Meeting of the Minds, Part Two


By Steven Dexheimer

Part Two: The Second Guest

A white-haired, mustachioed man stood at my doorstep in a white linen suit and smoking a cigar, the smell of which was overwhelmingly rancid. The man must have read the displeasure in my face, because he removed the cigar from his mouth, carefully snuffed it out on my front step, and put the un-smoked portion in his coat pocket.

“Sorry about the cigar,” Sam Clemens said as he stepped through the door and shook my hand. “I should have asked before I lit up. An old habit, you know.” I took his offered hat and hung it up on the coat rack.

“I don’t mind having cigars smoked in my house,” I said. “In fact I bought a box of them for this very occasion. It’s just that…” I gestured to his coat where his cigar was. He grinned in understanding.

“It’s just that you’re particular in your brands. That’s understandable. Actually, I didn’t like the smell of my cigars at first, but I’ve become accustomed to it. In fact, I prefer it.”

“Well,” I said, “you are more than welcome to smoke my cigars.”

“I might take you up on that offer,” said Clemens as I led him toward the den. “And you’ll be happy to know, that I do smoke in moderation.”

“Really?” I said. “I never heard you to be a man of moderation.”

“It’s the truth,” Clemens stopped, putting up his hands in mock solemnity. “I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time.” I laughed.
Lincoln was intently reading his biography when Clemens and I walked in. He looked up, closed the book, and stood.

“Mr. President,” I said, “I don’t believe you’ve met Sam Clemens before.” The two men shook hands.

“No,” said Clemens, “I did His Excellency the favor of staying out west during his presidency. He had the Civil War to contend with, he didn’t need me to add to his troubles.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Clemens,” said Lincoln, “I have heard much about you.” Clemens looked at me and made a comical grimace. “I understand that you were acquainted with Artemis Ward.”

A smile spread across the humorist’s face.

“Ah yes, he was quite an inspiration to me. I saw him give a lecture in Virginia City once and laughed my head nearly clean off!”

“He’s a powerful funny man,” agreed Lincoln with a grin.

“He told me that you were a great admirer of his,” Clemens replied.

“Yes, I quite enjoyed his books. They were rather a tonic for me during our country’s great trouble.”

“I can’t imagine what you must have gone through,” I said. Lincoln nodded gravely.

“It was a fearful strain on me, true enough” he sighed. “If I couldn’t have laughed once and a while, I would’ve died…” An awkward silence fell as Clemens and I looked at each other. Lincoln interpreted the silence correctly. “Well,” he said, smiling, “at least I would have died in a different, and less dramatic, form.”

“I take it you don’t mind mention of your, um…” I trailed off.

“…Of my assassination?” Lincoln shook his head. “No, I don’t mind it. Although,” he continued with a sly grin and rubbing the back of his head, “the topic does tend to give me a headache.” Clemens rolled his eyes as Lincoln let out a bark of laughter.

“Mr. Lincoln,” said Clemens disgustedly, “that was a terrible joke…and I resent the fact that you came up with it before I did.”

Grabbing my notebook and pen from my writing desk, I moved to another chair and sat. Lincoln returned to the armchair, Clemens took a seat at my ever-cluttered desk.

“Oh, I nearly forgot,” I said to Clemens, “would you like something to drink?”

“I’m content for now. Although, I wouldn’t mind taking you up on that offer of a cigar.”

“Coming right up,” I said, reaching up to a shelf for my box of cigars.

“You don’t mind if I smoke, do you Mr. President?” inquired Clemens as he received his cigar. Lincoln shook his head.

“I wouldn’t deny you the pleasure of your vice.”

Clemens produced a match, lit his cigar, and puffed on it contentedly.

“It’s probably not the best of habits to hold on to,” said Clemens. He blew a cloud of smoke, and then added, “Still, I haven’t got a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices.”

Lincoln chuckled.

“That reminds me,” said the President, “of the time I was on a stagecoach to Washington. This was during my brief career as a congressman. There was this rough looking fellow sitting next to me who offered me a ‘CEE-gar,’ as he called it. Well, I told him that I didn’t smoke; that I really had no vices to speak of. He didn’t say anything for a while. At last, he grunted and said to me: ‘It’s been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.’ ”

It was Clemens’ turn to chuckle. He released another plume of smoke.

“When I was a youth,” Clemens began, “I used to take all kinds of pledges. I’d do my very best to keep them, but I never could.” He shook his head in mock sadness. “Once, I vowed to smoke only one cigar a day, but my desire persecuted me so badly that within the week I found myself hunting for larger and larger cigars to smoke. Within a month, my cigars had grown to such proportions that I could have used them as a crutch…so to speak. Well, it seemed to me that a one cigar limit was no real help to a person, so I dropped the pledge on its head and, well, resumed my liberty.” He grinned and puffed while Lincoln and I laughed.

“I’m sorry to backtrack,” I said to Clemens, “but I’m curious to know how you and Artemis Ward met. I assume that wasn’t his real name.” Clemens grinned mischievously.

“Ah yes, we scribbler of lies love to hide behind our nom de plume, don’t we?”

“Would you prefer that we address you as Mr. Twain?” Clemens waved a languid hand.

“I answer to either name. Sam was good enough for my mother, but no matter. Now where were we?”

I repeated my inquiry.

“Well,” he drawled slowly, “as I said before, I saw Artemis, Charles Browne if you wish to know his Christian name, give a lecture in Virginia City, and I loved it! I was inspired by it! So after the lecture I introduced myself, and heaped a wagon load of praise upon his head. He seemed to like that, so I then offered to show him the town and he agreed. Our first stop was the saloon where we sampled the beverages. Four hours later, we were as drunk as skunks.” He paused meditatively, and drew on his cigar.

“Then what happened?” I asked. He shook his head.

“Can’t remember,” he said flatly.

Lincoln howled with laughter. Clemens gave a comical shrug. “I honestly don’t recall anything we did after that, although we were informed the next morning by some citizens that we did end up seeing Virginia City. Apparently, in our state of inebriation, I led the great Artemis Ward on a rooftop tour of the town.”

Lincoln was laughing, slapping his thigh, and wiping the tears that were coursing down his craggy cheeks.

“And then what happened?” I asked, choking on my own laughter.

“The town constable came out and threatened to blast us off with a shotgun filled with rock salt!”

At that, Lincoln doubled over in his chair and was gasping for air. I was slumped back on my seat clutching the stitch in my side. Clemens was grinning broadly, pleased at his audience’s reaction.

“Now, this was the story that was told to me by some of the, ahem, so-called, trustworthy citizens of Virginia City. For all I know, they were just stringing me along. I wouldn’t put it passed them.”

It was a while before we regained our composure. I heard a knock at the front door. I left Lincoln and Clemens chatting amiably while I went to open it.

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Fast Food Fairy Tale, Part Two


Disclaimer: As the title implies, fast food will be involved (health food nuts, you have been warned!). Many restaurant franchises are personified as characters in this story; some are good guys and some are bad. If you happened to be employed by any of these chains, please know that your character’s role is not a reflection upon the quality of your employer. In short, this is just a silly little story that I have been writing for the amusement of friends-try not to take it too seriously…and please don’t sue me…

~

Fast Food Fairy Tale, Part Two

By

Steven Dexheimer

~Chapter Five: The Ambassador and the Sliders~

There were many other fun things to do at the White Castle for the young Wendy. Among her favorite activities was to slide down the wide banisters of the castle’s large marble stairway which led up to the throne room. She was often seen sailing down the banisters, which she called her “sliders.” However, this game was put to an immediate end on the day she over-slid her slider and crashed into the royal ambassador of the island of Quiznos. The ambassador and his entourage had arrived at Dryvthru that day, having sailed many days in the most agreeable weather. As the routine busyness of his job usually prevented him from spending much time in the outdoors, the Ambassador reveled in the sunshine and sea air, spending as much time out on deck as possible. However, his normally pallid skin was unaccustomed to so much sunlight. By the time his ship pulled into the Port of Plees-Comagin, his exposed skin had taken on a dusty mauve color. When he finally arrived at the White Castle, his skin hue had deepened to amber suede. Wincing in pain, the Ambassador entered the castle and made his way to the marble staircase just as a small girl, red pigtails flying, launched herself off the banister. The anguished cry of the Ambassador could be heard throughout the castle. Wendy was sympathetic. She tended to burn easily too.

“Mmmmm,” murmured Wendy, as she knelt beside the writhing Ambassador, gently patting his ever-reddening face, “toasty.” She would have imparted more words of comfort, but just then she was yanked up by one of the palace guard and dragged into the throne room.

“We’ll have no more of this!” Thundered the King as he paced in front of Wendy. Normally an even-tempered man, Wendy was stunned by the outburst. “Knocking over the Ambassador to Quiznos will not help us in our treaty re-negotiations. It’s important that we maintain friendly relations with his island. Let us hope that he is a forgiving man. In the meantime, I forbid you from sliding down anymore banisters!

“No more sliders?” Wendy was aghast. She had never been forbidden from doing anything.

“No more sliders,” confirmed the King.

“But…but…” stammered Wendy, “sliders are what I crave!”

“What you…crave?”

“Well…” Wendy was unsure just how to convey to the King the thrill she got from the sliders. Life wasn’t always fun at the castle, and for an imaginative and energetic girl, the little bits of excitement were what she needed, or in her words, craved. Although she couldn’t quite express herself in words, the Burger King seemed to understand what she felt. To be perfectly honest, there were times that the King himself would’ve have liked to have taken a ride down one of the banisters. After a silent moment, the King sighed and sat down on his throne.

“I think what you need, Wendy,” spoke the King, “is an adventure.”

“An adventure? Me?” Wendy hadn’t expected this response.

“I don’t mean anything dangerous, of course. But there is a whole kingdom to explore. And you are well known among the people, so no one would dare lay a threatening hand on you. To do so will bring the wrath of the kingdom down upon them.”

“But…my Uncle. He would never agree to let me go off on an adventure, especially by myself.”

“I will speak to your Uncle,” the King said with a small smile, “and I would not have you travel alone. Do you think I’m mad? The Queen would lock me in a freezer.” At this, the King clapped his hands and into the throne room stepped Baskin and Robin.

~Chapter Six: The First Adventure~

Early the next morning, Wendy along with her two escorts set out from the White Castle. Wendy had never left the castle grounds before, and as she stepped through the large gateway and down the drawbridge, she felt a thrill of excitement. What was out there? She had seen all sorts of people come to the castle: nobles and government officials, farmers and peasants, soldiers and scholars. The variety of people fascinated her and now she had a chance to see where they came from and what they did.

Not more than a mile beyond the castle walls laid the bustling little village of Holdermayo. As it happened to be a market day, the streets of the village were bustling with buyers and sellers. Wendy gazed wide-eyed as she passed by crowded stalls filled with fruits and vegetables, the butcher’s counter where a dozen people were shouting out various orders, and a tinker’s wagon where a number of pots, pans, and other utensils were set out on display. Weaving in and out of the crowds were little children running, laughing and playing. Wendy longed to join in on the fun. Baskin must have sensed this desire because she gently placed her hand on Wendy’s shoulder.

“Not today, Miss Wendy,” she said with a serene smile. “It’s much too crowded here and you could be easily lost.”

“There is still a great deal to see,” added Robin. “We’ve only just begun our adventure.”

The three continued to follow the high street through the village, Wendy eagerly drinking in her surroundings. Soon the crowds began to thin, and the shops and stalls gave way to small cottages where families were hard at work performing chores and tending small gardens. Occasionally, someone would look up from their work and glance at the travelers. Wendy always smiled and waved. Some returned her greeting, other continued to stare bemused, unsure of what to make of the pint-sized redhead.

Eventually, the rows of cottages dwindled and stopped and the land opened up to farmland and pastures. Before the three travelers, the dirt road seemed to roll on endlessly, sliding over hills, disappearing from view, then reemerging at the crest of a farther hill. The land on either side of the road, patch-worked in golds and greens also spread out in a vast carpeting of plant life. Even the sky seemed bigger. Wendy was utterly astonished at the scene.

“It’s all so…big.” Never in her life had Wendy fathomed that there was so much space anywhere in the world. “Is this ALL part of the kingdom?”

“It is,” replied Robin. “As far as the eye can see and beyond.”

“This is where most of the kingdom’s food comes from,” said Baskin. “Everything that we make at the White Castle, the burgers, the ice cream, many of the ingredients come from these farms and ranches.” This information shook Wendy’s worldview. Due to her fairly sheltered life, she had always considered the White Castle to be the center of the universe. Everyone came to the castle; everyone sought an audience with the Burger King or the Dairy Queen. Important things were done at the castle. Wendy thought that if the castle didn’t exist or the royal couple weren’t around, the world simply wouldn’t be able to function. She had never once considered that the residents of the White Castle relied on others in the kingdom as much as the kingdom relied on the White Castle. It was a profound and humbling thought for the girl. She had always considered herself clever for her age. Now she wondered just how much she DIDN’T know.

“Are you all right?” Asked Baskin. “You’re awfully quiet.”

“Quite unusual for you, I must say,” Robin said with a wink. Before Wendy could reply, the sound of barking erupted from a nearby wheat field, followed by indistinct shouting. From the road, Wendy could clearly see a disturbance in the wheat as whom- or whatever, was causing the noise moved steadily through the grain towards the three travelers. The barking continued until suddenly from the field burst the funniest little dog that Wendy had ever seen. It was small and long in shape, with floppy ears, and a long thin tail. The top portion of the dog’s short fur had a reddish tint to it, while its bottom half was more blonde in color. The dog spotted Wendy, Baskin, and Robin and happily trotted toward them, tongue lolling casually out the side of its mouth. If she didn’t know any better, Wendy could have sworn that they were being approached by a four-legged hot dog. No sooner had the dog joined the travelers when a ragged-looking boy crashed out of the field and onto the road.

“Sonic!” He yelled, scrambling up and pulling on his floppy hat which had fallen off. “What are ya doin’ runnin’ off like that? Ya crazy…” It was then that he noticed Wendy and her companions. “Oh,” he said, stopping short. “Hello.”

“Hi,” Wendy replied as she crouched down to pet the dog. The dog for his part panted cheerfully, his tail whipping frantically back and forth. “You’ve sure got a friendly dog.”

The boy grinned.

“Oh, yeah. Sonic loves everybody. He probably heard ya comin’ and dashed off looking for a free pat on the head. Not that he needs it.” The boy dropped to one knee and gave a little whistle. Sonic returned to the boy with the same enthusiasm that he showed to Wendy.

“His name is Sonic?” Wendy said, standing up and brushing off her dress. “That’s a funny name for a dog.” Baskin made a shushing noise and Wendy glanced up at the disapproving look she was being given. “Well…” she stammered, “it is.” The boy merely laughed.

“I suppose it is a bit funny soundin’, but Sonic here is a funny sort of dog. One of a kind, I’d wager.”

“What kind of dog is it?” Asked Wendy. “I’ve never seen one like him.”

“Ol’ Sonic is a pure bred Coney Dog,” replied the boy, giving Sonic’s blonde belly a rub. “As far as I know, the shire I come from is the only place that has ‘em.”

“And what might your name be, young sir?” Asked Robin.

“Me? Oh, they call me Portillo, Ma’am,” the boy said, standing and removing his floppy hat.

“Portillo?” Piped Wendy. “That’s a funny na…mmrrpphh!”

“We are pleased to meet you, Portillo,” said Baskin, removing her hand from Wendy’s mouth. “Aren’t we, Wendy?” Wendy nodded grumpily.

~

“What brings you to this part of the kingdom?” Robin asked Portillo as the now four travelers continued down the road. Sonic trotted ahead of the group examining fascinating new smells.

“Mostly to seek my fortune,” Portillo replied. “I come from a poor family. My folks couldn’t afford to have me educated, and there were no jobs to be had where I lived. So me and Sonic set out a couple of weeks ago.”

“What are you hoping to find on your journey?” Baskin inquired. Portillo shrugged.

“I’d like to open up my own restaurant someday, so maybe if I can find an apprenticeship somewhere that will train me in art of restauranting, that would be good. But for now,” Portillo grinned, “I wouldn’t mind finding myself an adventure or two.”

“That’s what we’re looking for!” Wendy said excitedly.

“Is that right? And where do you three hail from?”

“The White Castle,” responded Wendy. “I’m Wendy, and this Baskin and Robin.”

“Baskin and Robin,” Portillo said in awe, “I love your ice cream!” The two women smiled serenely.

“I invented the Frosty!” piped Wendy, not wanting to be left out.

“What’s a Frosty?” asked Portillo.

“Let’s go find an adventure, shall we?” Baskin said hurriedly, before Wendy could respond.

~

It was dusk when the weary travelers found themselves standing alongside a split rail fence which bordered a large farm.

“Perhaps we can find a place to stay the night here,” suggested Baskin, looking at the small farm house.

“Maybe some supper too,” added Portillo. “I’m starved.” Just then, a figure came bustling out of a nearby barn, a pail in each hand. He was a strange-looking figure; tall and rail-thin with long, lanky hair. His clothing was disheveled, dirty, and too small for his frame. When the man turned to look upon the travelers, Wendy also noted the large, protruding, front teeth and slightly crossed eyes. With a goofy grin, the man loped over to the fence. Wendy stifled a giggle and Robin shot her a warning look.

“Evenin,’ can I he’p you?” Drawled the buck-toothed man.

“Yes,” said Baskin. “My companions and I are looking for a place to spend the night and to perhaps find a meal. Would you be able to accommodate us? If not, perhaps you know of another place we can try.” The man put down his pails and with one hand, rumpled his hair absent-mindedly.

“Gee, I dunno. Reckon you’re gonna haveta talk ta Mr. McDonald. He owns this here farm. Maybe he can ac…acom…acco…domate ya.” He turned toward the farm house and yelled, “Mr. McDonaaaaaald! There’s folks wantin’ ta see ya!” A few moments later, the farm house door opened and out stepped a large man with bright red, curly hair which clashed terribly with the bright yellow overalls and the red and white striped shirt that he was wearing.

“That you doin’ all that yellin,’ Jimmy John?” said the man with a jovial grin.

“Yes sir, it’s me,” replied Jimmy John. “There’s folks wantin’ ta…”

“Aye, lad, aye. I heerd you the first time.” He strode over to the group. He was a pleasant-looking man despite his unfortunate taste in clothing. Although his belly tended to bulge, he gave the impression of strength, no doubt developed by years of hard farm labor.

“The name’s Ronny McDonald,” said the farmer, leaning casually on the fence.

“And I’m Jimmy John!” added Jimmy John proudly.

“I think they already know that, boyo. Now,” McDonald said as he turned his attention back to the travelers. “What can I do for you lot?”

“Please sir,” Baskin spoke, “we’re looking for a place to spend the night, and perhaps find a meal as well.”

“Well lass, you’ve come to the right place. You won’t find any food better than McDonald’s, and that’s the truth. Unfortunately, there’s not enough room for all of you to sleep in the farm house, but the barn is clean and the weather has been pleasant of late. It’ll make for a comfortable night’s rest to be sure.”

“I don’t mind spending the night in the barn if that helps.” A young man, tall, muscular, clean-shaven, and red-headed like the farmer, had come from around the farm house. McDonald waved the man over with a grin.

“This soul of generosity is my son, Angus.”

“Friends call me ‘Big Mac,’” said the young man with a smile as he ambled toward the group.

“Hi Big Mac,” said Wendy.

“Hello to you, small fry,” Big Mac said with a laugh. “And who might you be?”

“I’m Wendy,” said Wendy. “And this,” continued the girl, gesturing to each person, “is Baskin, Robin, Portillo and his dog Sonic.”

“And I’m Jimmy John,” said Jimmy John. McDonald let out a sigh.

“You know, Jimmy lad,” said McDonald, putting an arm around his farm hand and tapping one of the pails with the toe of his big red boot, “I think I hear the chickens a’callin’ you. They’re wonderin’ where you got to.”

“What?” Jimmy said confusedly.

McDonald leaned forward and whispered, “The hens aren’t goin’ to feed themselves, now are they?” The farmer looked pointedly at the pails.

“Oh right!” Jimmy quickly snatched up the pails. “I got to feed the chickens!” And with that, he hurried off.

“Jimmy may not be the brightest star in the sky,” said McDonald, shaking his head and laughing, “but he does his job well.”

“He gets about twice as much work done as the both of us put together,” said Big Mac. “He’s freaky fast.”

“Aye,” added McDonald, “but freaky good.”

~

“So what brings you to our little piece of heaven?” asked McDonald, pushing away his empty dinner plate. The meal had been burgers and fries. Although Wendy preferred the grilled meat that the Burger King insisted on, McDonald’s burgers did have a unique quality to it. What Wendy enjoyed the most were the fries.

“They’re homemade,” Big Mac stated proudly as he watched Wendy shoveling several fries into her mouth. “We even grow our own potatoes. In fact, that’s our main crop. People come from all over the kingdom to buy from us.”

“So, how are you likin’ them fries, Wendy lass?” inquired McDonald with a twinkle in his eye. He had noticed how much the girl had eaten.

“Mrrrmmphh,” replied Wendy, her mouth crammed full.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” chided Baskin. Wendy nodded, chewing quickly, then swallowing.

“Well?” asked McDonald, grinning. Wendy smiled and reached for more fries.

“I’m lovin’ it!”

It was agreed that Wendy, Baskin, and Robin would stay in the farmhouse, while Portillo, Big Mac, and Sonic would spend the night in the barn. As McDonald had said, the weather proved to be pleasant. The hay was clean and comfortable and soon the barn’s occupants were fast asleep. No one heard the approach of the masked stranger as he quietly made his way to the farm house.

He crept to the back door and gently turned the knob. The door, unlocked, swung open, just as the stranger knew it would. He had been watching the farm for a number of weeks now and had carefully noted the comings and goings of its residents. Although he had been a bit surprised by the arrival of the visitors, he had decided that they would pose no threat to his plans. He would do it tonight.
It didn’t have to be this way, the stranger mused a little ruefully. It was just that people couldn’t seem to take him seriously. He had the talent and ambition to be one of the finest chefs in Dryvthru. It was his unfortunate speech impediment, however, that people only seemed to notice. In his struggle to gain capital to start up his first restaurant, he was laughed away by one investor after another. Now in desperation and bitterness, he turned to crime, stealing anything of value in order to sell on the black market. If everything went according to plan tonight, the stranger determined, McDonald’s farm would provide his biggest windfall yet. He might even make enough money to finally start his own restaurant.

For years, there had been a persistent rumor among restaurateurs that Ronny McDonald possessed a secret ingredient that he added to his burgers and fries, causing those who consumed them to form a mild addiction to the food. This apparently resulted in much repeat business for the farmer. Proof of such an ingredient had yet to surface, but the whispers continued. If it turned out that there was indeed a secret ingredient, there was no telling how much people would be willing to pay for it. So thought the masked stranger as he silently crossed the threshold and entered the kitchen. He began to carefully examine all the jars and bottles that lined the cabinets, all of them neatly labeled. Salt. Pepper. Cinnamon. Oregano. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. Growing frustrated, the stranger started to think that this might have been a wasted trip when his eyes lighted upon a bottle that was pushed toward the back of one of the cabinets. The stranger’s heart began to beat faster. This bottle didn’t have a label on it like all the others. And it looked as though the person who had used it last wanted it to be as inconspicuous as possible. This was it, the stranger thought excitedly as he took a step forward to claim his prize.

“Yaaah!” Suddenly the stranger’s feet slipped out from under him and he crashed to the floor. His hand landed in something wet and sticky. In fact, it seemed that he had fallen in a large puddle of the unknown substance. He raised his dripping hand and cautiously sniffed it. Was that chocolate he smelled? Suddenly a lantern flared to life, momentarily blinding the stranger. He scrambled to his feet and as his eyes adjusted to the light, he saw a scowling little red-headed girl in a night dress, spattered from head to toe with the chocolaty liquid.

“Look what you did!” growled Wendy as McDonald, Baskin and Robin stumbled bleary-eyed into the kitchen.

“Wendy, what has happened?” Baskin asked in confused apprehension.

“Who is this man?” Robin blurted out almost simultaneously.

“Faith ‘n Begorrah! What’s happened to my kitchen?” McDonald bellowed, taking in the mess around him. “There’s melted chocolate ice cream everywhere!” Just then Big Mac burst through the open back door with Portillo and Sonic close behind.

“We heard a commotion,” said Big Mac, picking hay out of his tousled hair.

“I just wanted to make a Frosty,” Wendy fumed. “And this guy came in and splashed chocolate all over me.” All eyes turned to the masked man.

“Just what the devil do you think you’re playing at breaking into my house?” McDonald glowered menacingly. The stranger knew that there was no escape for him. However, he now had an audience, and a chance to justify his villainy. He would eloquently and boldly confess his plan and condemn those who had driven him to it. He would confront McDonald and his unethical use of his secret ingredient. But when he opened his mouth, it wasn’t the grand speech he envisioned that came out. To his mortification, his speech impediment reared its ugly head.

“Robble robble,” blurted the Hamburglar miserably.

Never Let a Space Alien Fix Your Car


By Steven Dexheimer

Knottog let out a sigh of relief as his spacecraft landed gently in an uninhabited forest clearing. It had been a long journey from his home planet of Pertia. Correction, the weary traveler thought, his former home planet. Earth would be his new home now. Since childhood, Knottog had dreamed of traveling to another planet. Now he was here at last. The alien opened the ship’s outer hatch slowly, unsure of how his body would react to an oxygen-rich atmosphere. However, not only did he find the air breathable, it was also quite to his liking. After taking in a deep breath, Knottog ducked back inside the ship in order to change into his Earthling clothes.

~

Earl turned the ignition key again. The truck engine made a few feeble whirring sounds, then shuttered to a halt. With an exasperated sigh, Earl got out and poked his head under the raised hood once more. His eyes scanned the inert engine, looking for anything out of place or broken, but whatever was wrong with it seemed to be beyond his knowledge to fix. He straightened and glanced at the rundown little gas station he had pulled into ten minutes before. The sign, hung crookedly on the door, said “We’re Closed.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and checked it. It informed Earl that he was still out of service range. Shoving the phone back into his pocket, the luckless man considered his options. It was then that he heard a loud rustling coming from the tangle of trees across the road. From the amount of noise being made, Earl assumed that it was a deer trying to make its way out of the woods. Needless to say, he was surprised when a man burst from the tree line instead. This event wouldn’t have been overly strange to him except for the fact that the man was wearing a business suit…and his hair was green. Earl stared as the man casually brushed himself off, spotted him, smiled, and then walked across the road to join him.

“Hello,” said the stranger cheerily. “How are you today?”

“Hey,” said Earl, a little dubiously. “I’m…fine.”

“That is good to hear.”

“Uh-huh.” Earl shifted nervously.

“I was wondering,” continued the man, “if you might be able to drive me to the nearest town in your vehicle.”

“Ah no, I’m afraid I can’t. My, uh, vehicle broke down.” Earl gestured to the open hood. The strange man nodded.

“I see, and you are unable to make the necessary repairs?”

“Yeah, that’s about the size of it. I could sure use an expert right about now.”

~

Knottog’s face brightened. What an extraordinary coincidence! To his knowledge, no one from his former planet had ever made contact with Earth before. Yet here he was with an Earthling who had a specific need for a Pertian.

“You are in luck, sir, for I am one.” The man with the truck let out a sigh of relief.

“You’re an expert? Oh, thank goodness! Could you have a look at my engine? If you can fix it, I’ll be happy to drive you anywhere.” Knottog nodded and made his way over to the engine. He studied the machinery and frowned slightly. He knew his way around a space ship’s engine, but this looked nothing like it. Meanwhile the man had returned to the driver’s seat.

“Tell me when to turn the key!” He called out. Knottog began to fiddle with the engine; disconnecting a wire here, rerouting a belt there, and occasionally removing pieces that didn’t seem like they belonged. Finally, Knottog was satisfied. He peered around the hood and gave a wave to the man, who turned the key.

The engine exploded.

When the smoke cleared, Knottog was still standing in front of the engine, thoroughly singed, and with a look of mild surprise on his blackened face.

“I did not expect that to happen,” he said, calmly putting out the fire that was consuming his tie.

“What did you do?!” The man with the truck was furious.He stalked over to inspect what was left of his engine. “You idiot!” He bellowed. “I thought you said you were an expert!”

“I am an Ex-Pert,” said Knottog, rather indignantly.

Heaven


By Steven Dexheimer

What will Heaven be like? Will there be pearly gates, mansions and streets of gold? Winged angels strumming on their harps? An endless banquet mingled with eternal singing of God’s praise? For the multitude of tongues, tribes, and nations, will Heaven be a “one size fits all” place? Or will each of the redeemed find Heaven uniquely suited to them? Will the people, places, and things cherished by us find their way into Paradise as well?
I died at 6:27 on the evening of the 8th. From my vantage point, the transition from life to afterlife was instantaneous. I didn’t see a bright light or hear departed loved ones calling me onward. One moment I was in my car, the next moment, I found myself standing in a grassy plain under a cloudless blue sky. The occasional tree dotted the landscape, and in the absolute stillness, I could hear a gentle breeze blowing through the leaves and tall grass.

I knew I was dead. I couldn’t remember exactly how my life on Earth came to an end, but I knew, I felt, I sensed the change. I checked my body, and found nothing noticeably different about it. Even my clothing was the same as it had been when I dressed that morning. Morning. Was it just this morning? I felt as though I had been standing amidst this sea of grass for an eternity, and yet I had only become conscious mere moments ago.

So, was this Heaven? The scene around me was peaceful, but hardly what I had expected the afterlife to be. Feeling an unexplainable urge to move, I began to walk forward, wading through the idyllic fields of green. It wasn’t long (or maybe it was) before I found myself traveling up a small hill. Upon reaching the top, I spotted a dirt road in the near distance. Partially hidden by the grass, the road swept around the hill, gradually turned, and began following a straight course. It then climbed up a larger hill where it became lost to view. Instinctively, I looked up at the sky to determine by the sun’s position which direction the road went. It was then I noticed that there was no sun to be seen. Everything around me was bathed in daylight, yet there seemed to be no source for this light.

I descended the small hill and came to the road. Unsure of what to do, I started following the path as it guided me to the large hill. Coming to the crest, I was able to look down and saw that the road continued through a gently sloping valley and onward toward the horizon. At the bottom of the hill, I saw that there was a figure standing by the side of the road. Although, I was still too far to pick up details, I could tell that it was a man, bearded and robed in white. As I came down the hill, I saw that the man was looking at me expectantly, waiting. As I approached, I saw that the man was near to my height with broad shoulders. His beard and hair were long and gray, yet his appearance seemed almost youthful. Not knowing how to address the stranger, I gave a slight bow and offered greetings. Through his tangle of a beard, he produced a smile and a nod.

“Have you been waiting for me?” I asked.

“I have,” came his reply. His voice was deep, and though he spoke in a normal tone, his voice seemed to carry across the endless miles.

“Have you been waiting long?”

“Yes…and no. There is no sense of time here as there is on Earth. I could have been waiting for only a minute or for a thousand years. It’s all the same in this place.”

“Is this Heaven?” I asked.

“No,” the man smiled, “merely the final journey. I am to guide you to your place of rest.” With a gesture, the man and I began to follow the road.

“Do you accompany everyone who dies?” I inquired. The man nodded.

“Everyone. You see, no one can enter Heaven without first passing the Gatekeeper.”

“And who is this Gatekeeper?” I asked with some apprehension. Perhaps Heaven wouldn’t be quite so easy to enter. Again, the man smiled, and reaching inside his robes, he withdrew a large ring full of keys.

“I am.”

I stared at the man, then at the keys, and then back at the man.

“Those are the keys to the Gates of Heaven?” I asked, amazed. They looked like something a janitor might wear on his belt.

“These? No,” he chuckled, returning the keys to within his robes. “These are merely symbolic. “However, I have been entrusted with the keys to the Kingdom by Christ himself.” Comprehension suddenly dawned on me and I stopped in my tracks.

“Then…you are Peter?”He nodded, gestured toward the path, and we began to walk. We traveled in silence for a time before I spoke again.

“I didn’t expect the afterlife to be like this,” I said, waving an arm to indicate the current scenery.

“What did you expect?” Peter replied. “Clouds? Pearly gates? Angels with harps?”

“I…uh, well, ahh…” I stammered uncomfortably. It was exactly what I had expected. Peter smiled.

“Most people who pass through have similar ideas of what heaven is like,” Peter said. “And they are not entirely wrong.”

“So, what is heaven like?” I asked.

“You will see soon enough.”

After an indeterminate amount of time, I noticed that we were slowly approaching a large, long building set off to the left of the path. It had an impressive glass facade with a sprawling concrete plaza in front of the building’s many doors. If I hadn’t known any better, I could have sworn that it looked a lot like…

“Is that a…movie theater?” Peter nodded but didn’t speak or slow his pace.

“What’s a movie theater doing here?”

“You will soon find out. This is where I am to take you.”

“You’re taking me to the movies?” I looked to see if Peter was joking, but his face was set and serious. “I don’t understand,” I continued. “Why do you need to take me to a movie theater?”

“You must view the film before you can continue on your journey.”

“Film? What film?” I said as we made our way to the theater’s entrance. “Is this some sort of an orientation film?”

“Something like that,” said Peter with an air of solemnity. “It is required of all people that they watch this film.” He opened one of the doors and motioned for me to enter. Confused, I cautiously stepped into the theater. Instead of seeing a lobby, ticket counter or concessions, I was in a large theater, filled with empty seats and facing the largest screen I had even seen. I looked back at Peter who was still standing outside holding open the door.

“Aren’t…aren’t you coming in with me?” A flash of sadness crossed his face as he shook his head.

“Everyone must see this film alone. Believe me, you will prefer it that way.” A queasy feeling began to churn my stomach. What was going on here?

“You’ve seen this film too?” Peter grimaced and nodded.

“I have.” He began to close the door.

“Wait!” I cried. “What is this film?” The queasy feeling was now radiating throughout my body, and I felt a cold sweat beginning to bead on my forehead. What was I in for?

“Life,” Peter said simply. “Your life.” And with that he closed the door, leaving me in the gloom of the dimly lit theater.

With a sense of dread, I slipped into one of the back row seats, and waited. I still wasn’t sure of what was coming. Was I going to be watching old home movies of myself? Why was this film a requirement? What could be so bad that Peter wouldn’t enter the theater with me? I was soon to find out. Images began to flicker on the large screen. Without any introduction, the film immediately seemed to focus on a small boy at a long ago birthday party being held in a back yard. Around the boy, other children wearing party hats were frolicking around the yard. Adults were sitting around on lawn chairs, munching on pieces of cake and talking. The little boy, however, seemed oblivious to his surroundings as he seemed to zero in on another boy who looked to be a few years younger. The older boy strode up to the younger and, unprovoked, began to taunt him. The words of the tormentor echoed throughout the theater in surround-sound quality. I cringed as the teasing continued, and as the younger boy starting crying, I put my face into my hands, ashamed. I heard a thump and I looked up to see the crying boy sprawled on the ground with the older boy standing over him, laughing. This was an early memory of mine, vague at best. The events had never really pricked my conscience in the past. But watching it unfold on screen brought all the sights, sounds, and feelings back vividly and horribly. Once again, I was the mean boy, picking on his little brother.

Things went downhill from there.

The film of my life continued to roll on relentlessly, highlighting every wrong I had ever committed. Nothing was left out; every white lie, every curse word, every impure thought was mixed in with larger transgressions. I saw and felt the hurt that I caused to people around me. Each painful episode caused me to sink lower and lower in my seat, the tears streaming unchecked down my face. I wanted to look away, to get up and leave, to run screaming from the theater, but my muscles didn’t seem to be working. Frozen in shock, I continued to sit and watch.
Before I entered the theater, I considered myself to be a good Christian. Not perfect, obviously, but someone who tried to live a righteous life. Now, as I was being confronted with the results of my sin nature, I felt…filthy. Even with the gift of salvation, I wondered how I could ever be let into heaven. What must God think of me? I couldn’t help but think.

After what seemed like hours or days or years, the film came mercifully to an end. Almost as if I was released from an invisible grip, I slipped completely out of my chair, and crumpled to the floor; exhausted, mortified, crushed. I laid there for some time, curled up in a ball and weeping uncontrollably. Peter was right. Viewing the film was best done alone. But I wasn’t alone.

“I’m sorry you had to see that,” said a male voice from the front of the theater. My head shot up to see who had spoken. Eyes blurry from the tears, I could make out a white-robed figure walking up the dimly-lit aisle towards me. At first, I thought it was Peter, but the voice was different. It was calm and soothing. Like a healing balm, it worked its way to my twisted soul, easing the unbearable ache that I felt. Reaching me, the man held out a hand. “Here, take this,” he said as he placed a white cloth in my hand. “Wipe your face with it.” I did as instructed. I thought the cloth was a handkerchief or something similar, but when I touched my face with it, it gave off sensations of both coolness and warmth that soothed my face and erased the tears. It also seemed to fill me with enough strength to sit up. When I had finished with the cloth, I was able to see the man clearly. His hair and beard were both dark brown in color, almost black. His complexion was olive-skinned, his features distinctly Middle Eastern. I guessed that the man was about my age, somewhere in his 30s. His face was the epitome of tenderness. Wordless, I handed back the cloth. The man reached out to take it, and as he did, I caught sight of his wrist, which bore an ugly circular scar.

“It’s…it’s You,” was all I could get out. He smiled at me and nodded.

“I AM,” he replied. I stared at him with a mixture of awe and utter humiliation Yet, I couldn’t meet His eyes. Throughout my mortal life, I had always anticipated my first face-to-face meeting with the Savior. However, I had never expected this. To encounter Him right after being pulverized by a lifetime of wrongdoings; at this point, He was the last person I wanted to see.

“You…saw all that,” I said, gesturing feebly to the screen. It was a stupid question. Of course He had seen it. What’s more, He had been there when it all happened originally. I felt sick. I rested my elbows on my knees and buried my face in my hands. A verse from the Book of Isaiah floated into my mind at that moment: “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” How appropriate, I thought wryly.

“Why, Lord?” I mumbled through my hands. “Why did I have to relive all that? I thought You forgave me of my sins.”

“I did,” the Lord replied, “which is why you are here.” I looked up as his swept an arm around, indicated not just the theater, but all of heaven itself. “However, all people, no matter how righteous, must face judgment before going on. After all, there were times in your life when you willingly chose to disobey the will of My Father. But because you believed in Me, you do not have to face punishment. This,” He pointed to the screen, “what you saw here, is the final reminder that you did not earn Heaven. It is through My Grace, that I give Heaven to you.”
Despite these words of affirmation, I still felt so…ashamed.

“Lord,” I blurted, “my whole life…I could have done more. I could have given more. I wasted so much time…I blew so many opportunities to…”

“Perhaps,” the Lord cut in. “But consider what you have done for Me. Consider those you helped in My Name. Consider the time and effort and money you did devote.” The Savior got to His feet. “No, you didn’t live a perfect life. But I saw how you strove for righteousness throughout your lifetime. I knew that you were devoted to serving the Father.” He then reached for my hands and helped me to my feet, and for the first time, I looked into the loving eyes of Jesus Christ. “And because of that,” he continued, putting an arm around me and leading me toward the theater’s exit, “I say to you: Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share in your Master’s happiness!”

Meeting of the Minds, Part One


Meeting of the Minds
by
Steven Dexheimer

Part One: The First Guest

For the eighteenth time in the space of a minute, I glanced at my watch and wondered in exasperation why time had chosen to slow down to a crawl. I absent-mindedly stared out of my front window and watched the autumn leaves falling and twirling in the breeze. Sighing, I turned from the window and wandered into my cozy little den, sat down in my favorite reading chair, and tried to relax.
My guests, three gentlemen of repute, wouldn’t be arriving for another half an hour.

In the days leading up to this meeting, my emotions had swung pendulum-like between excitement and nervousness. There was nothing to be nervous about I kept telling myself—just a few guys coming to my home to shoot the breeze while I took a few notes on what could be a career-making story. As an inspiring journalist, this interview was a plum.

Less than a minute later, I abandoned relaxing as a lost cause and was up again, pacing around the room, looking for something to keep me occupied. I pulled a book at random from my large and overflowing bookshelf, began to flip idly through the pages, and then slapped it shut—it was no good. My mind was brimming with questions that I wanted to ask my visitors. I looked forward to the stories that I knew they would inevitably tell.

My friends and co-workers doubted that I could pull off such a meeting of the minds. After all, these were no ordinary men that were coming over to spend the afternoon with me. Yet when I extended an invitation to each of my potential guests, they were eager to accept. Perhaps they were as excited about the prospect of meeting each other as I was.

There was a knock at my front door.

Here we go, I thought as I took a deep breath, trying to quell the butterflies in my stomach. I strode quickly down the hall to the front door, opened in, and ushered in Abraham Lincoln.

“Good afternoon,” he said, giving a slight bow. “Am I early?” He removed his stovepipe hat, which nearly brushed the top of my doorway.

“Oh, um, not at all, Mr. President,” I said, (even though he was). Receiving his firm handshake, I gestured to the coat rack beside the door. “May I take your coat and hat?” He thanked me, handed over his large black overcoat and hat which I hung up. “Thank you for coming, Mr. Lincoln. This is an honor, sir,” I said trying not to gush…and failing miserably. “I have always been a great admirer of yours.” Lincoln flushed slightly at the adulation.

“Well,” he drawled, “that’s mighty high praise for the common jackleg lawyer and president that I am, or was.”

“I think you underestimate yourself,” I replied, leading him toward the den.

“Still,” Lincoln continued, “I’d rather be viewed as common. Common people are the best in the world.” Then he said with smile and a wink, “that’s the reason the Lord made so many of us.”

We entered the den and I asked Lincoln if he would like any refreshments.

“Some water would suit me,” he said. As I poured out a glass of water from a decanter, Lincoln moved to the other end of the room and intently browsed my bookshelves, occasionally removing a volume and skimming the pages.
“You have quite a collection here,” Lincoln said as I handed him his drink. He took a sip, his eyes still fixed on the shelves. “You’ve got history, theology, philosophy, poetry…”

“If you find anything of interest, you are more than welcome to borrow it.” Lincoln’s glance moved from the shelves to me.

“That’s mighty generous of you,” he said, tracing his large finger across a row of books. “I’m mighty fond of books, as you may have noticed. Yes sir,” he murmured thoughtfully, “my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book that I ain’t read.” His finger stopped at a large book. He pulled it off the shelf and examined it; it was a biography of himself. His thin, worn, bearded face dominated the cover. Lincoln clucked his tongue and shook his head. “Not one of my better pictures,” he said wryly, “and that’s saying something.” He brought the tome with him, took a seat in a recliner, and crossed his long legs. “No one could fairly accuse me of vanity with a face like mine.” He pulled a pair of glasses from within his coat pocket, put them on, and idly began to flip through the pages, looking up a moment later. “It makes me feel like the ugly man who was walking through the woods one day. He came across a woman, heading in the opposite direction.

“‘Well, for land sake,’ she said, stopping, ‘you are the homeliest man I ever saw.’

“‘Yes, madam,’ said the man, ‘but I can’t help it.’

“‘No, I suppose not,’ she replied, ‘but you might try staying at home.’”

We both laughed; his chortle high and strong.

There was another knock at the front door. I excused myself and went to answer it.

Fast Food Fairy Tale, Part One


Disclaimer: As the title implies, fast food will be involved (health food nuts, you have been warned!). Many restaurant franchises are personified as characters in this story; some are good guys and some are bad. If you happened to be employed by any of these chains, please know that your character’s role is not a reflection upon the quality of your employer. In short, this is just a silly little story that I have been writing for the amusement of friends-try not to take it too seriously…and please don’t sue me…

~

Fast Food Fairy Tale
By
Steven Dexheimer

~Chapter One: The Burger King~

Once upon a time, (in a land that could only be dreamed up after eating a bad burrito before bed), there dwelt the highly caloric kingdom of Dryvthru. Perched upon the highest hill of the kingdom stood the mighty White Castle. It was there that the kingdom was ruled by the kind and powerful Burger King and his lovely wife the Dairy Queen. Though their reign was for the most part peaceful and prosperous, occasionally outside forces tried to invade Dryvthru. In fact, the Burger King had recently returned from a great battle against the wild forest-dwelling vegetarians of the west. It was a fierce struggle. The vegetarians screamed “Meat is murder” for three hours before the Burger King courageously brought out the portable grills and began to make Whoppers. At which point, the vegetarians dropped their tofu burgers and returned to the forest.

“Have it your way!” Bellowed the King to the retreating army.

~Chapter Two: The Dairy Queen~

The Dairy Queen was as sweet as the desserts she produced. Together with her trusted handmaidens Baskin and Robin, the kingdom was never short of ice cream and other frozen treats. But for all her sweetness, the Queen was also known for her cunning and cleverness. It was also rumored that she also possessed magical powers. This rumor began to circulate following the mysterious incident of TCBY.
TCBY was a new business that appeared in Dryvthru that began marketing yogurt as a dessert. When asked what the initials meant, the owner informed the curious that TCBY stood for “The Cingdom’s Best Yogurt.” Unfortunately, by the time the owner discovered that “Kingdom” didn’t actually start with a “C,” it was too late to change because the name was already trademarked. At first, TCBY was welcomed within the kingdom, and the Queen, though doubtful of the “yogurt-as-dessert” concept, accepted TCBY as a worthy competitor to the ice cream market. That is, until she discovered the true meaning behind the name of TCBY.

With the help of scholars, the Queen found that TCBY was actually a phrase derived from the ancient language of the Hellthnutt tribe. When roughly translated, the phrase read “The Dairy Queen will never figure out that we are trying to overthrow her ice cream business-Neener Neener!”

The Blizzard that occurred in Dryvthru was the worst in anyone’s memory, especially for the middle of July. Stranger still, the only thing to really suffer from the storm was the TCBY store which was buried to its roof in ice cream, and sprinkled with cookie crumbs and fragments of candy bars. The Dairy Queen never commented on the strange occurrence but many wondered if she if fact caused the Blizzard. Then there were others in the kingdom who believed that it was not the Queen who possessed magical powers, but the loyal Baskin and Robin instead. After all, how could it be explained that after years of coming up with new and delicious ice creams, the two handmaidens still admitted to having only 31 flavors available?

“I cannot figure it out,” said the Burger King one night after he the Queen had paid a visit to the kitchen where Baskin and Robin worked. “I cannot find one flavor missing from the original 31, and yet there seems to be ever more choices. I count the flavors myself, yet I always come up with 31. How can this be?”

The Queen merely smiled.

~Chapter Three: Carl, Jr.~

The Burger King and the Dairy Queen had a son by the name of Prince Carl, Jr. The son was the caramel-covered apple of his father’s eye. From his youth, Carl studied the secret arts of burger-making from the King. Upon reaching manhood, he was bequeathed a portion of the kingdom known as Hardeeshire where he established his own restaurant, naming it Carl, Jr.’s. Many throughout the land made the pilgrimage to Hardeeshire, (or as it would gradually become known over the course of time, “Hardees”). The people marveled at the way Carl, Jr. managed to successfully imitate his father’s near-magical way of making all the pickles on his burgers warm and mushy. It did make the burger-eating experience a bit messy, however, as the mushy pickles had a tendency to slide (with the help of one or more select condiments), sending the top half of the burger skidding off in one direction, and the bottom half in the other. The more fastidious restaurant patrons complained of the mess. But the Prince, who could turn a phrase as well as any educated man in the kingdom, liked to say:

“If it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face.”

~Chapter Four: Wendy~

And then there was Wendy. Orphaned at an early age, the precocious red-head was raised from her infancy by her Uncle, who was a valued culinary adviser to the King. Wendy grew up in the kitchens of the White Castle, watching the daily routine of burger-making. As she grew a little older, she particularly enjoyed spending time with a grandmotherly worker whose job it was to prepare the hamburger buns for the freshly grilled meat patties. Sitting on a high stool, Wendy would watch in fascination as the woman’s practiced hands separated the bun halves and added ketchup, pickles, onions, and other such ingredients. So efficient was the woman at getting the buns ready, that the grillmaster had a hard time keeping up.

“Where’s the beef?” the old woman would always yell to the harried griller while giving Wendy a friendly wink. Wendy loved the oft-repeated phrase so much that for a time her piping little voice could be heard all over the castle constantly demanding “Where’s the beef?” When this childlike chatter had crossed the line from cute to obnoxious, her Uncle suggested that she play the Quiet Game.

“Now that’s better,” he sighed contentedly as the competitive Wendy tried her best to win the game. It was the quietest three days that the castle had ever known.
Wendy also found favor with the Queen who would frequently invite the girl into the desert kitchen while she, Baskin and Robin worked on their treats. Wendy was permitted to work on her own desert ideas, provided that she didn’t make a mess. That last part was wishful thinking, but the Queen never chided Wendy even when she would find the girl covered head to toe in melted ice cream. After one particularly messy day, Wendy proudly presented the Queen with a cup full of her new desert creation.

“Oh my,” said the Queen, looking at the brown substance within. “It seems that you have invented, er…chocolate ice cream.”

“No,” replied Wendy, “this is different. I call it a Frosty!” The Queen dipped a spoon into the cup and tasted the contents.

“I’m fairly certain that’s chocolate ice cream,” the Queen said kindly. “Or perhaps it’s a chocolate malt…”

“It’s a Frosty,” Wendy said with some impatience.

“Look, my dear,” retorted the Queen, also growing impatient. “I am the Dairy Queen. I know chocolate ice cream when I taste it, and I tell you that you have just made…”

“…A Frosty!”

The Queen sighed.