Lions and Tigers and Mice, Oh My!
by Debra Hicks
Halloween is, in my not so humble opinion, one of the best things to come out of the Colonies since corn on the cob. It gives stuffy adults a patented, publicized excuse to dress up and act silly.
"Bodie! Get your arse out...."
Not that some adults need an excuse. I ducked behind the stairs, trying not to giggle. Halloween can be even more enjoyable when Ray loses the toss and I get to pick our fancy dress.
When Ray gets to his calm tone of voice it means that the game is at end, it's time to fess up, spill your guts, let the cat out of the bag...and all those other standard euphemisms for lying and smiling at the same time. I stepped out to be confronted by one of my favorite sights--Ray starkers. The effect was spoiled, or hilighted depends on your point of view, by the floor length green satin dress that he was holding in front of him. It matched his eyes.
In the most innocent voice I could manage I said, "Oh good, the costumes have come."
The horror in those green eyes went up another step. "You don't honestly expect me to wear this!" It's amazing how the little golli can manage to sound outraged, threatening, confused, and pathetic at the same time. "What the hell made you pick something like this?"
"Penfold said you looked smashing in green satin."
His jaw dropped so hard you could hear the bones creak. "Penfold squealed?" he squealed a little like Penfold himself.
"He said it was no longer classified and told me the whole story," I explained patiently.
This was the dangerous part; would the love of my life get the joke or would I have to pick myself off the floor? I tried my best to look harmless. He wasn't having any of it. I closed with him, took his face in my hands and kissed him very, very lightly on the bad cheek. He only managed to look more stubborn. I moved down to his lips, licked and pleaded. The smile started under my mouth, spread slowly up. He pulled away, the smile had reached his eyes.
"You're a nutter," he laughed.
I almost wished he'd kept resisting.
There is a long tradition in English theater of males in drag. Just watch Monty Python. Ray took the tradition to heart. He emerged forty minutes later, shaved, hair fluffed, lips painted and eye makeup prefect. He was even carrying a light green shoulder bag that matched the dress. (I don't remember renting a bag?) Avoiding the psychological implications, he looked smashing--until he topped the whole affair off with a 40D cups worth of tissue. Looked like Dolly Parton on steroids.
The green eyes were jumping with mischief but he scowled at my fancy dress. I thought I looked grand in the musketeer outfit. Black is my color. He slid closer, trailed his hand along my cheek (The lower version) and kissed me like he meant it. I reached for him, the party completely forgotten. He pushed me away, extracting revenge for my choice of fancy dress.
"I beg your pardon, sir!" he said in falsetto. "I'm not that kind of girl."
He marched to the car, nose in the air. Maybe this wasn't such a grand idea.
Ray spent the trip trying to decide between a bad Mae West and a horrible Katherine Hepburn. He settled for Betty Davis. (I think.) At the door I whipped off my plumed hat, bowed very low with a flourish and held the door for my 'lady.' Ray sauntered in to a chorus of whistles and hoots of laughter. I followed, careful to keep my distance since I knew what or rather who was coming.
As if it were choreographed the crowd parted, dividing like the Red Sea in front of Charlton Heston. But instead of the promised land the sight that greeted Ray's green eyes at the other end was--George Cowley.
Cowley, very properly dressed in a turn of the century riding habit, stared at Ray. Ray, from behind false eyelashes and twin peaks of kleenex, stared back. I, wisely, moved out of reach.
The boss closed the chasm between them, walked slowly around Ray, glanced at me from behind my mate's back. His mouth was twitching and there was a dangerously amused glitter in the icy blue. It took a Herculean effort not to laugh.
Stepping back in front of Ray, he commented dryly. "This is a new look for you, isn't it, Doyle?"
Ray was by now turning the most delightful shade of red; combined with the green dress he was doing a great impression of a Christmas ornament.
"Good choice...lad," Cowley smiled. "Though you could use a different shade of lip gloss, something a little more peachy."
The room fairly exploded in laughter. Murphy and Jax, a leprechaun and a Zulu warrior, (Jax looks good in green) closed with Ray, distracting him long enough for me to make my escape. Having been at Murphy's before I knew about the large hall cupboard, the perfect place to give into my hysteria and hide from Ray's wrath. I know the little golli (in every sense of the word) and by his third malt I'd be forgiven, by morning it would have become his idea.
I walked (slunk) around the end of the settee toward the hall. Trying to watch Ray's location out of the corner of my eye I bumped hard into someone.
"Sorry, mate," I said without turning.
"Just the person I was looking for."
The voice sounded vaguely familiar. I turned.
Long ago I accepted the fact that the entire world has known about a certain mouse (not Mickey) but to see someone dressed as the White Wonder, someone dressed as a BIG White Wonder, took me by surprise. It was a bloody good costume, too! Seamless, the head in correct portion to the body, the eyes were....
"I say, steady on, Bodie," Dangermouse said intently.
"But, I mean, but...."
I told myself to take a deep breath. It wasn't really so bad, after all, what was so surprising about a 6'4", white, one-eyed super spy? Especially since there was probably a very reasonable explanation; I could think of three right away. I was asleep; someone had slipped something in the punch, (I hadn't had any punch); I'd finally gone around the twist.
"Bodie," DM said with a sigh. "You're not asleep, no one put anything in the punch and you haven't gone round the twist. I've had a bit of a run in with the Baron."
Damn, I'd forgotten about Ray! On the other hand, watching his reaction to spotting the Incredible Hulk version of our resident rodent could be interesting. I turned around.
"Bodie," Ray was right next to me. "You bastard, you knew the Cow was going to be here, didn't you! How could you just.... Hello, DM...let me walk in here...."
"Ray?" I asked in a tight whisper.
"Don't you notice anything strange here?"
He glanced around, shrugged at the giant mouse (is that an oxymoron?). "Well, Jax's new girlfriend is dressed as a condom, which is kind...."
"Old sod," the mouse said, "I think he's referring to me."
"Oh. You've had a run in with Greenback, right?"
God, I hate when he's so calm. Then it crept slowly up on me that no one in the bloody room was paying the slightest bit of attention to the over-sized rodent. Before I had a chance to think about it, a horrible thought crossed my mind.
"Penfold?!" I was getting use to the idea of an enlarged DM but I couldn't handle.... "Please tell me that...."
"Penfold has the Baron under observation."
"Thank God for small favors." DM winced. "Okay, so you need our help with the toad," I surmised.
He crossed his arms. "It would seem that Greenback is after you as well."
"Ah, worried about me, is he?" I said a bit haughtily.
"Uh, no," DM admitted reluctantly. "He worries about Penfold and I. You, he considers a minor annoyance."
I can see it on my resume now--biggest professional achievement--considered a minor annoyance by a four inch high amphibian megalomaniac.
"What's his plan?" I was almost afraid to ask.
"To do the reverse to you what he's done to me."
"Well," I sighed, "let's go get this over with."
"Hang about!" Ray protested. "I'm not about to go harrying around the streets dressed like this."
"Okay, Ray," I agreed quickly, which immediately made him worry. "We'll just wait around and let the little toad do in reverse what he did to the ro...to DM." I slid close, very close. "But it's going to make position twenty-nine a little difficult."
He started for the door, shedding tissue like a week old rose sheds petals.
"Got a bit upper crust, hasn't the old so and so?"
Whereas the green guy's old flat had looked like something out of an old Hammer horror film, this one looked like something out of a old Hammer sci-fi film. It was a two story glass and steel split level complete with helicopter pad. (How big could his helicopter be?)
"Ill-gotten gains," DM muttered dangerously, "can never be truly enjoyed."
Penfold cut off any more sermonizing by swooping in, parking on the hedgerow in front of us and standing up in the front of the car. He pushed his glasses up on his nose, or whatever.
"Good day, gentlemen."
"Hi, Penfold," Ray acknowledged while tieing the end of his gown up.
"Like the dress, Mr. Doyle."
Ray shot him a dirty look then realized that Penfold was being quite sincere. "Right, thanks."
The green eyes warned me not to say a word. Never one to let my common sense get in the way of a good joke I started to open my mouth. There was this sort of fuchsia flash.
Ray has nice legs, a bit knobby about the knees but on the whole very nice legs--but not from eye level of six inches.
Since both Ray's and my startled statements were completely useless I expertly considered the other two as options. "Duck" seemed a little late since I'd already been hit so I opted for moving my reduced arse out of range before things really got out of hand. I sprinted for a convenient culvert. Before I could find myself shogging through two inches of hip deep mud, a bright red object flashed down in front of me.
"Get in, Mr. Bodie!"
Acting on instinct I jumped into the flying car next to Penfold, strapping on the seat belt. I made the mistake of looking over at the ill-suited hamster. I had been right, seeing a six foot DM was one thing, seeing Penfold from a perspective that made him look 5'4 was just too much. Actually, I don't think it was Penfold so much as it was the horrible green pinstripped suit. No one should have to endure a sight like that.
A bolt hit the side of the car as Penfold took us up and circled. Nothing happened, which meant the ray only worked on organic matter. (Right out of Star Trek that one.) A crow streaked by us, clutching a strange looking device in his talons, and wearing a bright yellow beret.
"Stilleto!" Penfold yelled.
"Stilleto! Greenback's gorilla. That is to say that he's not really a gorilla...."
"He's really a crow but you know how...."
"Steady on, Penfold!" I did my best to sound like DM. It must have been conditioning, because he quit rambling.
"I don't care if it's Professor Lazardo, I want that device. Don't just sit here, go get him!"
"But what about the Chief and Mr. Doyle?"
"We've got to get that device or we'll all end up with new partners!"
In my long and distinguished career both in domestic and foreign service, I have flown in more vehicles than Captain Kirk's had birds but when Penfold hit the throttle my stomach tried to return to earth, via a nasty route. I talked it out of it, fortunately for the upholstery. We zoomed up beside the black bird.
In the movies it always looks so easy; the hero takes a graceful leap off the fiery horse onto the hissing locomotive without any problem. There was at least three things different between my current situation and your average Lone Ranger. One--I was not on a fiery horse, I was in a flying convertible with a hamster at the controls. Two--it was a l-o-n-g w-a-y to the ground and three--the crow was pointing the weapon in my direction again.
"Down!" I folded up under the dash.
When a device designed to carry two six inch people (?) suddenly is supporting a LARGE hamster a strange thing happens. The device starts to fall. Actually we skipped falling and went right into plummeting!
Penfold and I sounded a lot alike at that moment. The car tipped, dumping Penfold, who commenced plummeting on his own while me and the car shot up.
Still running in heroic mode I slid over and grabbed the wheel, spun it hard to the right and zipped after the hamster; having absolutely no idea what I was going to do when I caught him. A bolt of fuchsia went by me. I weaved, closing with a frantically flapping Penfold. Another zap went by--Penfold was a hamster sized hamster again.
He was actually a hamster sized still plummeting hamster being followed by a flying car with a novice pilot and an armed crow in a beret. Luck, which seems to follow DM and Penfold around, intervened. (This is a little different than fate, don't ask me why.) I swooped down to avoid another blast and Penfold fell neatly into the seat.
"Crumbs, Mr. Bodie!"
Stilleto broke off, flapping almost as clumsily as Penfold toward an open window in the mansion.
"Hold on!" I shouted. "We're going in!"
"What about the Chief and Mr. Doyle?"
"Let 'em find their own way in," I decided.
I pushed her directly at the open window. Someone closed the window.
I went full throttle and with an ear-shattering crash we were in the mansion and in hot pursuit of the crow. He went right, we went right, left down a hall, through the library, left into the kitchen, right.
"Gosh, Mr. Bodie," Penfold squeaked, "you drive just like Steve McQueen used to."
Having no idea how to take that one, I only nodded. At that moment I went from feeling like Luke Skywalker to feeling like Evil Knievel on an off day. The dirty bird took a left, we took a left and someone had put a wall there.
I braked and the car managed to avoid several laws of physics by going sixty to zero in no space whatsoever. Penfold and I didn't. We hit the seat belts, flew out of the seats, stopped inches from the wall, and were yanked back into the seats.
An evil snicker sounded close by. "If you would be so kind as to climb out, gentlemen."
I glanced over the side of the car at the obnoxious little green toad.
"Or what?" I demanded.
"Or this. Stilleto."
Okay, the mouse was a surprise, the hamster was a shock but the 5'10", 200 pound crow was just too bloody much. I was lifted by the collar of my very tasteful musketeer costume and lowered to the ground. Penfold was sat down next to me.
Putting on my best haughty look I said, "In the name of Her Majesty the Queen, you're under arrest."
Penfold looked at me in complete shock. "I say, Mr. Bodie, can you do that?"
"Uh, no, but it worked for Cary Grant in 'Gunga Din'."
"I saw that picture," a deep voice said from behind us, "he was then captured by the Thugees."
I was never so glad to see a mouse and a golli in my entire life.
"Seize them, Stilleto!"
The bird sort of squawked. "Me! But Baroni...the DM is...."
"I gave you an order!" Greenback croaked (ha ha.)
He turned and I had an opening, lunged for the Baron, grabbed him, and yanked the gun out of his slimy (ugh) hand. I hit Stilleto with the beam. There was a crow sized crow on the floor now.
Turning the ray toward DM, I started to pull the trigger when the stupid bird decided to do something. He slammed into me from behind, the gun sailed out of my hand and landed at Greenback's feet. A little belatedly Ray grabbed the bird and tossed him into the purse.
"You all will stand still immediately."
Greenback's voice can take paint off at fifty yards.
"Now," the Baron announced regally, "I will continue this on my own terms. I intend to enlarge myself and take over the world."
"Gosh, really, we would have never guessed," I said.
He flipped the gun around and pulled the trigger. There was the familiar fuchsia beam (I hate fuchsia) but instead of being confronted by a six foot green toad, a version half my size stood there staring at me in confusion.
"That's not right!" The nasal voice was even worse in a high pitched version.
I ran forward and grabbed the weapon. "Doyle! Grab him!"
"Me?" Ray groused. "I've already got one of them."
Green eyes lit with a touch of disgust, Ray picked up the Baron by the back of his white suit.
"You have not heard the last of me! I will...."
Ray dumped him in the purse with Stilleto, snapped it shut.
"I say," DM said, "bloody good show, Bodie. Nicely done."
"Thank you," I said, not immodestly.
"Crumbs, Chief," Penfold said, "What about you and Mr. Bodie? How will we get the ray to work?"
"Penfold, we'll think...."
"You'd have to spend your lives like this...."
"Not that I'd mind working with Mr. Bodie, but it just...."
"Penfold!" DM and I shouted together.
Very calmly, I said, "The ray wouldn't work on the Baron because I reversed the polarity of the neutron flow."
In total conviction I can safely say that it was probably the first time that the golli, the mouse and the hamster were all completely speechless. It was, surprisingly, my sunshine who recovered first.
Shaking the wonderful curls he said, "Bodie, have you been watching Dr. Who again?"
"Brilliant idea," DM said (with a touch of awe, I might add), "but whenever did you have the chance?"
"Ah, yes, well," I held the tiny gun up and pointed toward a switch on the side. It read very plainly--Neutron Flow. "I just turned it in the other direction."
Two shots from the ray later and I was standing next to Ray while DM and Penfold climbed into the car. The purse Ray had been carrying was suspended firmly beneath it.
"Are you sure you're not going to lose them again?" I questioned.
"Don't worry, they shan't escape justice this time," DM assured us. "Thanks for the help. I hope you enjoy the rest of your party. Nice dress, Ray."
The little car did a barrel roll around us and zipped into the night. Ray sighed a little beside me.
"Party will seem a little dull after this," he commented.
Never one to miss a hint, I slid closer. "Well, we're dressed for it. We could go trick or treating."
"Don't have to go out for that, do we?" Ray smiled. "Have several treats for you at home."
Leading the way out, I commented, "I wonder about that ray."
"What about it?" Ray asked.
"Do you suppose you could adapt it to enlarge only one, uh, part, instead of the whole person."
Ray looked puzzled. "What good would that do? I mean, why would you want to enlarge only...."
The light dawned in the emerald green eyes.
I love the way he says that.
-- THE END --