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The Best Neighbor

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Fan Art' started by Convincing John, Jul 17, 2009.

  1. Convincing John Well-Known Member

    Chapter 27

    "You're not going to blow up the factory." Kermit said determinitely.

    "Oh yeah? And what're you gonna do about it? You won't be able to scare me off like that idiot Hopper. He ain't half the man I am."

    Max pretended to be apprehensive of Kermit as he moved to the other side of his boss. What he was really doing was blocking the way so Frass couldn't retreat down the fire escape.

    "The warehouse isn't yours. We found the real owner."

    "There ain't no real owner, 'cept me."

    "That's not what City Hall says, man." Floyd stepped out of the shadows. "City Hall says me and Animal own it. We got the dude's official word yesterday." Floyd held up the document for Frass to see.

    "No...no..." Frass shook his head, becoming more enraged by the second. "I am the owner! That's probably a fake! And even if it IS real, I ain't gonna back down in front of a piece of paper like that wimp Bitterman!" Frass's clenching hand pointed the remote towards the building.

    "BAD MAN!" roared Animal. Like a snake, he sprung forward to bite Frass on the arm, but his chain was just an inch too short. The lunge alone was enough to send Frass stumbling backwards into the railing. The remote flew from his hand, sailed into the darkened room and clattered across an unseen, metal floor.

    Immediately, Frass followed it inside. He flipped the switch, but the lights wouldn't come on. In the dark, Clifford smiled.

    Time to deal with this clown. he thought.

    As Frass cautiously stepped forward, he continued to bellow in the dark.

    "FROG? FROG! Gimmie that remote right NOW!"

    Frass guessed the direction the remote had went. As he reached for something to steady himself, all light behind him extinguished. The door behind him slammed and immediately locked.

    "MAX!" roared Frass. his voice echoed and re-echoed in the blackness.

    There was no answer.

    It was pitch black inside the room, save for the tiny glint against glass at eye level. Silently, Max nodded.

    A fan somewhere in the room buzzed to life. A voice somewhere near it quavered a warning in a Spanish accent.

    "Jou are a very, very bad man, h'okay. I will smack you like a bad, bad donkey, h'okay. If jou don't give up now, jou will be very, very sorry, hokay. Jou must surrrrrennnnnnder, h'okay!"

    "And giiiive uuuus lots of fooooooood." quavered a second voice.

    "Food?" whispered Pepe. "Jou are nuts wanting anyting to eat from dat guy!"

    "Hey, it's been fifteen minutes since breakfast!" Rizzo whispered back. "I'm starvin'!"

    "I AIN'T PLAYIN' GAMES, FROG!" boomed Frass. Carefully, he tried to step on a catwalk, but nearly fell. He stumbled and stopped. Something was in front of him. He couldn't see, but he had the feeling that--

    A bright red light snapped on, illuminating someone from beaneath. It was a man in wild clothes which, under normal lighting, might have been multicolored. Here, they were just shades of red and black. A huge hand at the end of a spidery arm spun a yo-yo an inch from Frass's face. An eerie, Cheshire Cat grin with a single, sparkling tooth widened along with his eyes. The feather on his furry top hat bobbed as he spoke a single word:

    "Lost?"

    A sudden wave of fear and uncertainty went through Frass as the red light snapped off. For the first time, it seemed like he was indeed trapped.

    Somewhere else in the blackness, something shifted. Another light snapped on, this time a yellow one. Two identical shapes appeared in complete silhouette. They looked like, for a lack of a better description, devils wearing fur vests. Together, they harmonized as Frass heard a strange, yet unmistakably clear version of "The Twilight Zone" theme.

    "Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo..."

    A third silhouette snaked up between them. It was something like a hairy, weaving dandelion with skinny arms.

    "Mahhhhhh-NAH!" it declared in a low, gravely voice. Barely visible hollow eye sockets blinked at him.

    The light snapped off and the music ceased immediately. Frass was once again in the dark.

    "LET ME OUT!" he yelled. There was anger in his voice, but there was also a hint of fear. A dull ache went through Frass's colon as he tried again to find the remote. His foot found a wobbly bridge made from old wood. It creaked as he stepped forward.

    "The warehouse belongs to Floyd and Animal," Kermit said from the darkness. "not you."

    In the rafters, Scooter struggled in complete darkness to climb between the lights. He was on his way to create the next effect, (if he could pull it off), but he had to be silent. He had memorized earlier where all the right lights, hand and footholds were.

    There had to be a rope here, Scooter thought. His hand sretched out, grabbed and missed. He frowned, stretched and reached again. He felt his fingers slowly encircle the coarse texture of the rope. When he pulled it, all would be...

    He pulled.

    It was stuck.

    Scooter pulled again. The rope was definitely caught on something. With both hands, Scooter gave the rope a good yank and was torn from his perch.

    In the dark, Frass looked up as something clattered above. There was the sound of a rope zipping along a cable. Scooter's foot hit a switch. A light, a single, average, low watt light bulb turned on. Its feeble glow made Frass squint. There on the floor was something small and rectangular...

    Frass forgot all safety precautions and ran forward. Just as he was about to grab the remote, something both green and light orange blurred into view.

    "WOAAAH!" yelled Scooter. He landed flat on his back on the catwalk, directly in front of Frass. The remote was a few inches away.

    "Well well, look what we have here," Frass smiled horribly. "it's one of the frog's little friends." Scooter nearly retched at the horrible breath huffing down on him. His back hurt too much for him to get up quickly.

    Frass grabbed the remote with one hand and planted a foot on Scooter's chest. "Looks like I win, doesn't it, frog?" he called out in the dark. Frass leered down at Scooter. "you're lucky, boy. You'll get to see the first pieces of junk I'm gonna get rid of to make room for my factory."

    Frass pocketed the remote and pulled out the lump from his suit jacket pocket. It was a blowtorch from the demolition site. It ignited, illuminating Frass's ghastly face. Scooter tried to squirm out from under him.

    "If any of the rest of you make a move, this kid here gets it!" he yelled to the darkness. Scooter shrank back as Frass aimed the powerful flame towards his face.

    Frass pulled out the second lump from inside his jacket. He almost savored the moment, as if he had been thinking about this for years. Scooter first saw a rolled up piece of paper. At first glance, it seemed to be nothing but a piece of sheet music. But then Scooter saw bits and pieces of lyrics, he gasped. It was the original composition of "Please Won't You Be My Neighbor", notes and lyrics written in Fred Rogers's original handwriting.

    The sheet music was tucked into something else familiar to Scooter and to millions of others for over 30 years: a pair of Mister Rogers's blue sneakers. Frass held them up in two bloated fingers and laughed. The blowtorch flame cast grotesque shadows against his rotten teeth. Thoroughly enjoying himself, Frass pushed the flame closer to the shoes and music in his hand. He flopped the shoes slightly while singing in a horrible mock baby voice:

    "It's a byoot-i-foo day in my nay-boh-hoood!" His mouth burst open as his laughter rose like gas in a mire. Scooter could see every single one of Frass's teeth (and what remained of some of them).

    In desperation, Scooter reached into his jacket sleeve. He was glad he had prepared for this emergency. It would provide a distraction, at least.

    Frass jerked back in surprise as Scooter whipped out what first looked like a long, thin knife. When Scooter pointed it straight at Frass's nose, he saw that the object was nothing more than a conductor's baton.

    The signal. thought Clifford. Immediately, his hand went to a switch.

    "Aw, wook at dat," Frass continued in his horrible mock baby voice. "it's Harry Potter. Well, then, you gonna 'abracadabra' me out of here? Go on! Use your magic! Wave your wand!"

    Scooter tried to keep from wincing as he pointed the baton sharply to his right. The lights on the far right wall snapped on. Frass's tiny eyes blinked at the row of nearly identical black and white shapes against the wall.

    "Wak-waaaaaak." they squawked in chorus.

    Scooter sharply pointed his baton to the left. Clifford turned on the lights for the far left wall. They revealed a second row of penguins.

    "Wak-waaaaaaaak!" they chorused in a different key.

    Scooter pointed to the right wall again, then the left, conducting the number he had been rehearsing at the Boarding House.

    "Wak-waaaaaaak!"

    "WAK-wak-waaaaaaaak!"

    The signal. someone else thought nearby.

    Most people who had heard were used to it being played by the London Symphony Orchestra (conducted by John Williams) and sung in Sandskrit by a choir. No one had ever heard the piece sung by penguins before.

    The penguins confused Frass, but didn't completely distract him from what he needed to do. He looked up at a pencil thin beam of light. Sunlight. It streamed through a crack in the opposite door. Frass stepped over Scooter, determined to reach his goal.

    From the opposite direction in the dark, Animal rumbled out a drumroll using only his fists and a metal beam.

    Before Frass could reach it, the door swung wide open with a horrible groan. There, silhouetted against the blinding sunlight, was someone wrapped in a long, hooded cloak. If Frass had not known any better, he would have thought Death himself were standing before him.

    "Wak-WAAAAAAAAAK!"

    "WAK-WAK-WAAAAAAAAAAK!"

    The hooded figure stepped into the semi-dark room, its head lowered. Frass backed up when the figure slowly raised its head.

    It was the face of a lunatic. His demented expression was gleeful, yet insane. He resembled an excited, mad scientist just before conducting a pain-inducing experiment (as his many "guinea pigs" would heartily agree). The Muppets watched as the silhouette of a long weapon emerged from the cloak.

    Frass took another step back as the figure shrugged its cloak away. Underneath was a brilliant display of ruffled colors only matched by the wearer's flaming ego. A high-pitched, derranged shriek pierced the air.

    Before Frass could react, Marvin Suggs leapt with the skill of a ninja and pummeled him fiercely with his double-headed mallet.

    "OW! OW! OW!" yelled Frass.

    Marvin leapt to another catwalk and swung the mallet one-handed in complicated figure eights. "You are NOT in tune!" he yelled before pounding his head.

    "OW! OW! OWWWWWW!" wailed Frass.

    "E flat! E flat!" corrected Marvin. "You are terrible! Do it again!"

    Frass was beaten again and again with moves both Jackie Chan and Gallagher would have envied. The mallet was a ravenous blur of wood. Frass tried to shield himself, but Marvin was much too quick.

    "OW! OW! OWWW OWWW!"

    The penguins squawked in tune, thanks to Scooter. He waved his baton as he took the edge of the catwalk to safety.

    Frass barely had enough time to cover his face as the mallet smacked him all over his body. It was all he could to to keep balanced on the catwalk. Marvin twirled like a multicolored tornado as he spun the mallet in the opposite direction like a bulky propellor. Another jaguar-like leap sent Marvin sailing dangerously into the dark and in front of Frass again. Smaller light bulbs popped, flashing light blue as Marvin's mallet smashed through them. Fine glass glittered in the air as the mallet pummeled Frass's skull.

    "OW! OW! OWWW-OW-OW-OW!"

    Frass saw bright flashes of red, yellow and orange as the mallet repeatedly hit him full in the face. He tried to swing the blowtorch in retalliation, but only succeeded in raising his arm. Marvin's mallet knocked the blowtorch out of Frass's hand and sent it tumbling, now extinguished, into the black void below. Another well-placed hit to the opposite hand sent the shoes and sheet music flying from his grip. They sailed in an arc until they were caught by the laces in a slender, green hand.

    The Muppets cheered Kermit as he caught the shoes. Scooter, shaken but otherwise all right, rejoined his friends.

    In a desperate attempt, Frass reached into his pocket for the remote. As he pulled it out, Marvin's mallet swung at Frass's wrist with the force of a pile driver. The remote nearly met the same fate as the blowtorch. It too was knocked from Frass's hand and disappeared into the air. It clanged against a stagelight somewhere in the dark and broke another bulb. Sparks burst from the socket and singed a nearby rope supporting a plywood catwalk.

    In his rage of losing all of his ill-gotten items, Frass roared and fought back by gripping the mallet handle with both of his greasy hands. Another old light bulb popped above them, raining tiny shards of glass into Frass's short, gray hair.

    Frass's fury and brute strength barely matched Marvin's dementia and determination to get a good note out of him. Both of them pushed on the handle: Marvin, eyes popping more than normal and Frass, his body now bruised and even uglier than before.

    There was the sudden crack of splintering wood and Frass and Marvin were both thrown off balance and crashed into each other. The mallet broke in two. The halves flew in different directions. One half shattered another stagelight and fell into the abyss. The other half went the same direction as the remote but did not hit anything along the way.

    It took a moment to realize what had happened. Frass stepped back as Marvin stumbled into a diagonal support beam and tripped backwards. He was now on the catwalk, weak and with no mallet.

    Despite his pain, despite his loss, a wide, terrible grin spread across Frass's face. The bruises around his eyes and mouth stretched in nautious shades of purple laced with yellow. A few teeth were missing, leaving only gray, stinking sockets.

    "I'm gonna hold you for ransom until that frog pays me! No, wait. I got a better idea! I'm gonna have you arrested! I'll sue the frog, too! He sent you to do this! He--"

    WHAM!

    For a split second, the dark became blinding white with sparkling stars on the sides of Frass's peripheral vision. The blackness came back, the stars jerked, twinkled, then blurred into nothingness. Frass could actually feel the large, pulsing lump rising on the back of his head.

    The other half of the mallet eased back into the shadows as Frass slowly sunk to his knees. There was a thump of something wooden being dropped against the catwalk.

    In a second flash, all the lights in the catwalk space lit up. In between the sparks and weak electrical smoke leaking from the broken stagelights, Frass discovered he was surrounded by Muppets, all of whom were facing him. In the crowd, he saw someone holding the remote...

    "Max!" Frass's face sagged with relief. "I knew you wouldn't let me down! Now gimmie the remote and let's blow up that dump!" He stretched a shaking, oily hand to his assistant.

    Max looked at the remote in his hand. It felt slimy where his boss had held it. He then looked straight into his boss's eyes.

    "N-No."

    "No?" growled Frass.

    "No." answered Max more confidently.

    "NO?" Frass's spittle flew into the black void.

    "I won't give it to you." said Max, a little louder.

    "I SAID--" Frass started.

    "I'm sick of this! I'm sick of YOU!" Max yelled back. It might have been the first time Max had ever yelled. "I'm not going to let you do this!" Max glanced around him and back at his boss. "These are my friends and I'm going to help them! I quit."

    Frass's chest tightened in shock. Max gave the remote a little fling. Frass dove after it and only then did he remember that the floor was almost all empty space. With a heavy thud of flesh against wood, Frass's stomach hit the plywood catwalk and clumsily rolled off. At the last second, Frass tried to grab onto the edge, but his greasy, pudgy fingers were already slipping. He made a valiant effort, but it was no use. His beady eyes blurred as he saw a broken half of the mallet on the floor...directly next to Max.

    With the squeak of a slightly stuck windshield wiper, Frass's fingers released the beam. Only a faint grease stain on the beam was left behind as Frass plummeted into the abyss. The singed rope weakened, snapped and the plywood board fell after him.

    A half second later, everyone heard a massive thud followed by wood hitting flesh. It was the only evidence that there was a bottom to the void. Frass's back hit something crunchy, like a pile of leaves and rolled down a little slope to the floor.

    Just then, the rest of the lights in the studio lit up. For the first time, the Muppets could see what lurked below.

    "Oh no! Not that!" moaned Fozzie. He gripped Kermit for support.

    "Even I wouldn't go down there!" cried Gonzo.

    From high above, Clifford waved to Max.

    "You ready, Max?" asked Clifford.

    Max looked down at his boss, now crumpled, dazed, but still furious. After everything he made his workers do...everything he had put Max through...after all the long hours and little pay, the cause for loss of appetite and sleep...after what he wanted to do to his friends and destroy those artifacts that could be cherished for generations...

    "Yeah. Do it."

    Clifford adjusted some ropes and lowered an upside-down funnel. Thanks to Bunsen's Insta-Grow Pills, (they worked on anything), the funnel was now the size of a kiddie pool. Inside the funnel were a dozen, scuffed, off-white plastic containers. Their spouts all aimed towards the middle of the funnel. Each spout was covered with a plastic cap, held in place by a thin rope. The twelve ropes met in the middle like a braid and trailed back up to the catwalk. The chandelier-like contraption lowered until it was directly over the center of the room.

    "Wait...do you want to have the honors?" Max asked Rowlf. He offered the braided rope to Rowlf.

    "I...don't know..." said Rowlf. "Are you sure about this Max? It seems a bit cruel."

    "Remember what he did to those other dogs...and all those puppies out there?"

    "And you?" Kermit reminded Rowlf.

    Rowlf's eyes watered with both anger and a hint of nausea as he remembered.

    "Together, then." he took the rope in his paws.

    "But not until it's time." reminded Max.

    "Right," said Kermit. "we have to wait until..."

    "You ain't waintin' until NOTHIN', frog!" boomed Frass from below. A stream of blood leaked from his jaw as he smiled triumphantly. His partially broken hand raised something in the air. "I got the remote! And now, say goodbye to that old stiff's junk! Bye-bye Mister Rogers' Neighborhood!" With both relish and passion, Frass forcifully pressed the button on the remote.

    An explosion rang out in the distance. Some of the Muppets gripped the beams and catwalk for support, expecting the building to shake from the blast. A cruel laugh echoed from Frass's ruined mouth.

    There was another laugh; a high-pitched one the Muppets knew very well. A manic face peered inside the door where Marvin Suggs had entered.

    "More like bye-bye house!" cackled Crazy Harry.

    Kermit carefully made his way to the doorway. The warehouse was still intact, but the demolition crew was nowhere in sight. In a flash, Crazy Harry had rewired the dynamite to blow up someplace else.

    Crazy Harry whispered something into Kermit's ear. Two towns away, some smoldering rubble, half of a pink tire, and some expired baking soda were all that remained of Edd Frass's house and Maybach. The only thing left standing was the mailbox on the curb. It was stuffed full of bills, letters from collection agencies and an overdue notice from Scred's Awesome Auto Repair. The Muppets yelled in celebration when they heard that the warehouse was safe and Frass's house had blown up instead.

    Frass heard a cry rang out from the catwalks, but it wasn't the cry of anguish he was expecting. Instead, it was a cry of joy.

    "FRASS HOUSE GO BOOM! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!" yelled Animal.

    "WHAT?" roared Frass.

    "Yeah, man!" cheered Floyd. "Your house is toast!"

    "TOAST! TOAST!"

    Frass struggled to get up when something else dropped on him. It was a newspaper. BUGABOO DOG CHOW GOES BANKRUPT screamed the headline. As Frass read the article, he became angrier by the second. Near the bottom of the page was a picture of Animal with Floyd and Kermit. Another photo was of Mister Rogers with his trolley.

    He ripped up the newspaper, trying to refuse the truth. He was ruined. Frass flung the pieces like confetti, then tore at his hair. For the first time, he paid attention to where he fell. He had to concentrate on something other than the awful truth.

    At first glance, it seemed like he was outside in a pristine front yard. Except for himself, the newspaper shreds and the few broken items that had fallen from above, everything was immaculate.

    It was too immaculate.

    Frass's good eye noticed the one oak tree, fake backdrop and porch of a small white house. It looked like someone had set up the studio to shoot a commercial for lemonade, patio furniture or another product used outside. Nothing looked threatening. Yet, something was very, very wrong.

    For a moment, Frass forgot all about his demolished house and ruined dog food company. He wasn't sure why, but he had the feeling he was in danger. Cold sweat mixed with the oil on his face. His chest tightened. His colon throbbed with acid reflux. Wave after wave of fear shot through him like lightning. He had to get out. He had to find the exit.

    Frass sat up and tried to stand. In his effort, he grabbed onto the top of a spotless picnic table. Kermit and Max watched him struggle.

    "Now?" asked Max.

    "Not yet," said Kermit. "It won't come until it's called. All right, everyone. Like we planned. Don't look down and whatever you do, don't say the name! Just imagine it and...it'll...happen."

    It was a horrible thing to do, but their regret was far outweighed. Frass had to be stopped. After everything he had done and was planning to do, he had to be stopped and stopped for good. Aside from a lifetime sentence in prison, this was the only way.

    All of the Muppets imagined. Mercifully, this particular imagination technique only worked in the concentrated area below.

    Frass's heart stopped for a full two seconds. From the darkness, a terrible beast stepped forward. Seeing it was enough to make Frass feel as though he had swallowed an entire bottle of Ipecac.

    It walked upright on two legs, like a man, but towered a good seven feet tall. The thing vaguely resembled a real creature, but was at the same time as malformed as a nightmare. It stomped clumsily forward on huge feet, its long, swollen tail swinging behind it. The eyes were tiny and wide set, yet saw its prey with unmistakable clarity. The mouth of the real creature it tried to resemble was frightening enough. This one had a maw shaped into a smile only seen in a funhouse mirror. The mouth had the worst case of underbite Frass had ever seen. The jaws couldn't even close completely. The arms of the beast were long, thick and ended in bloated, nearly useless hands.

    Frass nearly had a heart attack when he saw the two-toned creature lumber towards him. Violet appendages reached out to him like the groping legs of a deadly spider.

    "NO! NO! GET AWAY! NO! AAAAGHHH!"

    The beast swept him up in a hug and squeezed Frass mercilessly in its arms like a gorilla. Frass was forced against the beast's green chest. Frass heard no heartbeat. There was no pulse. It was like the beast wasn't even alive.

    The more he struggled, the more the beast tightened its bear hug. It began to sway back and forth with Frass being rocked like a baby. Out of the edges of the room, a tinkling version of "This Old Man" began to play.

    "Now, Max!" yelled Kermit.

    Together, Max and Rowlf pulled the braided rope. The lids for the twelve containers popped open and something dark poured from each one and sank through the massive funnel.

    Frass heard the popping and looked up. Partially obscured by the beast's jaw was something bursting from a hole directly overhead. At first, it looked like a steady stream of brown liquid, but it wasn't. It was pieces of something. All were identical, all were about the size of a thumb.

    Roaches.

    Max had taken the "extra protein" containers from the factory the night before and hooked them up to the funnel. Rowlf was glad to help with that. When the lids were released, the roaches poured down the funnel and landed forcefully by the thousands onto Frass and the beast.

    A sound came from the beast. It was a dopey, warbling, saccharine voice that kept in time with the music. The beast took no notice of the roaches crawling across its body, over its glazed, glassy eyes and inside its gaping, singing, misaligned mouth.

    Frass howled in anguish as the beast looked him in the eyes as it finished its song. The roaches crawled all over it and immediately moved to Frass.

    "We're going to have so much fun here! You're going to be my super-deeee-DUPER friend forever and ever and ever! Ho ho! Ohhhh!"

    Frass wailed in agony as the roaches and beast enveloped him. His desperate cries for help were muffled by the beast's crushing arms and partially gagged by the roaches squirming and wriggling in and out of his howling mouth. A slender roach scurried hastily up one of Frass's running nostrils.

    The lights went out at the bottom of the studio. Frass's yelling ceased altogether as the blackness enveloped him, the beast and the countless roaches. The beast gave a final satisfied, echoing, merry chuckle from the dark. One last roach crawled down the funnel and disappeared into the void with its comrades. Then...all was silent.

    Floyd was one of the first ones to chance looking down.

    "Y'know man...even after what that Frass dude did, I'm not sure who to feel sorry for down there."

    "That's easy," said Kermit as he led them to the exit. "I feel sorry for the roaches."

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    More soon.

    Convincing John
  2. redBoobergurl Well-Known Member

    Barney! That is hilarious! I can't stop laughing! Frass finally got what's coming to him! Awesome!
  3. That was great! Frass trapped with you know who!
  4. The Count Moderator

    Gwod Noooooooooooooo! ! ! ! !

    Agree with Kermit, I feel sorrier for the roaches. BTW: Knowing that this had a crossover appeal, I was thinking the bottom void of the studio housed the Ultragorgon from Monster Maker, from the Jim Henson Hour. That would've been a better outcome in my opinion.

    *Shudders... *Needs next chapter to wash the nastahness away.
  5. Convincing John Well-Known Member

    Chapter 28

    The Ultragorgon? Oh yeah...I forgot about him. Oh well...it would've made a good beast, but I had that other scene in my head for about three months and I just had to do it. (Besides, I'd rather be stuck with the Ultragorgon than...gulp...).

    Chapter to wash away the nastahness coming up!

    Chapter 28

    The theater was packed the next night. With some quick rehearsing, a new show was created on the fly. It didn't take long for everyone to memorize their parts, since they all knew the songs. Sets from older shows were recycled to match what was needed onstage. Kermit recruited everyone he could find to help out with set design, costumes, music and everything in between.

    Scooter peeked through the curtain, clutching his clipboard. There was Max in the front row. It was his first time at the theater...or at any theater, movie or otherwise. He was eating some popcorn and glancing at his program.

    There was not a seat left in the house. For the night before Thanksgiving, it was an impressive crowd.

    Scooter ducked back and glanced over his shoulder.

    "Fifteen seconds to curtain!" he called.

    The house lights went down as the spotlights lit up. The audience applauded as the familiar Muppet Show theme began. This time, however, there was no guest star. Kermit appeared through the "O" and said:

    "It's The Muppet Show, featuring a special tribute to Fred Rogers! Yaaaaaay!"

    The massive logo ascended as the band played the theme. Monsters, chickens and penguins danced and sang their way across the lit arches. Statler and Waldorf sang a line about the show being torture to watch.

    The cast appeared in full as the logo descended again, this time with Gonzo in it. When he blew his trumpet, it whistled and dinged like Mister Rogers's trolley.

    Kermit introduced the show as he always did in front of the closed, red curtain.

    "Hi ho! Hi ho! Hi ho! And welllllcome to The Muppet Show! Tonight, we are proud to present a special tribute show in honor of a great man, Mister Fred Rogers!"

    The audience "ooohed".

    "Yes!" replied Kermit, but first, in honor of Mister Rogers, we are going to show a film about how something is made," a large movie screen lowered in front of the curtain as Kermit held up a remote. "Now, normally I'd introduce the opening number, but I felt it would be right to have someone else do the honors." Kermit beckoned to someone offstage.

    An additional spotlight moved stage left. As Mr. McFeely walked onstage, the audience went nuts. With a small nod and tip of his cap, Mr. McFeely approached Kermit, shook hands and accepted the remote. He leaned forward slightly to a microphone on a stand.

    "Hello, everyone," he said gently. "I brought a film I'd like to show you," he held up a DVD case and pointed to each word in the title. "How People Make a Show".

    "Well then, let's take a look," smiled Kermit. "How People Make a Show."

    Mr. McFeely aimed the remote at a digital projector in the rafters. The screen lit up and a film began. In true to the style of the films Mister Rogers showed on Picture Picture, the film's original sound was muted and replaced by piano music. Rowlf played in the orchestra pit as the screen showed Kermit scribbling away on a notepad.

    "When people make a show," narrated Mr. McFeely. "someone has to come up with ideas for what the show will be about." The film showed Kermit erasing something, then writing again.

    The next shot was a close up of the script's rough draft. The screen magnified eraser crumbs and the half-ring left from someone's coffee mug.

    "And there's the ideas, all in place."

    The next shot was of a group of rats, all with hammers, paintbrushes and other tools. Beauregard hoisted a huge set piece in place while the rats fastened the joints together.

    "When the ideas are all in place and everyone has looked them over, sets have to be built for the show. These sets are sometimes called 'backdrop'." The camera panned across the rats assembling a very familiar-looking interior of a house. Clifford installed a traffic light next to a couch. Lew Zealand set a fish tank next to it.

    The next camera shot was of a group of Muppets rehearsing a musical number backstage. The Rowlf in the film played silently while the Rowlf in the orchestra pit played the song being rehearsed. There were close up shots of both Floyd and Zoot. Scooter waved his baton as the Muppets moved their mouths to a tune only recognizable by way of the piano playing from the orchestra pit.

    "Now if music is needed, everybody gets together and practices very hard. That way, the music sounds just right."

    In the film, Miss Piggy edged in front of everyone and posed for the camera as she sang. About a second later, Beauregard bumbled in front of her, pretending to play his mop like a guitar. The audience laughed as Piggy chased Bo off camera.

    "Now another part of doing a show is the costumes. For this show, there needed to be a lot of sweaters. Now some sweaters were made by hand."

    The next shot was of Hilda finishing a knitted cardigan sweater. As she saw the camera, she tenderly waved her hand, smiled and got back to the sleeve she was working on. Behind her were a couple dozen penguins. Each one was knitting so fast that the audience could see sleeves and torsos growing out from between their knitting needles.

    "Look how fast they go!" Kermit commented.

    "Yes, they go very fast." Mr. McFeely agreed. A penguin wearing a cardigan with lime green stripes strutted in front of the camera as if he were on a fashion show runway. Other penguins on the film (and in the audience) squawked their approval.

    "Now, other sweaters were bought from people who didn't need them anymore. Since the show had to be done very quickly, they had to find a lot of sweaters all in one place."

    The next camera shot was of Kermit struggling to carry a huge box. Sweater sleeves of all colors flopped over the box's edges. He quickly raised one hand to wave to someone. As Kermit wobbled out of camera shot, the camera panned to the front porch of a mansion. A man with a Jell-O Pudding Pop in his hand made a funny face to the camera and waved.

    "Something else this particular show needed were a lot of shoes that all had the same style."

    The next camera shot was of Robin carefully counting out cash at a shoe store in a mall. The camera pulled back to show Sweetums hauling a wagon the size of a small U-Haul. Shoe boxes of all sizes were piled high and tied to the wagon with some string. A few boxes were lidless, displaying blue sneakers with white soles. As Robin hopped aboard the wagon, Sweetums gave both exhausted-looking saleswomen huge, grateful hugs, lifting them off the floor in the process. In the orchestra pit, Rowlf made a "kerplunk" sound effect on the piano as Sweetums accidentally dropped one of the saleswomen on the floor. The audience laughed.

    "Now the shoes are brought back to the theater where people can wear them for the show."

    The camera showed Sweetums hauling the wagon through the mall while Robin waved to the camera. As they passed the large fountain in the center, Sweetums paused to lean forward. His huge jaw flapped up and down as he drank some of the gushing water.

    Mr. McFeely turned to the audience sheepishly.

    "Hmm, I guess he was thirsty." The audience laughed again.

    The camera's next shot was back at the theater. Everyone was now in front of the nearly finished set, singing and dancing while in costume.

    "Now this is called the 'dress rehearsal'. This is when the actors and actresses get in costume and perform the show just as they would if the audience were there."

    In the shot everything seemed to go fine until one of the upper stagelights popped. Clifford mouthed "Aw, man!" and grumpily ascended the ladder to the catwalk.

    The last camera shot was of the entire cast taking a bow in front of the finished set, all in costume.

    "And there is everything finished for the show and everyone is ready to perform."

    The screen faded to white and Mr. McFeely turned to the audience.

    "And that is how a show is made."

    "Around here, anyway." laughed Kermit. The audience applauded as Mr. McFeely gave a little wave, tipped his cap again and left the stage. The screen retracted up until it was out of sight.

    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, presenting our medley for Mister Fred Rogers." Kermit extended his left arm and backed away stage left as the curtains opened. At first, it was completely dark as Rowlf slowly played the intro to a song everyone in the audience knew so well.

    As Rowlf continued, a spotlight lit up something on the stage. It was part of a tiled wall and a mirror. Rowlf played a little faster as the spotlight panned to the left. Gradually more lights came up as little by little, the set was revealed. The spotlight panned past a kitchen with a 1970's-style refrigerator, a table and a fish tank. The light reflected off a three-toned traffic light that was now on. Its green light flashed as the spotlight passed it. There was a framed, blue sign on the wall with "Hi" printed on it in a simple font. Next to it was a replica of the trolley tracks with the familiar seat in front of it and the bluish-green curtains behind it. The light panned past a closet door, another window and finally to the open door at the top of a flight of small steps. At last, all the lights onstage revealed the entire set at once.

    Rowlf's introduction rumbled and ascended to a pause, just like on the show.

    The set was an exact replica of the interior of Mister Rogers's house. The rats and Beauregard had done their homework. The audience applauded lightly in admiration. It was such a good representation that it almost seemed like Mister Rogers himself was going to walk through that open door.

    Someone walked into view. It wasn't Fred Rogers, but it was, in his opinion, a very good neighbor...the Best Neighbor, in fact.

    There in the doorway, a suit jacket draped around his shoulders, stood Animal. Rowlf began to play "It's a Beautiful Day in My Neighborhood".

    Animal heard the music and did his best to sing along. Even though he wasn't the best singer, he insisted on doing the opening of the medley.

    "It...beautiful...day...neigh-bor-hood."
    "It beaut-i-ful...day...neigh-bor. You mine!" he bellowed.

    He walked down the little flight of stairs to change into a sweater, just like Mister Rogers would do.

    Well...not exactly like Mister Rogers would do.

    "Neighborly day...beau-ti-wood...Wood!" he paused to bite the banister. "You be mine!"

    Even though Mister Rogers managed it easy enough, Animal never learned how to properly open a door. He grabbed the closet door and pulled it off its hinges. But since Mister Rogers was gentle, Animal knew he had to "act like Fred" (like Floyd told him to do). So, instead of giving the door a fling, he carefully set it aside.

    "Animal want...neigh-bor like you..." he continued. Animal shrugged the suit coat away and tossed it on the top shelf of the closet. Hangers were something else foreign to Animal.

    Floyd shrugged from the orchestra pit. So what if he didn't hang the coat up? At least he didn't eat it like the last three coats during rehearsal. he thought.

    Carefully, Animal grabbed the sweater, put it on and did the most difficult thing he had ever done. Just like Fred, he put the zipper bottoms together.

    "Let's have...beau-ti-ful day!" bellowed Animal. In one swift movement, Animal actually succeeded in zipping up the sweater. With a look of amazement and a huge sense of pride, Animal continued.

    "We're together. Animal say..."

    Animal sat down to do something else he had never done before: put on a pair of shoes. Mister Rogers always tied his shoes, but right away Floyd knew that would be a problem. So, he simply removed the laces from this pair.

    Animal carefully stepped into the laceless sneakers and finished singing.

    "Be mine...be mine...won't...you...please..." the audience could tell he was concentrating to finish the song properly.

    "Please...won't you...be...Fred...neigh-bor?" Animal tilted his head and gently addressed the audience. "Hi neigh-bor."

    The audience applauded as Rowlf segued to the second song. While the audience was watching Animal, other Muppets walked onstage and sat down at different parts of the set.

    The spotlight panned from Animal to the bench Mister Rogers sat on when he controlled the trolley. There sat Link Hogthrob. Like every other Muppet on the set, Link wore a Mister Rogers-like sweater with blue and white sneakers. As the spotlight panned to him, Link was posed with one hand to his double chin, gazing at the ceiling as if in deep thought. His other arm was straight, palm against the seat. His legs were crossed at the knee.

    Link's cue came...and went. From the orchestra pit, Rowlf played the intro to Link's song again. Once more, Link just stared into the rafters, oblivious.

    From just offstage, Scooter gave a loud, obvious cough.

    "Hmm?" Link looked behind him.

    "It's your turn, you twit!" hissed Piggy from the dark.

    "Oh!" Link hurriedly sat straight up as Rowlf played the intro a third time.

    "Some are fancy on the outside.
    Some are fancy on the inside." Link sang.
    "Everybody's fancy.
    Everybody's fine.
    Your body's fancy" Link paused and smirked smugly "...and so is mine.."

    He stood up and strutted around a little in front of the bench. He deepened his voice as he sang the first line.

    "Boys are boys from the beginning.
    Girls are girls right from the start.
    Everybody's fancy.
    Everybody's fine.
    Your body's fancy--" he paused again to strike a macho pose. "--and so is mine."

    "Girls grow up to be the mommies.
    Boys grow up be the daddies.
    Everybody's fancy.
    Everybody's fine.
    Your body's fancy--" Link savored the pause as he attempted to flex a muscle. He gave up, panted a little and finished the line. "--and...so is mine."

    "I think you're a special person
    And I like your ins and outsides."

    By now, Link was doing a half dance, half strut in a circle. He finished the song with as much macho as he could muster. Unfortunately, Link didn't see the little toy car on the floor.

    "Everybody's fancy.
    Everybody's fine.
    Your body's fancy and so...is..." Link tried to jump forward to finish his dance, but his foot stepped on the car and he zipped forward. "miiiiiaaahhhh!" Link's arms flailed as he tried to keep his balance. Instead, he fell flat on the seat of his pants. A box on a nearby bookcase wobbled, then tipped its contents. Over a hundred, wooden colorful building blocks spilled out and bounced off of his head.

    "I knew he was a blockhead!" cackled Waldorf from the balcony. Statler laughed with him as Rowlf quickly played the next intro.

    Mr. McFeely and Scooter walked onstage together. Scooter was dressed exactly like him, including the cap that read "Speedy Delivery".

    "If...there's...anything you want," Mr. McFeely began.

    "If there's anything you need," Scooter responded.

    "McFeely's delivery brings it to you here with speed," they continued together.
    "Yes, our Speedy Delivery is a Speedy De-liv-er-yyy," Scooter sang as he pumped his fist on the last syllable.

    "A Speedy Delivery to you!" they finished together. They tipped their caps slightly to the audience, said "Speedy Delivery!" and walked offstage to applause.

    The next intro played and the spotlight moved to the bench again. Link was gone and replaced by Piggy. She sat with her arm around Kermit, her eyes twinkling.

    "There are many ways to say I love vous," she sang sweetly to Kermit.
    "There are many ways to say I care about vous,
    Many ways, many ways,
    Many ways to say," she paused to kiss his cheek "I love vous."

    Someone else joined in at the next verse, to Piggy's annoyance.


    "Yee boh skerbee doo, de ber oi lub yoo,
    Oongesh yerbee derbee der ger de du schkoo-ber doo.
    Der schkoobe der, de schkoobee der,
    Der schkoobe der ya berrr, oi luv yoo."

    "Cleaning up the theater can say I love you." sang Beauregard.


    "Eating all your flies before you're asked to do it," sang Robin.

    "Drawing special pictures for the holidays," sang Lew Zealand.

    "And making plays." the group sang.

    "You'll find many ways to say I love you." sang Kermit.

    "You'll find many ways to understand what love is." sang Piggy.

    "Many ways, many ways,
    Many ways to say I love you." finished the group.


    The piano played a segue as the spotlight panned down to the orchestra pit. Without paying attention to the audience, Rowlf concentrated on playing the piece and singing the way Mister Rogers would want it to be played:

    "Did you know? Did you know?
    Did you know that it's all right to wonder?
    Did you know that it's all right to wonder?
    There are all kinds of wonderful things!"

    Rowlf's paws traveled across the keys with ease. he had the sheet music, but didn't even need it.

    "Did you know? Did you know?
    Did you know that it's all right to marvel?
    Did you know that it's all right to marvel?
    There are all kinds of marvelous things!

    You can ask a lot of questions about the world...
    And your place in it.
    You can ask about people's feelings;"

    Rowlf paused to look up.

    "You can learn the skyyy's the limit."

    "Did you know? Did you know?
    Did you know when you wonder you're learning?
    Did you know when you marvel you're learning
    About all kinds of wonderful," his paws played a few trailing notes.


    "All kinds of marvelous,
    Marvelously wonderful things?" Rowlf ended his song with a pair of low notes and the audience applauded him. Rowlf barely glanced at the audience. He did, however, see Mr. McFeely applauding him from the wings. Rowlf smiled to him as the spotlight slid from the orchestra pit and reached the stage again.

    There was the bench again, this time with the original drawing, the one Animal drew, propped up next to it in a frame. On either side of it, Robin and Sweetums sat on the floor. The sweater Sweetums wore was so huge, it had to be knitted with dyed bailing twine. The one Robin wore was small enough to fit a doll.

    "You are my friend.
    You are special.
    You are my friend.
    You're special to me." Robin sang to Sweetums.

    "You are the only one like you.
    Like you, my friend, I like you." Sweetums sang in response.

    "In the daytime,
    In the nighttime,
    Any time that you feel's the right time." they sang together.

    "For a friendship with me, you see," Robin stood up and pointed to the letters "U-C" on the drawing, then to the letters in the next word as he sang them.
    "F-R-I-E-N-D special,
    You are my friend.
    You're special to me."

    Sweetums carefully scooped up Robin as they finished the last part of the song together.

    "There's only one...in this won-der-ful world...
    You...are...special."

    The audience applauded as the spotlight panned to the fish tank. The person behind it hardly glanced at the audience. He was much too interested in watching the fish...and singing to them.

    "It's you I like,
    It's not the scales you wear,
    It's not the way you swim down there--
    But it's you I like.
    The way you are right now,
    The way down deep inside you--
    Not the things that hide you," Lew pointed to the plastic castle in the tank.
    "Not your fish food--" he held up the container.
    "It's just beside you."

    "But it's you I like--
    Every part of you,
    Your fins, your eyes, your feelings,
    Whether old or new.
    I hope that you'll remember
    Even when you're feeling blue,
    That it's you I like,
    It's you yourself,
    It's you, it's you I like."

    Lew Zealand looked up at the audience for the first time, took a bow and sprinkled some fish food into the tank.

    A slow rumbling followed from something offstage. It sounded like a large piece of scenery being moved. Rowlf played louder to try to drown it out.

    As the noise grew louder, the audience saw a huge group of rats pushing a six foot tall oak tree into view. The rats grunted and groaned as the audience saw a face peek through a hole in the tree. The face saw the audience and its lip quivered.

    "Oh, I hope I remember all the words!" Fozzie mumbled nervously.

    The scraping came to a halt and Rowlf played the short intro. Fozzie glanced down and saw Rowlf's encouraging smile.

    "Tree...tree...tree," Fozzie quavered.
    "Tree, tree..." he gulped. "...tree,"
    "Tree, tree...tree,"
    "Tree, tree...(ahem)...tree."

    Fozzie looked down at Rowlf, who mouthed the next words of the song to him.

    "We love you,
    Yes, we do." Fozzie gulped.
    "Yes, we do,
    We love you." he sang as the branches shook slightly from Fozzie's nervousness.

    "Tree, tree...tree," he continued.
    "Tree, tree..." he paused to look at Rowlf again, then to the audience. "Tree."
    "Tree, tree...tree,"
    "Tree, tree..." Fozzie suddenly realized he had only one word left to sing. He looked up at the audience and smiled. "Tree!" he declared proudly.

    The audience cheered as the rats grunted and groaned under the weight of the tree costume.

    "Kermit! I did it! I did it! Thank you! Thank you!" Fozzie cheered as the rats pushed him offstage.

    "So whatja think of Fozzie's performance?" asked Waldorf.

    "He seemed pretty wooden to me! Do ho ho ho ho ho ho ho!" Statler guffawed.

    The spotlight panned past the kitchen and into the bathroom area. Gonzo was dressed in the same sweater vest he often wore on "The Jim Henson Hour", but he also wore his old plumber's visor. He stood inside the bathtub, a plunger in each hand. The end of one plunger was firmly pressed to the bottom of the tub. The end of the other plunger was pressed to the tiled wall next to him. Camilla, perched on the toilet tank, clucked along with the music as Rowlf played Gonzo's intro.

    Gonzo cleared his throat, then began to sing. As he did, he alternated pumping the plungers to the beat of the music. Several kids in the audience cracked up when they heard the "Pwarpf, pwarpf...pwarpf, pwarpf" of the plungers. Gonzo paid them no mind. He was an artist, and this was the only way (he figured) to properly play this song.

    "You can never go down,
    Can never go down,
    Can never go down the drain.
    You can never go down,
    Can never go down,
    Can never go down the drain."

    He paused in pushing the plungers to sing the next verse a capella. As he did, Beauregard blew through a bubble wand from the wings. A man named Bill helped him out by blowing more bubbles in Gonzo's direction.

    "You're bigger than the water.
    You're bigger than the soap.
    You're much bigger than all the bubbles..."

    Gonzo held up a yellow, plastic telescope (he once got from a cereal box) and looked through it.

    "And bigger than your telescope!"

    "So you see..." Gonzo put the telescope down and resumed pushing the plungers to the beat.

    "You can never go down,
    Can never go down,
    Can never go down the drain.
    You can never go down,
    Can never go down,
    Can never go down the drain."

    "The rain may go down,
    But you can't go down.
    You're bigger than any bathroom drain.
    You can never go down
    Can never go down
    You can never go down the drain!"

    Before the audience had a chance to applaud, Gonzo widened his eyes in excitement.

    "But that doesn't mean you can't try!" he crowed. Camilla put a wing over her face in exasperation as Gonzo tried to stuff his nose down the bathtub drain.

    Rowlf took the chance to segue into the next song. He played a few extra bars as everyone gathered onstage in their sweaters and blue sneakers. As the piano music continued, Kermit gave a little introduction.

    "We'd like to dedicate this next song to someone in the audience tonight. We feel that he deserves it." Kermit gave a little nod to the front row and stepped back to join the rest of the cast. They all joined in the simple but meaningful song:

    "I'm proud of you. I'm proud of you.
    I hope that you're as proud as
    I am proud of you.
    I'm proud of you!
    I hope that you are proud of you too!"

    Max applauded the cast as he felt something he hadn't felt in years: a sense of pride.

    Rowlf played the final introduction. As he did, many of the audience members felt like joining in the old song they knew so well. Even Statler and Waldorf joined in.

    Just to the left and in front of the set, a second spotlight shone on Animal's drum set. Animal drummed along with the music, bellowing a word here and there as the rest of the cast sang the words:

    "It's such a good feeling to know you're alive."

    "ALIVE!"

    "It's such a happy feeling! You're growing inside,"

    "HAPPY!"

    "And when you wake up, ready to say--"

    "SAY!"

    "I think I'll make a snappy new day!"

    The rest of the cast snapped their fingers. Since Animal didn't know how to do that, he made a snapping sound by biting off the end of each drumstick.

    "It's such a good feeling, a very good feeling, the feeling you know--"

    Here, Kermit sang the next few lines alone as he stood at the top of the little set of stairs.

    "That we'll be back when the week is new,
    And we'll have more ideas for you." Kermit pointed to the audience.

    "And you'll have things you'll want to talk about--"

    "And complain about!" interrupted Statler. Kermit gave him a quick frown before turning back to the audience.

    "I...will...too." finished the cast.

    As Rowlf played a reprise to the song, Kermit spoke to the audience again.

    "Well, this is about the time I say goodbye, but since this show is a tribute to Fred Rogers, I figured we'd let him do it." Kermit held up the remote again. The screen came down once again and began to play a little film. Rowlf's playing blended seamlessly with the music in it. There was Mister Rogers, standing in front of that door, about to leave like he always did at the end of his show.

    "You always make it a special day." smiled Mister Rogers. "You know how. By just your being yourself. There's only one person in the whole world like you and people can like you exactly as you are. I'll be back next time." he waved and smiled. "G'bye!" The screen went blank and retracted again.

    The Muppets imitated his wave as they walked out the replica door on the set. The audience gave both Mister Rogers and the Muppets a standing ovation as they exited single file. A penguin, hamming it up for the audience, was last to leave.

    Onstage, Animal chose that moment to do a trashing, crashing drum solo in honor of Fred. His arms blurred as he furiously pounded the drums and used his face to hit the cymbals. The only noise louder than the drums was Animal's roars of "FRED!" and "NEIGHBOR!" At the end of his solo, he hit the largest cymbal with one of his shoes and bellowed "TROLLEY! FRED GOOD! FRED GOOD! NICE FRED! NICE FRED! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!" Thunderous applause rose in honor of the drummer, now also known to Hensonville as 'The Best Neighbor'. In the front row, Max led the standing ovation.

    The spotlights went out as the curtains closed behind Animal. The house lights came up and the band played the ending theme.

    Zoot blasted the final note and glanced into his saxophone as if expecting to see something emerge. Not long afterwards, the audience filtered to the exits. Some headed to the stage door, hoping to get an autograph. Some of the audience went to dinner. Bo pushed the broom back and forth across the stage. The rats ran around and looked for any food the audience might have dropped.

    Among the last to leave were Statler and Waldorf. As they shuffled out of their seats, Waldorf noticed something in the very center of the top balcony, far at the back of the theater. It was a man sitting all alone. He was elderly, but nowhere near Statler and Waldorf's age. His hair was short, mostly gray, yet had a few streaks of black in it. The man carefully stood up, smiled and slowly, gently, clapped his hands. Waldorf watched as the man took off his sweater and put on a suit jacket from the chair next to him. The man draped the sweater over one arm and waved vaguely in the direction of the balcony.

    "Hey, you old fool! You forgot your cane!"

    "Eh?" Waldorf blinked, then turned around to retrieve his cane from his seat. When he looked again, the man was gone.

    As he followed Statler to the exit, Waldorf remembered that face. He wondered if what he saw was real or if it was just his old eyes playing tricks on him. In the end, Waldorf decided to do what he always did: go home, have a glass or two of brandy and fall asleep in his favorite armchair.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    More soon.

    Convincing John
  6. redBoobergurl Well-Known Member

    Aww, that was nice! So many songs I haven't heard in a very long time, I loved it!
  7. Convincing John Well-Known Member

    Chapter 29

    Thanks! I wish I could've edited it to get rid of those dumb SIZE=2 things around some of the lyrics. I don't know where they came from. And when I posted the chapter, it was too late. Grr...

    Anyway, here's the next to last chapter (a short one):

    Chapter 29

    Thanksgiving was chilly and overcast in New York City, but no one on the streets seemed to notice. The parade route's sidewalks were jammed with people, all waiting in anticipation for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade to start. People of all ages, shapes and sizes huddled together, sat in chairs, sipped hot cocoa and chatted.

    Before the parade, there was still a lot to see: the NBC crew set up their cameras and equipment, police officers checked the route and made their rounds and there were several people in the parade on their way to take their places. The crowd outside Macy's saw some clowns, a few Rockettes and balloon handlers dressed like Garfield pass by.

    Excitement rose as the NBC crew announced to the audience that they were about to go on the air. Parents held kids up to get a better look as the adults smooshed together to do the same thing. College students whooped and bellowed greetings to their buddies back at their university.

    Though he hadn't hosted the parade in a while, Willard Scott decided to make a cameo appearance before the parade went on the air. As he always did, he talked with the elderly people waiting outside Macy's. At one point, he kneeled down to talk to an old woman in a wheelchair.

    "Are you getting excited for the parade?" he asked jovially.

    A heavily wrinkled face topped with a poof of curly, snow white hair grinned back at him.

    "I sure am!" she smiled proudly with a fresh set of dentures. "My grandson brought me!"

    "Aw, that's nice," said Willard. "and this is your grandson right here?" Willard indicated the man behind the wheelchair. She nodded.

    "That's really nice for you to bring your grandma," Willard shook the man's hand. He kneeled down again. "Happy Thanksgiving, sweetie," he kissed the old woman's forehead. "you folks enjoy the parade! Happy Thanksgiving!" And then Willard was off to interview another senior citizen.

    The old woman smiled like she won the lottery. She couldn't wait to brag about this at Tuesday night Bingo! Not only did she get to be in the best spot at the parade, but she met Willard Scott!

    Her grandson was excited to be there in the first place, but to meet this celebrity before the parade even started was a bonus thrill. Of course, neither one of them would have been there if not for someone they knew who was in the parade:

    Kermit.

    In gratitude for what Max did, Kermit pulled a few strings and got reserved spaces for Max and his grandmother to see the parade directly outside of Macy's front doors. They had front row seats for all the action, all the balloons, everything. Kermit even bought Max a disposable camera and an extra blanket for his grandmother. It was like winning front row tickets to a concert.

    For someone whose idea of an exciting time was finding a five dollar bill on the ground, Max could not believe the happiness he was feeling.

    Both Max and his grandmother enjoyed the parade as it crawled on by. There were a lot of traditional things from the parade that Max remembered from TV: the big animatronic turkey in the pilgrim hat, the costumes of Ben Franklin and George Washington with oversized heads, the "Doodlebug" and of course seeing Santa at the end. Max also enjoyed seeing the Rockettes close up.

    But there were two things about the parade Max enjoyed the most. One was seeing the Sesame Street float: he had seen the real Sesame Street, of course, but didn't get to meet everyone. They stopped right in front of the Macy's store to sing (as every float did). Max's grandma waved and clapped her withered hands to the music. Max smiled at her and noticed Maria and Gordon waving in his direction. He waved back and snapped a few photos.

    The second thing Max had waited for came later: getting to see Kermit. When Kermit's float and balloon came, Max used up the rest of his film. During the song, Kermit noticed Max in the crowd. After the song ended and NBC cut to commercial, Kermit hopped off the float and rushed over to Max.

    "I just found out something great this morning! I gotta tell you! I found you a new job!"

    "You did? Already?" Max was amazed.

    "It's not much, but it's in a good location. Apartment's right nearby and everything! Real cheap, too. You'll love it!"

    "Thanks, Kermit!"

    "Yeah! Just be ready around the end of the month to move. We can also find a senior center nearby for your grandma if you want."

    Max happily shook Kermit's hand. "Kermit, you're one in a million!"

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Things went back to normal in Hensonville. The show went on as usual, Sam grumbled about its lack of culture and Statler and Waldorf heckled it.

    Everyone went on their daily tasks. The Swedish Chef attempted to cook, Bunsen and Beaker worked on new experiments for Muppet Labs and Robin went to Frog Scout meetings.

    One thing was different, though. Now, when Floyd took Animal for walks, he always made sure to pass by one particular building.

    Animal's cement galoshes thudded against the sidewalk with Floyd's boot steps responding as they approached Warehouse 57-G. Animal knew he was in charge of guarding the outside of the building while Floyd checked the inside.

    After Floyd unlocked the door and inspected everything inside, Animal gave threatening growls to any passersby who came too close to the warehouse. When Floyd finsihed his inspection and locked up, he unhooked Animal's chain from the parking meter.

    As he did every day, Animal turned his shaggy head to Floyd.

    "Fred's stuff safe?"

    The bass player nodded. "Yeah, man. Fred's stuff is safe."

    "Go home now?"

    "Yeah man, we'll go home now."

    The two musicians walked and plodded back to their home of widely diverse residents. The last rays of sunset shone on Animal's chain as their footsteps faded into the distance.

    Thud thud...k-klop k-klop...

    Thud thud...k-klop k-klop...

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Last chapter coming soon.

    Convincing John
  8. redBoobergurl Well-Known Member

    Nice! I liked that Max brought his grandmother to the Macy's parade, that was really cute. And yay that Kermit has a job for him! I'm looking forward to the next chapter even if it is the last!
  9. Convincing John Well-Known Member

    Chapter 30

    Here it is everyone, the last chapter of "The Best Neighbor". As of now, the story got over 3,000 views, so I guess I didn't do too bad with it.

    Thanks for reading...and for those kind enough to leave comments (mostly Count and redBoobergurl), thanks for commenting.

    If you haven't commented yet and want to, I'm curious to know what you thought of it (just like any other fanfic writer).

    Anyway, I had a ball writing it. Now let's see where ol' Max ends up, shall we?

    Chapter 30

    Max wiped down the counter and looked at the clock. Closing time.

    It was almost a shame to quit work for the day. Max liked his new job a lot. It was a humble job, but a fulfilling one. There were no more ridiculous hours for Max, his stomach didn't hurt anymore and best of all, this place had never seen a roach. For the first time in ages, Max enjoyed a meal. It was just a cheese sandwich, an apple and a glass of milk. To Max, it was like a banquet from a fine hotel.

    As Max put things away and shut the lights off, he thought of Kermit. It turned out that Kermit's promise was fulfilled much more than Max had expected. Not only did Kermit find Max this job, but he got him the best apartment he had ever had. It was small, but he had a great landlord, the rent was cheap and Max could see it from where he worked. The remainder of his money from the casino went towards the deposit and first month's rent.

    His workplace also gave him the chance to meet several new friends. There was one of whom he was getting to know better...someone who enjoyed his company in a different way from the other new friends Max had made.

    Just before Max left, he reached his arm inside to turn the sign on the door from "open" to "closed". As he locked up, he noticed someone closing the business next door.

    "Getting used to the neighborhood?" she asked.

    Something in Max's chest gave a jolt.

    "Oh, I...um...yeah." Max shrugged, trying to smile coolly. "It's very different from what I'm used to."

    "That's what I thought at first. I'm pretty new here, too." she smiled back at Max.

    Max nodded. It was hard to look at her without blushing a little. Luckily, the store's awning helped to shadow it. He missed his pocket and dropped his keys on the ground. She giggled as he snatched them up, but he didn't mind.

    "You know something," she said. "we only get a chance to chat at work. How about we meet for dinner sometime? Y'know, um..."

    "Okay, yeah, um...sounds good...um..."

    Max felt relieved that she was just as shy as he was when not discussing work.

    "Well, we'll talk about it, um, tomorrow?" she guessed.

    "Okay."

    "Maybe I can make you something. Maria gave me an excellent guacamole recipe."

    Max remembered Maria mentioning that recipe. Maybe it was the same guacamole she and Luis had that night years ago...

    "Well, have a good night, then." said Leela.

    "G'nite." said Max, feeling his ears turn red.

    Max watched her go. As soon as she was out of sight, Max bent his elbow curled his fist. YES! he mouthed silently.

    The night was clear and only a little chilly. Max took his time to walk across the arbor, where he idly tapped the handlebar of a tricycle. The old tire swing was there. By request, Luis reinstalled it. He imagined himself pushing Leela on it. He thought of her laughter, her long, dark hair flowing in the breeze.

    He strolled to the stoop, pausing to listen to some softshoe music playing from the basement apartment. The familiar, green doors of the brownstone opened. Max watched as Bert's bed (with a very purturbed Bert still in it) was carried out the door by a half dozen tap-dancing sheep. The sheep carried the bed out to the arbor as Ernie turned off the bedroom light and snuggled into bed. The sheep tapped around Bert, who grumpily moaned "why me?"

    Only here... thought Max to himself.

    As Bert climbed through the window (to spend yet another night sleeping in the kitchen), Max stood on the top stoop and smiled thankfully at the evening sky. He paused to relish in his gratitude before walking inside. Friendly neighbors there...that's where we'll meet.

    Neighbors...

    Having good neighbors was a wonderful part of life.

    The door closed gently. One by one, lights flickered off up and down the street. Soon, the only light still shining was the one on top of the well-worn but iconic lamp post.

    Life was good.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The End
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    This story is dedicated to:
    Fred Rogers
    David Newell, (Mr. McFeely), whose birthday is November 24th.

    It is also dedicated to the memory of another "Max":

    Max "Grrr" Rizio
    2001-2009

    Convincing John
    :)
  10. redBoobergurl Well-Known Member

    Aww, I like where he ended up! Very nice! Such a happy ending! I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this story and I am so happy you shared it with us! I'll miss it now that it's over! I hope you write more in the future!
  11. The Count Moderator

    Heh... Kinda knew it was Hooper's Store when the chapter started, and I also sorta knew it was Leela you were refering to before her name appeared in the chapter's text. Rully sweet ending. Thanks for sharing this story with us. Just bumped it up into its rightful place in the completed works category of the Fanfic Library. Hope you have a happy holiday season.
  12. Convincing John Well-Known Member

    Thanks! You have a happy holiday season too!

    Convincing John
  13. Loved your story from beginning to end! It was sweet and funny.
  14. dwmckim Well-Known Member

    From someone who's typically not that big on fan-fics, you have definately set a new standard with a bar that's going to be hard to catapault over (even with help from Gonzo and a cannon). Very well done and a true treat! So many awesome moments from big scenes and little phrases but most certainly i may have gotten my biggest laughs of the year from the Milk Film chapter!

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