Welcome to the seventh installment of -
" A TIME TO EVERY PURPOSE UNTO HEAVEN "By Pepe K.
Please send all comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
The following story concerns the Toonsters' freshman year of Acme Looniversity at college level.
This tale of mystery is best read from the beginning - the other parts are available at HKUriah's TTA Fanfic site, among others.
I suggest you read it from the start or you'll not know what's transpiring.
This story contains many references to music, some of which you may be familiar with. It contains and was inspired by the music of Danny Elfman's soundtrack of the films; EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, MEN IN BLACK and the theme from the television series: Gigantor. In order to enhance this experience, I've made notations as to where each specific piece of music fits into the story. If it's available to you, I'd strongly suggest getting the cassette tape, so that you'll not only read the story, but hear it happen as well.
All the music is available on CD. Most is from Danny Elfman's MUSIC FOR A DARKENED THEATRE - Volume 2
No, I don't make a living selling music for 20th Century Fox or MCA but Mr. Elfman's music is incredibly beautiful, IMHO and well worth it.
I'd like to thank HKUriah, Thorne, VmC ...and Danny Elfman
This story is dedicated to my Beloved Wife
In Memory of the Actor's Actor
-the late great Sir Alec Guiness.
And now -Part 7 of -
Hamton waved and signaled as he drove Doctor Lord's gold Thunderbird into the mansion's driveway. His parents, Wade and Winnie Pig had a little trouble, but finally found a place to park down the block. The streets were lined with cars and limos from all the guests coming to Lord's party. Hamton retrieved the large bowl of ambrosia he'd made that lay covered in plastic wrap. He stood proudly in his navy blue suit, waiting as his parents walked slowly from "Ol' Bessie" over to the grand estate.
"Oh my golly, Hamton! Is this the place?", exclaimed his mother, "I'm not properly dressed!"
"But you look fine, Mom." Hamton smiled, looking at her conservative, printed dress.
"Heh, heh, heh, of course she does!", chuckled his father, "Your Mother always looks just perfect."
"Oh you!" Winnie giggled, "It was sure nice of your new teacher to invite everyone to his party."
Just then, Plucky and Shirley walked up.
"Hiya Hammy! Say, aren't you coming back to the dorm this weekend?" asked Plucky.
"Hi Plucky! No, I'm staying at home".
"Like, Hello Mr. & Mrs. Pig" said Shirley with a tired wave.
"Oh my gracious, Shirley! You look a bit green around the gills", exclaimed Winnie, feeling the Loon's forehead, " Are you alright, dear?"
Shirley was a bit droopy, but said " I'm okay, rilly."
"So ya won't be back till Sunday night, ol buddy?" Plucky asked insistently of Hamton.
"No", said Hamton, "Would you please remember to water my plants?"
"Sure, sure", said Plucky with bright eyes, "Say, Shirl, if you're not feeling well, we can go back to my room and I'll take care of ya!"
"Like, no way, Plucky", the Loon stated flatly, "You're not playing Doctor with me."
"Darn telepathy" muttered the duck.
Shirley raised her hands to zap him. "I told you not to be-"
"I'M NOT! I'M NOT!",Plucky confessed, "I'm not being judgmental!" He burned to say it, but.., "I'm...just being..."
"-Yourself" ,Shirley nodded as she relaxed, "At least you're being honest, fer once. "
Hamton and Plucky crossed to the door.
"What knockers!" exclaimed Plucky, looking at the huge metal rings.
Shirley's spark was weak, but Plucky's feathered fanny was just as singed.
"YEOWCH!" he yelped rubbing his tailfeathers.
"You just had to say that" Hamton remarked with a raised eyebrow.
"Somebody had to" Plucky said irritably, blowing on his glowing posterior.
Hamton's Dad knocked on the door, while his mother straightened her son's bow tie. They were greeted by Porky and Petunia Pig.
Petunia looked daring in a flaming red dress and Porky was dressed in his top hat and tails. There was a chorus of "Hello Mr. Pig! Hello Mrs. Pig!"
"Here's our f-f-f- uh - best student" said Porky, shaking hands with Hamton.
As they stepped into the foyer, Fifi appeared with Dr. Lord.
"Bonjour mon petit` bacon ov beets!", she glowed, "'Ow 'andsome tu look!"
The bowl of ambrosia got in the way a bit, but Fifi managed to give Hamton a kiss.
"Hello, Fifi dear!" said Hamton's mother warmly as they hugged each other.
"Permittez moi de vous presentez - Lord Pavel d' Lord" said Fifi, introducing their host who blushed a bit.
"Please, just call me Doctor Lord" he said bowing, his cape flowing about him.
"Well! Pleased to meet you, Doctor Lord" said Wade, shaking the tall skunk's hand.
"Great Day in the Morning! Are you really a Lord?!" asked Winnie, amazed.
Lord's mysterious smile charmed everyone as he said " I'm afraid so".
Hamton only had eyes for Fifi.
"Gosh, you sure look beautiful!"
"Yes, that's a very pretty gown" said Petunia.
Fifi put her arms around her boyfriend.
"Hammy bought eet for moi een Paree" she said, glowing with pride.
Just then the Mach 5 screeched to a halt in Lord's driveway and out jumped Speed Racer. Hamton and his father were the first to greet him. "Dad - this is Mr. Speed Racer!"
"Pleased to meet you, Sir" said Speed.
"Weh-heh-heh-ell!" exclaimed Wade, pumping Speed's hand, I'd know you anywhere! You know you're Hamton's hero."
Speed blushed and rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment. "Gee, thanks! But you'll have to excuse me a moment. I have to see Dr. Lord" he said, as another young man got out of the Mach 5.
Hamton was surprised to see a human Two-Tone. The newcomer was a boy in short pants, wearing a vividly checked blazer and tie.
"Jimmy!" called Dr. Lord greeting him. "Any reports?"
"Not yet, Sir", said the early anime-styled lad seriously, "They're maintaining radio silence - but if everything went according to plan - they should be overhead any second now."
"Excellent!" said Lord intensely. "Everyone? This is Jimmy Sparks."
"Hello" said Jimmy.
A beeping noise came from the car and Jimmy retrieved a large control box from it.
"They're here!" he announced.
"I hope they made it okay" worried Speed.
"We'll soon see" said Lord, "Send them a homing signal, Jimmy!"
"Yessir" replied the dark-eyed boy as he worked a joystick on the control box. Zig zags of radio beams lanced out from the box, as did an electronic whir.
"Who-who-who -eh - what's up, Doc?" asked Porky.
Lord, Speed and Jimmy Sparks looked up and the racing champion pointed skyward at two dots that flew high above.
"LOOK!" shouted Hamton.
The roar of jet and rocket engines reached them as Lord grinned.
"Jimmy?", he asked, "May I?"
"Sure" exclaimed the boy.
As the two shapes got closer, Lord mentally put forth an old theme song. Bongo drums and guitar played a kitchy background as basso voices sang the thrilling song. Fifi and Hamton looked up as the tiny figures flew closer - one small - the other huge. Both were Two-Tone anime robots. The smaller one appeared like a bare-chested schoolboy with jets in his feet. The other was a titanic man of metal - eyes glaring from underneath a crested helmet, with a pair of blazing rockets strapped to his back. As Jimmy manipulated his controls, the metallic giant soared around in aerobatic loops, his great steel fists thrust out straight before him.
"Ready to Fight for Right! - Against Wrong!" sang the deep voices.
The group of toons below watched in awe as the two robots descended vertically to land on the lawn opposite them. The small robot had black peaked "hair" and stood no taller than Plucky.
The rounded titan next to him dwarfed the mansion - standing over thirty feet tall. It was Astroboy and the mighty Gigantor!
" Mission Accomplished, Doctor Lord!" said Astroboy brightly.
"Well done, Astroboy!", said the Doctor, shaking his hand, "Where's your passenger?"
"Gigantor has him" said the little robot, pointing up to the giant's closed fist. A muffled voice came from Gigantor's hand.
"Hey! Stop all this twirling around before I get sick! Let Me OUT!"
Gigantor's great bulk kneeled on the grass and put out an oversized hand. He opened his tremendous hand and out staggered Kimba the White Lion! Stars and planets spun around his head as he collapsed onto the grass. Kimba moaned and closed his eyes.
"Kimba! Are you alright ?!" cried Speed as they all rushed to his side. The lion raised his black-tipped ears and looked up.
"Speed? Is that you?" he asked, his large eyes shining hopefully.
"Kimba, you've made it out safely" said Lord, stooping down to help him up. "My friends, this is Kimba, King of the Jungle. Are you alright, your Majesty? "
"Nothing that a few good meals couldn't fix" said Kimba rising shakily to his feet.
"Let's get you all taken care of inside", said Lord ushering them all into the mansion, "Jimmy - Gigantor can stay inside the hangers in the back of the house.
The others greeted Kimba and asked what had happened.
Everyone followed him into Lord's mansion and to the buffet where many guests were already enjoying themselves. Hamton set his ambrosia among the many dishes and listened as the white lion ate and told his story.
"A few years ago, I heard that the Disney company had made a movie about me - only it wasn't me! They called it "The Lion King". Well, I didn't like like that and set about to talk to them. It took me some time to settle things in the jungle so I could leave Africa and come here to America. The trip took a long time and it wasn't easy, but I finally made it. I went to see the Mouse and told him that what he'd done wasn't right. He tried to tell me that he'd had nothing to do with it - blamed it all on the humans - but I had found proof that he'd been in on it . Then, he and the others tried to bribe me in many ways - you'll never believe what some of them offered! When I insisted that they change it or at least give my show partial credit, they threw me into a dungeon underneath Cinderella's castle!"
"I almost escaped once, but they would always gang up on me. Mickey tried to indoctrinate me into their ways of thinking, but I resisted. They fed me nothing but bland, sugary food and made me watch the Disney Channel day and night."
"It was very strange being around them - every 30 seconds some one would fall down and they'd all laugh. Goofy was the clumsiest creature I've ever seen - he's even worse than Bucky Deer! Mickey was the strangest of all - he always carried a tank of helium, sucking on it and constantly giggling. It was downright creepy. So I knew I'd need the help of some friends to escape and that's when I thought of the good doctor. I thought to him and he heard my calls for help."
"Why didn't ya just get somebody here to do it for yuh in the first place? asked Plucky.
Kimba bristled a little, scaring the duck, but calmly said, "I've always firmly believed that a person should face their problems alone and fight their own battles."
Lord smiled and continued the tale while Kimba ate hungrily.
"Kimba told me of his predicament and I knew it would be difficult to free him without hurting anyone. Being a US citizen - I couldn't very well invade the Magic Kingdom legally, so I set about arranging for Kimba's old friends from Japan to rescue him."
Speed swallowed a piece of sushi and told them, "I hate to see anyone held against their will, so I helped Jimmy to come over from Tokyo."
Jimmy Sparks added his part. "Speed has too high a profile as an international racer to invade the Magic Kingdom, so I did all the programming for the rescue mission. Astroboy and Gigantor flew in secretly this morning to confront Mickey and his henchmen."
"I'll bet he was surprised!" commented Babs.
"He said he didn't know anything about it!" said Astroboy innocently. "I knew that just wasn't true, so I went to release Kimba - that's when they all started attacking me! ..I don't understand why they thought that custard pies would stop me - but that's what they covered me with first. Then they tried holding me down, but I blasted away with my jets. Gigantor started ripping down the castle to get to the dungeon they kept Kimba in - that's when the Giant from "Mickey and the Beanstalk attacked us! Gigantor wrestled with him and threw him, knocking over a huge round building that looked like a big silver ball.Gigantor picked it up like a bowling ball and rolled it and knocked down the giant! He fell on top of the castle and flattened it like a pancake!"
|Cinderella's Castle Exploding|
"That's how I broke jail" said Kimba with a smile.
" When the castle fell, Mickey got pinned under some rubble. I lifted it off him and pulled him out", Astroboy said with a frown, "He pretended to thank me - then he fought dirty and he ...kicked me..."
Astroboy blushed as much as an Two-Tone robot could. "I think he hurt his toe.. he must do that alot, cause he wears these big funny shoes ."
Art by Pepe K.
Astroboy said this so naively that Babs, Buster and Plucky burst out laughing.
"Hm! That's when I took care of him", growled Kimba, "He'll think twice before troubling my friends and I ever again!"
"Then Gigantor picked up Kimba and we escaped" said Astroboy.
The majestic White Lion closed his eyes solemnly and bowed.
"I owe you all a debt of gratitude, my friends", he said, "Someday - I'll help you when you need it".
"That may be sooner than you think", cautioned Lord, " You now have a powerful enemy."
"But I also have powerful friends!" said Kimba warmly. He and the other anime toons smiled and laughed.
"Stay with me tonight until the heat is off - you'll be safe here" said Lord, looking about.
"Porky? Where's Daffy?"
"G-g-g- uh - that's right! He should b-be here" stuttered the pig.
"I guess he must be busy spending the money he won, betting on you in the race today" Petunia mused.
"Well, I hope you cashed in too" Lord smiled.
"W-w-we sure did!", Porky said with a laugh, "Daffy should b-b-be here any minute now."
The tall skunk grinned and did a elaborate spin change, emerging as a fat feline hotel manager with a mustache and monocle.
"Wellll, I hope so!" he said with a supercilious nose in the air.
Porky and Petunia began to laugh - then suddenly Daffy appeared and leaped up to stand on Lord's chest looking into his eyes.
"INSULTING MY INTEGRITY! EH, FATSO!?!" Daffy accused, pushing his face into Lord's, " INTIMATING I'D MAKE OFF WITH YOUR FINANCIAL REMUNERATIONS - EH FATSO?!! "
He squashed his head into Lord's, muffling his voice somewhat.
"THINKING I'D FLEE THIS FLEA-BITTEN DUMP -EEH FATSO?!!"
Daffy pulled his head out, leaving Lord's face squished in.
"Hey Look!" he grinned to the others, " A new Dick Tracy character - Prune-face!"
Everyone laughed as Lord spun back to his smiling self.
"Eh-heheheheh! That was great fellas! We definitely gotta get you three back together again in another pitcher! It'd be stupendous, colossal, magnificent!" said a voice from the doorway.
There stood Gabby Goat, decked out in a swanky suit and sunglasses.
"G-g-g-Gabby!", said Porky happily, " I haven't seen you in a d-de-d-dog's age! "
"Well, I heard the old guy was throwin' a party with lotsa the old gang around, so's I flew in from New Yawk - thought I might pick some new talent." gabbed Gabby.
"You've already got the greatesth talent in the world!", huffed Daffy, "I'm the star attraction in your minuscule puddle of talent!"
"Oh ne-n-no you're not!" Porky interrupted, "P-p-p-p - my wife and I are! He's our agent t-t-too!"
Daffy's smirk was slicker than oil on Teflon. "Pardone' mon frere` - Let'th settle this thing amicably, shall we? ...Gabby; sthweetheart, baby, puthssycat - who's the hottest little moola-maker you're currently handling?"
"Oh, that's simple!" said Gabby pointing to the doorway, " - They are!"
Just walking in were Bosko and Honey. As Porky and Daffy gaped, Bosko did his signature wave and called "Helloo, Folks!"
"THEM?" sputtered Daffy in disbelief, "They're ath old ath the hillth!"
"Hey! Historical Vaudeville's back! And they're the hottest thing on the New Yawk stage right now." explained Gabby as Bosko and Honey crossed over to them.
"Wanna buy a duck?" quipped Bosko as he pulled a lighted cigar out of his pants and stuck it in Daffy's beak.
" Thanks, I don'th 'thmoke-"
The cigar exploded in Daffy's face, blowing his beak wide open to hang around his burned head.
Bosko shrugged and said "Well, you do now!"
Honey spun into a perfect Mae West, pulled Daffy's bow-tie on top of his eyes and said to him teasingly
"Why don'tcha come up sometime - see me? Ah'm home evr'y evenin'."
With a wink, she slunk away as Daffy repositioned his beak.
"Oh course you realize this means war!" muttered Daffy as he sneaked after them.
Gabby was set upon by his worst nightmare.
"Mister Talent Agent!?",exclaimed Plucky, hanging from the goat's lapels, "I'm the Talent you've been looking for All Your Life! Plucky Duck! Vaudevillian Artiste` par Excellance`! Here's my resumee`! "
Art by Thorne
"Oh No!!",yelled Gabby angrily, "I can't stand being bugged by actors no more! They-drive-me-nuts-Yah-hear-me?-I-can't-stand'-em-always- askin'-fer-a-break-an'-tellin'-me-that high-school-experiance-counts! I-don't-care-if-ya-can-play-Yankee-Doodle-Dandy-on-a-rubber-chicken! Just-get-outta-my-office-kid-it's-gotta-be-clean-for-my-big-star-comin' -in.!"
Gabby continued to rant and rave as Plucky stood staring silently in shock. Gabby finally stopped, panted a while and calmed down to stand perfectly relaxed.A deep sigh of relief escaped him.
Plucky smiled and said "...Well, I know my resumee` picture's not up to date, but if you'll just take a look at it..."
"AAAAAAH!"screamed Gabby as he ran away in panic.
"'Some things n-n-never change" commented Porky.
Shirley wandered over to sit on a nearby couch.
"Shirl? You okay?" asked Buster.
"Tired..." she sighed slumping on an elbow.
"Heavens! Where are my manners? said Lord crossing to sit with her. "Give me your hand and I'll fix you right up".
"S'okay...I just feel , like, mondo dismo." the Loon said languidly.
"I'd be feeling much worse if you hadn't helped me to recover today," the Doctor reminded her, as he took her hand.
"Breathe with me" he said as the others watched. They both closed their eyes in silent concentration a moment before opening them again as one. Lord's white, triangular cat-like pupils dilated a bit and Shirley's aura arose from her body. The exhausted blue spirit began to glow a phosphorescent yellow and after spinning around energetically like a gyroscope, it dove back into Shirley's body.
Shirley leaped up.
"Like Wow! Thanks, Sensei! I'm totally jazzed to the max!"
Lord sighed deeply and apologized.
"Forgive me for not revitalizing you earlier, my young apprentice. I'm very proud of your work today."
"Hey! Like, no problem!", Shirley crowed, bounding over to Plucky, "C'mon Plucky! Let's boogie!"
Plucky managed to quack once with delight as she pulled him out of sight, zipping towards the ballroom.
A few new arrivals walked into the throne room.
Witch Hazel walked by, gossiping with Pete Puma, her ghastly cackle was followed by his mulish bray of a laugh. Pepe Le Pew arrived in his tuxedo, with Penelope the cat on his arm, her silver sequined gown glittering under the gaslights.
As the ladies chatted and admired each other's outfits, Pepe took Lord aside and began speaking in French. "...you know I would not ask you why, my friend", Fifi heard Pepe say, " But I am concerned for you. ...Today - the race?"
Lord was reserved. "You needn't be, old friend ", he said quietly, "Things will sort themselves out."
Fifi watched silently as Lord noticed her listening.
"[ Will you tell me? ]" she thought to him.
He nodded slowly and returned a thought.
"[Perhaps later, Petite.]"
Fifi noticed Hamton looking at her oddly and suddenly asked,
"May ah show zem zee music room?"
"Certainly" said Lord, indicating the way.
Penelope slinked over to take Lord's arm as the group made their way down the hall.
"Hello Doctor", she purred, " And where have you been all these years? Pepe gave you up for lost a long time ago."
Lord's smiled in his way and said slyly "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
The silky black and white cat looked a bit hurt and said "...He grieved for you...others did too."
"I apologize for that", he said quietly, " But no one need ever grieve for me. Would you dance with me later on?"
Penelope purred and nodded as as they entered the white paneled conservatory.
"Wow!" Hamton observed, looking at the vast assortment of musical instruments.
"Look at zis, Hammy!" Fifi said indicating the golden concert harp.
"I've heard you play quite well", Lord said as Pepe smiled, "Would you honor us with a selection?"
"Vous would let moi play eet??" she asked in surprise.
"Please do" Lord said pleasantly.
Everyone found a seat as Fifi settled herself with the elegant harp between her knees, lowering the gilded bow onto her shoulder. She arched her hands, extending her tiny claws onto the tuned strings. The skunkette palmed them for silence, paused and said
"Zis is called "Snowy Breasted Pearl".
Fifi began to play a delicate Irish aire, her fingers dancing daintily across the row of taut strands. No one seemed to breathe as her beautiful artistry filled the room with exquisite sweeps of music. Most in the room had never heard her play and were spellbound by the beauty that Fifi brought forth from the golden instrument. Hamton sat on the piano bench next to her and sighed happily as he listened.
Art by Dr. Sanity
Fifi's look of silent concentration gave a special magic to the lovely tones which floated like a zephyr throughout the chamber.
Fifi's eyes shifted to Hamton, who was literally glowing with adoration. She smiled at him as she ended the song and immediately began another. Her fingers strummed and plucked as she played a joyous processional. It was a splendid Celtic wedding march.
Everyone smiled with delight as Fifi's hands made the harp sing. The couples quietly held each other as they watched and listened. Hamton's mother looked at her son sitting with Fifi and sniffled away a tear of joy. Hamton glowed like an ember and felt tightness in his throat as he choked up with happiness. Fifi's eyes glowed as well as the song drew to a close, the harp's hum resonating like a soft summer breeze. The warm applause she received was crowned by Hamton's gentle kiss. He didn't even mind the onlookers, as he was already blushing.
"That was perfectly exquisite, Petite" said Lord.
"Y-y-yes! You've g-g-ge -overcome that problem with your G-string" said Porky.
Buster and Babs snickered and broke up laughing.
"Not that kind of G-string!" said Petunia admonishing the bunnies.
Daffy guffawed, saying "Great choiceth of wordth, Maestro!"
"I don't get it" remarked Hamton.
"Fifi's always d-d--uh excelled in m-my music classes"
Porky said defensively.
Fifi blushed a little. "Ah got a chance to practees at home een Frawnce", she lamented," But now ah can play only ze harp een zee muzeeque department. Ah weesh mah seestair had let moi bring our'z back 'ere."
Lord pulled his dark purple cape about him.
"You must have one ", he said to Fifi, " -so this one shall be yours."
Everyone reacted in amazement.
"Oh - but ah couldn't accept eet" Fifi said, taken aback.
"I insist" the tall skunk smiled. "You must always have the best instrument to play."
"Oh-ho, Ah couldn't....could ah?" she asked with wide eyes.
Lord nodded and Hamton's eyes shifted as he remembered something. "I'll be right back" he called to Fifi as he scampered out the door.
In the hallway, Hamton tripped over Byron Basset, who simply looked up at him, stood up, turned around and flopped back to sleep.
Hamton opened the front door just as Arnold was about to knock on it.
Arnold and Arnolda were run over by the anxious pig as he streaked to retrieve something from the car.
"Lookz like de party's schtarted !" said Arnold, as stars and planets whirled round his head.
"Hi Arnold!" Hamton called as he stampeded back over them the other way and back into the mansion again.
Arnold shooed away the miniature pigs that now ran around his head.
"Vass ist lous?" asked an equally dazed Arnolda.
As the dogs joined the party, a black limousine pulled up.
"I believe we are here, Sir - although I find this location somewhat ...bizarre" the chauffeur commented.
" Be thankful it's not Frostbite Falls, Alfred" remarked Bruce Wayne.
Dick Grayson leaned on an elbow and scowled.
"Bruce, what are we doing back here in looneyland?"
"What's the matter, Dick?" asked the lovely red-head beside him,
"I thought you enjoyed a little comedy now and again?" she said with bemused sarcasm.
"I wanted to take you on a date, Barbra - not to the booby-hatch" the young man apologized.
"You're sweet", said Barbra Gordon," But don't be such a stiff, Richard Grayson. This is Acme Acres! It's not like we're going to Wackyland."
Alfred opened the door for them. "No, Miss that's on the other side of town" he remarked dryly.
"Relax" said Bruce lightly,"We were invited."
"Okay", said Dick, shoving his hands in his pockets, "As long as no crazy purple monster tries to eat me or something!"
They were received at the door by Dizzy Devil and his girlfriend, Mitzi.
"PARTY! PARTY! Yahbugrherithrabaabbpthth!" shouted Dizzy, as he spun into the throne room and gobbled up Hamton's bowl of ambrosia.
"Doesn't he say the cutest things?" Mitzi cooed as she followed him.
Dick smirked at his companions, as Bruce said "Well, two out of three isn't bad."
"Good evening, Mr. Wayne. Mr. Grayson" said Dr. Lord appearing.
Miss Gordon looked up at the nearly seven-foot skunk with his flowing purple cape and balked.
"Doctor Lord, this is Barbra Gordon" Wayne said.
"Uh..how do you do?" she stammered, looking into his startling eyes.
Lord stared at her as she shook his black clawed hand. "Enchanted", he said, "Won't you come in? The band is about to begin".
"Nice cape", Dick smirked, elbowing Bruce," Who's the band?"
"Just some old friends" said the Doctor, smiling.
Grayson's expression grew more and more sardonic, till Fifi said "Oh zat's right! Hammy - ah forgot to tell tu - eetz ze Beach Boyz!!"
Hamton went into an Avery Ahoogah take, ran up the wall, across the ceiling and down again as he danced for joy. He sheepishly grinned at the witnesses and recovered himself.
"Gee! Really?!! Oh - I uh..forgot to give you something."
He handed Fifi a perfect corsage of delicate white orchids. Fifi sniffed the flowers deeply and thanked him with a tender kiss. As Hamton carefully pinned it onto her bodice, Babs turned to Buster.
"Hey! Where's my flowers?!"
"Hey yourself!" Buster replied, "You're wearing every last cent I had, Toots!
"Heheh, I guess a trip to the Bahamas is out then." Babs remarked.
"Let's go to the dance!" said Hamton excitedly, as he barreled out the door with Fifi in tow.
Devil's horns appeared on Buster.
"Great idea! - Let's!" he grinned evilly, as they and Dick and Barbra followed them.
Finding themselves alone, Lord and Bruce Wayne made their way to the throne room.
"I trust you found your quarry the other night" Lord stated quietly.
"Just where you said he'd be." Wayne said using Batman's tone.
"And now he's safely back in the Arkham Asylum" the skunk said dispassionately. Bruce looked at him irritably.
"Why do you ask me about things you already know the answers to?"
Lord's fleeting smile bugged the millionaire philanthropist.
"It gives me emotional security."
"And what else do you know?" Wayne asked coyly.
"That depends on what you're looking for, my friend", the Doctor said looking into his eyes, " I know there's someone here whom you should meet."
The two crossed to the couches by the cavernous fireplace where a tall, handsome 3-D human sat contemplating the flames. He looked rugged, despite his graying hair and glasses.
"Is this who you wanted me to meet?" Bruce asked.
The man stood and gave Lord a friendly pat on the arm. "Hello Doctor", he said with a well-tuned voice, "It's good to see you again."
"Likewise. And I have someone you should talk to -" Lord said gesturing to both of them," - Bruce Wayne - meet Adam West."
At the front door, a diminutive squirrel had a question. "So this is another one of your old friends, Aunt Slappy?"
Slappy coughed and fished around in her purse. " Heh, ya might say he's the oldest", the crotchety old lady harrumphed, " He's been around longer than Gertie the Dinosaur's lumbago...Now, where'd I put that thing?"
"Did you lose your invitation again, Slappy?" asked their furry red companion.
"No, I didn't lose it, Fox!" she snapped. "It's just..probably stuck in here. Skippy spilled all my walnut seltzer - what a mess!"
"Walnut seltzer?!? Spewwww!" Skippy pulled at the collar of the bright blue blazer his Aunt had made him wear, then looked smug as he reminded her. "You're forgetting again - you did it yourself when you saw Avery Brooks at the Wawa ".
"I'll bet he's run all the way to Boston by now "said the Fox sarcastically. He smoothed his tux jacket and tapped his top hat jauntily with a gold-topped walking stick. Slappy straightened her hat and pulled a dirty invitation card from her purse.
"So sue me - I gotta thing fer bald guys".
The Fox's green eyes rolled. " Well, I suppose Altzheimer's is possible among toons. She hasn't been the same since Yul Brynner died, but well.."
"Hey, one more crack about that man or my age and you'll find a grenade in your shorts!" Slappy countered.
Just then the door opened and Dr. Lord peered down and puzzled at what he saw. There stood Slappy wearing her usual green hat and a rather dowdy grey dress.
"Slappy?? Is that you?"
"If it ain't ya better call my agent!" Slappy and Skippy laughed, but Lord continued to stare. " Did the producers decide on this?"
"Naw", the gray lady remarked, "Blame the writers - everyone else does. They think bein' old is funny."
Lord welcomed them in.
"Obviously, they've never tried it themselves", he commented, And who's this bright-eyed young man?"
Skippy took one look at Lord and hid behind his Aunt.
"This is my nephew, Skippy. Say hello to Doctor Lord, Skippy."
Skippy stuck his head out. "Nuh-uh! He looks like the worst villain ever! I'm_not_going_in_there!"
"There's a beautiful lady squirrel at the party" suggested Lord.
"Like I said, I'm going in there!" said Skippy decisively as he zipped past Lord, who smiled in his mysterious way.
"Hey, what am I - chopped liver? Ehh!" Slappy remarked.
Lord looked at the other new arrival.
"Doctor Lord, I presume?" asked the Fox as he drew up to shake hands. They both smiled and looked intently into each other's eyes.
"Glad to meet you at last, Andy" Lord said
Slappy smirked in the silence that followed. "Hey, you two wanna be alone or are you gonna lemme in?"
Lord ushered them inside and escorted them to the buffet.
"Heh, you haven't changed one bit, Doc" Slappy remarked, looking about. Lord gazed at the crowd as they talked amongst themselves.
"I have changed...a little ", he sighed reflectively, "...but not enough..never enough." He paused, blinking. "Devices change, the land, space ..even people."
He looked somberly at the banners and shields that hung near the ceiling.
" Lives change, but the forces that shape us remain the same."
"Eh...yeah ", Slappy noted warily," Like I said - yah haven't changed - still the same old mystical windbag. Can we eat now? My Bean-o is gonna wear off soon."
"Help yourself" , he said smiling at her, " Andy, I believe we can conduct our business later - if you're certain it's what you want."
"I am" , replied the handsome Fox, swishing his tail, " unless you have something else in mind?"
Minerva Mink lay seductively on a chaise lounge amidst her arguing suitors.
"Aw, C'mon Minerva - take a dad-gum chance! Won't yous dance with me?" begged Fowlmouth.
" Listen little Dude, she wants ta hip-hop with somebody who's capable of doin' some real hoofin' - know what ah'm sayin'?" boasted Vinny the deer.
" Ahh, shut yer yap or you'll be runnin' fer your deer life!" Fowlmouth riposted.
Newt, the blue dog, sat next to Minerva, looking dreamily into her eyes.
"Minerva, don't you get tired of all these young kids chasing after you?" ,he asked gently, "Why not go out with someone more mature and sophisticated?"
She leaned over to stroke the fur under his chin with a devastating smile and the dachshund's hind leg began to thump in time with his wagging tail and pounding heart.
"Newt, we worked together a few times and that wouldn't have happened if I didn't like you, but...don't press your luck."
Newt's lower lip quivered and he made huge sad puppy eyes at her.
|Newt and Minerva|
"But I promise to dance with you later" she said patting his head.
Lord walked over with Andy Fox.
"..Unless I see something else that strikes my fancy.." Minerva leered, bouncing over to them. Newt's pout returned, while Vinny and Fowlmouth continued trading insults about each other's mothers. The slinky mink purposefully stretched before them and wiggled her way up to the Doctor.
"Well Hello - extremely tall, dark and handsome!" she cooed.
"Good evening, Miss Mink", Lord said, smiling but unphased by her, " I'd like you to meet Andy Fox, a friend of mine."
"Oh yes, the human/ toon relations guy".
She looked at Andy from head to tail and smiled.
" Yes, we've met before", said the fox, "Did you know there's a large fraction of human males that are simply crazy about you?"
"It's the same all over" she said with a smile as she took his arm.
"Do tell me more" crooned the flattered beauty as the two wandered from the room.
More knocking drew Lord to the door.
The human Steven Spielburg stood there with Lola Bunny.
"Hi! I heard the party's here?" said the bearded movie mogul.
Wakko stuck his head out from under Spielburg's baseball cap saying "Hey Doc! I invited a few friends".
"Come right in", Lord replied, as Wakko hopped out, " Nice to meet you, Mr. Spielburg. By the way - you wouldn't happen to have any other toons secreted about your person, would you?"
"Not that he knew about" said Yakko, suddenly popping out of Spielburg's back pocket. Dot appeared out of his other hip pocket.
Art by Thorne
"Ooo! Stevie's got the kyootest widdle underwear in the whole wide world!" she cooed with fluttering eyelashes.
"HEY! WHAT WERE YOU DOING IN THERE?!?" yelled Spielburg in horror.
"Counting the duckies and bunnies on your undies" simpered the Warner Sister.
Spielburg ran in panic, only to find himself facing Buster and Babs!
"Steven! We've been trying to talk to you fur-ever!" said Buster.
Babs fell to her knees and begged, "Oh Steven! You canceled our show-oh-oh! Why?! WHY?!?"
"It wasn't my fault, Jaime Kellner was the one!" Steven tried to explain. Babs did a spin change into Scarlet O'Hara and sobbed.
"Oh Steven! Whut shall ah do?! Where shall ah go?!?!"
Yakko popped out of Spielburg's pants as Rhett Butler.
"Frankly, my dear - he doesn't give a cowpie! ", he said wiggling his ears like Clark Gable, " He canceled our show too. Thanks alot Mister Direct-to-Video."
Dot leaped out and grabbed the panicked director's leg. "C'mon Stevie! You know we have potential for more than one feature! Pweees?!?" she begged with huge dewy eyes.
"If you don't - we'll come live with you!", shouted Yakko with glee, "Ya think Kate and Max will mind?"
The four toons ganged up on him, climbing on his head and wrapping themselves around his legs, as he ran away screaming.
The others watched dispassionately.
"Show business is run sooo maturely" commented Lola.
"This is m' friend, Lola Bunny", Wakko said introducing them, "Meet m' oldest friend - Doctor Lord ".
"Hello", said Lola amiably," I really needed to get out and have a good time.
"I'm glad you came, Miss Bunny", smiled Lord, "Is something troubling you?"
The tan femme-bunny blushed nervously, " Well, I uh -"
There was a soft knocking followed by two louder knocks and Lord reached over to answer it. He suddenly paused, sensing the new presence there - then opened the door.
There stood Bugs and Honey Bunny.
"Bugs!" , said Lord, "..This is an unexpected pleasure."
The rabbit 's ears drooped and he looked very ill at ease. "Uh...yeah..dis is sorta..well..." he mumbled and trailed off.
Lord smiled at him.
"Please..come in" the Doctor said genuinely.
"I - uh..don't tink you ever met my wife ..dis is Honey" Bugs said introducing them. Lola turned away, unnoticed.
"How do you do, Mrs. Bunny?" Lord said, bowing.
Honey was a bit surprised at the skunk's formality, but managed; "Very well thank you...I've heard alot about you -".She saw Lola and stopped.
"I see things have already begun" she remarked with a false smile.
There was an uncomfortable silence till Wakko peeked out from behind Lord's cape.
"Hi!" he beamed like a naked child saluting priests, then noticing the rabbits' tense faces, he said "Hey, wanna see my new trick?"
He pulled off his red nose and bounced it off the floor and ceiling like a rubber ball. Lord caught it in mid-air and replaced it on Wakko's face.
"Not right now, my boy."
Lola suddenly turned and crossed to Honey and Bugs.
"Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - I want you to know I had nothing to do with Warner Brother's promotional scheme" she stated bravely.
Bugs shifted his feet. "We know dat...I just wish dere was some way to make dis whole problem go 'way".
Honey was bitter.
"Nothing can be done without the company 86-ing that promotional scam!"
"Is there anything I might do to help?" asked Lord.
Honey explained the problem of WB's promotion of Bugs being married to Lola and how they'd all been hounded by the press.
"Come with me" said the Doctor, escorting them into the throne room.
"There's a couple of people who can help" he said directing them over to the couches. Andy Fox sat talking with Minerva and a human in a tall wingback chair. He was a tall, old bearded man with a twinkle in his eye, despite his glasses and advanced years.
"Chuck!!" exclaimed Bugs joyfully.
"Oh, hi Bugs", said Chuck Jones in his gravely voice, "I thought you might show up. I was getting tired of playing phone-tag and Doc was nice enough to invite me."
After hugging his old director, Bugs and the others sat with him and began discussing the problem.
"Well, yah know - I really don't work for Warner's anymore" Jones admitted.
"But you do hold considerable sway with the public and the press", said Andy joining in, "In my toon/ human relations capacity - we should be able to clear things up. I can arrange a press conference with our media here and together, you can make a public statement and deny WB's advertising the false marriage."
Lola jumped up happily.
"That's perfect! WB is just turning us into merchandise -they're even showing baby pictures of me."
"Dis oughta show da management " grinned Bugs.
"I hope all this works" worried Honey.
"Well" , said Chuck lifting the brim of his hat, "You have nothing to lose by trying."
The Bunnys stood to thank the Doctor.
"We can't thank you enough for having helped us out of this mess"
Honey beamed as she took Lord's hand.
"It was nothing" the skunk said.
Bugs' ears finally rose as he looked up at Lord.
"...uh tanks, Professor".
Lord barely had time to smile before there were some loud crashes from an adjoining room.
There was a long loud whistle and a sudden CRASH!!
Art by Andy Fox
Suddenly a figure came smashing through the wall, leaving a cat-shaped hole in it. Whoever it was was buried under a pile of stone, bricks and plaster and everyone stood in alarm. A blue-gray cat emerged from the rubble and dusted himself off.
Art by Andy Fox
"Tom? Are you alright?" asked Lord.
Tom Cat grinned and indicated he was "okay", but was abruptly struck in the head by a brick that fell from the top of the outline he'd left in the wall. With a surprised face, Tom's body shattered and fell apart like a china teapot. Spike, the MGM bulldog, stepped into the room through the hole with a dustpan and swept Tom up daintily.
"Say Spike? Tell the boys to take it easy, please?" asked Lord.
"Sure thing, pal!" , the gruff sounding dog grinned, " As long as dis cat quits cheatin' - everyting'll be o-kay!"
Spike carried Tom back through the wall and Chuck Jones asked, "What's going on, Doc?"
"Tom was cheating at pool - and that made me mad" said a meek, nasal voice at Lord's feet. There stood Droopy Dog, looking up with his usual wobegon face and tugging on Lord's cape.
"Where's my lovely co-star, Doctor? ", he asked, "It's been a long time since I've seen the real Red Hot." Droopy blushed and laughed, "I'm so anxious to meet her."
Lord looked at him with a frown and said nothing.
"Now dat ya mention it - " commented Bugs.
Lord's frown turned into a cool smirk.
"I suppose I have been derelict in my social duties. - Oh, by the way - there is someone who's been waiting to see you, Bugs."
Bugs leaned in, interested. "Oh yeah?"
"Yeah. Now where'd I last see -"
"Looking for me, Bub?" asked a small familiar voice.
Art by The Kinky Turtle
What Bugs couldn't see was a small toony creature perched between his ears. As the others saw it and held their breath, Bugs grew nervous.
"I know dat voice...", he gulped, " oh no..."
The little toon tied his ears together and began using them as a jump rope atop the rabbit's head. Bugs looked about nervously and whispered, "Could that be the...Gremlin??"
The Gremlin stuck his head into Bugs' ear and yelled, "IT AIN'T BOB CLAMPETT!!!" He jumped to the floor pulling Bugs' ears with him and laughed his "Yankee Doodle" laugh. As Bugs ran after the escaping Gremlin with murder in his eyes and his now three foot long ears trailing behind him, Chuck Jones remarked, "Don't yah just love happy reunions?"
In the ballroom, the Beach Boys were playing "Dance, Dance, Dance!" Shirley and Plucky were rocking out near the band's speakers and Babs was showing off her fresh new look to the crowd. Dick Grayson stood with Barbra Gordon by the wall.
"Man, this music is so old!" Dick complained.
"So they don't use explosive special effects and dancing teenyboppers - at least they really sing!", said Barbra, "C'mon and try it - I think it's cool!"
The young red-head began to rock n' roll, twisting her hips rhythmically.
Grayson watched and smiled.
"I guess I could get used to this" he remarked as he joined her on the dance floor.
Hamton and Fifi walked arm in arm back from the hedge maze behind the mansion and into the ballroom.
Hamton blushed and said "That was fun...bebe`."
Fifi giggled and said " Oui, mon conniechon! Zat maze was a beautiful place to to get lost een - and an even bettair place for
- how you say? Necking?"
They both giggled and held each other close.
Arnold rushed up to them.
"I chust got a great job! No more verking for Montana Max for me!"
"Zat's wonderful, Arnold!" beamed Fifi.
"What'll you be doing?" asked Hamton.
"Verking here - for Doctor Lord!", smiled the Pitbull, "He says he needz a goodt mechanic who'z able to fix all kindz ov engines! I can't vait to tell mien liebchen!"
Off he ran to tell Arnolda.
Confused, Hamton wondered " What kind of machines could Dr. Lord have here?"
Back on the dance floor, Dizzy Devil danced on his huge tongue, while Mitzi giggled at his antics. The room filled with applause as the song ended. Babs watched as Mike Love came to the lip of the stage.
"We usually don't take requests", he said into the microphone, "But I'm told that this one's for a very special little lady."
There was more applause as the lead singer rejoined Brian Wilson.
Hamton and Fifi made it to the dance floor as the Beach Boys' voices sang out.
"Ba-ba-ba! Ba-Barbra Ann! Ba-ba-ba! Ba-Barbra Ann! -" they sang in harmony as Brian's bass guitar laid down the beat.
"No...NO!..." Babs said under her breath in shock.
The full band began to play and sing the song.
Babs roared "Don't Call Me That!!!...BUSTERRRRR!!!"
She burned red with anger as her worst nightmare came true. Steam boiled in her head and shot from her ears as she glared at the crowd.
Plucky and Shirley were rolling on the floor laughing. Fifi and Hamton couldn't help but snicker as the song continued to say the name Babs couldn't stand - over and over and over and over! She swelled up and exploded - all to no avail.
High overhead, Buster watched the effect of his brilliant trick on Babs. He and Gogo Dodo observed the events below as they stood up-side down on the ceiling.
"Thanks for teaching me this upside-down gag, Gogo" laughed Buster.
"No problemo, Dude!", said the Dodo doing a Mexican Hat dance around a Waring Blender, " But keep the gags to yourself - I had walnut shells and sour milk for dinner!"
Wondering what the heck Gogo meant, Buster watched as Babs bounced around the room like a living pinball, bouncing back and forth between people, till she stuck the front of the stage and collapsed with the neon word 'TILT!' in her eyes. Babs rose and watched everyone smiling and enjoying the song. They all liked it - why shouldn't she? Babs fought the urge to laugh and enjoy it, screwing up her face and twisting her limbs.
"No! - Got to - heh ... - Fight it! ...heheh! ARRGH!..It's got me in it's Clutches!... THE MADNESS!!..the horror.._Must_ Sterilize! Ster-rilize! ..heheheheheh! Error!...ERROR!!...no...hehehehahahaHAHAHAHA!!!"
Buster hid behind the chuckling Barky Marky and saw his fiancee` finally giving in and laugh along with everyone else. The song ended and Babs clapped along with the crowd. Cautiously, Buster approached her, zipping and hiding behind people. Finally, she saw him approaching with a huge sheepish grin.
"Ah-heh..see how good it feels to laugh at your problems?" Babs smiled devilishly at him a moment, then laughed in spite of herself.
" I do! I really, really do!" Babs laughed.
She crossed her fingers behind her back.
"Ya do? Really?..Do ya mean it?" he asked.
"Yup!", she answered decisively. " In fact - you've given me food for thought!" Babs said dragging Buster out the door by the tail.
"What an odd time to get hungry" he remarked flatly.
"Say, that is a good idea!" said Hamton, "Let's go get something to eat, I'm hungry!" Fifi followed him as they went to the buffet.
Despite his best efforts to avoid them, Yakko and Dot found Dr. Lord at the buffet table. "Oh Doc - It's that time again! said Yakko.
"To send you to Mars?", Lord mused, "To drop you in the Marianas Trench? To seal you in a barrel of spiders?"
"No!" said Yakko leaning against him, "Its time for you to trot out your cute wife so we can see her again!"
Lord smugly replied, "No."
Dot sidled up to him. "Oh C'mon you big dreamy skunkie, let Yakko have her, so we can be together."
"No" said Lord imitating Greta Garbo. "I vant to be alone!"
He began to walk away only to run into them again, peeking up from under his cape.
"Aw C'mon! Red's enough woman to go around! Share her!"
Lord grew seemingly cross with them. "You wanna see red? I'll make you see red. I just told Baloney where you live!"
"No! Not Baloney the Dinosaur!" gasped Dot in horror.
Lord grinned evily. "Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!" he laughed villainously. "Yessss, Baloney. He's in you watertower waiting for you in your little beds right now!"
Dot ran in panic. "Save us from the lumpy thing!" she screamed.
Lord looked satisfied, till Yakko popped out of a soup tureen and surprised him. "Ooo! You're a bad, naughty skunk." he scolded, "You told Dot a big fib. I know where Baloney is. We made a sandwich out of him!"
Lord was about to reply but Slappy did it for him.
"Yakko, that's the worst joke I evah heard", she complained, "Baloney sandwich! No wonder Spielburg made our movie into a musical! Sheesh!"
"Oh thank you, Oh mistress of the Second Banana," countered Yakko sarcastically." Why don't you have some more prunes and clear your mind."
Slappy grabbed some dynamite from her purse, and would have blown Yakko off the map if Lord hadn't stopped her.
"Now now! No explosives in the house, children! Slappy, you behave!" he chided them.
Before she could object, Lord took Yakko aside calmly. "Now Yakko if you want to meet someone, I have someone who wants to eat...ah, meet you - right here." He looked around, then through his pockets and came up empty-handed. " Oh dear, they seem to have gone somewhere..."
"Huh?" said Yakko, "You got invisible friends or something?"
"Wait" whispered Lord to him closely. "Listen."
They heard a tiny voice singing but still saw no one...
"There'll be food around the corner, food around the corner, food around the corner for me..." the tiny voice sang.
"Who's that?" asked Yakko.
The song continued and Yakko heard it coming from the fur on his chest.
"Oh there he is." said Lord happily "Yakko, meet Abner. His friends call him "A. Flea" for short."
"A Flea?!!" gasped Yakko in panic.
They heard other tiny voices join the first one.
"Oh." said Lord. "His hobo flea friends seemed to have joined him!"
A small band joined the tiny voices, playing loud brassy music.
"Ah", explained Lord, " and Pee Wee Runt and his Dixieland band have joined them also. How nice!"
The color drained from Yakko's body and he started to wilt in fear, until there were sounds of loud chomping coming from his fur. His eyes huge with horror, Yakko ran around the mansion in panic as the fleas continued to bite him.
Lord smiled gleefully at Slappy. "Shall we laugh most villainously?"
"Oh, Yes!" she agreed, "And shall we chortle as well?"
"Mu-Hu-Hu-Ha-Ha-Ha!!!" They both laughed and smiled at each other.
"Ahem?" said a small voice from the floor, "Please excuse the interruption, but I do believe you're mocking our material."
Lord and Slappy peered down to find the Goofy Gophers at a table set just for small toons.
"Yes", said Mac, "That's a variation on our routine."
"It most certainly was" agreed Tosh.
"Absowutewy twue" agreed Tweety.
"Oh yes, I've heard that bit of dialogue before" said Sniffles the mouse, "The gophers are always very very very nice and in agreement with each other and give each other endless endless endless compliments, cause they're overly polite and a little prissy if you ask me, but anyway..."
"Aw SHADDUP!" yelled a peeved Sweetie Bird from across the table.
The Bookworm with glasses nodded. But the timid Bookworm hid under Sniffles' chair.
"Si", chuckled Speedy Gonzales, "Ju talk too much, Senor Sneeffles."
This set the small table of toons to arguing and Lord simply said, "Sorry."
"So the writers made you old?", he asked Slappy, "The last time I saw you, you were in your teens."
"Yeah, to look young and pretty is in, and anything else is out. Bein' old is to be laughed at." commented Slappy. "Show biz ain't what it used to be."
"Ah, you're still a young woman", Lord smiled, "You can still turn a few heads."
"Only with a monkey wrench I can" she replied tossing off his flattery.
"Yeah, I'm young - compared to you."
Lord simply smiled in his mysterious fashion as Slappy consumed the last of her strawberry wine.
"Aren't you eating anything?" she asked, "The vino's not bad."
" I never drink...wine." he said graciously.
"Oh thank you Bela Lugosi! " the old squirrel retorted. "Say, come to think of it - in all my years knowing you, I've never seen you eat or drink anything."
"I'm not hungry" said the doctor lightly.
"Ehhh C'mon! What's the secret?"
|Art by Thorne|
"You really want to know?" he said leaning in close to her. Lord's smiled widened to a grinch-like grin revealing two rows of needle- sharp teeth. The sight of his canines almost made Slappy lose her expression.
"I take it you're not a vegetarian." she said flatly.
Lord's vampire-like grin intensified.
"Okay, I'll pass on that answer " Slappy said.
"Hiya babe!" said a nasal voice from behind her.
Slappy turned to find a red squirrel leaning on the edge of the table drinking Coo-Coo Cola.
"Hello!" He said with a long sniff of his big black nose.
"Screwy!!" exclaimed Slappy.
"How ya been kiddo?" Screwy Squirrel asked.
"C'mere you cute thing, you!" drooled Slappy, grabbing him and hugging the stuffing out of him.
"Hey, leave us not get excited!" he cried struggling in her arms. "If you want me, you're gonna have to catch me first!"
Screwy planted a sloppy kiss on Slappy and zoomed away in glee.
"I Looove that man!!"cried Slappy as she took off in wild pursuit.
As soon as she was out of sight, Lord quickly began eating a plate of deviled eggs. He stopped as Hamton and Fifi approached.
"Having a good time?" he asked.
"Oh yeah!" exclaimed Hamton. "We met the real Beach Boys and they played my favorite songs!"
"Ah like zee old rock and roll." beamed Fifi. "Zen we went for a walk een zee hedge maze."
Hamton looked over the assortment of food. "Hey, somebody ate all my ambrosia!" he said in surprise. "Usually I end up having it all myself."
"Ooo! Deviled eggs!" said Fifi greedily reaching for them.
"Careful, Petite!", Lord cautioned her, Half the food is not for toons."
Indeed, there were two plates of everything, one containing 2-D bright-colored toon food, the other holding the 3-D, duller looking real food.
"That's for the humans here." Lord told her.
"Don't worry, Ah can tell zee difference", replied Fifi, "Here's a plateful of deviled eggs for toons."
"Just making sure" Lord smiled.
As Fifi and Hamton ate heartily, she asked "Aren't vous coming to zee dance?"
"I will if Hamton will let you dance with me?" asked Lord.
Hamton finished his mouthful of potato salad and said "Umm...sure, but aren't you a bit too tall to dance with her?"
Fifi frowned, but Lord said, "There's a way to remedy that."
He removed his cape and began an elaborate spin change. Brass and saxophones played, as he began broadcasting the old swing hit - "In The Mood". When he stopped spinning, a five foot tall, handsome wolf stood there, sharply dressed in a black zoot suit.
The thin wolf doffed his wide-brimmed hat and said to Fifi in a slick voice.
"Hey doll, how's about you and me go-uh-steppin?"
"Ooo La La!" exclaimed Fifi, "Vous are zee Tex Avery Wolf?!"
Lord straightened his bow tie and offered her his arm.
"The One-and-Only!" he said proudly. "Though it has been a while since I've done this."
"C'mon!" said Fifi, taking his arm. "Ah'll be back, Hammy!" she called as she walked to the ballroom with the strutting Wolf.
Hamton watched, his mouth stuffed with food. He had said they could dance. His eyes shifted to the big bowl of potato salad and he began stuffing down spoonful after spoonful in frustration. Soon it was all gone and he reached for the next platter.
Fifi and Lord had fun strutting their way into the ballroom.
Their hips swayed in synchronization as the swing music played.
Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse saw them and spun into their own matching, green and orange zoot suits and were soon "truckin'" after them.
The Beach Boys were clearing the stage, so Lord continued the music - the sound of cymbals and snare drums accompanying him.
The floor cleared as everyone saw Lord as the Wolf.
As they heard the music of the forties, the older couples joined them. Pepe swung Penelope in his arms, as Porky and Petunia Pig 'cut a rug'. Slappy twirled with her old flame Screwy, as joyfully as they had in their heyday and Tom danced around a table, as Jerry jumped and jived with him. Fifi and Lord were swinging easily as the Glenn Miller tune drew to a close.
Pepe & Penelope
"M-m-m-me-More!" called Porky.
The Wolf snapped the brim of his hat and winked.
"Well alreet- well alroot- well alright!" he crooned smoothly.
He looked at Fifi and took her hands as the wild, thundering drums of "Sing,Sing, Sing!" began.
The toons began a wild heart-pounding jitterbug. Lord spun and whirled around Fifi with the fastest moves she'd ever seen. He picked her up and tossed her spinning through the air. Together, they leaped and twirled madly. Bugs and Honey Bunny were flipping each other and Buster and Babs snapped through each other's legs. Bosko and Honey did a variation of one of their tap dance routines that went too fast for the eye to follow. Pepe and Penelope swung each other in circles by their tails, playing 'Snap the Whip'. The crazy dancing drew to a frenzied climax as Lord whirled Fifi through the air in a circle by her arm and leg, raising her up over the crowd till she was spinning over his head. As the song came to a thundering end, he threw her into the air and deftly caught her in his arms.
Fifi was breathing hard and found herself gazing with passion into his eyes. The Wolf smiled back in the same way, then his smile returned to being Lord's and he put her down very slowly. Fifi held his hands, unwilling to give up the moment. The Wolf gave her hands a gentle squeeze and reluctantly brought her paws together and released them.
Fifi was a little flustered and longed to jump up and hug him, but she held herself in check. They both looked at the floor simultaneously.
"....Wow!" said Fifi, trying to hide her feelings for once.
"Yeah!" the Wolf laughed. "...Wow!..."
The Wolf stepped back and spun. Lord stood there, smiling at her. Fifi suddenly began to feel ashamed.
"Vous are...a wondairful dancer!" she said trying to look away.
"And you are...most accomplished yourself" he said smiling kindly at her. "Merci, Petite.
Suddenly, the other ladies in the room descended on Lord, surrounding him with requests to dance. He was drawn away by the crowd and Fifi felt a flurry of confused feelings within herself. She walked back to the door, her hands folded and she looked back to see him fending off another attack by the Warners. Feeling small, Fifi left the room to find Hamton.
At the ballroom door, Bruce Wayne stared at the assemblage of toons, but his mind was not on them. Dick Grayson and Barbra Gordon met the brooding, somber man as they came out for a drink.
"Let's go" said Wayne shortly.
"What's up?" said Dick, noticing his partner's bad mood. "Is it something to do with ..Wayne Enterprises?" he asked with a wink.
"It's worse. Let's go."
Grayson shrugged at his date and followed, getting close enough to whisper to Bruce, "Who is it this time? The Joker? Penguin??"
Bruce looked back at the entrance to Lord's study and at the figure of Adam West, smiling and waving goodbye to him. Wayne looked at his ward as they headed for the door and said darkly "You're never gonna believe this.."
Fifi and Hamton returned to the ballroom. They were both quiet and had said very little, their confusion bothering them. Fifi watched Lord speaking to Andy Fox and then the two made their way outside to the hedge maze. On their way out, the Warners leaped on Lord's back. Then, in a moment they had been levitated to the ceiling and floated there unhappily, like balloons lost from a circus. Lord and the red fox walked out into the gardens beyond.
"So...how was the dance?" asked Hamton uncertainly.
"Oh, it was great" Fifi said, non-commitedly. "Deed tu... get enough to eat?"
As they watched, Honey Bunny was talking with Bugs and Hamton and Fifi saw her motion to him. Bugs' ears hung down. He turned and began to cross to where Porky Pig and Daffy were speaking with Bosko and Honey and Foghorn Leghorn and Miss Prissy.
As Bugs crossed sullenly towards them, he was interrupted by Gabby Goat. After what looked like a brief conversation, Bugs and Gabby went to join Porky's conversation. Abruptly, Porky left the group and the room.
Bugs stood among the new group, adding little to the discussion.
Minerva Mink wandered in alone, apparently looking for someone.
She was soon surrounded by her many suitors and choose Newt as a temporary escort. The blue dachshund was ecstatic and shot into the air, falling gently like a floating leaf, to settle in the mink's arms.
There was some odd noises and yelling coming from the stage and suddenly Screwy Squirrel ran from under the main curtain and across the heads of everyone. Slappy followed him in hot pursuit, swinging from a rope and giving a raucous Tarzan yell.
Abruptly, the lights went out!
As everyone gasped in the sudden darkness, Fifi grabbed ahold of Hamton and leaped into his arms.
"Vat happened?! Anozzer blew-out?!" she asked.
"Uh...that's blackout, dear" he reminded her, with a little laugh.
His humor and closeness made her relax and Fifi smiled in the darkness, her eyes and teeth shining. He made her feel safe again. Hamton smiled and noticed all the other eyeballs of everyone, shining in the dark.
The absurd scene made him chuckle and he smiled as well.
What seemed to be a tremendous bolt of lightning struck the ground somewhere outside the mansion and the flash of light lit up everyone's scared faces for a second. Then the lights returned. Everyone was startled, most of all the four faces who were now peeking through the stage curtain, whom everyone was now looking at. They were young male human toons, all with black moppish hair. They spoke with Liverpudlian accents.
"Cor! Whut a way tuh get a show started!" said one with large eyes.
"Well, yuh wanted to start off with a bang, didn' cha Paul?" said a thin-faced one to the first.
"I coulda done that with me drums" said one with a big nose.
"Ooo! Look ut all the strange, funny ani-muls! They don't 'aff look look scared uv us" said the other.
"Oh, don't be daft, John! That's our audience." said the first fellow.
"Oh is that them?"
"Yeah it is."
" They do look funny, don't they?"
"Yes, they do."
"Don't they, though."
Hamton couldn't contain himself.
"IT'S THE BEATLES!!! YIPEE!!!!" he shouted.
Hamton, Fifi and the Toonsters rushed to the stage and cheered as Doctor Lord reentered the house unseen with Andy Fox. The fox seemed a little unsteady and the Doctor guided him by the shoulders. Wisps of steam wafted out of his red fur and his clothing was a bit singed. It was as if he was seeing everything for the first time.
"How do you feel?" Lord asked.
His heart still racing, the fox spoke uncertainly.
"...Whole..I think..uh..would be the best term for it. - I am - aren't I??"
"Quite." said Lord with a grin. "Welcome back home to the Tooniverse."
"Thank you, Doctor" , said the fox gratefully, "For everything."
He stumbled and Lord took him to a chair.
"No charge, my friend" Lord said graciously. "I think you better sit here awhile and take it easy. You need time to adjust. I have to start the show."
"Right! Thanks again."
Lord advanced to the stage as Hamton waved excitedly at the musicians. The tall skunk stood with his hands behind his back, imitating Ed Sullivan.
"An now - right here on our stage - the four youngsters who began in their own cartoon series some thirty years ago - direct from London, England ...the group that set the music world afire. They're friends 'a mine - aand I trust you like them too....Ladies an' Gen'lman ..... - The Beatles!"
Lord ducked offstage as the curtain came up and the Fab Four took the stage. With a riff on George's lead guitar, the band began.
"It's been A Hard Day's Night! And I've workin' - like a dog!..."
Hamton grabbed Fifi's hand and they got to the very center of the dance floor in front of the stage. As they danced and rocked to the pounding music, their troubled feelings evaporated.
But when I get home to you - I find the things that you do -
will make me feel all right! "
Hamton danced as Fifi had taught him to this very music that summer - the music he loved - by the group he loved - with the girl he loved.
Fifi swished her tail teasingly at him and he took her hand and danced joyously. He remembered meeting the group at The Cavern, along with Arnold and Fifi this past summer on their crazy trip to Britain.
Fifi saw her boyfriend happy and that was all that mattered.
John, Paul, George and Ringo sang smiling and delighting in their fast upbeat sound. The music rang loud in the ballroom and everybody was dancing. Even Andy Fox struggled to his feet and bopped along with the beat.
There was thunderous applause as the song ended. Fifi looked to find Hamton jumping up and down, his eyes shut tight, his fingers crossed, hugging himself tightly as he wished as hard he could.
"I wish,I wish,I wish, I wish! " he mumbled under his breath.
George picked up an acoustic guitar and Ringo got his rhythm sticks as they prepared to play. The crowd was quiet as George began by strumming the first four notes.
Hamton shot upright! It was the one he been hoping for!
It was 'their song' !
"I give her all my love - that's all I do.." sang the Beatles.
Hamton opened his eyes and saw Fifi's hand waiting for him.
As they'd rehearsed all summer long, the couple began to dance their elegant tango - moving slowly, but lightly - sharply, but with grace.
Their hands were intertwined as they tangoed back and forth.
Others stopped to watch and gave them room in the center of a large circle of light. Buster and Babs were amazed. Shirley was impressed by Hamton's graceful and intricate movements.
"And I Love Her..."
Fifi danced divinely, as her heart overflowed with feeling. She saw only Hamton's eyes and and nothing else in the world.
From the side of the stage, Lord watched the two silently.
love like ours... could never die,
as long as I have you near me...."
From across the room, he flipped a switch with his mind and a mirrored ball spread spinning sparkles throughout the room.
Art by Babs Bunny
are the stars that shine, dark is the sky...
I know this love of mine..will never die.. and I Love her..."
With it's stars turning around them, Hamton and Fifi tangoed to the instrumental part. Hamton twirled round his love, her fluffy tail like a great feather in the wind. He held her close and dipped her almost to the floor, recovering expertly. Every move was perfect and easy.
The couple floated as in a dream. As the song drew to the instrumental ending, Fifi and Hamton froze, looking into each other's eyes. They moved slowly together, their lips touching. They held the kiss a long time as everyone applauded them.
It was their special moment.
The night was a joyous celebration of music and dance.
Occasionally, the Warners would bug Lord for the chance to see his wife, but he always managed to fend them off. Hamton and Fifi danced to every song the Beatles played.
Finally, Yakko and Dot wouldn't quit and pestered everyone to get the Doctor to comply. As others asked him to go along with them, he grew impatient.
"What part of "No" don't you understand?!" he asked them.
"Ha! We never take "no" for an answer!" quipped Yakko.
Lord simply turned his back on him, but found the Warner brother in his face again.
"C'mon Doc, this is gettin' old. We wanna see Red!"
Lord turned back slowly to face him, his eyes pleading, "Please...why won't you leave us alone? - Why won't you leave her alone??"
Yakko's beady black eyes didn't soften.
"Caaaaaause, she's my friennnnd and I really wanna see her !"
Lord drew back sternly.
"You were never a friend - you only saw her as an object - not a person."
Droopy stepped up. "Well, Doctor..it has been almost fifty years... and we'd all like to see her again."
Lord looked at all their insistent faces and his anger abated. He couldn't dissuade all of them. Daffy stepped up and put a feathered hand on his arm. The duck looked sadly at his old friend.
" ..Like I thed thith morning - thith ith thomthing you shouldn't keep to yourthelf ".
Bugs had never seen Daffy be so kind. Lord turned his back on everyone again and stood silently. His head lowered slowly.
There was a long pause before he turned and looked at them again.
Fifi saw again what she had seen last night - Lord's face was now sad, old and tired.
"Very well" , he said solemnly, " If you insist upon this... please follow me, Ladies and Gentlemen."
He turned towards the hall and walked out slowly. Everyone's steps resounded as the large group followed him. The Warner Kids followed him briskly, happily anticipating. Daffy trudged behind, last.
"At last I'll get to see her - but I wonder why the Doc's so dead-set against it" thought Bugs.
Lord reached the middle of the hallway and stopped. He stood next to the wall and said " Please come in...Be Silent - and_Touch_Nothing."
As he turned to face the wall, an ominous song began as his mood grew somber.
(ES #11 -Esmerelda)
Everyone was silent. After a moment, Lord raised his hands and folded them as he bowed his head. His eyes closed in silent prayer and with a grating of stone on stone - the wall slowly slid open like a door. As Lord's sadly serene theme played softly in a minor key, Lord stepped into the darkened chamber and disappeared from sight. Everyone crowded forward to peer in. Inside, gaslights slowly came to life one by one. The toons crowded in cautiously.
It was a small chapel. The walls and carpeting were dark green. Old-fashioned,tasseled plush curtains hung over walled-up windows and old photographs and newspaper articles were framed and hung over old patterned, Victorian wallpaper. The pictures looked like jig-saw puzzles. They appeared to have been ripped to small pieces and then painstakingly pieced back together. All had one thing in common - pictures of Red Hot.
On the back wall hung a large wooden cross and before it stood the lovely Red Hot herself.
Lord stood at her side, speaking softly.
"Good evening, my Beloved. Our friends have come to see you at long last."
He bent and kissed her delicate, outstretched hand tenderly.
Everyone crowded into the room and the Warners ran forward to see Red, but stopped short as they noticed she did not move.
The perfect lady stood frozen on a marble pedestal. Her color and form were just as Yakko remembered - but her painted eyes never moved. Fifi, Hamton and their mentors stood at the front, staring at the disturbing scene. Bugs and Daffy joined them. Bugs looked at the silent figure before them in astonishment. It was a perfect likeness of Red - a statue. Lord moved to a small pulpit.
"Dear friends", he said quietly," Those of you who remember her know that Red had a great deal of dignity.. Despite the silly things we did before the cameras, Red was very much a lady and always insisted that everything be proper...The few years we had together were the happiest in all my life."
The music grew more pleasant as Lord smiled a bit and recalled.
"I remember Wakko's smile as he walked down the isle as our ring-bearer. He'd practiced all the night before and fell asleep at the reception."
Wakko blushed and smiled, but looked on in confusion.
Lord gazed fondly at the statue and continued.
"Red once told me that very few things last forever - but that love is one of them. But...to everything there is a season - a time to be born...and a time to die. ..With the advent of television - someone decided that cartoons were for children - not adults. Suddenly, no one wanted Red. MGM canceled her contract, saying she was no longer appropriate. ..Tex Avery and I tried to save her career and keep her spirits up - but no one would hire her any more. They saw her only as a sex object - not a living person ...with a soul.
She took to drink as her depression overcame her. Unfortunately, I couldn't always be with her - my work in Reality took me away from her for months at a time. Tex tried to salvage her life and change her image - but no one would buy it."
The music grew more and more morose. Lord paused, looked at his feet, summoning his courage to remember and spoke haltingly.
"..I came home.. one afternoon on leave...I called her name.. ..but the house was silent. I went from room to room searching for her...
I heard her cough from this room - it used to be our parlour..." His voice quavered.
"..Then I found the trail... all her photographs were ripped to pieces!..Her press clippings torn and thrown on the floor... ..they led in here."
He pointed to the antique chaise lounge covered in green velvet that lay to the side of the statue. The song grew tragic.
"I found her...lying here..surrounded by the shredded memories of her murdered career......and an empty gallon can of paint remover."
There were gasps of shock, horror and anguish. Some of the couples grabbed ahold of each other. Petunia began to weep.
Miss Prissy fainted into Foghorn's arms. Fifi clutched at Hamton and Yakko and Dot's jaws hit the floor. His eyes glazed with tears, Wakko hung on Lord's every word.
Lord blinked and held back his tears, holding his sorrow inside.
"..She couldn't speak - her voice was gone... I held her in my arms.. She put her finger to her lips for silence...and looked into my eyes.
She kissed me....she .. breathed her last breath into me.....and died very quietly... melting through my fingers..."
Tubular bells sounded a death knell.
" -No!" choked Wakko in the shocked silence.
Lord sniffed and wiped his eyes, his voice and heart breaking. He sucked in a breath and said " Tex, ..MGM and I, decided it was best to keep her death a secret. Death.. and suicide is practically unknown in the Tooniverse....I wanted to preserve the dignity of my Beloved.
..A few years ago, a toon called Vavoom was hired by Hanna-Barbera to impersonate her and keep the secret.
..Tex was never the same again. He fell into alcoholism himself and passed away some years ago. "
He indicated the statue as the music drew to a final end. "Red's remains are sealed within this statue. ..I've kept the secret from that day to this... I hope you'll forgive her....and me.
Lord stepped from the pulpit and began to leave, but paused to look coldly at Yakko.
"Does this answer your question? he whispered.
His lips trembled and he turned away, to walk straight out through the crowd and was gone.
As the stunned crowd stood there, some of them began to cry.
Wakko stood and cried piteously like a motherless child. Porky could barely manage to help Petunia to walk, till Daffy took her other arm.
Art by Thorne
With huge, tear-filled eyes, Pepe took the rose from his lapel and gently placed it in the statue's hand. Penelope put her arms around him and led him away in silence. Droopy and Tom leaned against each other and began to walk sadly away. Tom held Jerry close, as the little mouse buried his face in Tom's fur and sobbed. The three Tiny Toons couples hung onto each other in shock and disbelief.
Wakko finally yelled in rage and ran out of the house, sobbing. Dot cried silently, her sorrow and guilt building within her.
Plucky left with Shirley, both throwing a look of hatred at Yakko.
"How could you?!" Babs wept at the Warners, as she and Buster left the chapel. Fifi could bear no more and suddenly ran from the room. Hamton wiped his eyes with his handkerchief and followed her.
Dot's rage, coupled with her own guilt - drove her to violence and she slapped Yakko savagely across the face. Tears overcame her and she left, rubbing her eyes.
The Warner brother held his stinging cheek and backed away in shame. He bumped into the last toon left in the chapel and turned around. Bugs Bunny turned to stare at him. In confusion and shock, he backed away. He turned to see Red's statue smiling blankly back at him and the cross that loomed above him - and Bugs stumbled as he ran out of the house and away from the feelings that haunted him.
Yakko stood alone in the empty chapel.
The Pig family and Fifi wandered out the front door.
"Oh the poor man", said Winnie sadly, " He seemed so heart-broken."
Wade shook his head. "Toon suicide. I've never seen the like. Can you imagine keeping a terrible secret like that to yourself for almost fifty years? "
Hamton sniffled, "It's amazing that he's so cheerful most of the time, but...I wonder if that's why... well, why he did what he almost did at the race this afternoon."
A thought occurred to Winnie and she suddenly whipped off her glasses and looked with scared eyes at her husband.
"Oh Wade!", she cried and clutched at him," What would I do if something ever happened to you?!"
Wade patted her hand and hugged his wife.
"There there. Nothing's going to happen to me or anybody. Toons can't be hurt."
"But zey can die."Fifi said quietly.
The Pig family looked strangely at her, then realizing her meaning - they all embraced her.
"Are you all right?" asked Hamton.
Fifi nodded thoughtfully. "I am - but what about Doctor Lord? Ah must find heem and - and find out how he knows moi. Ah still ave so many questions. 'Ee must ave been hurt so terribly..."
Begrudgingly, Hamton nodded, but asked, "Are you sure you'll be alright alone?"
"Oui, she smiled, " Ah'll tell tu what happenz tomorrow."
He hugged her and whispered "You be careful."
Fifi nodded and kissed him goodnight.
Fifi walked to the back of the mansion and heard the rush of water from the fountains there. She stared at the house's lit windows and the monstrous hedge-maze.
"Now where could 'ee ave gone?" she asked herself.
The skunkette was about to reenter the house when something brushed her legs. Fifi was startled to see two small yellow eyes peering back at her.
There was an answering meow, but the cat that stepped into the light wasn't him. The black, pointed face of Dr. Lord's real cat looked up at her.
"Oh, ah remembair vous! Pyewaket, no?"
Fifi stooped to pet the animal, stroking its' warm black fur. Pyewaket rubbed herself against Fifi's shins, making a fuzzy sound against the silk stockings and purred.
Fifi purred back and said "Do vous know where your mastair eez?"
The cat cocked its' head and listened, but then began to lick its' hind leg.
Fifi smirked at herself and realized, "Now ah'm talkeeng to a real animal."
She stood up and the cat suddenly walked to the entrance to the hedge-maze and stared back at her with reflective eyes.
The enormous full moon shone clear and white overhead, revealing the grass and the lines and corners of the nine foot tall maze. It was all thick boxwood shrubs and smelled like a cemetery. The moonlight made the trees into bizarre black silhouettes. The crickets sang an unending song and cicadas answered each other from tree to tree, producing their unearthly chirp. Pyewaket meowed and stared at Fifi, then sauntered off into the maze. Fifi hesitated and then followed, feeling silly at doing so. She followed the black cat with her night vision and crept along. Her footsteps seemed to be the only sound and she began to wonder how she'd ever find her way out again.
She thought of Lord and could now see what perhaps caused his strange sadness. His wife's suicide had most likely made him leave Acme Acres and disappear to Europe. There was still much left unanswered, though.
The maze's path turned right and left, up long passages and in between rows and rows of possible ways in or out - it was a veritable labyrinth.
"Ah hope vous know where vous are going!" she said to the cat who trotted ahead with its' tail in the air.
"Now I wish ah'd paid attention when Hammy et moi came out 'ere."
After following for quite a while, Fifi's feet began to ache.
Her shoes were sinking in the grass and hurting her arches. In turning a corner, she tripped and nearly fell. "Vat a time to be weareeng high heelz!" she exclaimed.
Then she noticed Pyewaket had stopped.
The cat stood frozen - listening.
Fifi listened too and heard soft footsteps not her own. The skunkette began to walk faster, her breath quickening as she grew nervous.
She followed Pyewaket around another corner - but the cat was gone!
She was alone!
Fifi's wide, frightened eyes shone in the dark as she heard the footsteps coming closer. She saw movement through the hedge and flashes of something white! Fifi backed towards the wall and exit, but it was a dead end! She heard the creature breathing and knew it would be coming right around the corner in front of her! Her teeth chattered and her fur stood on end as a huge, white ghostly form appeared there!
Fifi raised her tail and said
"..G- go away! Ah'm a skonk and will defend mahself! "
"Oh, please don't skunk me!" said the ghost in a friendly voice as it came closer. It was Kimba, the White Lion.
"I'm sorry I frightened you", he said kindly, "I followed Doctor Lord and saw him come out here."
Fifi sighed deeply in relief and said "Mon Dieu! Ah thought vous were a ghost!"
"Not hardly!", laughed Kimba, " I've never seen any ghosts -but I have talked to spirits sometimes."
"Vous ave spoken to zem?"
"Un-huh, like the spirit of Caesar, my father", Kimba told her, " He was King of the Jungle before me - till he was killed by hunters."
"Oh, ah'm so sorry!" Fifi said in sympathy.
"That's all right", said the lion, " That was before I was born. My mother was captured and gave birth to me on board a ship. When I was big enough, she made me escape and swim back to Africa.
The ship sank in a storm that night and I never saw my mother again."
Fifi put a comforting paw on Kimba's shoulder.
"..Both ov mah parents are gone too...and ah still don't understand why zey aged and passed on."
"And the Doctor lost his wife " Kimba nodded. He looked up at the Moon. "You always think.. that somehow they'll come back..that it didn't really happen. But.. some things can't be changed - even by wishing." His blue eyes closed.
"Oui..." Fifi patted his head. "Ah hope Pavel eez all right."
Kimba's smile returned.
"Let's see if we can find him. I was tracking him when I found you. Follow me!"
After walking awhile, Fifi's feet began to hurt again.
"What's wrong?" asked Kimba.
Fifi leaned against his shoulder and complained, "Mah heelz are keeling moi!"
The white lion laughed. "You civilized animals have it so easy! Why don't you ride on my back?"
"Vous will give moi a -how you say? Piggyback ride?" she asked.
"Climb aboard - just watch those spiked heels" said Kimba.
Fifi sat across Kimba's shoulders and rode side saddle. He sniffed the ground and followed Lord's scent.
|Art by Thorne|
After a bit he said, " That's funny...I know you're both skunks, but...You and Doctor Lord have almost the same scent."
Fifi scoffed a little and said "But ah'm wearing perfume - and ah'm a girl."
"Yes", Kimba agreed," And..you had deviled eggs to eat and your boyfriend is a pig."
"What?! ..-oh." she said amazed, "Vous can smell Hamton on moi?"
Kimba paused and sniffed at her.
"Un-huh, he was...kissing your neck, right?"
Fifi blushed and giggled and Kimba joined her laughter.
As they came around a corner, Kimba signaled for silence.
"He's right around the bend" whispered the lion with a yawn.
Fifi climbed off Kimba's back and together they peeked around the side of the hedge. There on a park bench sat Dr. Lord, silently staring at the moon. Fifi was surprised to see Pyewaket sitting comfortably in the doctor's lap. They withdrew behind the hedge again.
"He seems all right, so I'm going to go get some sleep - it's been a long day for me" whispered Kimba.
"Alright", Fifi whispered back, "Ah need to talk to heem alone, anyway. Merci, Kimba."
The white lion yawned and plodded away. "You're welcome. I'll be around if you need me" he said disappearing back the way they came.
Fifi turned and cautiously stepped around the corner.
Lord was gone! He was nowhere in sight!
Fifi ran out to the bench and found only the cat seated there.
She'd been so close! Frustrated, Fifi sat on the bench to think.
Suddenly something blocked out the moonlight and covered her with it's huge shadow. Fifi looked up - and beheld the sight of Doctor Lord hovering in mid-air, standing with his cape billowing out behind him like great wings. His silver eyes glowed, staring at her and he floated slowly down to land on the grass before her. His white pupils shining like stars, Lord raised his clawed hand. She saw his five fingers open wide - the fourth finger curling down. As the small skunkette stood up to face the fantastic giant before her, she saw a brilliant purple aura forming around him, glowing and pulsating like a quasar.
"Who are you?" Fifi asked nervously.
Lord's hypnotic eyes fixed on her and his voice echoed in her mind.
"Ask me....who I was."
Art by Pepe K.
Look for the next Chapters of -
"A TIME TO EVERY PURPOSE UNTO HEAVEN"
coming to you soon.