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Picking Up The Pieces

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Aaron, Feb 2, 2007.

  1. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Yep... Fixed and makes this chapter even better. Get some sleep though, you're certainly due for a good long rest.
  2. TogetherAgain

    TogetherAgain Well-Known Member

    Oh gosh- I was JUST thinking about this story in school today! SO glad to see an update! I love Rizzo's dramatic tactics to get into the room... And <giggles> ENGAGED! Oh, leave it to Rizzo, indeed!

    This is SUCH an excellent story. A good mix of comedy, and concern for Gonzo. I love it SO much. Can't wait for more!

    MORE PLEASE!
  3. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    A River in Egypt

    Rizzo came into the room, looked at his friend and tied that day’s happy face balloon next to all the previous days’ balloons. Gonzo smile wearily.
    “It’s getting a little weird in here,” said Gonzo, “with all of them staring at me all the time.”
    “You should feel right at home,” Rizzo shot back promptly, and was rewarded when Gonzo smiled wanly.
    “What’s the doctor say?” said Rizzo. He had been trying, without much success, to ascertain exactly what the doctor had said.
    "The doctor said the swelling will go down."
    "Really? That's great." Rizzo felt hope surge inside him. That was good news.
    "Well, he said it might go down."
    "Oh. Might. Well, that's good," said Rizzo optimistically. "What, um, else did the doctor say." He hoped his third degree was not as obvious as it felt.
    Gonzo would not quite look at him.
    "He, um, said I might need to use a chair. You know. For a while."
    "Oh…okay," said Rizzo, digesting this piece of news. "That's, that's cool."
    "I guess," said Gonzo.
    "Um, for how long?"
    “Um, until I can walk?”
    Gonzo looked at him belligerently, and Rizzo was pretty sure he was deliberately misunderstanding him. Rizzo started to speak and was rescued by the brisk arrival of the doctor.
    "Hello! Glad to see you up and alert, Mr., um, Gonzo." He turned and looked at Rizzo over the tops of his glasses. "And you are...hmmm." He frowned at his chart. "The patient's fiancée?" He looked at Rizzo skeptically. "I don't quite believe that," he said tactfully. "But now that Mr. Gonzo is awake and can speak for himself, maybe we should tell the nurses the truth—preferably BEFORE you find yourselves adrift in matching towels? Hmm?"
    Sheepishly, Rizzo nodded. "We're roomies," said Rizzo. "But we're not, um, you know. I was just...worried and all and they wouldn't let me come in..."
    "Quite understandable," said the doctor crisply. He turned to Gonzo and gave him a quick once-over. "How are we feeling?" he asked.
    “Fine really,” said Gonzo almost aggressively. “It feels like nothing happened at all.”
    The doctor let his authoritative gaze rest lightly on Gonzo. Gonzo looked away.
    "Still have that headache?"
    " The edge is gone," Gonzo admitted.
    The doctor frowned and made a check on the chart. "Good," he murmured, apropos to nothing. "How about your arm. Any feeling in your arm today?"
    Rizzo shot a quick look at Gonzo, and his eyes betrayed his hurt. So there WAS something else. The little rat wondered worriedly what else Gonzo hadn't told him.
    This little mini-drama was not lost on the doctor, who witnessed many such exchanges in the course of the average week at the hospital.
    "No," Gonzo said nearly inaudibly.
    Rizzo looked from the Doctor to Gonzo uncertainly. They seemed to be engaged in some private battle of wills. Although the doctor's face was placid, reserved even, his eyes were intent upon Gonzo's. Gonzo was looking at the doctor defiantly, but with something very like fear behind the heavy-lidded eyes.
    The doctor reached out and touched Gonzo's foot beneath the covers. Gonzo could see the doctor's hand on the place where his foot would be, but there was...there was nothing.
    " I...I can't feel my legs. Why? Why can't I feel my legs?"
    Gonzo swallowed, and Rizzo found himself swallowing in sympathy. He tried to catch Gonzo's eye, but his buddy would not even look at him.
    The doctor put the chart down. He looked at Gonzo, and his voice was gentle, but very firm. "We've talked about that, Mr. Gonzo. When you...in the accident, your spinal cord sustained damage."
    "How much damage?" Rizzo whispered. "What are we talking, here?"
    "So, when can you fix it," Gonzo demanded. "How long am I gonna have to use the chair?" The doctor was quiet for a moment, waiting.
    Gonzo looked away first.
    "We're been over that, too," the doctor said. "I'm afraid the damage is irreversible."
    Gonzo pushed back into the pillows, his eyes wide and frightened. "No," he said, but to no one in particular. "No, I--you can't be serious! I can't—I can’t spend my life in a wheelchair.... How can I perform from a chair? How can I defy the odds if they’ve already beaten me." This last was almost a wail.
    "Aw, hey, buddy," said Rizzo. He stepped forward, going to Gonzo's side.
    "Get out!" said Gonzo fiercely. Rizzo paused, worried that he was being ordered away, but realized at once that Gonzo was talking to the doctor. The doctor patted his leg--or, at least, Gonzo saw the doctor pat the place where his leg must be under the cover.
    " What now, Rizzo?” said Gonzo, sounding desperate, and lost. “What is there now?"
    Rizzo stepped forward and grasped Gonzo's arms, trying to catch his startled and panicked gaze.
    "Hey," he said gently. "Hey, calm down."
    "Calm!" shouted Gonzo. "How can I be CALM!"
    The doctor looked at Gonzo, then touched Rizzo briefly on the back.
    "I'll be available if you need me," he said softly. "But I think my presence here is upsetting Mr. Gonzo."
    "You're darn RIGHT it's upsetting!" yelled Gonzo. "What do YOU know! You don't know everything!"
    "Hey," said Rizzo again, squeezing his friend's arms. He hoped Gonzo could feel his grasp, but there was no reaction--no reaction at all.
    Rizzo was alone with Gonzo, and suddenly wished he was not. He had no idea what to do--no idea what might be appropriate to say. It was obvious to him now that there had been more--much more--that Gonzo had not chosen to share with him. He was still reeling from the shock of it himself, and tried to go slowly. Gonzo saved him the trouble.
    "Don't say anything," Gonzo warned. " Nothing you could say would make things better." He laughed bitterly and without humor. " My life is over—I may as well donate my body to science."
    "They won't take it," teased Rizzo, but Gonzo did not rise to the bait.
    " What good am I now..,” Gonzo moaned. “What good am I to the muppets—to myself? To anyone?”
    "Look," said Rizzo reasonably. "That's not the question of the day, okay?"
    Gonzo rolled his eyes. "Rizzo," he complained. " Easy for you to say now, isn't it?"
    Rizzo ignored him. "Look, the question of the day is 'What do we do today?' Okay? We don't have to decide everything today. We don't have to decide anything today. We just have to get through today."
    Gonzo snorted. "Starting a second career as a greeting card writer?" he said sarcastically.
    "Maybe," snapped Rizzo. "All I'm sayin' is that I think we need to step back--"
    "Oh, ha ha, very funny!"
    "I didn't mean--" began Rizzo hotly, then subsided.
    "I mean--this is big news, Gonzo. We--we have to think about this. And the first thing we have to think about it getting you well, and home."
    "Well? What does THAT mean?" Gonzo muttered. "You heard him. I'm not going to get better."
    Rizzo's voice was level. "That's not what he said. He said you won't get the use of your legs back. He didn't say you wouldn't get better."
    "Same difference."
    "It's not! It's not," Rizzo repeated. It bothered him to see Gonzo so still. He felt helpless himself, but realized with a start it must be nothing compared to what Gonzo was feeling--or not feeling--now.
    " Aren't I supposed to be the one in denial?"
    Rizzo heard it--heard the desperate, angry humor in it--and tried to summon up a laugh. "Hey," he said softly. "Leave comedy to the bears."
    Gonzo looked at Rizzo. His voice was small, and scared. "And where does that leave me?" he asked.
    Rizzo patted his arms, then reached out and patted Gonzo's face. THAT, he knew, Gonzo could feel, and Rizzo wanted to be sure that Gonzo was feeling something now besides fear.
    "Right here with me," he said quietly. "Your adoring fiancée."
    Gonzo started to laugh, but the laugh sounded a lot like sobs. Rizzo kept his hand on Gonzo's face until they passed.
    " How will I tell Camilla?"
    “It won’t matter.”
    “It will! How…how could it not?
    "It's okay, buddy," Rizzo said. "It's going to be okay."
    Rizzo's heart was racing. He not longer new what "okay" was going to look like. But whatever shape it took, whatever form it inhabited, Rizzo intended to be there to see it--and see it through.
    "You--you okay now, Gonzo?" Rizzo asked.
    “No," Gonzo said truthfully. "I...just need to think about this for a little."
    Rizzo looked uncertain. "You want me to go?"
    Gonzo's voice was quiet. "No," he said. "Not yet. I'm not quite ready to be alone with this."
    Rizzo nodded. Truth be told, neither was he.
  4. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    *Stunned silence. Amazing, simply amazing. Two small little verbal nitpicks cannot mar the awesomeness of this chapter and the story over all either.
    Leave comedy to the bears.
    Then were does that leave me?

    Powerful schtuff... Post more please!
  5. TogetherAgain

    TogetherAgain Well-Known Member

    Wow.

    Aaron, have I told you yet that this is amazing? Because this is amazing. It just... is.

    Love the title of the chapter, and the doctor's comment on matching towels... Of course, I love much more than that, but I like to comment on little things sometimes.

    MORE PLEASE!
  6. Java

    Java Active Member

    Wow, I anxiously await more.
  7. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Chapter 5: Pulling Together

    (We're, um, at it again--me and Aaron!)

    “So the, um, truth of the matter is that, short of a miracle, Gonzo isn’t going to be able to walk again.”
    The ring of faces around the table was solemn, subdued. Even Piggy looked somehow smaller, as though deflated by the news, but her arm around Camilla was firm, supportive. The pretty little chicken seemed dazed, more surprised by the news that she had expected.
    “Not ever?” said Robin in the silence. Kermit reached to put an arm around his nephew. They had debated sending Robin to his room until the topic had been broached and discussed but, with the particular obstinacy that characterized even the mildest children, Robin had insisted on being present.
    “Um, no, Robin. Not ever,” Kermit said softly. The little frog was quiet for a moment.
    “Gosh,” he said, digesting the news with difficulty. “That’s—that’s not fair!”
    “No,” said Rowlf, stirring from his silence at the far end of the table. “But life’s not always fair, you know? Things happen.”
    “How is he taking it, Rizzo?” said Piggy. Camilla looked at her gratefully, glad for someone to do the talking.
    “Well, I didn’t find out some of this until a little while ago. You know he’s been coming and going, still on pain medication and stuff, and they are still waiting for the swelling to go down.” Rizzo suddenly found himself the resident medical expert, and hoped he was doing an adequate job of explaining.
    “Where is the swelling?” asked Fozzie, his expression baffled. “He—he looked the same to me.”
    “Well, the, uh, Doctor said the swelling inside his head has gone down, which is good.”
    “You mean his brain?” said Kermit.
    “Yeah. The swelling inside his skull.”
    “Who’d of thought it would have taken this long,” said Piggy. “Was—was his spine broken?” she asked.
    Rizzo nodded. “Yeah. The doctor said between the the fourth and fifth Cervical vertebrae." Rizzo could feel their eyes on him, knew they were looking at him as though he had answers. He didn't. And he wasn't sure he was getting everything right.
    "What does that mean, exactly?" asked Kermit.
    "Well," said Rizzo. "We don't know exactly. I wish I did."
    Piggy spoke again. "So, we don't really know how...I mean, we don't know..." She looked at Kermit helplessly. "What DO we know?"
    "We know Gonzo needs us to be there for him."
    There was a murmur of assent from the many bodies crowded into the dining room. The dining room had NEVER been this crowded for one of Chef's meals.
    "Me mee mee mee meep?" said Beaker.
    "Yes," echoed Dr. Honeydew. "Of course we want to help, but what can we DO?"
    "Yeah, tell us, Rizzo."
    "Say the word, my main rat, and we're on it."
    "Will Gonzo be able to perform with us anymore?"
    Rizzo felt overwhelmed. " Kermit?" he said, trying.and failing to hide his desperation.
    Kermit did what he always did when the ship began to sink--he stepped to the helm and tried to look like he knew what he was doing. His voice was quiet, but just as the sheep know their shepherd, the muppets turned as one and looked at their leader. They might push Kermit into bouts of arm-waving hysteria on a regular basis, but they would follow him anywhere he led them.
    "Okay, okay, everybody," said Kermit, trying to shush the murmuring that has risen to an almost fever pitch. "Look, there are lots of things we don't know yet, but I do know this: it's going to take all of us pulling together." He smiled, knowing it would sound familiar to all of them. "We're going to need some changes made to the house," said Kermit.
    Instantly, Beauregard was on his feet, his hand raised in a snappy salute.
    "Beauregard reporting for duty, sir!" he cried.
    Kermit waved down this show of enthusiasm. "Competent changes" Kermit deadpanned, hoping not to quell Beau’s generosity.
    "Yo--I'll help," said Clifford, raising his hand. For once, he did not have a cell phone in his ear while they were trying to have a meeting.
    Kermit consulted the list.
    “Well, the stairs are going to be a problem. We need to find a way to get Gonzo onto the second floor so he can use his old room.”
    "Perhaps we at Muppet Labs could be of assistance?" said Dr. Honeydew with an excited tremor in his voice.
    This proclamation was met with a nervous silence. Kermit swallowed audibly. "Well," he said, "what did you have in mind?"
    “Never you mind, my green friend,” the little scientist said sagely. “Just wait and see."
    “Um, I’d rather see now….” Kermit called after them, but they did not turn.
    “Oh—Beakie!” Bunsen was saying to his assistant. “This could be our big chance to test the prototype!!"
    "Si, si," said Pepe. "H’are we, like paid up on our insurance?”
    Kermit started to respond, wondering the same thing himself, when Animal, who had been sitting quietly near Floyd, suddenly jumped to his feet.
    "BATHROOM BATHROOM" Animal roared.
    "Not now, Animal," said Floyd distractedly. "In a minute, okay?"
    " GONZO BATHROOM"
    Many continued to look blank, but Floyd Pepper's bushy eyebrows rose. "Oh," he said, "My bad. Animal doesn't have to go--he wants to help redo the bathroom so Gonzo can use it."
    "Oh--oh, right!" said Kermit. He consulted a sheaf of papers in his hand. "That’s going to need some adapting, too. Um, there was something in here about that--"
    "Here, boss," said Scooter. He handed over a neatly-bound book of papers, which Kermit took gratefully. He opened to the glossary and flipped pages. "Um, this book tells all of the codes we've got to meet to bring the house up to ADA standards for, um, for Gonzo but also for the rest of us, you know? You can see we have a lot of work ahead of us."
    He passed the book around, and there were murmurs of interest and concern.
    "I think we're going to have to tear this place down and start over," said Lew Zealand.
    "Work? count me out ok?"
    "Bursky bursky wit der sledgey hmmr!" agreed the Chef.
    "Um, I've got a dental appointment!"
    "Yeah, to fill that cavity you call a head!"
    "Hey!"
    "Look, if we could just--" said Kermit soothingly. No one listened.
    "--don't see how we can bring this place up to code, but we have to, you know, because--"
    "--want him to come back here! Of course I do! I'm just saying that this isn't a very safe--"
    “It’s never been safe—for any of us, but that never stopped—“
    "--wonder when they'll let him come home. It seems like forever since--"
    "People," said Kermit reasonably. "Hey, guys...."
    PIggy put her hand on Kermit's arm and stood up, smiling sweetly at her amphibian. "KNOCK IT OFF!" she bellowed. Everyone stopped talking in mid-sentence--even Janice had nothing to add about the joys of living a clothing-optional life. Piggy looked at Kermit, then at his personal assistant. “Scooter,” she said, “do you have more copies of this book?”
    “No,” he said, “but I could get copies of each of the proposed changes. Is that what you’re getting at?”
    “That would be great,” said Kermit, back on track again. “Let’s try to divide these projects into teams, with each team being responsible for doing their own project.”
    “You mean like at the show?” asked Fozzie. “Each group does it’s own act, but all the acts make up the show?”
    “Exactly! Thank you, Fozzie, for making my point. I think dividing into smaller groups will help us organize better instead of trying to operate as one large group, okay?”
    “Okay!”
    “Sure thing!”
    “You got it, green man!”
    “What are we talking about?”
    “Shhhh...!”
    “Do I get to wear one of those carpenter aprons and a tool belt? Chicks dig a tool belt….”
    “I want to work on tearing out the kitchen.”
    Kermit paused. “Um, Statler, we’re not tearing out the kitchen.”
    “More’s the pity!” roared Waldorf, and the two old men erupted into guffaws.
    Despite the tension of the afternoon, Kermit smiled. As long as they could laugh about everything, they would get through it. Together.
  8. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks for the chapter. This reminds me of what Sara wrote when Scooter was the one in the wheelchair in her Sadie's Stories. Ah yes, ADA, Law 500. Handy little thing it is. And a new sig, is that from an updae to one of your own Ru?

    So much to like in this story... *Sigh.
  9. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    Chapter 6: Working It Out

    “Gee, thanks, Alan,” said Kermit. “We sure appreciate your help getting the house up to code. Some of this is complicated.”
    “No problem, Kermit,” said Alan. “You know we’re always ready to help you guys when we can.”
    “Thanks, Alan. I knew I could count on my friends from the Street for help.”
    “Sure thing!” agreed Alan. “Gordon and Susan are coming over tomorrow and bringing lunch for everyone.”
    “Well, we sure are grateful for all the help. You don’t exactly plan for these things, but now that we’re into it, I think we’re making some progress.”
    “Really? Good!”
    “Well, you see, we divided up into teams, you know? And I’m working on getting the wheelchair ramp built here, and there are crews working all over the house.”
    “That’s fantastic! Sounds like you guys are very organized.”
    “Oh, yeah!” said Kermit firmly. “There’s even a team working on installing an elevator.”
    No sooner did these words leave Kermit's lips than an explosion even Beethoven could have heard rang out through the air. Kermit and Alan startled, and looked up to find a huge mushroom cloud of dust and debris hanging over the house. From the roof, which now apparently had an access port, Rizzo waved to Kermit.
    "Hey Kermit!" he said. "We got your elevator shaft right here!"
    Alan looked concerned. "Should we--should we go see?"
    Kermit shook his head. "No," he said firmly. "Best not to know. Now—about that ramp…"

    "Ready with that sledge hammer Animal?" asked Floyd Pepper. He had managed to mask some of his hip-ness in a non-descript coverall, and his longish hair was pulled back into a ponytail. A purple kerchief was tied around his head, clashing gloriously with his red hair. A pair of work gloves were tucked into the tool belt slung around his slim hips.
    A succession of three smashes was heard—three distinct crashes of noise that made his ears smart. "Heh heh. Guess so," he muttered. “Um, good job, Animal.”
    “Floyd! But--but that was the wrong wall," wailed Scooter. “We weren’t going to replace that wall!” Scooter was wearing a jumpsuit as well, but he had a green baseball cap on backwards to protect his hair, and he was wearing canvas gloves to protect his hands. He had goggles on over his glasses to protect his eyes from all the dust, giving him a slightly bug-eyed look.
    "Hey man, don't tell him," said Floyd. "He wants to help, and you’ll just hurt his feelings."
    Scooter subsided, resigned. “Oh, okay. Might as well redo the whole thing while we’re at it.”
    There was a penguin behind Scooter. "Oh, hi Zany," the young muppet said. "Could you get me a level?"
    "A level what?" said Zany, then laughed uproariously at his own joke. A dozen other penguin voices joined in the raucous laughter as he moved off to find the tool in question.
    "Great," Scooter muttered. "Just great. I'm stuck between the penguins and the band. Again!" He sighed again and consulted the blueprints. “Animal—can you look inside the wall there?” Scooter asked.
    Animal did more than look—he climbed inside the hole and scrabbled around. Floyd came over and peered over Scooter’s shoulder. The contrast of their fiery hair was something to behold.
    “Let’s see—we’re going to have to move the tub over, and make room for a wheel-in shower,” said Floyd, tapping the blueprint with a fingernail. “We’re gonna need to tap into the main water line.”
    From deep inside the wall, Animal’s voice said, “Tap in! Tap in!”
    “Um, there isn’t a shut-off valve here,” Scooter continued, “but I asked Winky Pinkerton to shut off the water at the street.”
    Long association with muppet projects—and with penguins—should have prepared the two men for what happened next. One minute they were looking at the plans, then Animal’s face appeared in the opening in the wall, a pipe between his teeth. “Tap in?” he asked. Before they could form a response, water began to shoot out of the hole, soaking the three of them soundly.
    “Sho-wer,” said Animal with satisfaction.
    “Winky!” bellowed Scooter, then turned and glared out the window at the penguins clustered on the sidewalk.
    “What do you want from us?” said Nicki Napoleon. “We don’t even have opposable thumbs!”
    Floyd sighed and wiped the water from his face. “Hey now,” he protested mildly. “I wasn’t planning on taking a bath until Saturday.” He shrugged philosophically. Just as well—the way things were going nobody was going to take a bath here anytime soon.

    “Yo--Kerm!" called Clifford. "Where you want these boards?" Beauregard stood behind him with a serious look of determination on his face and a large armful of lumber on his shoulder.
    "Yes sir, Mr. Kermit. We've got the salt-treated lumber for the ramp right here!"
    " Ah...Beau maybe you should ah set that down"
    "Yes sir, Mr. Kermit, sir!" Beau turned around and only narrowly missed knocking Clifford's dreadlocked head off his shoulders. Years of life among the muppets had honed the musician's survival skills, and he hit the dirt like a stunt man. Beau looked behind him in confusion. "Do you want the boards here?" He turned again, facing Kermit, and caused Kermit and Alan to jump back out of range. "Or here?"
    "Anywhere!"
    Beau let go of the boards. They fell with a clatter to the ground, only narrowly missing Bean Bunny!
    "Hey!" he said indignantly. "Small furry creature here!"
    Alan and Kermit and Clifford began sorting the boards into different piles according to size.
    "Another disaster averted" Kermit said under his breath
    "You got that right," Clifford muttered in response. "But he wanted to help, so..."
    Kermit sighed. Willing help was better than none, and they could probably use the manpower.
    Or man anyway.
    "Okay," said Alan. "The plans say we need to make sure that the ramp has the right grade."
    "They're going to grade us?" cried Beauregard, horrified. For a moment, Alan looked confused, then his face cleared. "No," he said. "Oh--no, Beauregard. We're not going to be graded on this, but the ramp needs to have a certain angle."
    Beau looked dubious. "I won't need a slide rule for this, will I?"
    Bean Bunny slapped his hand over his face. "Um, no, Beauregard. You don't need a slide rule. But we could use a carpenter's tape measure."
    Beau fished though various pockets. "I've got a tape measure," he said, "but it's mine. I didn't get it from a carpenter. Is that okay?"
    "Yes" everyone said doing their best to ignore that remark
    Alan looked at Kermit. "I see your job is a lot like my job," he said with a chuckle. Kermit nodded, then took the tape measure and began to mark off board lengths. Behind him, Clifford was setting up the saw-horses.
    "What do I do now Mr. Kermit?"
    "Um, here--I've finished marking this board. Put it up on the horses for Clifford to saw into pieces."
    "What horses?"
    "The saw horses," Kermit muttered distractedly. He was trying to work out the math in his head and didn't turn around. If he had, he probably would have seen the look of confusion and consternation on the janitor's face.
    "If I SAW horses," murmured Beau, "I'd go get them."
    Bean Bunny jumped up, waving madly until he caught Beau's gaze. "Hey! Beau!" Beau looked down. "Hello furry Bean! Sorry about almost dropping the lumber on you."
    "Not a problem," the diminutive bunny said. "But pay attention for a minute. Kermit doesn't need horses--he's talking about the things that Clifford is putting up. Those are saw horses."
    Beau looked at him doubtfully. "Are you sure? They don't even have heads, and they don't look very comfortable. How do you ride them?" Bean, who was used to being insufferably cute, tried to have patience with Beau, who was just as insufferable, because it obviously wasn't his fault. He took a deep breath and tried once more.
    "Not horses," he explained. "They're just called that. But a ‘saw horse’ is just a thing you lay a board across in order to cut it, okay?"
    Beau nodded willingly. "Okay," he said. The janitor bent and obediently lifted one of the marked boards onto the saw horse. "Now hold it steady," said Clifford, and he began to work the saw back and forth energetically.
    "Man," Clifford said. "This would be a lot easier if we had a two-man saw."
    "Two men saw what?" asked Beauregard. Bean slapped a hand to his forehead, and Clifford clamped one over his mouth to keep him from saying something unkind.
    "Um, I think Clifford is wanting a saw with two handles,” interjected Alan. He liked this big, bumbling fellow who was so childlike and obedient.
    “Where do we go?” asked Beauregard.
    "There's one in the shed, I think," said Kermit wearily. "Bean, maybe you and Beau could get it together?"
    "Right!" Bean turned tragically cute eyes on Kermit as he went, letting Kermit know that he was taking one for the team.

    Rizzo was not coming today. In fact, no one was expected, because everyone Gonzo could think of would be working on bringing the house up to code today. Rizzo had been full of enthusiasm, and Gonzo had tried hard to feel cheerful about the prospect of one day getting to return home, but the thought of things so different was one more reminder of something that Gonzo was working 24/7 to deny. And the effort that everyone was expending on his behalf embarrassed him, and then he felt ashamed of his embarrassment, and embarrassed that he felt ashamed. The loss of his self-sufficiency was not something he was ready to admit, and he felt mean and churlish and awful that he could not gush out grateful thanks and rampant enthusiasm for all the works happening just because of lil’ ol’ him. Self-mockery came more easily than anything, and Gonzo found he could, at least, smirk at himself in derision.
    With no one expected, Gonzo was surprised when a visitor was announced. So surprised, in fact, that it did not occur to him to ask who until he fond himself face to face with the chicken of his dreams.
    If Gonzo could have gotten out of the bed that instant, he would have run from the room—run from the affection and hope in Camilla’s bright eyes. But, of course, if Gonzo could have gotten out of the bed, the point would have been moot. He lay still, helpless, but his heart began to race.
    “Um, hey Camilla,” he said, willing his voice to sound normal. He looked fixedly at a point about two inches from her face, unable to make eye contact.
    Camilla bawked softly and came and stood beside the bed. Her gaze was direct, but since Gonzo couldn’t meet it, he had no way of knowing that there was compassion in her eyes, but not horror or pity.
    “Not bad,” Gonzo admitted, then the absurdity of it all came flooding over him. “Awful,” he whispered. “Terrible.”
    Camilla put a gentle hand on his chest. Gonzo knew this because he could see it, but no sensation crossed the boundary. When he did not react, Camilla moved her feathery wing up and touched his face, hoping he would look at her. He would not.
    She buc-bucked something else, but Gonzo did not respond. After an instant, Camilla withdrew and perched on the chair nearest the bed.
    For the next few minutes, Camilla tried with every ounce of charm she possessed to have any sort of give and take with the furry blue creature she cared about so deeply, but it was a losing battle. After an interminable and useless interval, the fluffy white hen stood up, touched Gonzo’s unresisting cheek again and quitted the room.
    After she left, Gonzo lay there and cursed fate and himself for everything that he could name, but it was not ultimately effective. The hot tears began to spill, and Gonzo could do nothing but let them. He felt miserable—miserable for himself and miserable for the way he had treated Camilla. He did not know what to do—he did not know what he could do. The only consolation was that he did not expect any more visitors today, and in that, at least, his expectations were fulfilled.

    Despite the amount of help they were receiving rather than because of it, the ramp began to take shape. The elevator crew had apparently finished what they were working on for the day, and joined them on the sunny lawn to sweat and lift and secure the boards in place.
    Kermit tried hard not to ask, but finally, finding himself maneuvering a plank into place alongside Rizzo, he jerked his head toward the house in what he hoped was a casual manner.
    "Elevator shaft okay?"
    Rizzo paused in his labors, and Kermit watched and worried what it meant that he took so long to answer. "Um, sure," he said brightly. Rizzo was getting awfully good at blind optimism. "Looks good."
    Kermit nodded hastily, not daring to ask more. "Looks can be deceiving" Kermit said softly to himself.
    Rizzo stopped, and this time he looked Kermit square in the eye. "Yeah," he muttered back. "I know, I know." Everyone around was wondering one thing: what will Gonzo think?
    There had been a time when Rizzo could have hazarded a guess. More than anyone, he could read the moods of the little blue weirdo when Gonzo’s gaze grew faraway and he listened to that elusive drummer that only played to him. But lately, Rizzo had not gotten further than half an inch behind Gonzo's eyeballs. Gonzo was cheerful or morose, hopeful or even despairing, but Rizzo knew he never saw more than the surface. A door had been slammed shut as suddenly and surely as a bank vault, and no one knew what treasures were behind those gentle eyes—no one except Gonzo.

    It was a bedraggled and weary bunch that gathered (with understandable apprehension) around the dining room table for supper. There had been much banging and clanging of pots and pans, and the cacophony had only added to the hammering, sawing, breaking and pounding that had taken place most of the day. Kermit took his painter’s cap off and rubbed a weary hand over his face. His slim hands look rough and a little sore. Robin sat beside him solemnly, also wearing a painter’s cap, and even he looked as though he had used up some of the seemingly endless stores of energy he possessed.
    “What’s for supper?” someone ventured. There was much muttering, but no clear reply.
    “I was hoping for canned soup and a sandwich,” said Scooter. “Or anything I don’t have to wrestle with.”
    “I was hoping for anything,” said Rizzo. “I’ll wrestle it if I have to.”
    The door to the kitchen swung open and the Swedish Chef emerged bearing an enormous platter. He marched proudly to the table and set the steaming food down in front of Kermit. Kermit looked at the tray, then the Chef ‘s self-satisfied face, then at the hopeful faces grouped around him.
    “Are these—are these buckwheat pancakes?” asked Kermit, almost daring to hope.
    “Ruundy buc-cakes,” said the Chef, nodding sagely. A moment later, and Carver the Butler tottered into the room with a tray of syrups, jellies and jams for the fragrant flapjacks. The looks of apprehension turned to relief, and people grabbed their silverware with interest.
    “Wow, thank you, Chef,” said Kermit. “This looks wonderful. Thank you.” He smiled at his cast and crew, his family and friends. “Everybody tuck in,” he said. Nobody had to be asked twice.

    Piggy and the other girls had rebelled at the lack of a bathroom, and gone to stay at the local hotel. After considerable and almost constant use of the bathroom, the woman had declared themselves free of paint, dirt, grit and un-girly smells. Piggy’s blond curls were clipped up on top of her head, drying in little springy tendrils. Janice had her damp head wrapped turban-style, which looked very apropos as she sat cross-legged on the bed. Camilla was preening carefully, her ruffled feathers giving her a tousled appearance. They had ordered vegetarian calzones, and now relaxed in various states of weariness on the comfy beds.
    “I am, like, never painting my nails again,” said Janice. “I’ve had enough painting to last me my whole life.”
    “I don’t even want to put on lipstick,” said Piggy.
    Camilla made a small cluck of sound and they all laughed.
    “Guess not,” said Janice.
    “Good days work, ladies,” said Piggy crisply. She was not much given to compliments, but she had admired and respected the effort they had put in alongside her today.
    “Yeah,” said Janice. “But it will be worth it, you know? When Gonzo comes home and sees how we got the place fixed up for him?”
    Again, Camilla bawked softly, sadly. She had immediately communicated the results of her non-visit to Gonzo upon returning, and the ladies had clustered around her worriedly. Now, Janice reached over immediately and put an arm around her friend.
    “Oh, like hey, Honey. Don’t cry. We’re here, okay? And Gonzo’s gonna come home soon. It will be okay, you know?”
    Piggy came over and added her hugs to Janice’s until Camilla’s tears were dried, but she was sober. It would be okay, she thought, but it was never going to be the same.
  10. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Oh how I hug this story and this chapter. Marvelous to see all the work the gang's getting accomplished, what with extra help from the various penguins and folks from the Street too. Very sad the exchange between the chicken and the weirdo. It's echoed at the very end. Small nitpick, the butler's name is Carter, not Carver as posted above.

    Again, I hug this story and just how great it is. Please post more soon!
  11. TogetherAgain

    TogetherAgain Well-Known Member

    <Shakes head> You two will never cease to amaze me, will you. I love how everyone is pulling together... All of the characterization, and EVERYTHING, feels so natural in this story... It's really very admirable. Poor Gonzo...

    MORE PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  12. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Chapter 7: Here’s Looking at You, Gonzo

    Gonzo had awakened one morning with the eerie sense that someone—or something was looking at him. Since he had become a guest of the hospital, that feeling had more often than not been correct, but there was no brisk nurse smiling at him while she checked his pulse, no one leaving a tray of food and waking him to feed him. Slowly, and with sweat-popping effort, Gonzo turned his head ever-so-slightly toward the corner of his room and froze. His heart began to pound in his chest, and he turned away, frightened by the sight that met his eyes. That had been three days ago and that feeling had been every-present.
    This morning, however, the male nurse who arrived to check his vitals and feed him lunch smiled at Gonzo as his eyes drifted toward the corner and the sight that had so shaken the little blue weirdo.
    “Hey,” the young man said with the same cheery, matter-of-fact tone that all of the nurses seemed to use, a tone that Gonzo had taken to calling their “Sesame Street voice.” “Nice wheels.”
    But after that first terrifying glance, Gonzo had refused to acknowledge the presence of the motorized wheelchair. He had begun to loathe the hospital bed and had even composed a song about the 37 individual indentations in the ceiling above his bed, but now the thought of leaving the familiarity of this setting seemed too scary to contemplate.
    “Not mine,” Gonzo muttered churlishly, and the young man laughed.
    “Not yet, maybe,” he said serenely. “But I know if you test drive her you’ll be hooked.”
    Gonzo grunted.
    “Come on over and kick the tires—check out the transmission,” Geoffrey wheedled, but Gonzo set his lips disapprovingly.
    “Maybe some other time. I’m not really in a tire-kicking mood.” He kept his eyes focused grimly on the tray in front of him. “Ooh! Lime jello! My favorite! Where’d you go with that spoon?”
    But Geoffrey had just tut-tutted at him.
    “Trust me—the lime jello isn’t going anywhere.”
    “That makes two of us,” Gonzo muttered.
    “That’s what you think,” Geoffrey insisted. He pushed the tray back from Gonzo’s hospital bed, turned back the covers and swept Gonzo up as easily as if he weighed nothing at all. Gonzo had lost weight, to be sure, but he was still larger than a bread-box. Still, the nurse hefted him with no sign of distress.
    “Don’t drop me,” Gonzo cried involuntarily. He didn’t really think Geoffrey would, but it made him feel better to complain about something. Just as the accident had done, Geoffrey was taking him toward his date with inevitability, and Gonzo railed against his sense of powerlessness.
    “Oh,” said Geoffrey airily. “I haven’t dropped anyone in ages.”
    Good timing, thought Gonzo. “You ought to do stand up,” the weirdo said with grudging admiration. “And I’ll do falling down,” he added, and laughed despite the harsh nature of the joke.
    “What—get up in front of people and perform?” said the young man. His face betrayed his horror. “You must be crazy.”
    “It’s been documented,” said Gonzo. “But really—seriously. You have a good sense of timing.”
    “And….?” Geoffrey demanded.
    “And you’re funny,” Gonzo said. Geoffrey smiled and sat Gonzo down in the mechanized wheelchair before bowing deeply from the waist.
    “You are too kind, sir,” he said formally, ruining the gesture by sticking his tongue out. Despite himself, Gonzo felt like laughing. Then, remembering what he was about, Gonzo’s spirits plummeted again.
    “I—I don’t want to do this today, Geoffrey,” he said quietly. “Maybe tomorrow.”
    “Nope—you can’t tomorrow,” the young man insisted. He was turning the chair toward the door.
    “Why not? Are they recalling this model?” Gonzo felt a little panicky at the thought of leaving the room and tried to hide it with snide humor.
    “Hmm umm,” said Geoffrey’s voice from behind his head. “But I’m off tomorrow and I don’t trust some of those nurses. Gertrude had a real lead foot—I know because I’ve followed her on the freeway, and you wouldn’t know it to look at her, but Karoline has been known to talk on her cell phone, apply mascara and drink a cup of coffee while she’s driving. If one of them took you out there’s no gurantee you’d come back in one piece. So it has to be today.”
    “But, but—“ Gonzo began.
    “Oh,” said Geoffrey. “You don’t have to make engine noises. The engine goes on its own.”
    “Wait!” Gonzo said, half-laughing and half-terrified. “Wait, Geoffrey—I’m not quite ready for this.”
    The wheelchair stopped its forward motion, then Gonzo heard the nurse’s almost silent footfalls coming around. He watched him come and kneel on the nondescript linoleum and look up into his eyes.
    “It’s time,” Geoffrey said simply, and his voice was sad. “Doesn’t do any good to be scared.”
    Gonzo hesitated, his eyes fixed anxiously on the kind eyes in front of him. “Can I at least get a blanket or something? These hospital robes are a little air-ish, if you know what I mean.”
    Geoffrey gave him a look, obviously thinking he was stalling, but Gonzo gave a sortof lop-sided smile.
    “Come on,” Gonzo pleaded. “I’m gonna scandalize the nurses station.”
    Geoffrey just laughed. “They’d be thrilled,” he insisted, but he got a blanket. After a minute—decently tucked, almost excited and scared to death, Gonzo took his first ride in the wheelchair.

    The construction had dislodged more than dust and the womenfolk. Every doorway had been widened to accommodate...whatever--whatever and his new wheels, and many thing had to be reaarranged--or at least restacked.
    Kermit and Fozzie had been taken over the job of resettling the books in the two big bookshelves in the living room after observing the Penguin's attempts to sort books by color.
    Both of them had dust rags and their work was punctuated with stray coughs.
    "Hope Gonzo likes everything," Fozzie said optimistically. Kermit didn't answer. Lately, he was having a hard time coming up with answers.
    A grunt eventually subbed in for words
    “Hey fellas--need a hand? Cough, cough?" asked Rowlf. "Shouldn't that be Ruff, ruff?" asked Fozzie. "Wocka, wocka!"
    Rowlf just sighed. Everybody tried to do dog humor, but almost no one ever got it right.
    "A photo album," Kermit breathed softly
    He wiped it off with his dust rag and revealed a less-than-professional quality picture of the muppets
    By an unfortunate stroke of luck the album happened to open in mid air to one of Gonzo saying good-bye to yet another canon.
    "That was Gertrude," said Rowlf, without thinking. "She sure packed a whallup!"
    Page after page taunted them with its normalcy
    "Oh, look!" said Fozzie. "That's the picnic we had that day at the park."
    "Yeah," Kermit said softly. "When Gonzo's kite-flying escapade managed to hang him over those power wires."
    Silence again. Laughing silence.
    “Good thing you had the power company on beeper back then," said Rowlf. There was a general assent, two brown heads and one green one bobbing.
    "What are we doing guys?" Kermit blurted out in spite of himself
    Everyone knew the answer: they were avoiding. Avoiding fear, avoiding the unknown, avoiding especially the fear of the unknown.
    Fear of the unknown, yes--but fear of the known as well.
    How would he act? Moreover how would they act towards him? Of course they would treat him the same as always, but…words are easy, aren’t they? Actions take effort.
    And Gonzo had been...so hard, and so hard to read. He had finally accepted visits at the hospital as inevitable, but it was difficult, often, to know what to say, what to talk about, where to look. And Gonzo’s humor, always odd, had become more dark as his outlook became more grim.
    "I am more scared than I have ever been in my entire life" said the soft green figure with the arguable claim of leading the Muppets. “I mean, if we flop on stage, big deal, you know? There's always another show. But this...this is....”
    He did not know what this was. That was part of the problem.
    “Yeah,” said Rowlf, agreeing with his unspoken thoughts as well as his spoken one.
    Fozzie, however, was not to be daunted.
    “Well, I’m glad that Gonzo’s coming home.” He surveyed the comfortable chaos of the living room. “He’ll be a lot more comfortable here than in some smelly old hospital.”
    As if on cue, a waft of foul-smelling smoke wafted up from the vicinity of Dr. Honeydew’s lab in the basement and Fozzie dared anyone to say anything.
    As it was, there was nothing left to say nothing left to do but wait in the silence and fear, silence and fear that could still not be as severe as Gonzo’s experience of same. Kermit shifted awkwardly, then he and Rowlf spoke at once.
    “Well, we’ll just—“
    “We’ll just do the best we—“
    Rizzo walked in and the silence became loud.
    Fozzie was nose-deep in a bookcase, but he reacted to the sudden silence by looking up.
    “Oh, hey Rizzo! When's Gonzo coming home?”
    There was a momentary flicker of...something on Rizzo's face, but his expression remained neutral.
    “Later this afternoon. We'll have plenty of warning because they're going to bring him in the van.”
    “Good,” said Kermit automatically, just to have something to say.
    After an uncomfortable silence, Rizzo started up the stairs
    “And how are you, Rizzo?” he muttered to himself. “Fine!” he answered himself. “Thanks for askin’!”
    Below, the three old friends were oblivious to the little rat’s distress. They were consumed with what was coming.
    If the van came 100 years from then it would be too soon, said the voice in the minds of at least two in the room
    Everyone nodded and Kermit had an uncomfortable flashbck to filiming "Muppets From Space." They had been going to rescue Gonzo then, too--but only from a soundstage.
  13. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Just finished... You're building something here to rival the Heart of Lisa's. Beautiful and dreadful at the same time. Can't wait for more when you can post it though.

    *Hugs Rizzo plushy.
  14. redBoobergurl

    redBoobergurl Well-Known Member

    Ok, it is on my list of things to do for tomorrow to get caught up with this story, I realized it was one that I had missed along the lines and I just read chapter one and I realized I need to read the whole thing! So now I have something at the top of my list for my slow time at work tomorrow!
  15. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    If your work allows you to log on to MC Beth:smirk:.
  16. redBoobergurl

    redBoobergurl Well-Known Member

    Work allows MC, work does not allow Facebook or Myspace. It's weird, I don't ask questions.
  17. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    I just want to say--especially for you new readers (and bless ALL of you, new and, um, less new)--that even though Aaron and I take turns posting to this story, and while it might look like I wrote that last section, for instance, because it's under my avatar and name, I could not be writing this without my partner-in-crime, um, my, um, better--no, that's not right....without Lew Zealand and his...drat. SERIOUSLY, though--without Aaron, who is the true author of this story. (Wild applause, confetti everywhere.) This was his original idea--I'm just the one who types really fast and knows lots of big words. We'll keep plucking at it until we're done!
  18. redBoobergurl

    redBoobergurl Well-Known Member

    Whew, just read the whole thing.

    Aaron, Catherine....wow. You guys have created something outstanding here, this is one of the best fics I've read in awhile. You've managed to tell a powerful story and yet everyone is in character, they've all reacted in the ways you would expect them to. The subtle touches of humor help lighten the mood every now and then and there really is a great deal of heart in this story. I really hope you have more soon because I am hooked.
  19. Aaron

    Aaron Active Member

    new chapter coming soon
  20. Ruahnna

    Ruahnna Well-Known Member

    Chapter 8: Muppet on Wheels

    Gonzo’s early attempts at modesty had prevented him from flashing his skivvies at the nurses station, saving their sensibilities from certain trauma. His concern for their modesty, however, was not equal to concern for their feelings. He had had no qualms about racing up and down the hallways like a lunatic in the mechanized wheelchair he had once been loathe to acknowledge. In fairness, these feats of derring-do has less to do with attempts to incite than with simple trial and error, but trial and error is a pretty effective—if Darwinian—teacher. By the time Gonzo came home, he was using the chair at least something like the makers intended—if the makers had been Acme Incorporated.
    The welcoming party was a little overwhelming. Gonzo felt small, dwarfed not just in height but by the sheer weight of anxious concern he could read on every familiar face as he rumbled up to the new ramp.
    Well—every adult face. Robin came forward with eagerness, but not anxiety, and gazed at the shiny contraption with awe.
    "Gosh, Mr. Gonzo," said Robin. "How do you make that thing go?"
    Anyone but Robin would have gotten a wiseacre replay, but even Gonzo's gut-churning fretfulness and churlishness could not make him mean to that bright-eyed little frog.
    "Funny you should ask,” he said, falling back into the comfort of lecture mode. “Every chair is designed based on what the individual user can do. So to power the chair, you use whatever works."
    "Good thing they aren't powered by brain waves," muttered Rizzo, deliberately loud enough for Gonzo to hear. Robin laughed, then covered his mouth and looked at Kermit uncertainly to see if he’d done something wrong.
    But Gonzo hadn’t seemed to care. "Ha ha," said the furry blue whatever, then ignored Rizzo in an obvious fashion. In truth, Rizzo's glib snideness had given the welcome home a welcome sign of familiarity. Everyone else had been entirely too nice. Gonzo had never made the door before without encountering as least three insults and a "Watch it, Weirdo," and he kept wanted to look behind him to see if someone important were close behind him.
    “So what do you use, Mr. Gonzo?” asked Robin.
    Gonzo opened his mouth to reply and realized that he had the full attention of everyone. “Wow,” he said dryly. “This is a performance artist’s dream—a whole room full of people waiting to hear about my bodily functions.”
    There was a nervous scuffling of feet and more than one averted glance. Gonzo felt powerful--and ashamed--but once again Rizzo came to the rescue.
    "Wouldn't be the first time," said Rizzo. "Just try to stick with the A material, would you?"
    "What? You mean stunts?" Gonzo said without thinking.
    The crowd of welcomers fell immediately silent, horrified, but the silence did not last. "No stunts yet," Kermit said firmly, and smiled sheepishly. "We're still in the grace period with our new insurer!"
    Fozzie might as well have written that joke, given the response, but it serve its purpose. The ice was broken—again--and everyone seemed to exhale. Gonzo felt a flash of guiltly gratefulness. Good ol' Kermit. He always new how to keep them all grounded.
    Gonzo tried to follow suit. “Um, I can use my neck, and I can move my shoulders a little, Robin, so that’s how I tell the chair what to do. Come on up—want to ride in?”
    “Oh!” Robin’s eyes were wide—well, wider than ususal. He looked uncertain. “Um, is it—will I hurt you?”
    “No,” Gonzo said dryly. “I won’t feel a thing. Hop on.”
    Robin did and, with a lurch, the chair moved forward. Rizzo hovered behind, watchful but not needed. The crowd turned and followed the blue and green passengers into the boarding house, effectively shutting Rizzo out of the welcoming fold. The little rat sighed, then trailed after everyone else.

    Gonzo had looked upon the trip home with roughly equal parts anticipation and dread for what had seemed like forever. Being shown around somewhere where he had already lived for a long time was a strange and discombobulating experience, but the tour had to be taken. They were all eager--eager and anxious--to show him the things that they had done to the house. Some, like the elevator--which whined and moaned but Kermit insisted had elicited the inspector’s grudging approval—were obvious, but a lot of the changes were more subtle. Gonzo had worried for a long time in the hospital about the narrow doorways and the difficulty of crossing so many bumpy thresholds. After looking suspiciously for lack of forethought, he found instead so much care taken in the execution of the accessibility plans that he was simultaneously moved and indignant. Scooter and Floyd had taken particular pride in showing him the wheel-in shower.
    “Just perfect for those group parties,” Floyd had quipped, but was immediately outdone when they encountered a group of penguins all preparing to use the shower as soon as it was vacated. Everything wasn’t perfect, and Gonzo felt himself noting with almost malicious pleasure the things which had yet to be done, but it was mostly to hide the treacly sense of sentimentality that kept trying to creep over him.
    Piggy’s welcome had been anything but treacly. She had assessed him and the chair coolly for a moment. “It’s a shame they didn’t have the upholstery in your color,” she said in what she obviously intended as a sympathetic manner. “But Moi got you just the thing to keep your ride looking good.” She thrust out the package imperiously, and Gonzo wondered what she expected him to do—reach for it? Robin’s presence made the point moot, however, and he took the proffered package readily.
    “Want me to open it?” Robin asked. Robin loved opening gifts.
    “Sure thing,” Gonzo muttered, certain the irony would be lost on the small amphibian. Robin peeled away the wrapper to reveal some sort of duffle with the letters DIVA emblazoned on the side. Gonzo looked at it, then at her, not sure what to say.
    Gonzo’s mute bafflement made Piggy sigh. “Oh for goodness sake,” she said. “Don’t you know what it is? They sell them all the time on DSN.”
    “What’s DSN?” Floyd muttered to Scooter. “The Disney Channel?”
    “Diva Shopping Network,” Scooter muttered out of the corner of his mouth, and Floyd nodded.
    “So what it is, Miss Piggy?” asked Robin, whose agile little fingers had already unzipped the end so he could peer inside.
    “It’s a Damage Incident Vehicle Accessory, silly,” she said. “People use it to change your flats and fix your air conditioner if you break down while you’re driving.”
    “Oh.” It was hard to know what to say. “Um, thanks?” said Gonzo uncertainly. Deftly, Rizzo took the duffle and hooked it onto the back of the chair where packages could be stored. But the absurdity of the thing gave Gonzo just enough umph to make it through the rest of the tour.

    The other muppets had gradually faded into the background. Rizzo had disappeared earlier to grab a snack, unnoticed and unmissed until now, when Kermit realized that it was just him--him and Gonzo--in the painfully tidy room that Gonzo had once occupied.
    "So...," Kermit said nervously, clearing his throat. "Glad to have you back, Gonzo. This place just wasn't the same without you."
    "It's not going to be the same with me," Gonzo said, surprised to hear the words actually leaving his mouth.
    Kermit paused thoughtfully, absorbing the blow and the meaning of what Gonzo had said. "No," he said at last. "It won't be the same. Things change. Things always change, Gonzo. But some changes are good--"
    "Not this one."
    "--and some are inevitable," Kermit finished evenly, but the effort of maintaining such matter-of-factness was evident. He looked at Gonzo pleadingly, wanting to fix it and knowing there was no fixing this.
    Gonzo looked away from the entreaty in those bulbous eyes, not able to summon any comfort for either of them. Kermit waited, but when it became obvious that there wasn't any more forthcoming from Gonzo he turned toward the door.
    "We are glad you're home," he said at the door. "I’m glad you're home, Gonzo--glad you came back to us."
    Gonzo felt the prick of tears in his eyes and clenched his jaw. He wanted to say, “Me, too,” and mean it, but that was beyond him now. The last thing he wanted to do was cry, and the urge to sob made him angry and full of rage. This explained what happened next.
    "If there's anything you need...." Kermit half-turned at the door.
    “I need my life back,” Gonzo said bitterly. Kermit slumped, but his eyes rested kindly on his friend’s defiant form.
    “Can’t help you there, Gonzo,” Kermit said sadly.
    “Nobody can,” the furry blue whatever muttered. Kermit waited again, but eventually moved again toward the door.
    “Kermit—“
    A quick intake of breath. “Yes, Gonzo?”
    “Um, thanks. Ok. Thank everybody.”
    “Sure thing.”
    Gonzo waited until he heard Kermit’s light flippered tread disappear down the stairs, then he turned his chair and his face toward the window. What happened to his tears them was nobody’s business but his own.


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