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Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Ruahnna, Apr 21, 2006.
Bobo saw it! Oh no!!!
More please Ru.
Thank you, Jerry, for Fleet and Robin and all the other characters you shared. This is a day to be grateful and sad.
*Bumping back to the top of the heap where this deserves to remain as we await the next chapter's posting.
For those of you who see that I posted and rushed over expecting story--I apologize. I will make it up to you, and if the sorry demigods of writing are benevolent, I WILL post more story before I sleep. But I have news to share and I want to share it HERE--with YOU GUYS--before I share it on Facebook or anywhere else.
You know I've been in school. I went back to school in January to get the classes I lacked for my state's teacher certification. (Yes--that IS my real age on my profile.) I finished up the CLASSWORK portion of my program on August 19th.
I started school again today--as a classroom Reading teacher in middle school. The call came last week. I cannot think of anything more exciting to share with you--my readers--than the fact that I'm going to be working with young folks who want to do better what you do already. If you have stayed with me this far into the story, you know that my writing is personal, but I am somewhat private (my facebook page is practically anonymous), so this is not something that I usually or casually do.
Don't feel compelled to write me back IN HERE!--we will frustrate the folks who are just trying to read the story--but share my excitement at this new challenge and opportunity.
Story on the way--I absolutely promise.
*Makes note to check back in later tonight if/when new story gets posted.
*Sends Aunt Ru some black cherry lemonade to congratulate her.
That's okay! Already, this month will be extremely busy for everyone. I am glas I was busy, becuase I am studying math and then I will have the COMPACT math tests to take. Oh boy! I hope I pass it. I will for now give you pink lemonade for your hard work. If I pass my math, I would a nice gift need even if it's imaginery. Hehehe!
Chapter 130: Letting Him Know Who’s The Boss
True to his word, Moishe had taken good care of Piggy’s friends, and after a few moments of polite small talk after she left the cab, the cabbie turned around and looked at them over the seat.
“I’m glad to see somebody up here to look out for her,” he said. After a moment of startled surprise, Howard and Thoreau chimed in. Eventually, they were all three talking at once, but Moishe had been driving a cab in New York so long this hardly bothered him.
“—just sorry we couldn’t come for opening night,” Howard finished. “Although I heard she was just wonderful.”
“She’s not wonderful, she’s perfect,” Moishe said. “My Sylvia just loved her—bawled her eyes out when she sang that torch song.”
“You don’t mind the wig?” Thoreau said, his voice disapproving.
“Naw, I don’t mind the wig. I mean, sure, it’s not as classy as her ‘do, but I’ll wager you couldn’t find a hairdo what would make her look bad.”
“True that,” said Howard, and Thoreau nodded.
“So how long you known Miss Piggy?” Moishe asked, looking at them now in the rearview mirror as he moved the cab smoothly through traffic.
“Ages,” said Howard, then clapped his hand over his mouth. “Oh frog, don’t tell her I said that.”
Thoreau snorted. “Nothing wrong with the truth,” he said. “And nothing wrong with a grown-up woman. I’m getting tired of these little twenty-something diva wannabees,” he sniffed, but Moishe had stayed with Howard’s comment instead.
“Speaking of frogs, where is he, anyway? Poor little gal’s been pining her heart out over him.”
“Did she say that?” Howard asked anxiously, exchanging worried glances with Thoreau.
“She didn’t have to say it,” Moishe said. “She’s living it. So what’s he doing, anyway, that he can’t get up here to see her?”
Here, there was a parting of the ways. Howard’s loyalty was firmly with Kermit, who was doing the right thing for Piggy’s career—both by insisting she come up here (and the story of how he’d won that round had been going around the rumor mill pretty furiously—at least inside the studio) and by staying to get her latest film ready for the big screen. Thoreau, on the other hand, was brand loyal to Piggy first, and had—at times—found Kermit to be inflexible to the point of annoyance when it came to work. More than once, he’d had to bring fittings to Piggy because that frog wouldn’t let her steal away from the set to come to the studio. Still… (and here Thoreau’s face softened, and he stole a covert look at Howard sitting beside him)…Kermit was doing pretty darned good to stand up under all the pressure at work and still keep Piggy’s happiness at the top of his list. His face felt hot, and he dared another peek at Howard’s profile. As if sensing the scrutiny, Howard’s hand patted his knee reassuringly, his palm warm through the linen-wool blend of Thoreau’s expertly pressed trousers, but he did it absently while he continued to chat with the cabbie. Thoreau felt his cheeks flush with pleasure and kept his face averted. He had suspected, but never known before, how passionate pigs could be, and he spared a little sympathy and respect for Kermit, who seemed to be holding his own in their marriage.
“He’s doing what Piggy would want him to do,” Howard said firmly. He looked at Thoreau, daring him to contradict him, and the designer finally nodded.
“Howard’s right,” he said slowly. “Kermit’s a good guy but he’s always overworked. Now that Piggy’s gone, he’s just trying to get things to a point where he can break away and come to see her.”
“And he’s a good guy?”
“Absolutely. The best.” On this, there was no debate.
Moishe grunted. “He really as nice as they say? If he was, he’d be a saint.”
“He’s no saint,” said Thoreau, then smiled at Howard’s sharp look. “But I understand he’s on pretty good terms with a few of them,” he added dryly.
Howard smiled, mollified.
“Okay. Just so long as Miss Piggy idn’t putting her eggs in the wrong basket,” Moishe said.
“Not at all,” Howard said.
“She’s not,” Thoreau admitted.
“Glad to hear it.”
“We’ll try to light a fire under Kermit—get him up here sooner if we can,” Howard said.
“Good,” Moishe grunted. He pulled in at the curb in front of their hotel. “Here you go, gentlemen. And, um, thanks for letting a buttinsky like me have a say, okay?”
“Glad to know you care,” said Thoreau. He and Howard fought over the bill. Howard won, but Thoreau retaliated by giving the cabbie an enormous tip.
“Aw…gee. I can’t take this,” said Moishe, staring at the big bill.
“Exert yourself,” said Thoreau dryly, then smiled the most charming smile in his repertoire. “It does us both good to know she’s in good hands.”
Humbled, Moishe touched his cap. “I’ll do my best,” he said, and drove away.
Piggy sailed into her dressing room with exactly enough time to look stunning by the time the matinee curtain was ready to be raised. She had been rather indulgent today, lingering over the early luncheon and scooting into the theater at rather the last minute. Bobo had been a surprise, but she would deal with that later—first with Marty, and then with Kermit. She would use the bear’s presence to reassure her husband—and wage war on her upstart, insufferable agent! Her face softened in spite of her ire. Dear Marty. Worried about her. She would try to go easy on him, but he was getting entirely out of hand. She had almost forgiven him for tricking her into this role, but she was still touchy about being manipulated, and she needed to set him straight and let him know who was boss around here.
“Piggy, honey, are you about ready to go on?” Darcy asked, adjusting the laces on her saddle-oxfords. She straightened, pulling her sweater down and her bra straps up.
Kristen raised her eyebrows and made a droll face at Piggy. “A place for everything and everything in its place,” she quipped, and Darcy stuck her tongue out at them.
“Moi is ready to be catty and devastatingly alluring,” Piggy answered Darcy, and smiled sweetly.
“Aren’t we all?” Stacey sing-songed, her hand on the doorknob. “Looks like I’m going to be the teacher’s pet, because you are all going to be tardy,” she teased, but she looked a little anxious as she looked out the door. “C’mon, girls! It’s showtime!”
“Showtime, schmotime,” Darcy kvetched. “I don’t know which is worse—breaking in new shoes or breaking in new underwear.” She tugged again on her straps, grumbling.
“Oooookaaaaay,” said Kristen, standing and herding them all toward the door. “That was more information than I needed to get into character.”
“Oh—you have to get into character to play a goodie-two-shoes?” Trudy asked innocently, and it was Kristen’s turn to make a face at one of her cast-mates.
“I’m thinking about being a goodie no-shoes,” Darcy whined, but she shook her foot to get the shoe to settle in and clomped toward the door.
“Come on, you guys,” said Stacey. “I’m getting antsy.” The other ladies surged toward the door, Piggy among them. She found Kristen near her shoulder as they bustled to their places.
“Rory was looking for you earlier—he seemed worried about something. Everything okay with him?” she asked.
“His mother-in-law is visiting,” said Piggy, checking the lay of her short wig and fiddling with the ear holes. The left one was not quite where it ought to be, and it tickled. “But I heard she’s nice. Isn’t she?” she asked worriedly.
“Chad’s mom? She’s a doll! Helped a friend of mine out of a real pickle once. So that’s not it.”
Piggy hesitated. “He…he was upset about Moi being, um, mugged yesterday,” she ventured. And mad at me about not telling the truth.
“Tell me about it,” said Kristen. “Brother Bear to the rescue,” she teased, and Piggy brightened at once.
“Ooh! That reminds me. A friend of Moi’s started working here today—doing theater security.”
“Big brown bear? Friendly—a little annoying?” Kristen murmured out of the corner of her mouth.
“A lot annoying,” Piggy said, and giggled. They were at the curtain then, and there was no more time for talking after that.
Sara had come through the door bubbling with excitement about an upcoming assignment. She’d been assigned to interview a famous fashion photographer, and wondered fleetingly how a blue-jeans kind of gal like her ended up hobnobbing with high-fashion gurus lately. Well, I’ll just be ”faux” fashionable, she thought cheekily, and maybe wear her good silk blouse with her fashion-forward jacket—and her old blue jeans. She came in the door smiling and was greeted with the site of Scooter checking the casserole in the oven and putting the finishing touches on the table. He was wearing one of her aprons—a non-frilly one—and grinned at her when she came in.
“Pitterpat,” she said. “A man who cooks.”
“Don’t forget I give amazing footrubs,” he said, and walked over and kissed her.
Sara had been expecting the usual, “Hi Sweetie—glad you’re home” kiss, but when Scooter’s arms and lips refused to release her, she let out a happy sigh, unslung her purse and camera from her shoulder and put her arms around him so she could answer him in kind. That killed a good five minutes of small talk, and left them much better acquainted than a conversation would have done.
“Mmmm,” said Sara. “I heard something about food?”
Scooter nodded, but did not steer her toward the table. Instead, he walked her gently but firmly to the couch and sat her on it. “In a minute,” he said, sliding down to his knees in front of her. “I need to tell you something first.”
Sara looked at him, suddenly full of some inexplicable dread, but he was smiling, so she forced herself not to jump to conclusions. She sat still and let Scooter take her two hands in his.
“Something happened today,” Scooter said.
“Oh! Oh no! Is Kermit--?” Sara began, but Scooter shook his head.
“It’s not about Kermit. It’s about…it’s about me,” her fiance said, and smiled.
“You’re not—he didn’t--?”
And here Scooter actually laughed, glad for the air that he'd sucked into his lungs, which felt curiously flat and heavy. “No,” he said dryly. “I wasn’t fired.”
“Then…what?” Sara asked. “Tell me what happened today.”
And Scooter did.
“Please say I have kp or something,” Clifford begged, poking his head into the kitchen. “I swear, my ears are going to start bleeding if they don’t stop screaming out there.”
Mable laughed and put him to work cracking out ice.
“Yeah—they can get pretty loud,” she said, smiling indulgently. “And then they crank up and play.”
“Pretty nice about the record deal,” said Clifford. He very carefully did not look at Mabel.
“Yes,” said Mabel. “I guess they’ll be on the road for a while.”
“Um hum. Most of a year,” Clifford said. “It’s really great.”
When your hands are full of ice trays full of water, there is nothing you can do to prevent a sweet little motherly mole from hugging the stuffing out of you. Mabel pressed her cheek against the bottom of his shoulder blade and gave his middle another squeeze from behind, then moved off and started making another pot of coffee.
“You’re a good guy,” said Mabel. “A big softy and a good guy.”
“Don’t be so sure. I could still turn out to be a real cad,” said Clifford, but he sighed when he said it.
“I know it,” said Mabel. “You could. But you won’t. But a year’s not so long—right? And you can come and stay in Tricia’s room while they’re gone.”
Clifford sighed again. “Drown my sorrows in lemon bars.”
Mabel just laughed. “If it makes you feel better, I could throw in the occasional chili con queso, or coconut cream pie.”
There was silence in the little kitchen. “From scratch?” said Clifford. “I mean, I’m easy, but I’m not a pushover, right?”
And they both laughed.
“Like, this cruise is soooo romantic, Honeybunch,” murmured Janice. She leaned into Floyd’s embrace and brushed her satiny-soft cheek against his bushy sideburns. They were dancing by the light of the moon, which hung heavy and mysterious and beautiful over the horizon. There was no music, save the soft lap-lap of the water against the hull, but the lovers hardly noticed. “The stars are so close you could just reach out and touch them.”
“Um hum," said Floyd. His voice was low and husky. “There was a poem my grandpa used to say for me,” he said. “About a tall ship and a star.”
“Hmm. I know that one,” said Janice. She felt weightless in Floyd’s arms, safe and protected and warm. “It’s about a sailor who loves the sea.”
“That’s the one. A good one, but lonely.”
“Um hum,” said Janice. “Beautiful and lonely.”
“You’re beautiful,” Floyd said, pulling back to look at her. She smiled up at him and kissed him.
“I hope that doesn’t mean you’re lonely,” Janice teased.
Floyd smiled and shook his head, swaying with his lady in his arm. “I’m never lonely with you around.”
“Good answer,” said Janice, and kissed him again.
When at last they broke apart, Floyd looked at her, his dark eyes full of mischief. “I like poetry as well as the next guy,” he said dryly, “but in my never-to-be-humble opinion, that sailor just didn’t know everything there was to ask for.”
“Marty? I know you’re there. Pick up the phone. Marty? I swear I will send the bear packing if you don’t—“
“I’m here, I’m here,” said Marty, putting the old rotary phone to his ear. He had a cell phone, but here in the shabby elegance of his office, he liked some things old-school. “Don’t get your knickers in a twist.”
“Funny you should say that—“ Piggy began, her voice just on the verge of boiling over.
“Look—before you go all Hi-yah on me, let me just say I know I’m a foolish old man who worries, but I’m trying to do what’s right, okay? So cut me some slack, all right?” He heaved a sigh and listened to her listening to him. “Besides, Kermit was already mean to me today. He told me I should have asked you first before I sent Bobo up there.”
“He did not,” said Piggy severely. “He’s probably dancing right now, he’s so happy I’ve got my own personal grizzly to watch over me.”
“Bobo’s a brown bear,” said Marty mildly. “And I don’t know anything about Kermit dancing. He seemed pretty subdued when we spoke.”
“He…he was?” Piggy asked, suddenly worried. “He’s not unhappy is he?”
“He’s miserable without you, wasting away to nothing,” Marty said, laying it on thick.
“Vous are such a liar,” Piggy said. “I’ll bet you he’s been ordering pizza or going through Flyburger every night while I’m not there.”
“Well, you know him better than me, Doll,” Marty said, and Piggy heard the triumph in his voice.
“Do not think for one minute that I have forgotten about vous and your little tricks,” said Piggy. “Moi refuses to be distracted by Kermit’s unhappiness.” She was quiet a moment, trying to think how to ask what she wanted without giving ground. “Was he…was he very happy that Bobo is following me around and making sure I don’t trip over my fan mail?” Her voice was very small, pleading for reassurance.
“He was beside himself,” said Marty. “But look—hear me, Sweets. He had nothin’ to do with this. Nothin’. Capiche? This was all my doing, but I told him so he wouldn’t worry. That’s all. Other than that, he’s been minding his p’s and q’s. He knows you’re a tough girl who can take care of herself, but he wants to be there and he can’t. So humor an old man who can’t even enjoy a good cigar anymore, why don’t you?”
“I’ve never known you to smoke a good cigar,” said Piggy archly, and was rewarded when she heard her tough old agent smile. Dear Marty. Such a worrywart.
“C’mon, be a good kid, okay?” he wheedled. “Don’t pester the bear. Let him do his job.”
“Boots, um, paws on the ground, okay? An extra set of eyes watching out for you. Just so I can sleep at night.” Marty waited. He waited for her to tell him about the chloroform, and the man who had tried to grab her, but she didn’t. He had hoped she would, but she didn’t, and—if Marty had acknowledged it, which he wouldn’t—that felt like a punch in the kidneys. He knew he was right to have done what he did, knew he’d been right to trick her, if necessary, and gang up on her to get his way, but he was paying for it. She didn’t trust him anymore—not totally—and he would have to work to earn her trust again.
“If Moi were you,” said Piggy warmly, her voice low and affectionate. “I would sleep with one eye open from here on out.”
“Yes ma’am,” said Marty with a laugh. “You’re the boss.”
Ruhanna! I understand you get personal to one Muppet at a time, but moi LOVES this chapter. The part with Floyd & Janice! I rully loved the scene. It played perfectly.
Well, I know Piggy's telling the truth. She is the boss!
Otherwise, great job! You deserve another glass of pink lemonade and a toast to you for getting this chapter rully well done fer sure.
Okay, I'm finished cleaning up 130, now for some thoughts.
Should we feel guilty for holding Piggy from arriving any sooner at the theater?
The scene with the girls getting ready for their next matinee, it reminds me of the segment from one of the chapters in Vegas where the Muppet chorines were in the same throws of panicked preparation after Janice exited their company, it's somewhere in either 50 or 51.
Nice play around going from mocking Kirsten as a 'goodie two-shoes' to Darci grousing about being a 'goodie no-shoes'.
*Laughs with Mabel's assessment. So the screaming is because this is after the little man from the club left with the recording contract signed by all interested parties, and the girls were minding their manners, but as soon as he left it was like, 3-2-1-Beep.
Girly Shriek Sirens, activate!
Chin up Cliff, at least you can keep in touch with Trish while she and her fellow kittens are away playing.
The segment with and , what can I say? That's probably one of the prettiest scenes yet.
Too bad I only know about the story of Arturo and Catalina, either that or the one about Brandy. But still, this was a definite highlight.
Oooh, Piggy's all business with her agent man.
*Likes the nod to one of the frog's favorite eating establishments.
*Feels that the pig's getting grizzly herself.
Am I wrong for thinking when Marty said that Bobo's job would be "Boots, er paws to the ground" he meant something like "boots to" a colorful term for donkeys?
*Wonders how he'll work to regain the diva's trust.
Thank you for posting, we always appreciate it and try to let you know about it.
I loved the Piggy and Marty part.
Especially when Piggy told him to sleep with one eye open!
She is INDEED, the boss!
The sailors say Janice, you're a fine girl... d-- it Ed, see what you started? Grr...
Liking the subtle references to a new passion found for one rather sniffy designer. Nice that he and Howard could find some middle ground in their worries over the pig and frog. And I love the line "Exert yourself!" I may try that, the next time I leave a $100 tip.
Giggled at the backstage wardrobe problems. I never considered that an actress would have to "break in" a bra...but it makes sense. And I don't think I've EVER been around an actress accused of being too goody-goody...usually sort of the opposite end of the scale...
Nice to see the little updates with Floyd & Janice and Clifford & (offstage, anyway) Tricia and Mabel...though now I'm wondering what everyone ELSE is up to! I will challenge you for Most Characters You Can Legitimately Fit Into a Fic (extras don't count). Scooter warming up his beloved in preparation for telling her how close he came to being in the hospital was sweet, in a weird way...am betting Sara's not gonna take the news too well, but hey, at least now everyone knows there's a troll involved, so how bad can it be?
...in a previous chapter...
...just thought you ought to know... *swoon*
Cute. Cute joke. *clapping*
Was I good?
You're always good. *under breath* But don't quit the news job...
Piggy chewing out Marty over Bobo was expected, but went a little better than I thought it might. I suppose Marty hasn't been in Hollyweird all this time to be flustered by a star yelling at him. Interesting that he didn't bring up the attack, even when Piggy didn't.
And where the heck is Fleet in all this??
And don't we have some award thing or other to attend?
And WHO is Scribbler's boss? And who will be the one to land the best punch on Seymour when the time comes? And can Bobo be bribed by a sammich with some jalapenos?
*baiting breath to wait*
Rhonda: Eww. Seriously? Now I hafta go buy bugspray. Ya KNOW that's only gonna attract the pests!
Janice would sit and watch as he told his sailing stories.
She could see the ocean rise and fall, she could feel his raging glory.
But Floyd always told the truth, he was an honest man.
And Janice does her best to understaaaaand.
, softly now:
And at night, when the bars close down.
Janice walks through a silent town.
She loves a man who's not around.
She still can hear him say.
Yep, still got it even if I don't have a reliably decent oldies station, either on radio or internet-wise.
Er, doesn't Rhonda have a male rat to catch?
*Curses Ru and Kris for planting the idea of BubbaxRhonda.
Vell, Newsie vas screaming 'Troooooll!" a minute ago.
C'mon guys, leave him alone, he's got enough monsters after him thanks to that darn tabby.
*Changes channels over to another of MMN's shows, avoiding the ending of the episode of Meal or No Meal.
*Bumping the most wonderful fic of all back to the top. Waiting for the next chapter from Ru, unless she has some oneshot appetizer for us to sample in the meantime.
She told me last night she was writing. We shall see...mwah ha ha ha ha...
*suddenly realizing all eyes are here*
*suddenly remembering next chapter still not even worked on*
*exiting beneath the stage*
*Opening and talking into the trapdoor exit: Don't think we didn't notice Kris!
*Closes the hatch.
Someone has to make sure good fics are kept running smoothly.
Once again, I am not told of awesomeness coming to pass.
Firstly, grats Ru! I certainly understand how trying to do school, work, RL, and writing can be hard, a downer, and other things. Glad to see you making it through!
Secondly, do I really need to tell you how awesome this is? I like how everything can get crazy tense and then you throw in some normal, everyday stuff before going back to craziness.
I love it, of course!
It took me almost a month and half, but I have finally read all of this story that has been posted so far! And oh my WORD, it is amazing. It's so big and long and full of lots of characters, and yet it all fits together and flows so wonderfully. And the characterizations are so perfect! I love it.
Bringing this back to the top of the list where it belongs...
Please post more soon!
(My timeline has been a little wonky, but these happen late-afternoon in NY, and mid-afternoon in Las Vegas.)
Chapter 131: The Calm Before
“Awww,” said Tricia, snuggling under Clifford’s arms on the couch and smiling up at him. “Did we hurt your widdle ears?”
Clifford gave her a look and a grunt, and she giggled and bussed him quickly on the lips. At least, she meant to, but Clifford’s arm tightened suddenly and he held her to him long enough to turn the pressure of her lips from a peck into a full-blown kiss.
“That’s okay,” said Clifford, smiling down at her. “You can make it up to my widdle lips!” Tricia grinned, eyes shining, and leaned toward him, but at that moment, Mabel entered the room from the hallway. Blushing, Tricia tried to straighten up, but Clifford did not release her. Mabel only looked at them and sighed.
“Should I go out and come in again?” she asked. “Or are you done?”
“Mom!” said Tricia, mortified, but Clifford just said, “No, ma’am,” and patted the seat beside him invitingly. Mabel set the basket of clean clothes on the coffee table and sat down on Tricia’s other side, then reached over and hugged her daughter fondly.
“Think you can tear yourself away long enough to fold a little laundry?” she asked, and Tricia laughed, kissed her mother and started folding dish towels.
“I can fold the laundry, Mom,” she said, shamefaced. “I’m sorry. I guess I’ve been sort of useless the past few days.” Clifford reached out and pulled a couple of pillow cases out of the basket, folding them neatly.
“Don’t apologize. You’re not useless,” Mabel interjected. “Just distracted. I just want to get everything done before I leave. I’m working a late shift tonight and another tomorrow morning because I want to be sure to be home in time for the show tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry about anything,” Tricia said. “We’ll have the television on and the snacks all made when you get home tomorrow,” she said. “I can’t wait to see your friends at the award show. I saw a commercial for it, but they were in it together. I thought Miss Piggy is in New York—isn’t she? Did Kermit make it up to Broadway to go see her?”
“’Fraid not,” said Mabel. “Those are old clips—from a previous awards show.”
“Was Miss Piggy wearing a gold dress?” Clifford asked. He was folding feminine underwear and socks with no sign of discomposure.
“A kind of bronze slinky sort of thing?"
“With black gloves?” Clifford asked.
“Yeah—that’s the one,” Tricia said, trying to remember details. “Maybe a feather in her hair?”
“That was two years ago. They’re just trying to scare up interest with old clips,” Clifford said. “Kermit will be all tuxed out Sunday night, but Miss Piggy’s going to be in her costume from Grease!”
“What—saddle shoes and a poodle skirt?” Tricia said, grinning. It was Clifford’s turn to snort.
“Been that,” he muttered. “Done there. Half our Christmas show was the 50's. I don’t know what she’s gonna be wearing, but you can bet it will be plenty attention-grabbing.”
Mabel snorted. “As if,” she muttered. “I don’t think Miss Piggy would have trouble grabbing attention if she wore a feed sack,” she opined. “I’m sort of glad she’s going to be in New York, or we might have a stampede at the red carpet.”
The clothes were folded and put back in the basket. Mabel reached for it but Clifford stood up and hefted it easily. “Where you want the clean stuff?” he asked.
Mabel smiled, amused my Clifford’s attempts to be domestic. “Towels in the linen closet, dish towels in the kitchen drawer, sundries and undies in the rooms,” she said, and Clifford went on his way.
Once he was out of sight, Tricia looked up at her mother, then cast a quick glance behind her the way Clifford had gone. “You think he’s really okay about the record and the tour?” she asked. “We were sort of working on something there….” Her voice and her expression were wistful.
“He’s happy for you,” Mabel said, touching her daughter’s cheek.
“It’s just…he’s so….” Tricia sighed. “Everything’s happening at once.”
“Trouble comes in threes,” teased Mabel. “But everything doesn’t have to happen all at once.” She stopped, debating the wisdom of saying more. “Some things shouldn’t happen too fast…you know, Sweetie?”
And here, Tricia’s fourteen-year-old self reemerged. “Moth-her!” she said, rolling her eyes. “I know, I know. That’s not…we’re not…that’s not what I meant.”
Mabel rolled her eyes as well. “And that’s not what I meant,” she huffed. “What I mean is, this is the chance that doesn’t come along very often. For some people, not at all. Having somebody recognize your art, want to help you share it with the world—that’s huge.”
“It is huge,” Tricia said. “I’m still getting used to the idea myself.”
“Well, be sure and spend some of that time enjoying it, okay Honey? I’m really proud of you girls.”
“Thanks, Mom,” Tricia said. She stood up and enveloped her Mom in a hug. Standing, Mabel barely topped her shoulder.
“Baby, you done good,” Mabel said.
“We’re pretty jazzed about it.” Her voice was muffled against one of Mabel’s soft ears.
“How’d you get so tall, anyway?” Mabel grumbled.
And Tricia just laughed and gave her ample middle a squeeze. “Clean living and rock and roll,” she quipped. They broke apart and Tricia picked up her purse, digging for her keys. “C’mon, Mom,” she said. “I’ll walk out with you.”
Mabel picked up her own purse—less stylish and more substantial—and hauled out her own keys. “Tia said you guys know pretty much what you’re gonna record?”
“We’re gonna run through the lineup tonight.”
“Good for you.” Mabel looked back down the hallway. “Clifford coming with you tonight?” she asked.
Tricia made a face. “I’m giving him the night off tonight. I think he’s had enough of the Vittles for one day.”
Mabel laughed. “Never thought I’d see the day that he’d get tired of a house full of womenfolk!”
“Be careful what you wish for—right?!” Tricia laughed. “Speaking of—what was that you said, about trouble coming in threes? Three what's?”
“Oh, that’s just an old saying,” Mabel said. “Trouble always seems to come in sets of three. It’s just a superstition—something people say. I don’t put any stock in it, but it is funny how often it seems to be right.”
Tricia was silent for a moment, thinking. “Well, if the record deal is one, and the tour is two—does that make Clifford trouble number three?” She grinned at her mother, wondering what she would say.
But the motherly mole just threw her head back and laughed. “He’s trouble all right,” Mabel said, “but maybe not the kind you expect.” She opened the car door and slid behind the wheel. “Have fun, Tricia, honey. I’ll see you when I get home late.”
“Hmmm,” said Autumn, smoothing Ed’s hair back a little on the side. “Not a scruff in sight,” she said approvingly. Ed reached out and put his arm around her waist. He wasn’t sure what she was wearing, but it rustled invitingly when she moved. His hand met silk and the satiny softness of Autumn’s shoulder blade as he drew her close.
“What color are you wearing?” he asked, feeling the delicate lines of her bones beneath his hand.
“Claret,” said Autumn. “I know you don’t drink wine, but I don’t suppose you’ll mind if I’m wearing it,” she teased.
“Noooo…,” Ed murmured, “But I don’t mind if you’re not wearing—“
Here, Autumn cut off further comment from her beau in the most practical manner possible, which met no complaints. Afterward, she straightened his collar, removed the traces of lipstick she had left and, after much deliberation, decided his bowtie was tied acceptably.
“You’ll do,” said Autumn archly, then took his hand and pulled him toward the door.
“Do what?” Ed quipped, and she shot him a fond look as they made their way toward the elevator.
“Darling, there are bears out of work, and you’re trying to be funny,” she scolded, but he only grinned.
“At least you didn’t say "janitors" out of work,” he murmured.
“No, I did not,” she agreed. “But I was thinking it….”
“Well, I have to go now,” said Chad, rising reluctantly from the divan beside his mother. The demands of costuming meant he had an earlier call than Rory.
Rory snuck a peek at his phone and blanched. “You do have to go,” he said, standing to see his partner off.
“Take good care of Mother,” said Chad, showing no signs of leaving.
“You know I will,” said Rory, subtly trying to herd Chad toward the door. Seeing it, Chad scowled at him, lingering stubbornly.
“And I’ll take a taxi over after and meet you backstage.”
“We’ll be looking for you, dearheart,” said Ms. Mansfield. She proffered her cheek, colluding with Rory in blocking everything but the door. Chad made a face, kissed them both goodbye and finally sailed out the door.
Rory watched him go with fond eyes. When the door was shut behind him, he turned and reached for his almost-mother-in-law’s empty glass.
“More?” he asked, but she shook her head at once.
“No, no—half a glass will do for me,” she said firmly. “I want to be buzzed by your performance tonight.”
Rory grinned. “No pressure—right?” He started for the kitchen and she followed him.
“None at all,” she said. “All you have to do is be brilliant and keep up with the most talented pig on Broadway. I will take coffee if there’s any left.”
“Sure.” Rory started to say, “The "only" pig on Broadway,” but he wasn’t absolutely sure about State Fair. “Thanks,” he said, grimacing comically. He finished up the dishes in the sink with dispatch. They were eating after, but Chad had insisted on putting out a cold spread for his mother before the show. Rory put the dishes in the drainer and talked over his shoulder.
“You know, she’s surprisingly sweet,” he offered, and heard a delicate snort behind him.
“Thousands of tabloid readers are all wrong?” she said, with the perfect air of detached disbelief. “I’m shocked.”
“I know—go figure,” Rory grunted. “I thought she was some diva come to steal the show without carrying her share.” It was his turn to snort. “Boy was I wrong.”
“About the diva part?” said Ms. Mansfield. She leaned in the doorway, an elegant silhouette with short, impossibly chic salt-and-pepper hair.
At this, Rory laughed, then turned around and leaned on the sink. “Oh no,” he said. “She’s a diva all right. Right up there with Mae. But she carries her own weight.” He looked thoughtful, absently rubbing his shoulder. “She…she wasn’t what I expected, you know, from the movies and the tabloids?”
“How so?” She sipped her coffee and listened, her eyes on his face. She was an exceptionally good listener, Rory knew. Occupational hazard, he supposed.
“I thought she’d be one of those people with a stylist and a publicist and an appointment secretary and—“
“—all the usual parasites?” They both laughed.
“Yeah. But she does most of her own makeup, her own hair is covered by the wig. Her agent is tough, but he’s in California and there’s no cadre of bodyguards.” He made a face, rubbing his shoulder again. “I have to admit, I thought her hubby would have surrounded her with handlers.”
“Maybe he likes doing the handling himself?” she returned. They laughed again. “But surely she came with a bodyguard…?”
Rory shook his head, and her eyebrows rose.
“Well, not exactly. But she’s got one now,” he muttered. He hastened to explain.
Rory’s introduction to Bobo that afternoon had been somewhat abrupt. He had gone down to the ladies dressing room before the matinee to see if Piggy had come back yet. He put his hand on the knob, but before he could turn it, Darcy called his name. He looked in the direction of her voice—and found his face mashed firmly against the wooden door, his arms caught in a grip like iron.
“Not so fast, Bucko,” drawled an unfamiliar voice. “Whadya think you’re doing, huh? This here is the ladies dressing room, so what business do you have in here?”
“Ow! Ummph! Get off me,” Rory had gritted, flexing his biceps. They bulged impressively, but uselessly, and Rory felt his eyebrows rise in astonishment even as he struggled. He was not a fighter—though very few people cared to go against his strength—but this…this thug was manhandling him like a pro.
“Oh, for Pete’s sake, Bobo,” came Darcy’s feminine wail behind them. “That’s just Rory. Shove off, won’t you, and let him come in!”
“Who’s Rory?” asked the voice. “I don’t have any Rory on my list.”
“You do so,” Darcy said, grabbing the clipboard and thwacking Bobo on the shoulder with it. “He’s right here—see?” She grabbed one of his furry ears and pulled his head toward the clipboard in her hand.
“I don’t see any—ow. Ow--hey!”
Rory’s arms were suddenly released and he staggered into the wall sideways, banging his ear. He straightened and turned, ready to punch something, but Darcy got between them.
“Don’t,” Darcy said, to both of them. “Everybody stop. There’s no need to—“
Gently, Bobo scooped her aside and walked up to Rory. Although Rory had his arms raised, ready to fight, the sight of the bear, as big as a, well, a bear, made him back up, dancing on the balls of his feet. The bear advanced and Rory connected with a neat right hook, but the bear shook it off and kept coming. He kept coming until Rory was backed against the wall, and though the young man got off another hard jab to his jaw and a couple of midriff punches, he found himself almost pinned by the bear’s sheer bulk. Again, Darcy inserted herself between them, which was no mean feat. Precisely how she wedged her ample curves between the two testosterone-infused males—with the clipboard in hand—was anybody’s guess, but—once trapped between them—she began to scream bloody murder.
Few things will make a good guy back off like the sound of a woman screaming, and both of them backed away, hands raised to show a lack of aggression. When there were at least four feet of space between them, Darcy stopped screaming. It was a disturbing testament to the mayhem backstage that noone had actually come running to see what was wrong.
“Okay, now,” she said, looking at them warily. Darcy gave Bobo a mean look and whacked him once more with the clipboard, then shoved it under his nose.
“Here’s his name,” she snapped, pointing with a pink-painted nail. “Right here.”
“Well I didn’t see any…oh. Oh. Huh. Right there it is. Rory. Hmm. Didn’t see that before,” he muttered. He looked up and grinned at the young man, extending his big paw. “Hi ya, Rory. I’m Bobo. I just started working security at the theater today. Nice to meet you.”
Rory looked at him, then at Darcy, incredulity making his jaw drop. Darcy saw him about to make a lunge at the bear who had so callously manhandled him, so she turned and threw her arms around Rory’s neck and kissed him. That brought him round, if only out of surprise, and when he was stunned and compliant, Darcy led them through the introductions once again, this time without the fighting. To Rory’s credit, when he cottoned on to Bobo’s real purpose backstage at the theater, the fighting spirit left him and he tried to shake off his bad mood and be amiable. Hadn’t he been saying Piggy needed a bodyguard? He rubbed his ear and grimaced. Leave it to the frog to send a bear, he thought. Eventually, Bobo had ambled along, leaving Darcy to fuss over Rory’s red ear while he knocked on Piggy’s door.
“Sorry about your ear, Sweetie,” Darcy said.
Rory turned and looked at her. “Is that all?” he demanded, but his twinkling eyes belied his harsh voice. “What, do I have a "Kiss Me" sign on my back?”
Darcy giggled. “Sorry! I—sorry, Rory! It was all I could think to do on short notice!” she cried, blushing.
“Remind me not to give you any notice then, Sweets,” said Harrison, who chose that moment to saunter by. Rory wondered where the heck he’d been when the bear had been roughing him up.
Darcy gave him a look. “Remind me to give you a wide berth,” she snapped, but Harrison just laughed.
“I’ll take your berth, Sweetcheeks, and raise you a—“
“Harrison!” Darcy shrieked, then giggled. He grinned back at her, cocky and arrogant and…sort of rumpled and appealing. “Move along,” she said severely, but her eyes were warm.
“As you wish,” Harrison said. He bowed formally from the waist. Before Darcy could say more, he straightened, winked at her, and was gone. Darcy watched him walk away, biting her lip thoughtfully, then swung back to find Rory grinning insufferably.
“What?” she said, blushing. “You have to admit he’s sort of cute when he’s obnoxious,” she said.
“Then you must think he’s cute all the time,” Rory whispered, and Darcy giggled again and put her hand over his mouth.
“Shhhh,” she said, still laughing. “He’ll hear you.”
“And I’m guessing Piggy isn’t back yet, if she can’t hear me,” said Rory, giving up on knocking on the door.
"What? Oh—oh, no, she’s not back yet. She went out to lunch with her friends, that designer fellow and her pig friend.”
“As long as she’s back on time,” Rory had said, looking at his watch. It was time for her to be getting back, but he wasn’t going to worry—yet. From what he’d seen, her friends would have stepped in front of a bullet for her if necessary. Uneasily, Rory pushed that image away. He was letting his imagination run away with him, and he couldn’t afford to. He had two shows to do today—same as everyone else—but he had company coming tonight, just as Piggy did, and he wanted to be on top of his game. He looked at his watch again, a little worried, but determined not to be.
“Piggy’s dependable,” Darcy soothed. She bit her lip again. "Um, I really am sorry about the kiss,” she said, hoping he was not really upset. “Don’t tell Chad, okay? He’s supposed to teach me the Argentine tango and I don’t want him mad at me if he’s going to be dipping me.”
Rory laughed, touching his ear gingerly. “I won’t tell him,” said Rory. “But I can’t promise anything about his dips.” He looked the way Bobo had gone and jerked his chin in that direction. “Maybe not the sharpest shovel in the shed,” Rory said, “but effective. I’ll give him that. And at least Piggy will have someone looking out for her.”
“You mean besides you? And us? And that nice cabbie, Mr. Finkel?” Darcy socked him playfully in the arm. “We got this. Piggy’s going to be fine.”
“I know,” he said, sounding unconvinced.
Darcy put her hand on his arm and gave him a searching look. “You okay? You been sort of funny since Piggy got mugged yesterday.”
Rory shook it off. “I just—everything’s going great with Piggy in the show. I don’t want anything to spoil that. I just worry….” Embarrassed, Rory realized how self-serving that sounded. “That’s not what I meant—“ he began, but Darcy waved away his explanation.
“Don’t sweat it, sugar,” said Darcy, smiling and patting him in a comforting manner. She knew him and knew his motives were good—if not always pure. “Well, Bobo’s here now to look out for Piggy, so you can get your head back in the game before the matinee.”
Rory looked startled. “What do you mean, get my head back in the game?” he asked. “Don’t I—don’t I look like my head’s in the show?” he asked.
Darcy looked uncomfortable. It was the same look she usually got before she blurted out something tactless, and Rory swallowed his dismay and sighed. “What? Was I—was I off or something last night?”
Darcy lying was a lot like Darcy trying not to be tactless, and she squirmed. “You weren’t totally unfortunate,” she said. “Your scenes with Piggy were good—great even, except….” She twisted her fingers, unhappy at being the bearer of bad news, and broke off mid-sentence.
“Except what?” Rory said. Darcy made the mistake of looking at him, at his sincere, open, farmboy-aw-shucks face and his uncertain expression.
“Except your fight scenes needed some teeth last night. You were too, I don’t know, considerate of her during the fight. Before I thought you meant it. Last night, I thought you didn’t.”
Rory sighed. Darcy might be tactless, but she was pretty good at getting to the heart of the issue. “So you’re saying I wasn’t jerky enough when she told me to kiss off?”
Darcy smiled. “Imagine that!” she teased. “Who’d have thought you’d not be a big enough jerk?”
Quickly—so quickly she didn’t see it coming—Rory reached out and grabbed Darcy in a gentle but nevertheless effective headlock and proceeded to give her a noogie while she hollered and questioned his ancestry. He let her go and she stared at him, mouth hanging open in astonishment.
“You are soooo toast!” she muttered.
“There! Jerky enough for you?”
“Oh, you are dead. You are deceased. I swear I will sic the bear on you!” Darcy sputtered, but her green eyes were laughing.
“Don’t distract him,” Rory said somberly. “He has a lot on his plate.”
“Hmm,” Darcy muttered, brushing her hair back into place with her hands.
“I think he might have a little trouble finding the plate,” she muttered. She turned and looked at Rory darkly, but her expression was more playful than mean. “You better be nice to me,” she said archly, “or I’m going to tell Chad about the kiss!”
Rory threw back his head and laughed. “If you do,” he said, “he’ll never teach you the Argentine tango.”
When Rory had related everything (except the part about the kiss) to Ms. Mansfield, she was quiet, thinking about the situation.
“I can’t imagine he didn’t send her up here with someone looking out for her,” she mused, but Rory jumped in, feeling oddly protective of Piggy’s frog who he’d never even met.
“I think he wanted to,” he insisted. “But she can be sort of, um, opinionated about things, and I think she wanted to come in and be one of us, you know? No special treatment.”
“Well, she certainly seems to have won you over, Dear,” she said, and smiled.
“She won Chad over,” Rory said, and grinned. “If she can do that, she can probably charm anyone.”
Chad’s mother laughed a throaty laugh. “I can tell you know your darling girl, but I see I’m not the only one who knows my darling boy.”
“Guilty,” Rory quipped, and smiled. “I’m going to change and shove off myself,” he said. “No need for you to come to early. We’ll do our visiting after.”
“Sounds lovely,” said Ms. Mansfield. “Do what you need to do. I’ll just make a few business calls while I’m waiting.”
Mmm, the perfect cure for my current insomnia.
batty: Vhat? It put you to sleep?
No, just that I'm still up when I should be sleeping, and this was a great distraction.
I've marked all the typos, will fix those while cleaning the chapter tomorrow.
UD: You mean later today.
Don't you have an end-of-the-world ceremony to be at?
Yeah, but Newsie's girl let me out early.
Loved the first two segments.
Uh, wasn't there anything wrong with what Clifford was doing?
Nope, not at all.
Ya know, with da laundry and stuff?
Riz, does Gaffer have your tongue again?
Hmph! *Storms out to try and smooth-talk Rhonda or Yolanda or whatever other cute little rat he can find.
Then, at the theater... Bobo not finding Rory on the list. *LOL.
And it's good that Chad's mom's lending an ear to Rory as he recalls what happened so far. Seems she'll be a source of help to her boys.
So thank you soooooo much for an update, we appreciate it when we get one.
*Leaves pumpkin cookies made.
Separate names with a comma.