered, she replied, “I was just sitting by the tree, that’s all rully. I like to go to parks on nice days sometimes, just to get away from it all! I was at Summerfield for a friend’s wedding shower, but I wanted time on my own and then they found me listening to you and…Again, I’m like so, so sorry about my friends bothering you like that! Bethany can be a so annoying when she, like, wants to be!”

    “You apologise too much,” Zoot told her in a slightly amused tone.

    “Oh, I’m sorry. I- Oh!” She covered her mouth and giggled at herself. “Like, never mind. Anyway, I think I’ve said enough about me to last, like, forever! What about you?”

    Admittedly, he couldn’t remember half the stuff she told him during dinner last night (she was quite that fast talker) but he didn’t tell her that. Instead, he said, “Well, erm, okay. I’ve been playing the sax since I was about nine or ten. It’s kinda the only thing I know what to do without feeling like an idiot, which is why I flunked out of school early with the rest of the Pepper Crew.”

    She looked at him quizzingly. “The Pepper Crew?”

    “Yeah, that the name of the band I’m in.”

    “You’re in a band?! Oh, that’s so cool!” Janice exclaimed. “Tell me all about it!”

    He spent the next few minutes describing Floyd and Animal and explaining how he met them when they were kids.

    “Yeah, I think you’d like Floyd, though. He mostly plays bass but he’s cool on the guitar too.”

    “Oh, wow! You make them sound so groovy!” Janice said, dreamily. “And I’d love to meet Animal! He sounds like a rull character!”

    Zoot grimaced. “Um, yeah, no you don’t. Trust me.”

    “Why’s that?”

    “Er, let me put it this way. When he sees a woman, he…” he hesitated, trying to think of the right and appropriate words. “…responds to his natural instincts.”


    “He’ll go nuts and attack you,” he answered, more plainly.

    For a moment, Janice didn’t say anything. Zoot could see the wheels turning in her head, then click into place once she got it. “Oh, my…you mean…”

    He nodded. “Yes.”

    “Eww! Gross!” She scrunched up her face in disgust. “That’s, like, a total violation against Women’s Rights, y’know! I mean, I’m no Candace Bergman, but still!”

    Zoot wanted to point out that Animal was feral and never understood how society worked, but instead he said, “Mmm-hmm,” and nothing more on the subject.

    Janice then sighed and gazed across the room. “Still, I would totally love to be in a band. It gets kinda lonely when it’s just you.”

    “Hmm, true, but we’re struggling. Not a lot of people like us, not even the lowest places.” Zoot huffed, irritably. “It doesn’t help with Floyd’s song writing skills.”

    “Huh? What’s wrong with that?”

    “He doesn’t have any.”

    “Oh, I’m sure that’s not true!”

    “It is. Even he knows that.” He paused, and then his mind wandered.


    He shook his head. “Sorry. I keep having these weird…um, things in my head.”

    “You mean like epiphanies?”


    “No, an epiphany! Y’know, like sudden realisation or something.”

    “Um, I don’t really kn-”

    However, just like that, a real epiphany stuck him.

    “Hey, er, now that you mention the band and stuff, I’ve never really heard you play. Is it okay if-?”

    Janice seemed to know where he was going with this. “You want us to jam together?”

    “Er, yeah.”

    She squealed with joy and threw his arms around him, embracing him rather tightly. “I would be, like, soo honoured, Zootie! Oh, I better put some clothes on and get my guitar.” She realised him and got up to switch the TV off. Zoot rubbed his neck where she nearly choked him. Zootie?!

    Janice walked over to her room. When she was halfway there, she undid the rope around her waist and slid the garment off her body, letting it drop to the ground while not breaking her stride. Shocked, Zoot covered his eyes just in time. She defiantly wasn’t kidding about being comfortable in her own skin.

    As soon as the door shut, he reached for his case. He was done reattaching his saxophone when Janice returned, fully dressed (or as fully dressed as she could be) and carrying a different guitar from the one he saw yesterday. It looked smaller, the body shaped more rounded and organic, coloured pink with a black and silver outline.

    “Cool,” Zoot remarked, nodding to the instrument as she sat down, adjusting the straps.

    “Thanks,” she replied, and began to play the first few bars of a slow, jazzy number. “You know this one, right?”

    He did, as a matter of fact. “Who doesn’t?”

    After the brief intro, Janice began to sing;

    No one to talk with
    All by myself
    No one to walk with
    But I'm happy on the shelf
    Ain't misbehavin'
    I'm savin' my love for you

    Zoot joined in, playing a soft riff between the verses.

    I know for certain
    The one I love
    I'm through with flirtin'
    It's just you I'm thinkin' of
    Ain't misbehavin'
    I'm savin' my love for you

    Throughout the morning, they played an assortment of jazz numbers and laidback R’n’B. Zoot was no longer surprised by how many of the songs she chose were his favourite. She really wasn’t bad at all.

    They didn’t really finish, rather stop casually a few hours later. They were silent for a few moments, letting the atmosphere hang for a bit longer.

    “Wow!” Janice said. “That was, like, totally, sooo fer sure.”

    Zoot, just as spaced out, smiled goofily. “Yeah.”

    “Y’know, maybe we can busk together tomorrow when the weather isn’t such a bummer. I kinda need to pay my rent.” She then leaned in and kissed his forehead. “Like, thanks so much, by the way! I’m sooo glad you asked.”

    Zoot was grateful that he didn’t blush easily. “Thank you.”
  3. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    Another sweet update! I like how they were watching Sesame Street at the beginning, lol. Thanks for sharing.
    AlittleMayhem likes this.
  4. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    Sorry about the irregular updates, bros. I have a basic outline of what I want to write next but inspiration isn't hitting me just yet. And when it does, it's usually for another drabble. :/

    Also, life and college and commissions and stuff are getting in the way. Just thought I'd let you know.

    Peace out. :cool:
  5. FloydxJanice776

    FloydxJanice776 Well-Known Member

  6. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    Chapter 5

    Lunchtime in Main Street, Georgetown. It was crazy, no matter what day of the week. The food places wafted out enchanting smells of spices and cooked meat, calling to the smartly dressed and scruffy workers out for lunch. The sun blazed down with no mercy and the endless fumes of honking traffic just made it worse. Many families were out taking advantage of the weather, getting ice cream and generally making a din over the usual noises.

    It was a miracle that any kind of music could be heard over the busy street but that’s what Zoot trained himself to do. Play bold and loud with all your heart, so you may eat. Janice also seemed to know this principle too. They were out busking for the third time that week. She had told him that she had no job, so she used her talents and any crowded place to scrap everything she could. Which, considering his own lifestyle, was fair enough.

    He placed the saxophone down beside him as Janice looked down and smiled with satisfaction. Zoot’s hat was nearly half-full of coins, much more than yesterday.

    “Oh, wow! We must’ve been rully good today, Zoot! If I’m lucky, it might be enough to pay the rest of my electric bill, y’know?” she said, wiping the sweat from her forehead.

    He grunted, half in response and half in discomfort. His neck was acting up again, stiff and aching since this morning. He stretched and rubbed the sore spots like crazy, but nothing seemed to work.

    Noticing this, Janice said, “Is your neck rully brothering you? You’ve been doing that, like, all day now.”

    “It’s nothing,” he replied. “Musta slept in a weird position last n- AH!”

    Zoot cried out as two cold hands suddenly grabbed a hold of his head, stretching and turning it sharply both ways until unpleasant clicks were audible. In an instant, the pain was gone. Amazed, he turned to Janice, who was trying not to look smug.


    “Oh, an old trick an ex taught me,” she said. “He was doing a major in medicine and told me about pressure points and stuff. It was sooo useful when I found out he was seeing Stacey Conner behind my back. Boy, did they have it coming, fer sure!” Her hands were still on him, her fingers stroking through his hair and tracing his collarbone just showing under his shirt. It left a trail of electric sparks beneath his skin.

    “Um,” he gulped. “My neck doesn’t hurt anymore.” She met his eyes, a devious smile playing on her lips. Zoot realised just how close she was. He could feel her minty breath against his lips and possibly count every one of her thick eyelashes.

    “Does that mean you want me to stop?” Her voice dropped nearly to a soft purr as she leaned in, her arms sliding around his neck.


    A car honked loudly on the road, making them both jump. Nearby, a beaver stuck his head out of a window of a tacky convertible and shook his fist at a monster for jaywalking.

    “Hey, watch it you blind hairball!” he shouted. “You wanna get killed or something!”

    It was impressive stupidity from the beaver’s side. Not only was he holding up the traffic, but the monster he was lashing out at was ten feet tall, with shaggy brown fur and menacing yellow eyes.

    “Who are you callin’ a blind hairball?! I was lookin’ both ways ‘till you came screeching outta nowhere, you bucktooth dingbat!” the monster retorted.

    The beaver took the insult well. He jumped out of his car and marched straight up to the monster. “Dingbat?! DINGBAT?! Your face could turn Medusa to stone!”

    The monster glared down at the tiny rodent. “My face?! Your face is a waste of fur!”

    “Hey, that’s a lotta hair! It must be some effort to get it all outta your nostril!”

    The fight turned ugly quickly and an eager crowd gathered, most encouraging one or the other to win. Even some drivers stuck behind joined in and pitched their own insults.

    “Oh, totally not cool!” Janice commented. “Why would the world welcome such bogus violence? Can’t anyone in this stupid town settle thing peacefully? Rully! This is the third fight between a jaywalker and a driver this week! It’s like a local sport or something.”

    His heart still pounding, Zoot felt something warm and soft beneath his hand. He looked down, discovering that it was Janice’s knee and quickly removed it. Clearing his throat, he sifted out of her arms and picked up the saxophone. “So, uh, you know Honeysuckle Rose?”

    “Hmm? Oh right!” Catching his drift, she re-positioned her guitar properly. “No, but hum I few bars and I can fake it.”

    Zoot lay on the couch, staring at the ceiling while resting the back of his head on his hands. He was alone in Janice’s apartment. When they decided to call it quits a few hours ago, she had decided at the last minute to go shopping, but was kind enough to give him a spare key.

    “I just need to get a few small necessities for tonight,” she had said to him. “We can’t have you looking like that, rully!”

    Zoot had frowned at her. “What about tonight? Looking like what?” She chose not to answer either of those questions. She only walked away wearing that mischievous smile again. The same one before she almost…

    He sighed and closed his eyes. He supposed it was a little obvious that she liked him, maybe a little unnaturally so. But why was beyond him. He wasn’t exactly Humphrey Bogart or Burt Reynolds. In fact (as Floyd and Liza loved to remind him) he had the social skills of a skunk. Besides, he never really bothered. Relationships, according to Liza, needed understanding, devotion, compassion, all the stuff that a lot of his family weren’t exactly good at, otherwise they’d all get along.

    Then Janice, with her bubbly, dizzy and exhaustingly positive charisma, appeared out of nowhere and into his life. Everything she did radiated with warmth and essence. Unlike him, she was always cheerful, always vibrant. Not only that, but she loved the same kind of music he did. The right kind. Maybe she was even a little pretty. Maybe beautiful…gorgeous…

    Maybe it could work. Even though he wasn’t looking to begin with, maybe she was the one. They had at least a few things in common and maybe he could trust her with other things.

    But at the same time, was that enough? Was he ready to confide with her like no other woman? And was there something else he was forgetting?


    Zoot jerked awake, almost falling off the coach. He didn’t remember falling asleep, as usual.

    “Whuzzat?” he mumbled. A flat box lay on the coffee table, tied together with a fancy ribbon.

    Janice stood over him, flashing a toothy grin. She carried other similar boxes in her arms. “Like, y’know when I said that I needed to get stuff for tonight?”

    Zoot rubbed the eyes under his sunglasses. “Yeah?”

    “Well, let’s just say you’re gonna totally need this! I’ll be in my room!”

    As she disappeared, Zoot stared at the box, unsure of what to think. Hesitantly, he pulled at the ribbon slowly; acting like it was a time bomb. It unravelled itself effortlessly and he removed the lid. He took the contents out and held it up, his brows raised as he examined it.


    A few minutes later, Zoot stood in front of the cracked mirror that hung lopsided in the bathroom. He tightened his new yellow necktie with black dots, then shook his head and readjusted it to a more loose style. It still didn’t work.

    He heard a soft chuckle from the doorway. “Like, you don’t know how to tie a tie? And here’s me thinking every man could. Rully.”

    “I do.” Zoot mumbled, undoing the tie and turning to Janice. “It’s just that it’s been a while since I’ve worn anything like this.”

    Liar. Despite his self-given name, he had never worn anything like this. A zoot suit, blue with white checks on the jacket and pants with a pair of polished black shoes. The shoulders where broad and sharp and the yellow shirt stood out against the blue.

    Janice shook her head, took the tie from his hands, and re-tied it. “Here, I think you would look sooo much better with it a little loose, dontcha think?”

    Zoot wouldn't know that, but as soon as he saw Janice, he no longer cared. Out of her normal clothes, Janice now wore a loose tunic-like dress with long bishop sleeves and patterned with pink, red and black flowers. A yellow rope tied around her middle and the skirt hung freely by her mid-thighs, showing off small effortless curves. She smelled of an exotic fruity perfume.

    Done with the tie, Janice produced his hat and placed it on his head. “There!” she said, smiling at her handy work. “Now you look totally cool! Of course, not that you already don’t, rully.”

    He suddenly wished he felt cool, maybe come up with some witty or flirty crack like it was nothing. But whatever he wanted to say was evaporated and what came out was a pathetic, “Yeah.”

    She didn’t mind. Her fingers trailed the edge of the collar and travelled down his arm until they clasped around his hand. She beamed wickedly. “C’mon! Let’s not waste the night away!”

    Zoot was too confused to stop her from pulling him towards to door. “Ok. Where are we going again?”

    Janice giggled. “I didn’t say.”
  7. charlietheowl

    charlietheowl Well-Known Member

    Wonder where Zoot and Janice are going? Hopefully somewhere fun! Thanks for sharing this new chapter!
    AlittleMayhem likes this.
  8. MissMusical12

    MissMusical12 Well-Known Member

    Another terrific chapter! Loved it! :flirt:
    AlittleMayhem likes this.
  9. ZootxJanice2468

    ZootxJanice2468 Well-Known Member

    Wow this story is practically like a real flashback! Hopefully the next chapter will explain why zoot was so mad at the beginning. Please, continue on my friend.
    Janice+Floyd<3 likes this.
  10. Zoot Fan 1981

    Zoot Fan 1981 Well-Known Member

    I hope you'll write more. I'm anxious to read what happens next :)
    LipsGF4Life likes this.
  11. Bridget

    Bridget Well-Known Member

    Loving it so far dude! Keep writing please, I'm hooked.
    Zoot Fan 1981 and AlittleMayhem like this.
  12. Zoot Fan 1981

    Zoot Fan 1981 Well-Known Member

    :halo:MORE!! MORE!! MORE!!:halo:
    More please.
  13. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    Uhhh…wow, okay, this has been a while, hasn’t it? Heh

    Um…anyway, enjoy this very overdue update!
  14. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    Chapter 6

    The night was still young, the sky painted in a glorious mixture of purples and oranges. The air was cool and breezy as they walked through the streets, the lights already beginning to glow lazily.

    The evening was beautifully calm as any summer evening, but Zoot felt a knot getting tighter in the pit of his stomach. Janice still refused to say where they were going, instead she grinned knowingly in a way that made his insides flip whenever he asked. She hadn’t spoken much either and was no longer holding his hand, much to his disappointment, but seemed to be content enough.

    Then, she grabbed his arm eagerly and pointed at a neon sigh. “Look! Like, we’re finally here!”

    She pulled him passed the bouncer and through the entrance, so quickly he didn’t have a chance to get a proper look at the building. When they were inside though, the mere sight knocked the breath out of him.

    The place was actually kinda cool, in both meanings of the word. The room was light with lilac and purple colours, most of the lights switched on but it still had a nice glow to it. Several rounded chairs and tables dotted the corners and around the bar, some looked more like giant eggs that had hollowed out and someone placed red cushions in them.

    There was no band on the small stage, much to Zoot’s slight disappointment. Instead, smooth jazz played from speakers, to which a few humans danced.

    The crowd that gather tonight varied. Apart from the humans, three of Zoot and Janice’s type sat in a corner, deep in conversation. There were also many animals, particularly in the staff. Several penguins waddled about with drinks while a large, purple Octopus worked at the bar, their many legs stretching back and forth, as they served drinks.

    The Octopus looked up in their direction then grinned and waved one of its’ eight legs. “Hey, Janice baby! How you been, girl! I haven’t seen you here in weeks!”

    Janice giggled as she took Zoot over to the bar. “Hey, Charlie! Oh, y’know. I had Kimmy’s wedding at Summerfield. You should’ve been there! It was totally beautiful, rully.”

    Charlie rested one leg on the bar, the others preoccupied with shaking martinis and serving a cocktail to a thin monster at the other end of the bar. “No kidding? ‘bout time too. That girl was engaged for far too long.”

    “To be fair, she was sixteen when Jared proposed, fer sure.”

    Janice nodded as she and Zoot took a stool each. As they chatted, Zoot drifted off a little as with most conversations that didn’t directly involve him. He jolted out of it when he realised where he was.

    This is a date! He had to pay attention! Girls hated it when you didn’t give them your utmost attention.

    Wait, did this even count as a date? He never asked her, never arranged it with her. She just literally dropped it on him and dragged him into it.

    He sat still, trying not to shake or anything that would let the growing panic in his chest show. Was this normal? What was he supposed to do? Why didn’t he have her attention? Say something! Anything!

    Janice’s hand slipped through his and he stilled, the act sending a jolt though his arm and straight to his stomach.

    “And who’s this fine gentleman?” Charlie asked, looking Zoot up and down and wiggling her eyebrows.

    Zoot looked around, feeling self-conscious. “What gentleman?”

    Janice chuckled. “Charlie, this is Zoot. He’s staying with me until he can get back on his feet. Zoot, this is Charlie, one of my oldest friends”

    “Nice ta meet ‘cha, babydoll!” Charlie exclaimed, taking Zoot’s other hand in one of her tentacles and shaking it vigorously. When he let go, one of the suckers stuck onto his hand briefly, before it came off with a wet pop. Charlie gave him a rather sheepish look. “Oops, sorry ‘bout that! They stick sometimes. So, can I get ‘cha anything? Since you’re new, how about a drink on the house, hmm?”

    “Erm, whiskey on the rocks,” he said, unsure about being called, babydoll as much as Zootie.

    As she made them drinks, Janice leaned in and whispered in his ear. “This club is where I play in the most. After I left home, I had nowhere to go. I was so lucky to have found Charlie. She took me in and let me stay and play here until I found a place. She’s been like another mother to me.”

    Zoot glanced over to the stage and grimaced a little. “Wish we had some live music tonight, though,” he muttered.

    “Boy, I hear ya,” Charlie interjected, handing them their drinks. “There ain’t been no musical folk coming in, nor can I find any. Except for this cutie here, course,” she added, patting Jaince on the cheek.

    Janice smiled, taking a sip from her martini. “Aww. But, y’know, Zoot here plays as well.”

    Charlie raised her eyebrows in a way that implied something especially wicked. “Is that so?”

    “Ooooh, you should soooo hear him!” Janice crooned. “He plays, like, so beautifully and soulfully on the sax. It’s almost like The Bird himself.”

    Zoot gripped on Janice’s hand involuntary. He knew that he was good, knew others thought so too, but there was something about the way she praised him that appealed to him, if leaving him a little flustered and embarrassed.

    “I-er- I wouldn’t go that far-”

    “So, the saxophone did you say?” Charlie cooed, eyes gleaming. “Well, we have a stage right here, baby. Why don’t you try it out?”

    Zoot looked at her blankly. “But I don’t have-”

    “You do now!” Charlie chirped and suddenly there was a sax in her tentacles.

    The sax itself was smaller than he owned, a little dented and old but otherwise didn’t seem too bad.
    But still…

    “Look, I don’t think I can, I’m just here for-”

    But when Zoot looked up, Charlie was gone, the music stopped and the octopus was suddenly on the stage with a microphone. The crowd groaned in protest.

    “Alright, calm down now! We’ll get things running soon enough.” Charlie told them, tapping the microphone. “Ahem! Hey, this thing on?”

    “Sorry, hun,” Janice whispered in his ear. “Once you get her going, there’s no stopping her. I should’ve, like, said something. But you don’t have to play if you don’t want to.”

    Zoot didn’t get a chance to reply. In a space of three seconds, Charlie stretched out one of her legs, grabbed his arm and yanked him on stage which she didn’t even have to leave. The world was spinning around him and he was only very vaguely aware of Charlie enthusiastically introducing him.

    “Knock ‘em dead, honeycakes,” she whispered in his ear before clapping him on the back and whisking off the stage.

    When his vision settled, he saw that everyone in the club had gathered closer, curious and expectant. He stared back, spotting Janice way back at the bar, chewing her lip nervously.

    Then Zoot blew out a sigh and shrugged. Eh, what’s the worst that could happen?

    He brought the instrument to his lips and began to play. It was an old thing and some of the notes were off, no matter what Zoot tried, but he chose an upbeat and energized tune which got better the more he got used to the sax. The crowd began to get into it too, smiling and bopping their heads in time to the music. Seeing this, Zoot relaxed and grew more confident, losing himself to the music, his fingers flying over the keys.

    When he was done, he was met with eager applause, cheering and whistling. At the bar, Janice was grinning widely, clapping and jumping up and down happily. Zoot felt his cheeks heat up at this.

    All of a sudden, the crowd rushed forward, surrounding him and shouting out song requests and offers to play with him in a loud buzz. After Charlie cut in (“Hey, break it up people! I don’t want Janice after my skin if you crush him!”) and got things organised, Zoot later found himself playing another energetic song, only this time with volunteers as back up. A tiny weasel in a beret and polar neck jumper excitedly played the drums with almost as much energy as Animal did, but without the ferocity. A human couple took the bass and electric guitars, both of them with amazing fluidity, and the thin monster that Zoot had seen at the bar was insanely good with the trumpet.

    Pretty much everyone else was on the dance floor, dancing more lively than before. At this, Zoot’s pride swelled. This is what he loved most about live performances. Just a couple of speakers didn’t bring people together like this.

    But that wasn’t the best part. More than once, Zoot found himself glancing at Janice. She was on stage too, cheerfully dancing away and shaking a tambourine expertly. Her dress and hair flared as she twirled, her face laughing and smiling. In those moments, Zoot felt his world had burned a little bright each time.

    After about a dozen or so songs, Zoot and Janice retired to the bar, exhausted. The makeshift band continued to play, now with one of the penguin staff singing in a surprisingly gruff and jazzy voice.

    “Charlie!” Janice gasped, catching her breath. “That was the most totally best spontaneous idea you’ve ever had!”

    “Baby, all of my ideas are the best and spontaneous!” Charlie laughed, handing them a drink each and heading off to tend to other customers. “It’s on the house! Enjoy yourself, kids! Boy, where were these people when I needed them?”

    At this point, Zoot was too happy to care what the octopus called him. Janice turned to him, her shoulder casually bumping against his, and then looked surprised.

    “Wow, that’s, like, the most I’ve seen you smile, Zoot!”

    Zoot raised his eyebrows, amused. “Really?”

    Her face turned pink, mortified. “Well, I mean, like, it’s not like you don’t smile, I mean, duh, you smile all the time, well not ‘all the time’ all the time, oh my gosh, rully? Why did I say that, gosh I’m soooo, like-”

    “You’re amazing.”

    The words came out of his mouth without thinking, yet it stopped Janice’s babbling in their tracks. She was stunned for a moment and Zoot briefly wondered if he said the wrong thing.

    Then she smiled sweetly, reached out to cup his face and kissed him.

    The warm feeling of her smooth, plump lips against his otherwise chapped and ragged ones was wonderful and he kissed back. Her hair brushed against his shoulder and he took the opportunity to stroke his fingers through it, blown away by how silky it was. When they parted, Zoot could just taste the mint of her breath.

    “Thanks!” she said, grinning. “I think you’re amazing too!”

    He smiled, feeling happier than he had in ages, and took a good gulp of his whiskey. Then he startled back when he realised there were actual rocks in his drink.

    The rest of the night was calmer, but not bad at all. During conversations, Janice did the talking and Zoot chimed in when directly spoken to or contribute to any stories.

    The whole time Janice stayed right beside him, pressing her side close to his, her fingers laced through his. Honestly, he couldn’t have asked for a better night.

    “Five days? You sure about that?”

    Zoot stuffed another pair of underpants in the bag the turned to Floyd. He stood on the threshold of his room, his arms folded as if he didn’t believe him.

    “Yeah, I guess. Ain’t I allowed to see my family?”

    “Hey, don’t get me wrong, man. I’d love to see your sister again, too” (Zoot glared at him at this) “But the last time you said, ‘Five days’ or whatever, it ended up nearly a year!” Floyd paused to run a palm over his face and long, orange nose, sighing in exasperation. “Sheesh, Animal was crawlin’ outta his skin by the time you came back. I don’t think he could take another private concert at the Old Folks Home.”

    Zoot zipped up the bag and flung it over his shoulder, holding it by the straps. With his other hand, he picked up his sax case. “Hey, it was Ben’s fourth divorce and the court case was tough. Mom wouldn’t let me go ‘til it was over.”

    He went into the kitchen suite where they had Animal chained up to a table leg he was currently gnawing on. Floyd followed him and snorted in disgust, untangling the chains. “That slimy little dweeb hasn’t changed a bit. I don’t know why ya still talk to him.”

    Zoot choose not to answer that, instead shrugging as Floyd encouraged Animal to go for a walk (“C’mon, Buddy! Who’s a good drummer!” “I AM! I AM!”) and followed them out of the apartment.

    “Speaking of which, tell ‘im he still owes me for that time he ‘fixed’ our bathroom,”

    “But we moved since then. And that was ten years ago.”

    “And we’re still twenty thousand dollars in debt!”

    Zoot sighed, walking out of the building into the baking heat. “I’ll try,” he said, despite knowing his brother would brush it aside as he did every time he brought up the subject. “Can we talk about something else?”

    “Okay. So is it a boy or a girl?”


    “Your sister’s baby!”

    “Oh, um, boy. Dunno his name yet.”

    Animal then straightened up a little and looked around with wide eyes. “BABY?! WHERE BABY?!”

    “Naw, Animal. We’re just talkin’ about a baby.”

    “WHA? NO BABY?”

    They spend the rest of the walk with random small talk and distracting Animal from every attractive woman they passed. It wasn’t until Zoot stuck his head out the bus window when Floyd yelled, “Remember, five days, not months! I should have somethin’ by then! Don’t forget!”

    Zoot sat up jerkily, his blood turning to ice and his head swimming with a thousand curses that would make his grandmother reel in her grave. He tried getting up as quickly as possible, but instead tangled himself in his blanket in his rush. Startled, he yelped and landed on the floor with a thump. After a brief struggle, he managed to free his arm, grabbed the green telephone on the coffee table and clumsily dialled a number. Oh, why did it have to be one of those stupid, spiny things!

    On his seventh attempt, the other end began to ring. Zoot pressed the receiver to his shoulder with his cheek as he kicked out of the blanket, still on the ground.


    “Hello, you have reached the residence of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem! How may I help you on this fine, fabulously and positively groovy morning?”

    Zoot froze as the unfamiliar gravelly voice spoke. Is this the wrong number?

    “Uh, excuse me?” he said after a brief silence, pushing himself up. “Who is this-OUCH!”

    He had realised too late than he was under the coffee table and banged his head hard.

    “Sorry, buddy. We don’t have anyone by the name of ‘Ouch’ in this house. Perhaps you got the wrong number?”

    Zoot grumbled at the other man’s snarky nature, standing up and finally freeing himself from the blanket. He rubbed the bump now crowning his head as he replied.

    “Look, whoever you are, just pass me over to Floyd. Is he-”

    “Hey! Floyd, Mr. Bassman, The Good Sergeant, The Jazz Master!”

    Zoot paused. “Err, yeah, him. Tell him it’s Zoot. I got-”

    “Zoot! The Man with the Sax! The Sax is his Axe! Hey, I heard so much about you, man!”

    Zoot blinked. “You- you have?”

    “Heck, yeah! Why ol’ Floyd was jus’ showin’ me yesterday y’all old demo tapes and, by my keyboard, do you know how to blow-”

    The other line was cut short by the sound of a scuffle and another voice that was defiantly Floyd’s growling to hand the receiver over and Animal’s yelling in the background.

    “Animal, down! Get down! I said down! Doc, I said give me the phone! Zoot! What in Gillespie’s name do you call this! Five days, I said! Five days!”

    Zoot winced and held the phone slightly away from him.

    “Yeah, yeah, I’m sorry. I got distracted-”

    “You fell asleep on the bus and took off on the wrong town again, didn’t you?”


    “I heard that infliction rise! I knew it! Next time you visit your sister, I am sending a taxi! You got that!”

    Zoot felt sharp pain rip through his head, his hangover catching up with him. “Please don’t shout so much.”

    There was a short pause before Zoot heard Floyd take a deep breath. “Okay, sorry. Just- where are you now?”

    “Someplace called Georgetown. I think it’s in the same state.”

    “Right, I think I know which place you’re talkin’ about. How about you get to the bus station and I’ll meet you there at three o’clock?”

    Zoot glanced at the clock on the wall, telling him that it had already gone past midday.

    “Right, bus station, three o’clock. Got it.”

    “And Zoot?”


    “Don’t worry; I didn’t rat on your family this time.”

    Despite the unpleasant memory, Zoot couldn’t help but smile and huff a laugh. “Okay, thanks buddy.”

    He hung up at that, pausing when he remembered something. The Electric Mayhem?

    He shrugged, deciding not to think too much about it and made his to Janice’s kitchen to get some ice for his head.

    When he returned, Janice was standing on the threshold of her bedroom. He smiled, then realised she wasn’t smiling back.

    “What’s wrong?” Zoot asked.

    Janice was silent for a moment, and then said, almost too quietly, “You’re going away?”

    Ah. Bummer.
  15. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    Chapter 7

    His brain tried to come up with a proper excuse. Telling the truth seemed so harsh, especially after a fantastic night out, just when they both expressed how they felt about each other. He first thought of lying, that no, he did not drop off at the wrong town or forget about his friends or he had no such responsibilities to them. That no, he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon or later or ever!

    But even thinking about it was stupid. Instead, his answer came out in a very pathetic;

    “Um…yeah. Yeah, I am.”

    He could practically hear Floyd sneering ‘Smooth man,’ at him sarcastically, even though the bassist was probably miles away now.

    Janice’s face fell. “Oh. Right.” She hugged herself shyly and looked to the ground, unusually quiet.

    For once, Zoot couldn’t bare it. “I-er,” he started, nervously tugging at his hair. “I’m sorry. I wish- I shouldn’t have been so stupid-”

    “Oh, no, honey! It’s okay, rully!” Janice hastily replied. She crossed the room and put her hands on his shoulders. “You haven’t done anything wrong. Though, I suppose now that I think about it, I did kinda wonder why you were still here even though you’re in a band.”

    Zoot’s gut plummeted, feeling more stupid than before. “Yeah, I..,er, kinda forgetful...that happens.” He moved her hands off him and sat back down on the couch, setting the icebag aside. “Look, I’m sorry I wasted your time. I’ll just pack and leave.”

    He gathered his bag up and began grabbing his items and clothes, deliberately looking anywhere but her direction. The silence this time was worse, not helped by the guilt building up inside him until it was physically painful.

    He felt Janice sit down next to him. “Like...what made you think you wasted my time?” she asked, clear disbelief in her voice.

    He swallowed, still not looking at her. Days like these made him wish he was better with words. "I don't know," he sighed. "I guess it's because I'm not supposed to be here." He squashed his clothes in his bag uncaringly, then took them out and started again. "Got off the wrong town. I was gonna call Floyd, because he kinda needs me but I forgot when..." He faltered. "When I met you."

    He stopped packing when Janice cupped his cheek and turn his head to look at him. She was smiling, which he did not expect. It was small, but there was still something oddly positive about it.

    "Hon, you never once wasted my time!" she said, with so much sincerity that he almost believed her. But then she blushed a little, shyly adding, "You're, like, the best thing that ever happened to me."

    Immediate warmth spread through him. "Huh? I mean, really?" Zoot said, his mind boggled.

    "Rully," she sighed, twirling a lock of his hair around her finger. "But I kinda understand that you need to be with the band...oh, well. We can, like, work this out! I mean, I would totally go with you. But I just moved in here and...well, it'll be totally rash on my landlord."

    His high spirits soared down in disappointment. Of course, nothing gold can stay.

    "I understand," Zoot replied, resting his forehead against hers. "Sort of."

    Janice giggled, leaning towards him and asked, "What time do you have to be away by?”

    “Er, 'round three. Why?”

    To his surprise, she moved one leg over his. Before he knew it, she was sitting on his lap, arms looped around his neck and face close to his. Zoot's heart leapt to his throat, his guilt washing away momentarily.

    “It means we still have a lot of time on our hands.”

    Her smile turned wicked, and she then kissed him softly. He realised in that moment that this was something he would never get tired of. It was probably pathetic of him, but it ached to know that he would miss that. Miss her.

    He dropped his bag.


    Much later on, they stood outside the apartment, Zoot dressed in his usual clothes, packed and ready. Janice fixed the collar of his shirt, her expression distant. "You sure you, like, don't want me to see you off at the station?"

    Zoot lightly brushed her hair from her face, giving her an apologetic look. "I wasn't kidding around about Animal, babe. I don't wanna risk it."

    She sighed, then fished a pen out of her pocket, took his arm, rolled up the sleeve and wrote on his forearm.

    "If you ever get lonesome or, like, wanna meet up, I'm fer surely just a phone call away."

    "Check," he said, welcoming one last kiss.



    Here he was. At the bus station. Three o’clock. On the dot. Yet not a single Floyd or Animal in sight.

    Zoot huffed, sitting on the edge of the sidewalk alone with his bag and case at hand. Of all the times to be late...

    It was yet another ridiculously hot and busy day, with a ton of people flittering about and more of those Sunny Days buses trundling in and out of the station.

    The noises, temperatures and smells of the bus fumes was almost overwhelming for Zoot, something he really did not need when he was leaving behind the most perfect person he ever met. He was miserable enough as it was. Well, at least he was out of that suit. As cool as it was, it was indefinitely the opposite when wearing it. By the time he and Janice had gotten back home last night, he was drenched in sweat, and was still damp with it this morning.


    Now he really wished that he let her see him off at the station, just to spend a little bit more time with her. Their shared pastime earlier on had been wonderful, to say the least. But where Floyd went, Animal went too.

    Zoot lightly traced his lips, her farewell kiss still lingering. He then frowned, tapping his knee impatiently and briefly wondering if he should go back to Janice's apartment for a while. Or maybe use the pay phone to tell her to come to the station to keep him company, Animal be ******.

    His stomach cut in, rumbling loudly. Or, maybe he could get some lunch.

    Mustering up all his energy, he got up and made his way into the station's cafe. It was almost full and there was already a couple at the counter, both of them like him but shorter and more human-like skin. So he waited, checking the blackboard for any decent specials.

    After about the fifth time he re-read it, he realised that the couple were taking a lot of time to decide. He turned his attention to them, eavesdropping a little as they both argued with the unimpressed looking server.

    "Uh, ah, Ma'am I swear we had money a minute ago," the man of the two said nervously. He had short brown hair and was wearing a old Victorian striped suit, of which he was tugging at the collar.

    The lady, matching his attire in a frilly dress and bonnet, buried her face in her hands, mortified. "Oh, Wayne! You lost it all again, didn't you?” she wailed. “See, this is why I should be in charge of the money! I told you so, but did you listen?"

    "Not now, woman. I'm trying my best here."

    The server crossed her arms. "I'm sorry sir, but no money, no food. It's that simple. Now will you please leave? I have another customer waiting."

    "No, wait!" the man, Wayne, begged desperately. "How about instead a, ah, a song! Yes, me and Wanda here are professionals!"

    "Excuse me?" The server said, skeptical and looking a little disturbed.

    "It's simple. We'll sing for you. We're very good you know. In fact, we're so good that once you hear us, you'll have no choice but to give us food for free!"

    Zoot rolled his eyes, clicking his tongue audibly in a disgusted manner. Are these folks for real?

    Wayne rounded his pointed face at him, apparently hearing him. "And what isyour problem?"

    Slightly taken aback by the sudden aggression, Zoot replied, "Besides holding up the line? No one's gonna trade food for a song, man."

    Tried that once already, he thought to himself.

    Wayne didn't seem convinced. He smiled smugly, a look Zoot had seen on many a doubtful club owner. "That's because you haven't heard us yet, my dear fellow," he drawled and cleared his throat. "Ready, Wanda?"

    "Sir, this really isn't necessary-" the server began to say, but the lady, Wanda, was already singing;

    Why do they think up stories that link my name with yours?

    The server and Zoot caught each others' eye, neither quite believing this was really happening as Wayne joined in;

    Why do the neighbors chatter all day, behind their doors?

    The noise of the cafe died, some chairs squeaking as people turned to see why the sudden musical number. Wanda ignored them.

    I know a way to prove what they say is quite untrue.
    Here is the gist, a practical list of "don'ts" for you.
    Don't throw bouquets at m-


    Zoot jumped back, aghast as an avalanche of flowers buried the couple. Bystanders gasped, some rushing forward when they heard Wanda's muffled shrieking.

    He looked around the scene, people falling about as they tried to dig through the flowers, then slowly began backing towards the exit just as the server cried, "Where did all these flowers come from?!"

    Looking back once more, Zoot shook his head and stepped out into the sunlight, leaving the yells behind him as he walked back to the sidewalk. Maybe lunch could wait for a while. That was enough weird for today. Hopefully, no more will come along.


    Suddenly, something slammed hard into Zoot out of nowhere, pinning him to the ground and slobbering him with kisses and licks like a great wild dog. Shocked and sore, he pushed his attacker up just enough to see his face. Oh. Of course it had to be...

    “You stupid mutt,” he growled, Animal batting his hands away and continued to lick his hair. “Get off me!”

    “MISSED YOU! MISSED YOU!” the drummer yelled happily, easily overthrowing Zoot’s attempts to push him off. He reeked of wet dog, the stench up close much more overpowering than usual.

    Over the suckering kisses, he was unsurprised to hear someone cackling above him. He shot a glare at Floyd, that cocky moustached smart mouth staring back down at him with that terrible glint in his eye.

    “Well, serves you right for disappearing again, ya grizzled schnook,” he said, leaning his hands on his knees and laughed again.

    “Pepper!” Zoot snapped, in between more attempts to push Animal away. “Get. Him. Off. Me.”


    “Alright, bud. That’s enough love! Off!”

    “OFF!” the drummer yelped, jumping off Zoot at the command. He lay on the ground, staring up at the sky and half-wondering what kind of hairy, drool slick storm had hit him. Floyd looked down at him, smiling a little more friendly this time.

    “Ain’t you a sight for sore eyes, Saxman!” he said, offering a hand.

    Zoot grumbled a little, but took his hand. Floyd pulled him to his feet and up into a tight embrace, and Zoot couldn’t help but grin despite his state. It honestly really was good to see both his friends again.

    Floyd pushed back, wrinkling his nose. “Ack, gross. You’re covered in Animal drool!”

    Animal grinned sheepishly. "SORR-RRY!”

    "Well, well, well. If that wasn't a most original meeting of companions, I'll eat my hat!"

    Zoot jumped a little, surprised by a new, gruff voice he was not familiar with.

    The man standing next to Floyd reminded Zoot of a giant green beetle. He had a round body with unusually thin long limbs. In fact, his arms reminded him a bit of Charlie the Octopus in that he could possibly stretch out and grab him without taking another step further. He certainly knew how to decorate it too. Frills and rings of all shorts around his fingers and wrists; a pink floppy top hat with a long blue feather resting atop his orange hair and what looked like a necklace of bones against his black and pink striped shirt.

    Zoot regarded the stranger cautiously. "Uh, pardon?"

    “Oh, Zoot!” Floyd said, wiping off the saliva from his jacket and motioning to the Beatle-Man. “I almost forgot. I’d like to introduce you to our newest band member. This here is the most talented, fantastic, stupendous, magnificent, most positively grooviest individual I have ever met, The Great Dr. Teeth!”

    “You flatter me, my main man!” Dr. Teeh chuckled, then patted his round belly. “Lord knows I need it!” He flashed a massive grin at Zoot, showing off his impressive choppers and one glittering golden tooth. “I believe we spoke on the phone this morning.”

    Zoot looked at him, amazed as they shook hands. “Wait, that was you?” He then frowned at Floyd. “Wait, new band member?” And then he remembered the phone call. “Wait, Electric Mayhem?"

    “You’re a sharp one, I can tell!” Dr. Teeth laughed. “And technically, it’s ‘Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.’ Though it had a bit more spice and flare than ‘The Pepper Crew’. And less egotistical.”

    Floyd snorted. "You're one to talk, man!"

    The saxophonist looked incredulously at Floyd, because never, in all their years together as a band, had Floyd ever let anyone change the name. Ever. He goes away for, what, a week and they have a new leader and name?

    Catching his eye, the bassist only shrugged casually. “Hey, I kinda think it works. The Good Doc knows what he’s doing! Y'know, when you were away, he got us two gigs in one night! Two gigs! Can you believe that?"

    Zoot blinked. "I'm lost."

    "Thought you said you were Zoot," Dr. Teeth joked. "We'll tell ya all about soon enough, my prominent horn-blower! Speaking of gigs, we have a terrific one at Surf’n’Turf's club tonight and I'd like to be all ready for that. So let's say we head before the traffic gets freaky!"

    "Good thinking," Floyd said, picking up Animal's chain. "C'mon, Animal. Let's beat feet!"

    "BEAT FEET!"

    The three musicians began to head for the car parked just around the corner. Zoot picked up his case and bag, but stalled behind a little. He glanced over his shoulder, shamefully hoping for a glimpse of blonde hair and red lips amongst the walking pedestrians.

    "C'mon, man! Whatcha waiting for? A hurricane to pick you up?"

    Zoot sighed, downcast, and followed his band to Floyd's car. He tugged the sleeve over the arm Janice had scrawled her number on. It helped to know that they would speak again soon enough.
  16. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    Chapter 8

    Dr. Teeth’s fingers flew and danced over the keys, his many rings glinting in the spotlight as he began to sing;

    I been in the right place
    But it must have been the wrong time
    I'd of said the right thing
    But I must have used the wrong line
    I been in the right trip
    But I must have used the wrong car
    My head was in a bad place
    And I'm wondering what it's good for

    Zoot blew out the repeating notes leading up the chorus while Floyd took up the guitar next to him. If you asked him, the song which they played needed at least one or two more musicians for it to work. Without bongos and a bass, it sounded unbalanced. But their new band leader, the ever mellifluous (whatever that means) Dr. Teeth seemed to carry it off nicely. He was one cool beetle bug of a man once Zoot got to know him better. He knew his jazz and soul like the back of his hands, feet, legs and his own back as he so put it. Zoot just hoped one day he would be able to understand what the keyboardist was saying without looking dumbly at Floyd for a translation.

    Animal rounded up the song with a final cymbal crash and then another and another until Floyd snapped at him to stop using his head. The crowd that had gathered tonight at Surfn’Trufs cheered despite that and even one of the waiters dressed in the club’s standard kangaroo suit yelled how much he loved Keith Moon.

    “Thank you, folks!” Dr. Teeth announced on the microphone. “You have been most phenomenal! We’ll be back in twenty!”

    Zoot unhooked the sax from his strap and tapped Floyd on the shoulder before he could go to the bar. “Hey, you have any change?” he said. “I need to make a call.”

    “Sure thing, bud,” Floyd replied, flipping him a quarter. “Just don’t get lost. I don’t wanna end up looking for you in Kansas.”

    Zoot went red, glaring as Floyd laughed. “That was one time.”

    "If I had a dime every time I heard that from you I’d have more change for you.”

    Dr. Teeth sauntered past them, still in a good mood from the performance and joking, “Hey, if you keep losing him, maybe you should put a leash on him too!”

    “Ah, shut up,” Zoot groaned as both men laughed. He made his way down the steps off the stage while the other three went to the bar. Some customers praised him for what a great performance that was as he passed by. Others, more drunk, tried to touch his head for luck but he dodged them quite easily.

    He found the payphone by the back entrance. Making sure none of his friends followed him, he rolled up his sleeve, picked up the receiver, put the quarter in the slot and dialled the number on his arm.

    He waited nervously as the other end began to ring. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea, he was thinking. Would she think of him as being too desperate, too clingy? He hadn’t done this in such a long time. Was this too soon to be calling back his girlfriend a night after their first date?

    Could he even call her his girlfriend?

    The ringing stopped and for a second Zoot thought he wasted the quarter for nothing. Then;

    “Like, hello?”

    Zoot breathed a sigh of relief, glad to hear her voice again. “Hey, it’s Zoot,” he replied, leaning back against the wall.

    “Oh, hi!” Her tone noticeably perked up and it made Zoot feel warmer and happier. “I didn’t expect you to call back so soon. Not that I’m complaining or anything, rully."

    He grinned at that. “Heh, good to hear. How are you?”

    “Like, ok. Just trying to do some rull responsible boring things like pay rent and cook dinner and stuff. It’s sure is a lot quieter without you here.”

    Well, that’s a first, Zoot thought, fondly.

    “Hey, did you remember to hang out that suit?" She added. "Don’t want it to get crinkles, rully!”

    “Yeah, it’s airing right next to my window, touch wood Animal hasn’t already broken in my room and torn everything up.”

    “Oh, gosh. He does that?”

    “Not as much. We usually have to replace our locks every now and again but Floyd’s been training him to destroy the trash instead.”

    “Oh, rully!” she giggled. “Where are you anyway? I can hear a lot of noise in the background.”

    “Oh, we got a gig going at the moment but we’re taking a break. Sheesh, you wouldn’t believe what happened when Floyd picked me up.”

    “Like, try me. I’ve lived in this town long enough to know five types of weird usually pop up before lunchtime.”

    Zoot then gave her the rough draft of the lunchtime broadway disaster (“Oh, I’ve heard about those two! Bethany said they were trying to do My Fair Lady in the park but they got blown away, like those nannies in Mary Poppins, fer sure!”) then Animal’s ‘special’ greeting (“Aww, that’s kind of adorable!”) and meeting Dr. Teeth.

    “Oh, wow! That’s sooo cool!” she exclaimed once he was done. “Unless he’s, like, totally awful then that’s sooo not cool!”

    “No, he’s really cool,” Zoot chuckled. “It was more of a shock to have a new leader and band name in the time I was gone. Still, looking at a full schedule for the week, I think I like him. And his singing?” He whistled impressively. “Some skills.”

    “That’s good,” Janice sighed and Zoot noticed the sudden downhearted tone.

    “Are you ok?” he asked.

    “Hmm? Oh, no! I mean yes! I mean, yeah I’m totally fine!” There was a slight rustling, like paper being scrunched up into a ball. “Anyway, tell me about Floyd. How he doing with the new change?”

    Zoot frowned, knowing she was changing the subject deliberately but didn’t push. “Surprisingly, ok,” he replied. “I tried to get him to change things for years but he never listened. Now that Dr. Teeth’s on board...Don’t ask me how they met, he told me the story five times and I still don’t know it.”

    “Wow, sounds like he can be like totally rull stubborn!”

    “Sometimes,” he said dryly. “He’s a great friend and all but he can be a real-” He said the word in Hebrew without quite knowing it.

    “Sorry, he’s a what?” Janice asked.

    “Oh, uh, it’s a Hebrew word. It means-”


    “Wha- Hello? Janice?” It took a moment of pressing the switch to realise that the phone cut off because he ran out of time. He gave up, putting the phone down while muttering a few more choice words in Hebrew.

    “ZOOT!” Animal jumped up from behind him just then, scaring the living daylights out of him.

    “Yeesh, don’t do that!” he snapped, but the drummer ignored him.

    “DRUMS!” he yelled, pushing him back towards the stage. “DRUMS! DRUMS NOW!”


    It was a week before they could speak again. Floyd had not been kidding when he said Dr. Teeth was good at getting gigs. Before, they relied on busking and were lucky if they had one gig at least bimonthly. Now with the Doc taking the reins, the band went through an entirely packed week, some including out of state engagements. They had little time to kick back and relax now, most especially for Zoot to call Janice again. He was so exhausted by the end of each gig that he usually passed out right on the front doorstep as soon as they got home. (“I think we broke him, man,” he remembered Floyd saying on one such occasion.)

    Finally, on their day off, Zoot woke about one o’clock in the afternoon to find the apartment empty of all tenants except for himself. Floyd left a note on the refrigerator, saying he took Animal out to meet Dr. Teeth about more gigs and that he should remember to eat the leftover stew for lunch.


    With the number fading on his arm, Zoot dialled it again...only to go straight to the answering machine. He left a message, along with the apartment number, and sat by the window. It was grey, mundane day, the clouds already promising a worse outcome later. Sure enough, as he relaxed with one of Floyd’s music magazines, there was a flash and thunder and hammering rain followed.

    It was so loud that he initially didn’t hear the phone ring.

    He jumped, the magazine flying out of his hands, and snached it up to his ear.

    “Hey,” he said, not bothering to ask who it was. “What’s happening?”

    “Oh my gosh, where do I begin?!” Janice groaned and Zoot feared he’d done something wrong.

    “Sorry, I’ve been really busy lately. I wanted to call-”

    “Oh, no. I’m not mad at you, hon,” Janice said, sighing. “I’ve had a rully bad week. Is it ok if a talk to you about it?”

    Slightly more concerned, Zoot straightened up. "Sure."

    He heard her take a deep breath and boy, what a week it had been for her. For the next half hour, she described in acute detail of everything that had gone down the gutter since he left. Overdue rent, threats of eviction, food running out, practically no help from her friends...

    "And then, just when I totally rully did not need it, my mother calls me to demand I move back in with her!" She let out a great sigh. "I’ve just been here for a month and everything’s going so wrong! I just don't rully know what to do anymore. This was supposed to be my chance to prove to Mom I can do things on my own and now, I, like, don't even feel like a rull adult!"

    Zoot didn't reply for a few moments. The last sentence hit home hard for a gawky, bushy haired young man he once knew, with only the clothes on his back and his trusty sax by his side.

    "So, um, you need to take your mind of things?" He finally asked.

    It wasn’t the best answer he could have conjured at that point but she responded with an enthusiastic, "Like, please!"

    Afterwards, they spoke of Zoot's week, Janice now getting the full story of why he couldn't call sooner. They talked for what was probably hours. At one point in the early evening, Zoot was recalling one of Animal’s wackier outbreaks which had Janice shrieking with laughter.

    “Oh my gosh, like, stop!” she wheezed, still in fits. “I can’t breath!”

    Her laugh was infectious and Zoot couldn’t help but join her too. “Oh, man! I’ve never heard you laugh this hard.”

    “I hate it so much! It’s so embarrassing!”

    “Are you kidding? It’s adorable!”

    “Ooooh, wow!” She paused taking a big sigh but her reply was anything but mournful. “Thanks, honey! I rully needed that! I missed talking to you”

    “Yeah...me too.”

    He was brought back to earth by a sharp yell from outside the apartment. The front door rattled, following by Floyd cursing about the lock being jammed.

    Zoot sighed. “Oh, boy. The guys are back. Listen, I might be busy for the rest of the week so I’ll try and call you as soon as I can.”

    “Oh,” Janice said, sounding disappointed for a moment but then perked up a bit. "Ok. Like, until next time."

    "Sure thing."

    "Like, bye."

    “Bye,” he whispered and hung up, just as Dr. Teeth kicked the door open, his arms carrying several grocery bags. Zoot laid back on the cushions as the others unpacked, already thinking when and if he’ll be able to call her back.

    “So who was that on the phone?” Dr. Teeth asked, rummaging around the bags and passing them to Floyd to put away.

    “Jo,” Zoot lied, reeling back as Animal began to shake the water off him.

    “Swell! Who’s he?”

    “That’s Zoot’s little brother,” Floyd answered. "Little dorky, but he's a pretty cool dude!" He then narrowed his eyes at Zoot and added, "Though he's a little deaf, unfortunately.”


    “He got new hearing aids!” he said, a little too quickly.

    Floyd seemed sceptical. “You can use the phone with those?” he asked. "Wait, why were you mumbling then? Wouldn't you have to speak up? Oh wait, don't tell me! He a lip read through the phone now!"

    “I don’t know, do I look like an expert?” Zoot snapped, more irritated than he meant to.

    “Now, now Zoot. Stay mellow,” Dr. Teeth said, scrunching up the now empty bags. “A man is allowed to inquire vocally.”

    “Ah, leave him be, Doc. He’s probably just grumpy because he forgot to eat again,” Floyd replied, opening the refrigerator. “Oh, look. What a surprise. A bowl of stew is still- Oh, it got mouldy."

    “Leave it, I’ll order pizza,” Dr Teeth said, shoving Zoot’s legs out of the way so he could sit. He took to phone and began to dial. “Oh, by the way Zoot. We got to get up early tomorrow. I got us a gig in Chicago. The Green Mill, great place, so be packed by tonight. After that, there’s the Jazz Hawk at the other side of town and then after that it’s Jack’s Attic. Oh, I almost forgot about Sunset! They want us for a couple of nights. Also, we got a Bar Mitzvah when we’re in Chicago and some kid’s eighteenth on Tuesday-”

    Zoot was no longer listening, the endless list of gigs turned into white noise. He had a feeling he wasn’t going to speak with Janice in a long time.
  17. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    Chapter 9

    The white noise slowly became a high pitched ringing, until it turned to much clearer, louder voices. But it wasn't Dr. Teeth’s voice that was speaking. In fact, it was several. Several loud, harsh and very angry voices.

    "Hey, what's the hold up?!"

    "Piggy, if that's you in there, come out right now!"

    "My fish are still in there! They must be traumatised!"

    "Hey! I'm right here, creep!"



    Zoot snapped his eyes open. He was suddenly back in the Muppet Boarding House bathroom in the present, the water from the shower making his skin all red and wrinkly.

    Sweet sarsaparilla, how long have I been in here?

    Quickly as he could, he scrubbed himself clean, switched of the shower and stepped out to dry himself. He took his shades from the fish in the sink, both of whom were kind enough to cover their eyes, grabbed his usual blue and white striped bathrobe and put it on, just as the pounding on the door was starting.

    "Guys, guys! Knock it off! There's no need for that!" he heard Kermit yell in a panicky pitch.

    "Yeah, what this needs is a run up!"

    "Link, no!"

    "Ok, here I go! YAAAAAH!"

    Knowing what was going to happen next, Zoot unlocked the door and let it open. He stepped aside just in time for Link Hogthrob to whiz by him, slip and collide into the shower with a yell of "WAAAARRROOOO!"

    Zoot shook his head and left the bathroom, ignoring the long line of tenants complaining at him for taking so long.

    The band's room was empty of it's other occupants, which he was glad for because he didn't feel like facing Dr. Teeth just yet. Not doubt he was still recounting the tale of a few hours ago to half the house downstairs.

    With a groan at the thought, Zoot changed into his pyjamas then sat down on his bed and quickly towel-dried his hair. He was just debating with himself whether or not to put curlers in when there was a soft knock on the door. Janice, also in pyjamas and a robe, entered when he called out, giving him a sympathetic look.

    "Hey," she said quietly. "You okay, Zootie? Doc and Floyd told me what happened."

    Zoot grumbled, picking up a roll and began to wrap a strand of hair around it. "M'fine. It's not like I knew I wasn't ready or that he wouldn't leave me alone about it or that stupid- Ah!"

    In his ranting, he dropped the curler but Janice picked it up and sat behind him. "Here, like, let me."

    He allowed her to run her fingers through his hair and place each curler in carefully. Her helping him with his hair, it used to mean something else a very long time ago. A very small but loving moment of private intimacy between them. Now that things were different, he was just glad her presence and patience was calming him down from all the tension he was building.

    Once she was finished, he thanked her then leaned back against the headboard.

    “Can I, like, ask you something?” Janice asked, setting herself on the end of his bed and crossing her legs.

    “Fire away.”

    “If you weren’t ready to start dating again, why did you go with Teeth anyway?”

    Zoot shrugged. “You know what he’s like. Can’t take no for an answer.”

    Janice rolled her eyes, smirking. “Rully,” she said, then sighed. “It’s just that when we were dating, you took it all in a stride. Apart from after the first season, we didn’t have any awkwardness or problems or stuff.”

    “Yeah, well, you were technically the one who started it. Heck, I’m not even sure if we’d be where we are now if you didn’t take the reigns of our relationship back then,” he replied.

    Janice wasn't listening. She propped her head up in her hands, looking out the window with a wistful look.


    "Hmm? Oh, sorry. I was just thinking about our second date and meeting the band. You, like remember that, right?"

    For the first time that night, Zoot let himself smile. "How could I forget?"


    “What are you doing?” Floyd had asked him on that night.

    Looking at his reflection in the kitchen mirror, Zoot adjusted his hat a little. “Staring at the good looking guy who lives on our kitchen wall,” he replied and he heard Floyd huff.

    “Very funny. I think we both know what I mean.”

    Zoot rolled his eyes, smirking. “Geez, you sound like my mom,” he mumbled. “I’m just going out for a while. Should be a couple of hours.”

    Satisfied with his appearance, he glanced away and was surprised to see Floyd looking at him strangely, as if he didn’t recognize him.


    “A Zoot Suit?” Floyd said, gesturing to Zoot’s current attire. “I know it goes with your name but since when do you wear those?”

    “It was a gift,” Zoot said, calmly putting on his jacket. “Besides, it’s been a month since we got timeout and I’m not gonna waste it. I’ll see you later.”

    He passed the tv room, briefly saying goodbye to Animal who was watching a concert on tv while upside down. He opened the door and prepared to leave, but then a pink hand shot out and shut it, Floyd suddenly standing next to him and frowning.

    “Alright spill!”

    “Excuse me?” Zoot said, put off by the persistent bassist.

    “What’s going on?” Floyd demanded. “You’ve been acting weirder than usual since I picked you up from that town you jumped into last month.”

    “What are you talking about? I’m fine.”

    “Man, I know you don’t have to tell me everything that’s going on with your life. But you’ve been sneaking around everytime we’re not on a stage and when you’re not doing that, you just mooch around all miserable! Dr. Teeth didn't believe me when I told him you weren't usually like that!"


    “Also,” Floyd cut in, crossing his arms. “I heard you on the phone last night. Who were you talking to?”

    Zoot froze. He had hoped he had been discreet last night. While he had thought the other two were sleeping, Zoot had called Janice again, the first time in a month. She was still in her apartment, he was relieved to hear, but wanted to see him again. He couldn't have agreed more.

    "There's a place just a few blocks from where I live," he had said. "I'll see if I can get a reservation tomorrow. Can you get the bus out?"

    "Fer sure!" she had replied, delighted. "Um, where do you live again?"

    They made whispered (on Zoot’s side) and quick arrangements before they parted. Zoot was buzzing since then and hardly slept from excitement.

    However, he had still been very hesitant to tell the others about her.

    "Well?" Floyd said, his foot tapping impatiently.

    Zoot sighed, defeated. Well, here goes nothing, he thought.

    “Ok, look. When I was in that town, I lost my way and...I met someone. Her name is Janice. She took me in, fed me, kept me company, took me to some cool places and...well, I, erm-” Here he looked down at his polished shoes, which were already starting to scuff at the toe. “I kinda fell, man. I- we, I mean- fell pretty hard for each other.”

    When he finished, he forced himself to look up, despite his cheeks heating up. Floyd's expression had changed, going from blank to confused to surprised and then realisation.

    "You...you got a girl?" he said, he voice croaking a little.


    Floyd stuttered for a moment, breaking the cool act he had worked to build up. But then he grinned. "That's great!"

    "It is?"

    "Well, yeah! Man I thought you were...well, never mind what I thought. Congratulations man!" He punched his shoulder lightly in affection. "Jeez don't do that again! You had me worried sick."

    Zoot smiled. “That’s great. Can I go now? I got a date with her.”

    “What? Oh yeah, sure! Good luck with your woman!”

    "WOMAN?! WHERE?"

    "Oh, shoot! No, Animal get down!"


    Zoot had regularly passed The Rock Pool restaurant and was aware of its' rising reputation. He had never been it there before until today and he was beginning to see why. It wasn't a place for a laid back people as himself and Floyd. It was way too soft and fancy, complete with a piano in the corner and a stuffy atmosphere filled to the brim with cigarette smoke and various perfumes.

    He already felt like he was sticking out like a sore thumb amongst these cocktail dresses and black and white suits. But he didn't care. He was seeing his girl tonight for the first time in ages. Nothing could possibly damper his mood.

    The table he got was by the window overlooking the street below. It had a nice red and white checkered table cloth and at the centre was a single tall candle in a green bottle, strongly reminding Zoot of a certain Disney movie he saw once. Thankfully, the music was not Italian or played by cartoony stereotypes.

    He got settled, ordered a starter and waited.

    The starter arrived within a few minutes and he silently ate it. Still waiting.

    Afterwards, the waiter took his plate and asked if he would like to see the main menu. Zoot declined, saying he was waiting for someone and the man left. He still waited.

    People came in, had their three courses and went out again. Tables were cleaned and re-cleaned for the next customers. The piano player played a few tunes then left, making the place more quieter as the night went on. The candle on his table melted into the bottle slowly, getting shorter and shorter.

    For the fourth time, the waiter came up to his table and politely reminded him that he had to leave sooner than later. Zoot, feeling bored out of his mind and drowsy from the smells, admitted defeat and glumly asked for the check.

    He sighed, tracing his wine glass with his forefinger. Where was she? How can anyone be this late? Did something happen? Or was he not good enough for her?

    He was barely aware of one of the waiters raising his voice to someone at the other end of the room.

    "Hey, dog! You're late!"

    "Sorry, Max! I was chasing cars and boy-"

    "'Am I exhausted!' Yeah, yeah I’ve heard it before! Look, you better start playing real soon! Don't want the bossman to catch you late again."

    "That I don't, Max. That I don't."

    Pausing, Zoot glanced up to the speakers. He spotted a fat brown spaniel taking a seat by the piano and began shuffling the music sheets, humming to himself quite happily. He cracked his fingers (or was it paws? Did dogs have fingers?) and began to play something sweet and classical.

    He wasn't sure what it was that fascinated him about the dog. Whether it was that he looked strangely familiar or he was musically talented or possibly the fact that it was a dog playing the piano. Whatever the reason, Zoot found himself leaving his payment and tip on the table and walking over the the pooch. The dog glanced up at Zoot as he approached, his dark eyes friendly.

    "Evening," he greeted. "Come to appreciate the genius of Johann Sebastian Bach?"

    His voice was gruff, almost like Dr. Teeth's, but there was something warm and welcoming about it that made Zoot feel like he was right at home.

    Zoot pulled up a chair and climbed up onto it next to the piano. "I just appreciate music, man," he said, shrugging.

    "Yeah, it does have a certain appeal to it does it?" the dog replied, nodding.

    His paws didn't fly or whiz through the keys like Dr. Teeth's glittery-ringed fingers did. He was mostly gentle and mellow, as soft as his fur, though his left paw was noticeably stronger than the other.

    Seeing this, Zoot cocked his head to one side. "I didn't know dogs could play the piano."

    "Neither did I until a few years ago," the dog chuckled. "I worked on television for a while so I never really got the chance until I retired. Not as hard as it looks as it turns out."

    Zoot was about to nod in understanding, until it struck him what was so familiar about the dog.

    "Hey, er, dumb question but weren't you on The Jimmy Dean Show?"

    The dog glanced up at him and grinned. "Betcha didn't know his old buddy Rowlf was still around?"

    Zoot gaped a little, feeling foolishly starstruck for a moment. "I...wow, er, if you weren't so busy, I'd shake your hand- I mean paw- I mean-"

    Rowlf laughed, but in good spirits. "That's alright, my friend. I'm almost done anyway."

    Sure enough, he rounded up the number elegantly and turned to shake his hand. "Rowlf the Dog. Pleasure to meet you."

    "I know," Zoot replied, letting go of Rowlf's paw. "Call me Zoot. Everyone but my family does."

    "Really?" Rowlf asked, beginning to play again. This time, it was 'The Entertainer', a tune Zoot knew. "So what do they call you?"

    "Lazy, slow and incompetent mostly. Especially from my mother."

    "Heh, I hear you. My sister used to gripe about that to me when we were wee pups." For a moment, Rowlf frowned. "Come to think of it, she still does. Tche, a grown dog makes it to television and she still treats me like a three month old."

    "You know, I used to watch that show with my brother and translate for him," Zoot said. He knew it was so typical to go all fan nutty over a TV star, even if said star was just a small astronomical phenomena. How had he not known that a former small time celebrity was working just a mile from where he lived?

    Rowlf, however, did not seem to mind his presence.

    "Oh?" he asked, curiously. "Could he understand English?"

    "Perfectly. He just couldn't hear it. Had to sign everything for him."

    Rowlf's paw twitched for brief second, missing a note or two. He pursed his lips and he had gone pink in the cheeks. "Oh. Sorry about that."

    "Ah, don't worry about it," Zoot said dismissively, used to the awkward reaction whenever the subject of Jo's disability came up. So he changed the subject again. "So what else have you been doing since the show went off air?"

    "Hmm? Oh, I did a few commercials. Especially for Purina Dog Chow?"

    "How was it?"


    "The dog chow?"

    "Well, I prefer cheeseburgers myself," Rowlf chuckled. "Anyway, after that I enrolled in Music School and majored in piano playing, punning and fetching."

    "They have majors for those?"

    "Majorly so! Anyway, what do you do? I saw you were admiring my handy work here closely so I guess you work with music."

    "You could say that. I'm in a rock band. I play saxophone mostly."

    "Really? What's the name of your band?"

    All circumstances considered, Zoot had a pleasant night. They continued to chat about music, family and careers. Rowlf had a lot of good tales about his days in television and some old age gossip about his old country singer friend. Zoot told him stories of his siblings and band members but neglected to say anything about Janice. All night she did not appear once and he was already long convinced she was not coming.

    Around midnight, the restaurant closed down for the night. Zoot walked out with Rowlf, chuckling at a bad pun the dog just told as they stood outside the entrance.

    "Well, it was great meeting you Zoot!" Rowlf said, shaking his hand again. "Maybe you'll have better luck next time on a date."

    Zoot stopped smiling, staring at him curiously. "I didn't say anything about a date."

    Rowlf placed a paw on his shoulder and gave him a sympathetic look. "Trust me. I saw you just as I came in. I know a broken heart when I see one. You gonna be ok?"

    "Er, yeah, I'll be fine," Zoot mumbled, looking down at his feet. "I mean, I'll get over it."

    Goodbyes were exchanged between the two and Zoot headed down the street back towards home while Rowlf went the other way. The night still mild with a light wind blowing through his hair and jacket. He shivered a little, wrapping himself up tighter and hoping he wouldn't get harassed by any human drunks again.

    He was just about the turn a corner, thinking about how to best contact Janice again when-


    Zoot tumbled backwards, barely managing to stay on his feet as someone tripped and slammed into his chest.

    "Hey!" he yelled, angrily. "Will you watch where you're-"

    He stopped when he saw who he was holding.

    "Oh, gosh! I'm so sorry! I totally didn't do that on purpose- Zootie?!"
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2014
  18. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    AN: Thank you to everyone who has read and liked on recent chapters. An especially big thank you to AnimatedC9000 for proofreading this chapter and the last. At the time of publishing this chapter, I have since moved and I don't have wi-fi so I'm hoping everything looks ok despite being published via my phone. I know I don't update as often as I originally hoped but hopefully I might turn that around. Also, please leave a comment or two because feedback and thoughts are really important to me. Thanks!

    Chapter 10

    Zoot cradled Janice's face in his hands, not quite believing she was there, if she were a hallucination his tired brain had coaxed up. But her skin was too soft to be imaginative, her her closeness too real.

    "It-it's you!" He stammered. "I mean, you're here! You're really here!”

    Janice laughed lightly, clasping his hands and touching her forehead with his. There were small drops of tears clinging onto her eyelashes.

    "Yeah, hun. I'm rully here," she said, smiling so sweetly that Zoot had to kiss her right there and then.

    They kissed for what felt like hours. It was slow and sensual but oh, it was so good to be holding her again, to have her close to him after so long apart.

    So very, very long-

    Zoot broke the kiss quite suddenly. "Hey, whoa, wait a minute!" he exclaimed. "Where the heck were you? I waited hours for you! I spent almost all my money from this month to book a table!"

    Janice cast her eyes to her feet. "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry. It's a rully long story."

    Following her gaze, he noticed a bunch of bags scattered across the ground. Perhaps she dropped them when she collided with him.

    There were a lot of them.

    Reluctantly, Zoot let her go and picked up a couple of bags. "I guess I have all night."

    He knew a local diner place just around the corner. It was open twenty four hours, made great burgers and one of the only places where the staff tolerated Animal at his worst. It was no fancy-smacy fine dining with a celebrity dog playing the piano, but neither one minded. In fact, he felt more comfortable here. It helped that the food wasn't overpriced and he had enough to pay for it.

    They took a table at the corner, dumping all the bags on the table behind them in doing so, and ordered a couple of plates of fries. As they ate, Janice told her story while one hand held Zoot's own.

    "I thought I had it under control. I go to the most cheapest places for food, I knew all the thrift stores in town for clothes but I couldn't make ends meet, y'know? Who knew busking all the time would get you evicted!" she concluded. Zoot listened as she spoke, brushing his thumb over her knuckles in comfort. "Part of me rully wanted to ask mom for help, but-" she sighed. "I didn't want to prove her right. Again."

    "This has happened before?"

    She didn’t reply, instead nodded sadly.

    Zoot considered her luggage for a moment. An overflowing rucksack, two guitar cases and many handbags stuffed to the brim. Even so, he wondered how she brought so little. He remembered counting at least four lava lamps at her place.

    "Is this all your stuff?" He asked and she shook her head.

    "No. Beth's dad owns a storage company so she, like, saved me a garage to put my stuff in until I found a place. Listen, hun." Janice scratched the back of her neck. She looked away and chewed her lip, nervously. "This may be, like, totally early and stuff but I'm kinda desperate." She looked him in the eye. "Can I move in with you guys? Maybe, just for a little while. And don't worry, I'll totally earn my keep! I can go find a job somewhere and-well or-"

    She hesitated, her hand squeezing his. "Or- or, like, maybe join your band?"

    Zoot didn’t reply at first, slowly nodding as the information filtered in his head. Janice stared at him in the silence, somehow more anxious.

    Eventually, the penny dropped.

    "Oh. Oh!" His heart starting beating rapidly and he found himself stammering again. "I-well, yeah, of course you can live with us! I mean, we’ll have see about the band thing with Dr. Teeth -not that he won't want you but it's good to ask and- erm, I mean- I guess so?"

    Apparently, it was the right choice of words. Janice smiled so brightly it was as if the sun had come out early.

    "Oh, babe! You are a rull life-saver! Thank you!" She brought his hand up to her lips and pressed a soft kiss on his knuckles."Thank you so much!"

    Zoot melted inside, never wanting free will of his hand ever again.

    Janice slumped back in her seat, heaving out a great sigh. "Oh wow, I'm so tired. I had to wait, like, three hours for the next bus. Rully."

    Zoot tapped his fingers on the table, an idea coming to his head. They could head back to the apartment, sneak in and distract Animal with some chips if they were quiet. But what if she wanted to...

    "I know a motel not far from here," he mumbled.

    Her head snapped up and the excited glint beneath her eyelashes told him, Yeah, she wants to.


    "Oh my gosh, like, cut it out!"

    It was morning. It was sunny, probably. Or raining. Zoot didn't really notice or care. What he did care about was the girl of his dreams he held close to his side with an arm around her waist. He was acting stupidly mushy, both of them were. He made constant moves to kiss her while Janice pushed at him playfully in a fit of girlish giggles. They swayed on the sidewalk, neither in no hurry to make it home, still having hazy after effects from last night at the motel.

    Passers-by were probably glaring, tutting or make sick noises at their behaviour, so early in the morning too.

    Probably, but he didn't care.

    "Oh wow," Janice sighed, resting her head on Zoot's. "I still can’t believe you wear your shades to bed! Are you rull sensitive to light cos I’m pretty sure the lights were out!"

    Zoot pushed them up his nose out of habit, blushing. "Erm, one step at a time babe. Well, this is it!"

    Somehow, amidst their flirting, they made it to the apartment. It wasn't exactly much. Sure it was nice looking, being an old fashioned house split into two (above being the one shared between Zoot, Floyd and Animal, below for their long suffering landlady, Mrs K) but it was clear from the outside that it was a tiny space for three people, soon to be four.

    Zoot cleared his throat. “Ok, you remember what I told you? If Animal sees you, get behind me quickly. It's usually better if he makes contact with me rather than you." He paused thinking. "Wait, you you still have those nuts? I might distract him with and you can come in though Mrs. K's apartment. It's not the first time we had to do that."

    But Janice waved off his advice, making a dismissive noise. “Honey, I told you, I’ll be ok. What’s the worst that can happen?”

    The first of the worst happening began with a loud crash from the top floor. The second was two more louder crashes, Mrs. K's shrieking and what was unmistakably Dr. Teeth yelling, "YEEOW!" followed by Floyd's "ANIMAL! HEEL!"

    Zoot stood frozen to the spot, rigid with fear. Oh no! Oh, no no no! Not like this!

    BAM! The door broke right off its hinges, spitting out splinters, and Animal lunged. "WOMAN!"

    It all happened so quickly Zoot didn't even have time to blink, let alone save Janice. All he knew was one moment, Animal was flying towards Janice with a maniac look, too late to dodge him. The next, bags were flying everywhere, Janice moved and then Animal went down hard with a "ERK!" and a thump.

    There was a moment where everything was still. Janice kept in a position in she had two of her fingers held out where Animal's forehead was seconds ago, her bags scattered everywhere. Animal lay on his front, having gone entirely stiff, his body seeming to think it was still launching mode. His wide gaping mouth hung open and his eyes were crossed.

    Clutching his chest and barely hearing himself over the thumping in his eardrums, Zoot croaked, "How- how did you do that!?"

    Janice stood up straighter, her smile proud. "Pressure points, man!" She mimicked blowing the smoke from a gun with her fingers and putting it away in an imaginary holster. "Useful for guys who can't take a hint, fer sure! Plus it's not totally violent so he's not hurt so much! Then again, I dunno what it feels like soooo-"

    Without thinking, and still in a dazed wonderment towards this bohemian beauty, Zoot blurted, "Man, I love you."

    This caught Janice off guard. "Wait, what?"

    But just then, Floyd rushed from the broken door, yelling over his shoulder, "Don’t worry Mrs. K! I’ll pay for a new door by the end of-"

    He skidded to a halt when he saw Animal on the ground, his eyes growing the size of dinner plates. His looked at Janice, to Animal and back again. "Ho- wha- you-who do-whatda-"

    Dr. Teeth followed suit, nearly colliding into Floyd. "Whoa, Momma!" He yelped. "Anybody get the number of that bus?"

    "Oh, no! He’s ok," Janice said, making Teeth jump. "I just paralyzed him because he was going to lunge at me, fer sure! He’ll be up in a sec."

    Sure enough, Animal groaned and slowly started to move his limbs with some great difficulty. Zoot tensed, thinking he’d get to Janice again. But as soon as the drummer saw her, his eyes grew in terror and he scampered behind Floyd, cowering at his legs and making noises like a wounded...well, animal.

    Floyd and Dr. Teeth stared at him, then each other and back at Janice. Animal whimpered and Floyd petted his head in comfort.

    "Well, er, sorry about all that anyway, ma’am," he said awkwardly. "Trust me, he won’t be bothering you anymore."

    "Oh, it’s nothing rully! Zoot warned me about him anyway."

    "Zoot?" Realising he hadn’t made his presence known during the confusion, Zoot coughed and put his arm around Janice again. Floyd blinked. "Oh! Oh right! You must be Janice!"

    Dr. Teeth frowned at him. "Who now?"

    Floyd quickly whispered in his ear, the Good Doc's eyebrows rising so high that they disappeared straight into his hair. Then his face lit up and he grinned, opening his extended arms. "Ah, Zoot's new main squeeze! Of course!" He swept his hat off his head and bowed a little. "I am Dr. Teeth! Golden Teeth and golden tones. Welcome to my presence!"

    More friendly greetings were exchanged. Whenever Zoot looked back on the meeting in the present day, he could have sworn Floyd was blushing when Janice shook his hand.

    "Zootie has told me soooo much about you guys! I've become, like, a big total fan and I haven't even heard you play yet!"

    Floyd looked like he was trying not to laugh. “Heh, well, guess we’re that good, eh Doc?”

    “Positively!” Dr Teeth replied, then gestured towards the door. "How about we make haste into our humble abode and get more acquainted!"

    "Hold up!" Floyd said, tapping on Teeth's shoulder. "You better see to Mrs. K first. Last I saw her she was under her coffee table and reciting the Lord's Prayer by the look of it."

    As they made their way in, Dr. Teeth leading Janice the way and Animal crawling behind them timidly, Floyd whispered, "Zootie?"

    Zoot felt his ears burning. "Oh, shut up."

    A little later on, once they had calmed down the landlady, they all sat in the living area of the top apartment. Janice and Zoot took the couch side by side with their hands intertwined while Floyd sat on the coffee table and Teeth took the armchair opposite them. Animal was hiding behind said chair, still very wary of Janice. They all listened to Janice's tales of woe, apart from Zoot who already heard it.

    "And that's, like, the full story!" she concluded.

    Dr. Teeth stroked his beard solemnly. "Bummer times, my friend. Bummer times indeed!"

    Floyd nodded sadly at Teeth's statement. “Yeah. You sure there’s nowhere you can stay.”

    “Fer sure,” Janice replied. “And there’s no, like, fer surely way I’m crawling back to my mother!”

    “That’s reasonable,” Floyd chuckled. “Alright. I say you can stay! I’m sure Mrs. K will be glad to have another woman living here!”

    “Woman,” Animal muttered, ducking down again.

    “And hey, if these two get too much, you cats can swing by my place anytime!” Dr. Teeth added with a wink towards to couple.

    Janice let out a sigh of relief. “Oh, wow! Thanks sooo much! You guys are the best!”

    “The pleasure is ours! If there’s anything else y’all need, you know who to call!”

    She had gone silent. Then she coughed, catching Zoot’s eye and titling her head to them.

    "Oh, um, yah know,” he began, trying to be subtle. “it’s a shame she was almost on the streets. You think by the way she plays, she'd have more money by now.” He glanced up only for the pair to stare at him blankly.

    “Yeah, so?” Floyd asked.

    Janice nudged him, prompting him further.

    “Well, it’s just that it might-” but then he gave up being subtle. “The guitar. She plays the guitar, man.”

    “Really!?” Dr. Teeth said, his eyes sparkling. "Say Floyd, weren't we discussing about hiring another guitar player just an hour ago?"

    "What? I thought we agreed that I was going to play all-"

    Dr. Teeth kicked the coffee table sharply.

    "Oh, uh, yeah we might have but-”

    “I can audition!” Janice blurted. “I mean, of you guys do that or don’t mind?”

    Dr. Teeth grinned his trademark grin. “Floyd, get the amp!”

    Soon, the stage was set, the audience ready. The stage being the space between the lounge and kitchen area, the audience being everyone else on the couch scooched to an angle and Animal still peaking around the chair. Amp turned up, guitar tuned, guitarist ready and pick raised, Janice brought it down and began to play.

    It was...was...

    Even remembering it in the present, Zoot had no idea how to describe it in one word.

    She played with more energy Zoot had ever seen her play before, all flying hair, body jerking to the rhythm and hands whizzing at lightning speed across the neck. The chords were coming out so fast that they seemed to transcend time itself. She was putting her very soul into the instrument.

    And the sound! He recognised a mix of styles, a lot of it fast and thrilling while reaching into your chest and squeezing your heart out.

    Whatever it was, it truly was electric, chaotic. It was exactly what they needed.

    Finally, with her hair frazzled and looking a little exhausted, Janice wrapped up the solo with an impressive riff and a final strum that shook the whole building.

    For a few seconds there was silence, Janice holding a power stance and proudly holding up her pic. But then she winced and cradled her wrists. "Ow! Cramps! Cramps!"

    Zoot got up and held them between his hands. "No wonder. That was...some riffing there."

    "Yeah, all forty five minutes of it," Floyd muttered.

    "What?" Zoot glanced up at the clock and indeed, three quarters of an hour had somehow passed by. "Whoa, I never noticed that."

    "Me neither," Dr Teeth said, appearing next to Janice with a bag of ice. "A good performer reels in the audience hook, line and sinker!"

    Whatever Teeth had meant by that, it made Janice smile and blush prettily.

    "Wow, thanks!" She accepted the ice and looked between them hopefully. "So am I in?"

    "Oh well I say-" Dr Teeth began but Floyd suddenly cut him off.

    "Actually, Doc, maybe we should discuss this a little further in private, huh? You too, Zoot!"

    This surprised Zoot. Floyd was not acting himself today. Or perhaps he was but it was the side Zoot previously did not like that was taking over.

    "Oh, er, sure!" Janice said, a little confused. "Maybe I can take Animal out a little?"

    There was a broken cry and Animal completely disappeared behind the chair again.

    “Aw, c’mon, bud,” Zoot said gently. “She really is nice. You just gotta treat her right.”

    When he didn't move, Janice slowly moved around the chair and patted his head gently. Animal stiffened, looking very perplexed for a few seconds, then relaxed and started to purr. "Nice woman."

    It didn't take long afterwards for Janice to take him outside, not before Floyd showed her how to hold the chain correctly. Zoot watched her from the front window as she knelt on the grass. She was scratching Animal's head and chin, who was laying on his back with his tongue out like an exhausted dog. It was the most calm Animal had ever been around women in a long time.

    "Well," Dr. Teeth said, and Zoot turned back to him. "I say she's exactly what we're looking for. Looks, talent and a heck of a lot of endurance! I say we hire her!"

    "Totally," Zoot said, not caring how biased he sounded.

    Floyd didn't look as enthusiastic. "Guys, I dunno about this. Maybe we should keep looking somewhere else, find someone who's really got it."

    "Got it?!" Teeth barked. "She had it packaged in a ribbon bow delivered right at our doorstep! She's more than just got it! She was born for this band, man. I can feel it in this golden encrusted fingers of mine!"

    "How do we know if she's got any band experience though?" Floyd said, and Zoot knew from then he was looking for excuses.

    "She has," he answered. “She was on tour with The Sunflower Seeds last year but she had to quit."

    "How do you know that?"

    "She told me."

    "Since when do you remember- Never mind. Look, no offence man, she's cute and all but c'mon! You don’t really expect some spoiled rich girl, especially one as dizzy as her, to join us, right?”

    He gave Zoot a crooked smile, waiting for approval. There were many times in the past Zoot wanted to smack that smile off his face and that feeling was bubbling right back up.

    “No,” Zoot said, keeping his tone cool. “but then you don’t expect a guy like you to go to college, Pepper!”

    The smile vanished and Floyd’s skin went pale. Zoot only ever called him by his last name whenever he was really mad at him and he knew he overstepped the line.

    "Well- I- it's just-" Flustered, he turned to Dr. Teeth. "Doc, help me out here!"

    For once, Dr. Teeth didn't say anything. His arms were folded and his eyes were narrowed at Floyd with a displeased pout. Finally, he said, "Man, get over yourself."

    "Uh, guys?" Janice poked her head around the door, looking nervous. "Not like to interrupt but Animal-"

    "I'll handle it!" Floyd snapped, storming passed her and out the apartment, not bothering to let him know what happened.

    She stared after him in confusion, going to stand next to Zoot. "Is there, like, something wrong with him?"

    "Oh he just needs to hovel in his man cave for a while but he's fine. Anywho, about you li-" Dr. Teeth caught himself short, glancing up at Janice. "Tall lady! I have made my ultimate verdict!"

    Janice gasped and stepped forward. "You rully have?"

    Teeth grinned, his golden tooth flashing in the sunlight and held out his hand. "Welcome aboard, lead guitarist Janice!"

    Janice practically bounced with excitement and, to both Zoot's and Teeth's surprise, grabbed Teeth into a fierce hug.

    After a moment, Teeth chuckled and returned it with a light squeeze. "Greatly appreciated, but your main man is standing right there!"

    "Oh, right!" Janice immediately let go and barrelled into Zoot.

    He heard Dr. Teeth cough. "Well, I'll just mosey on out. Give you two some, ah, much needed confidentiality!"

    "'Kay," Zoot mumbled into Janice's shoulder, which got a laugh from Teeth as he left and closed the door.

    Once they were properly alone, they sat back down on the couch. Zoot stretched his arm around Janice and grinned proudly up at her. "You did good babe. Longest audition I've ever seen, but you did good."

    Janice smirked, twirling her hair and blushing. "Erm, can I tell you a little secret, hon?"


    "It wasn't supposed to be rully long. My fingers got stuck in the strings so I had to improvise until I, like, got 'em free. Fer sure."

    After a moment of blinking at her, Zoot chuckled and kissed her cheek. "Ever tell you that you're amazing?"

    "Aw, only, like, a few dozen times last night," she giggled, wrapping her arms around him for a cuddle. But then she was blushing harder, chewing her bottom lip again. "Um, sweetie? Did you rully mean what you said before Floyd came along? Y'know, about you...loving me?"

    Honestly, Zoot had forgotten he had said that but he held her closer. "Sure I did, babe. I'll love you forever!"

    Smiling, she hugged him. A single tear rolled down her cheek. "I love you too, Zootie."

    They stayed like this for some time, both of them vaguely aware of Animal causing more of a ruckus on the streets, no doubt banging on some trash cans again.

    Zoot buried his face in her hair, finally feeling happier than he did in weeks. He’ll forgive Floyd for his dumb comment. Maybe he’ll like her eventually. He didn’t have much of a choice now.

    Smirking, Zoot mumbled, "Welcome to the band, baby!"
  19. AlittleMayhem

    AlittleMayhem Well-Known Member

    A/N: Unfortunately, life happens and I’ve been working on this fic for years and because if this, the flame for writing has died down a little. Not that I don’t enjoy it anymore, far from it. It’s just when you work on a fic for so long, you lose some interest (though I know of a few lucky people who started fics ten years ago and are still writing them).

    However, I felt bad for leaving this without a conclusion for so long that I decided to take a page from other fanfic author’s book and do a final chapter just dedicated to notes of what I had planned so that you, faithful reader, can get the general gist of how the story was supposed to go. Enjoy my scrappy little notes and, once again, thank you to everyone who took their time to read and leave a like or comment. :)


    Chapter 11

    We see a brief overview of the next two years. Gigs, misadventures, more development in Zoot’s and Janice’s relationship, Zoot getting to know Dr. Teeth, Floyd’s eventual warming up to Janice. At some point, Floyd tells Janice embarrassing stories of Zoot as a teen, which he is not pleased about. At another point, Zoot would bring Janice to dinner to meet his family, where we first meet Ben, Zoot’s con-artist brother and Joseph, Zoot’s youngest brother who is a deaf rabbi and Minnie, their blunt and no-nonsense mother, as well as catch up on Liza’s family. (More details about Zoot’s family can be found here.)

    One day Dr. Teeth buys a church to convert to a coffee house, which Zoot feels very uneasy about due to his Jewish heritage. Later that day when Zoot and Janice are about shopping, they meet Rowlf, whom they’ve since become friends with over the two years. He says he’s going to California as he’s been called for a job by his old friend Jim (gee, wonder who that could be?) and they say their goodbyes. The chapter ends in with the band at home one night while a storm brews outside.


    Chapter 12

    The day after the storm , the band go out to check on the church. It’s still standing, but there is a car stuck in the spire. And there is a bear still inside it. With Animal’s help, the bear is safe on the ground but visibly shaken. He tells the band he is on his way to Hollywood for auditions for the newly comprised Muppets in two days time but he has no money and his car is wrecked. Showing them the poster, this gives Dr. Teeth an idea and offers the bear, whose name is Fozzie, a lift so long as they can audition too. Floyd is hesitant about the idea, but everyone else is enthusiastic about it, Zoot especially since he never felt very comfortable in the Church. Soon the gang are on the road!


    Chapter 13

    They arrived in California and to the theater where the auditions are taking place. Zoot wonders why one of the other auditionees look familiar (it’s Sweetums from another chapter) but he recognises Rowlf, who, along with Kermit, Sam and Nigel, is a judge. The EM perform well and, despite Sam’s objections, received a positive reception. They meet up with Fozzie later on, who was not so lucky. He mentions that he is determined to try out next year and leaves to try and hail a taxi. Once he is gone, Floyd make a couple of rude comments about the bear, angering Janice and prompting her to go after Fozzie to help him get a cab. (But as we all know, Fozzie would return, though in context of this fic, I never came up with a reason. Sorry).


    Chapter 14

    Their first gigs as members of the Muppets include filming Sex and Violence and the Julie Andrews special. This would be pretty much it. (Hey, I never said every chapter would add to story).


    Chapter 15

    Starting the Muppet show. Janice is a little miffed that she has to disguise her voice for the show, sounding more like her mother, but continues nonetheless. Here would have been some very small hints that Zoot and Janice’s romantic relationship is falling apart.


    Chapter 16

    During the Muppet Show. Zoot and Janice practice At the Dance, even going as far as taking up ballroom lessons, which they turn out to be very good at. Despite this, Zoot had a nagging feeling that something isn’t right between them but he doesn’t know what.


    Chapter 17

    Zoot realises that the nagging feeling was that he has fallen out of love with Janice. But doesn’t know how to break it to her as he values her so much as a band member and a friend and fears it will be the end of their career if they break up. Despite his fears, he tries anyway but is constantly side tracked or interrupted by all the muppety mayhem, which the band were still getting used to. His frustrations only increase the problems between the two and they have a falling out. The chapter ends with Zoot thinking of a way to make up and break up with her at the same time.


    Chapter 18

    After a brief scene in which they make up, Zoot takes Janice out for one last date, a late night busking session at the local park. They get some attention from some fans that recognise them, but are otherwise left alone. The time has finally come. He’s gonna say it, he says it…just as Janice does as well. After clearing up some confusion, they mutually agree to break up but neither want to leave the band and both mutually want to still remain friends, which they do. They leave for home as happy friends, looking forward to what the future lies ahead for them



    The story would conclude by going back to the present, with Janice and Zoot finishing up reminiscing about the past. Dr Teeth, Floyd, Animal and Lips enter, Teeth afraid Zoot was still mad at him, but Zoot forgives him, so long as he never dragged him to pick up women again ever.

    He says he only needs one true love in his life. His sax, which he picks up begins to play. The rest of the band shrug and play along with him.
    Rock Steady and LipsGF4Life like this.
  20. Rock Steady

    Rock Steady Member

    ALLY ALLY ALLY! :halo:

    So it goes without saying, but I'm a sucker for Mayhem origin stories (and Mayhem stories in general) and this is a classic, no two ways about it! The characterization? Stellar. The dialogue? Spot on. The story? I couldn't get to the next chapter fast enough!

    It's hard to pick a favorite scene because they were all so good, but anything with Zoot/Janice is a win in my book. They're a ridiculously cute and underrated couple (and that breakup scene probably would've hurt to read), but just going through the journey with them and the rest of the band was so much fun. Love them hippie babes, always and forever!

    Peace, my dude!
    Pig's Laundry likes this.

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