Fast Food Fairy Tale, Part Nineteen


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…

~Chapter 26: Family Reunion~

Popeye stared at Colonel Sanders.

Colonel Sanders stared back.

“Pappy,” said Popeye evenly.

“Beauregard.”

“Pappy?” asked Prince Carl in some surprise as he was shaking hands with Asiago.

“Beauregard?” Asiago turned to Popeye with equal surprise.

Colonel Sanders cleared his throat uncomfortably and turned to the Prince.

“Ahem…Sire, may I introduce you…to my son.”

The Prince broke into a smile.

“So this is Beauregard,” he said, releasing Asiago’s grip and reaching out a hand to Popeye. “The Colonel has spoken of you often. I had hoped for a chance to meet you.”

“If it’sk all the same to yer Highness,” the sailor replied with a small bow, “I prefers to be called Popeye.”

Sanders rolled his eyes.

“You know,” the colonel spoke coolly, “your grandfather’s name was Beauregard…”

This time, it was Popeye’s turn to roll his squinty eyes.

“Not thisk again.”

“He was a good man, and you should be honored to share his name.”

“I means no diskrepect to grandpappy…”

“And I am sure,” sneered the colonel angrily, his face reddening, “that you meant no disrespect when you decided to run off to sea instead of remaining in the family business. Seven generations of Sanders’ building up the kingdom’s greatest poultry plantation!”

“I yam what I yam!”

“What does that even mean? That ridiculous way that you speak! It’s enough to…”

“I’m Popeye the Sailor Man!” bellowed his now irate son, with fists clenched, and his pipe beginning to rotate in his mouth. “I’m Popeye the Sailor Man!”

After this final outburst, there was an awkward silence, as both Popeye and Colonel Sanders huffed indignantly.

“Sooooo,” Asiago spoke up rather uncomfortably, “speaking of fathers, how is yours, Prince Carl?”

“That,” replied the Prince, grateful for the shift in conversation, “is an excellent question. Unfortunately, I do not have an answer.” A worried look crossed his face. “I have not heard from anyone since he left the White Castle. He and his army should have been here by now.”

“Perhaps,” said Colonel Sanders, regaining his composure, “he has been temporarily detained.”

“But by what,” inquired Prince Carl, “or by whom? And why hasn’t he sent anyone to inform us?”

“Perhaps we should send our own scouts to track them down,” Asiago offered.

“And in the meantime,” Sanders added, smiling for the first time since confronting his wayward son, “now that our ranks have swelled considerably, it might be time to rethink our battle plans.”

“Excellent ideas,” said the Prince. He turned to Asiago. “As it was your suggestion, I will leave you in charge of arranging a scouting party.”

The captain nodded.

“Then I will begin revising our strategy at once,” said Sanders with a bow, and turned to go.

“Naturally, Popeye will join you,” Prince Carl said in a seemingly off-handed way.
Sanders stopped in his tracks, bemused.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I think this would be an excellent father and son project for you two,” the Prince said, spreading his arms out toward the gaping men, a look of mock innocence upon his face. “I’m sure you have a lot to catch up on as well.”

“Sire,” Colonel Sanders began gravely, “I hardly think this is the time…”

“Disgusticating!” Blurted the fuming Popeye.

“What say you, Captain Asiago?” Asiago glanced at the Prince just in time to catch a quick wink from a mischievous eye. The captain tried not to grin.

“I would not presume to question your wisdom, Prince Carl,” Asiago said with a bow.

“Well said,” grinned the Prince. “Then it’s settled.”

“Well, blow me down,” mumbled Popeye, shaking his head in dismay.

“Prince Carl,” Colonel Sanders said desperately, “I must protest…”

“My good friend,” the Prince interrupted mildly, “you wouldn’t presume to question my wisdom, would you?”

The Colonel heaved a sigh.

“No, Sire.”

“Well,” grinned the Prince as he made shooing motions at his second-in -command. “Off you go, then. Plan us a great victory!”

~

“Where is my scout?” fumed Little Caesar. He and Jersey Mike were now in midst of their army camp watching the troops preparing for the day to come. All around, men were busily drilling, cleaning their weapons, combing their hair, straightening their ties, and running lint brushes over their suits. Jersey Mike and his army firmly believed that looking good was half the battle.

“And where’s that stinkin’ pirate?” added Mike. Silver and his men had yet to appear. “We can’t wait around all day. The mornin’s half shot.”

“All right,” said Little Caesar after a moment’s thought, “order your men to attack. Perhaps if we push hard enough during the first assault, we’ll knock Prince Carl back on his heels; and if you can figure out a way to deal with those accursed chickens, so much the better. Meanwhile, I’ll send another scout out to gather intelligence.”

“Sounds like a plan, L.C.”

~

“Lemme go, your Highness!”

“I appreciate your willingness to go out on a scouting mission,” said the Burger King to the erstwhile Portillo. “However, I feel that In-N-Out is a bit more experienced in these matters.”

“Can I go with him?”

“I’m afraid not. This mission calls for speed and stealth and in full daylight no less.” Portillo started to protest, but the King raised a hand. “Son, this is not a slight on your own impressive abilities. In fact, I find you rather invaluable and would prefer to have you remain by my side.”

Portillo knew that the King had just said that last part to make him feel better. Despite himself, though, the boy grinned.

“I wonder what Wendy would do if she were in my place?”

“Huh!” The King rolled his eyes in mock exasperation. “I imagine that she’d sneak off the first chance she got and hang the consequences.” He eyed Portillo warily. “But you’re not Wendy…are you?” The boy caught the King’s meaning and shook his head. As much as he wanted to be where the action was, he would not disobey the King.

“That’s good,” replied the Burger King, “because I don’t think this kingdom can handle more than one Wendy.”

~

Becker Jean did not exactly fit the mold of a scout. Her sunny disposition and tendency to break into dance at any given moment made her rather conspicuous in a crowd. However, Asiago figured that her blatant exuberance could work in their favor. After all, who would peg Jean as being on a secret mission?

Skirting around the enemy’s known position, Jean traveled north, first through the woods, then out into the open when she was sure that she was well passed any danger. It was hard for her to believe that on such a nice day there was a war going on. It was sure to be over soon. With the pirates out of action, and once the King’s army arrived, Little Caesar would have to surrender. On that happy note, Jean began to skip along, stopping occasionally to perform a shuffle hop step.

“Where ya headed, lady?”

Jean pirouetted around in alarm. Approaching her was a stocky, bald man, wearing sunglasses, a suit, and a sneer. Where had he come from?

“Umm…I, uh…” Jean stammered. “I’m not going anywhere…really. Just, uh, enjoying the day…”

“Uh huh. Enjoyin’ the day while everyone is off fightin,’ is that it?”

“I’m no shirker, if that’s what you’re implying,” Jean shot back indignantly, “and I’m sorry, but just what are you doing out here while ‘everyone is off fightin’’?”

“I gotta job to do, missy,” the bald man replied, the sneer still on his face. “And I’m thinkin’ you gotta job too.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Sure ya do. Ya think I can’t tell a spy when I see one. C’mon…” He reached out and grabbed her arm. “You can put on a little dance recital for Little Caesar.”

“Let me go!” Shouted Jean, struggling against the man’s strong grip.

Suddenly, there was a WUMP sound. Without a word, the bald man released Jean’s arm and toppled forward.

“Am I correct in thinking that he was bothering you?”

Jean looked up from the unconscious man on the ground to another man who stood a short distance away casually tossing a stone up and down in his hand. “I’m sorry,” he continued smoothly, “I probably should have asked first before I started flinging stones.”

“Who…?” Was all that Jean could get out. The man swept off his hat and bowed deeply.

“In-N-Out, at your service.”

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Fast Food Fairy Tale, Part Eighteen


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…

~Chapter 25: Comes the Dawn~

The pale light of dawn crept softly over the recumbent camps and the battlefield that divided them. The cool mist hovering over the open ground gradually burned away as the morning came on.

In the midst of Prince Carl’s camp, Turvy Karico sat on a stool in front of her tent, carefully polishing her weapons, a pair of large steel salad tongs. They had proven very useful in yesterday’s battle. On numerous occasions, she had pinioned an arm, a leg, or sometimes even the head of one of Jersey Mike’s men between the tongs until another obliging fighter would join in to finish the job.

Karico leaned back from her work and closed her eyes, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her face and the quiet of the still-slumbering camp. At times, it was hard to believe that she was in the middle of a war. Not that she was a stranger to fighting. She had grown up in the rougher parts of Holdermayo, relying on street smarts and quick fists to survive.

The sound of snuffling caused Karico to open her eyes and look down. Her little dog Pettigrew had wandered out of the tent and was closely exploring the ground. With a smile, Karico set down her tongs and polishing cloth and swept up her canine companion who nestled comfortably into her lap.

“You’re up early,” Karico said to the dog, giving her a pat on the head. Pettigrew responded with a yawn.

Something out of the corner of her eye caught Karico’s attention. She peered to the south. Off in the distance, there was a sense of movement. Setting Pettigrew down, Karico stood up for a better look. It appeared to be people, a lot of people, heading in the direction of the camp. She hurried over to the tent of the company captain.

“This better be good,” grumbled the captain as he stepped sleepily from his tent.

“Captain, we’ve got company,” replied Karico as she pointed to the approaching group. As they watched, other people came out of their tents to stare nervously at the newcomers. The captain and Karico were soon joined by Prince Carl and Colonel Sanders who were in the midst of a stroll about the camp.

My, my,” drawled Sanders, “things sure are happening early around here.”

The captain turned to the Prince.

“Sire, are we expecting reinforcements?”

“Not from the south,” Prince Carl replied gravely. He produced a spyglass and aimed it in that direction. “Someone in the group is waving a flag,” he continued after a moment of observation. “It’s black, and…is that an orange fish on it?”

Colonel Sanders let out a gasp.

“Good heavens! That’s Silver’s flag!”

“But I thought the pirates were in front of us!” cried Karico.

The captain turned to her.

“I don’t remember seeing any pirates during the battle. Do you?” Karico shook her head.

“No sir. All I saw were Jersey Mike’s men. I figured that the pirates were being kept in reserve.”

“The pickets on either side of our lines have reported nothing,” said Sanders. “The pirates must have traveled well out of their way to able to come around unnoticed. They may have reached the sea miles from here and sailed down behind us.” Sanders took off his hat and slapped it against his leg. “What a confounded fool I have been not to anticipate this!”

“Karico,” spoke the captain, notify the troops immediately.”

“Just a moment,” Prince Carl called out before she had a chance to move. He was still looking through his spyglass. “I don’t see Silver anywhere in that group.” After a pause, he added, “in fact, I’m not seeing anyone who even resembles a pirate.”

“Could it be your father’s army?” inquired Sanders.

“There are two men who seem to be heading up the procession,” continued the Prince. “I don’t recognize them, but one of the men has the largest forearms I’ve ever seen…”

“What?!” Sanders exclaimed in shock. He shot out a hand. “Sire, may I have the spyglass?” Upon receiving it, the Colonel immediately trained his gaze to the front of the crowd. Sure enough, there was a man in a grubby sailor’s suit, with a corncob pipe hanging jauntily from his mouth, his large arms swinging to and fro.

He slowly lowered the glass.

“Beauregard,” he whispered.

~

The same quiet, pleasing dawn broke over the camp of Little Caesar and Jersey Mike. However, neither man was in the mood to savor it. They had been up the entire night trying to come up with a suitable battle plan.

“You’ve heard nothing from Silver, then?” Asked Little Caesar, not for the first time as he paced in his tent.

“How many times I gotta tell ya ‘no?’” Yawned Jersey Mike grumpily as he slumped in a chair. “If I knew, I’d tell ya.”

Little Caesar stopped and rubbed his tired eyes.

“Look,” continued Jersey Mike, “it’s still early yet. He may be on his way now.”

“Why hasn’t he at least sent a messenger to inform us of his whereabouts?”

“Knowin’ the pirates, they probably cracked open the rum and threw a little party after the big win.”

“Oh that’s fine,” sneered Little Caesar, “and so we’re to expect a band of armed and hung-over pirates to arrive this morning?”

“That we can let loose on the battlefield,” concluded Jersey Mike with a weary grin. After a moment’s thought, Little Caesar allowed himself a small smile.

“I suppose there’s merit in that strategy.”

“Their breath alone could maybe win the whole war.”

Both men chuckled.

“So I ain’t heard squat about the Burger King,” said Jersey Mike with a grin, “is he comin’ or what?”

“As of last evening, there was heavy fighting reported in the woods north of us,” replied Little Caesar as he sat down. “I’ve heard nothing since then.”

“I guess if the King won, he’d be here by now, right?”

“I suppose…”

“You ain’t sure?”

Little Caesar sat back and crossed his arms.

“I’d rather not just assume he lost. I’ll be more at ease once my scout returns with news.”

~

Little Caesar’s scout, however, would not return. Taken by surprise by the turn of yesterday’s battle, the scout was quickly swept up by members of Burger King’s army. Now as the dawn changed to morning, the troops were assembled and the long-delayed march resumed.

“Do ya think we’re too late, Your Highness?” asked Portillo worriedly as he rode beside the King. The equally-anxious monarch shook his head.

“I hope not, son. I hope not.”

Fast Food Fairy Tale, Part Seventeen


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…

~Chapter 24: Beginning of the End, Part Two~

“You mean we can eat this?” Asiago stared at the can of spinach that Popeye handed to him.

“‘Course,” Popeye replied as he gave a can to Semolina. “It’sk good for ya.”

“I mean…there’s nothing…special in it? No magical ingredient that can only be consumed by chickens?”

“Nuthin’ artificskal for me ladies.”

“And you’re just telling us this now?” Semolina asked, aggrieved.

“We didn’t needs it before,” Popeye shrugged.

“So eating a can of this will give us a boost of power?” Asiago asked.

“Enoughsk to tear a ship to pieces.”

“Information that would have been useful…” began Semolina angrily, but Asiago held up a hand.

“If we were to send a row boat full of men to the Red Lobster, each of them with a can of spinach…”

“Asiago!” came a shout from the bright red pirate ship. “We demand an answer! Surrender or die!”

“Red Lobster!” Asiago called back, “we seek to parley with you. I will send a boat with some of my crew to negotiate a surrender.”

There was a moment of silence, before a response came back from the Red Lobster.

“We are agreed. Send your men, provided they are unarmed.”

Asiago turned back to Popeye with a wink and a small smile.

“I hope they don’t mind the men bringing along a little snack.”

“Ah-gah-gah-gah-gah!”

~

Samuel T. Ickes crouched at the head of the life boat as it was rowed toward the Red Lobster. Despite his youth, he was the only one among the hand-picked volunteers with sailing experience. Therefore, he was chosen the leader of the six-man force.

“Oi, Sam,” one of the men piped up. “We really gotta eat this dreck?” He held up his spinach. “I ‘ate veggies.”

“Our trip is a little pointless if we don’t,” Ickes replied, his eyes focused on the approaching red ship.

“Yeah, well,” the man retorted, “but I ain’t never seen no spinach that does what that Popeye bloke says.”

“Are you crazy?” another man said. “Did you see what those chickens could do?”

“Yeah, but I’ve also seen ‘em layin’ eggs and sittin’ in their own messes. It don’t make me wanna emulate ‘em, if you know what I mean.”

“Quiet!” Ickes turned around and hissed. They were now coming alongside the Red Lobster. “Keep those cans out of sight. When I give the word, we eat the spinach.” He glared at the reluctant first man. “All of us.”

The man grimaced but nodded.

Once on board, the six men were quickly surrounded by leering pirates. Ickes heard a rhythmic thumping noise, but before he had time to wonder where the sound was coming from, Long John Silver stumped through the circle.

“Well, well, well,” Silver said with a sly grin, “come to parley, have ye?” He looked the men over carefully. “Would one a ye be Asiago?”

Ickes stepped forward.

“He was unable to come. I am Samuel T. Ickes, and I speak for the captain.”

“Do ye, now?” replied Silver condescendingly. “Yer awfully young fer such a task.”

“I’m old enough,” Ickes said coolly, folding his arms across his broad chest. “Now, about the issue of surrender…”

“Ya get right down ta business. I like that, lad. Me terms have already been stated. You will give up your…”

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” interrupted Ickes, “but my orders from Captain Asiago were to accept your surrender.”

Silver and the pirates burst out laughing. Unfazed, Ickes calmly scratched at his trimmed beard. His five companions tried not to look nervous.

“Son, I believe ye’re not aware of yer situation,” Silver said after his fit of laughter subsided. “Either that or yer captain is playin’ a jest upon ye.”

“Oh, I’m well aware of the situation,” replied Ickes with a confident smile. “And I think it would be wise of you to back down before something…unfortunate happens.”

Silver’s grin became a sneer.

“Are ye threatenin’ me, young man?”

Ickes put his hands up and put on a look of innocence.

“I’m just giving you fair warning.”

The pirate snorted in derision and turned his back on Ickes.

“I know all about yer devilish chickens, boy. Yer not goin’ ta be surprisin’ us with that. And even if ye could overwhelm this ship, there be eleven more ready to sink yer boat to the bottom of the sea.”

“There’ll be no chickens tonight, I can promise you.”

Ickes calm was starting to get on Silver’s nerves. In annoyance, he swung back to face his antagonist and pointed a finger at him.

“Then yer bluffin’! Yer outnumbered, and without yer attack birds, ye’ve got nothin’. Now, belay this nonsense! If ye won’t listen ta terms, let me talk ta someone who will.”

Unruffled, Ickes turned to his companions.

“Well, I tried to warn him. Ready boys?”

Almost in unison, the six men pulled out their cans of spinach. As directed by Popeye, they squeezed the cans until each lid sprang open with a satisfying popping sound. Then they began to scarf down the contents.

“Blech!” said the reluctant man when he had finished.

After that, there was a moment of tense silence. No one was quite sure what to do next.

“We got food on board,” Silver said dryly. “Ya didn’t need ta bring…”

“Blimely, I feel funny…” blurted the reluctant man.

“Me too,” said another.

Ickes felt as if his entire body was buzzing, and a prickling sensation ran up and down his arms and legs. He felt so much energy building up inside that he was afraid that he would explode if he didn’t use any of it. The others must have been experiencing the same thing. The reluctant man seemed compelled to walk up to the nearest pirate.

“No ‘ard feelin’s, mate,” he said. Then he punched the pirate clear off the ship.

With that, the five other men sprang into action. Two of them ran over to the mast and began punching it, causing it to wobble menacingly. Two more grabbed ropes and sped around the remaining pirates, binding them hand and foot before they could even react. Ickes wasn’t sure what to do, so he started stomping holes through the deck. Meanwhile, Silver had dodged his way out of the melee and began frantically signaling to the other pirate ships to come to his aid.

Asiago watched all of this with grim satisfaction. As the pirate ships began to converge on the Red Lobster, he looked up to the crow’s nest where Semolina was waiting.

“Send the signal,” he called up.

With a wide grin, Semolina saluted, then picked up a red flag and began to wave it. From the other ships in the fleet, flags were fluttered in response. Lifeboats full of spinach-welding men began to be lowered from each. Popeye strutted up to Asiago and happily slapped him on the back, nearly sending the captain overboard.

“I’s been a’waitin’ a long time for this,” the sailor said.

With a loud crack, the Red Lobster’s mast snapped, the top portion falling into the water.

“I believe,” replied Asiago, recalling Silver’s words, “that the term is ‘deferred gratification.’”

What I Have Learned While Delivering Pizza


My writing output has taken a serious nose dive the last couple of months. This is due to the fact that I have recently picked up a second job delivering pizza (which has quickly become my second full-time job). This has proven to be quite the educational experience for me, and I have written down a few of the things that I have learned as a culinary transportation specialist:

  • No matter how carefully you drive, sometimes the cheese is going to slide.
  • Murphy’s Law abounds. You will hit every red light when you are late, all your main routes will be under prolonged construction, and your farthest delivery will come up minutes before closing.
  • Your GPS devise will occasionally lie to you.
  • Locating a rural route address is like trying to tame a wild animal. You may think you have the system figured out, but the moment you let your guard down, an address will turn on you and render you hopelessly lost (and did I mention that your GPS will occasionally lie to you?)
  • I thought I was a good tipper before becoming a delivery driver. I was wrong.
  • When it’s the middle of the night, the street that you’re on is pitch dark, and the customer has forgotten to turn on their porch light, do your best not to look like a creeper while driving slowly and staring intently at every house on the block.
  • When recording a customer’s address on the order ticket, accuracy is fairly important. For a driver, a “close enough” address can send you to a wrong house, a wrong street, or a wrong town altogether. Also, the words “street,” “road,” “lane,” etc. are rarely interchangeable.
  • In pizza delivery, sometimes presentation is more important than the product itself. Many a pizza has been sent back because it was not aesthetically pleasing.
  • Some people take their pizza orders very seriously. Humor them; they may be armed.
  • It is possible to order a cheese pizza without cheese.

Fast Food Fairy Tale, Part Sixteen


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…

~Chapter 23: Beginning of the End, Part One~

“How are we going to handle this, sir?” Semolina asked nervously as he watched the Red Lobster and a dozen other pirate ships draw closer. “Even if the chickens were in fighting shape, there’s no way they could attack that many ships at once.” “I suppose that it’s time for us to do our share of the fighting,” Asiago replied with a calmness that disguised his growing anxiety. It was all well and good to stand aside and let the chickens do all the work, but the time had now come for him and his tiny flotilla to prove their mettle. Asiago had sent messages to the five other ships under his command, instructing them to prepare their crews for possible battle. He wasn’t sure just how many of the men possessed fighting experience. In fact, he wasn’t sure if even he was up to the challenge. He had spent much of his working life transporting food by sea. Now here he was in command of Dryvthru’s provincial navy, a navy that was currently outnumbered 2 to 1. Long John Silver and his ships had now fanned out and were beginning to circle Asiago’s fleet. Time was running out. “We do have three more ships on the way,” Semolina said hopefully. “Yes, but we may not be around by the time they arrive.” Asiago turned to Popeye who had remained silent up to this point. He was leaning against the mast; his large, tattooed arms were crossed as he keenly watched the enemy’s movements. “Any recommendations to offer, Popeye?” Asked the captain. Popeye shifted his gaze toward him. “We gotsta even the oddsk.” Asiago let out an exasperated sigh. “I know that much. What concerns me is how we’re to even the odds.” Popeye thought for a moment. “Me thinks me chickens has got one more fight in ‘em. We can knocks out one ship that way.” “That’s not much,” said Semolina. “It’sk a start.” “In the meantime,” continued Semolina, “what do we do about the rest of Silver’s ships? They’re not going to sit around while we attack them one by one.” “Fair point,” Asiago agreed, and Popeye nodded. “Hail, captain of the Crab Shack!” bellowed a loud voice. The three men turned to see that the Red Lobster had pulled to within shouting distance, the remainder of the pirate ships completing the circle around them. “Captain Asiago!” Asiago stepped to the prow of the ship and cupped his hands to his mouth. “I’m here!” He called back. He could see a pirate with a speaking trumpet standing at the Red Lobster’s prow. “I speak on behalf of Captain Silver,” shouted the pirate. “Bein’ the generous man that he is, the Captain is willin’ to let you all go free, providin’ that you turn your ships over to us.” “What do we do?” whispered Semolina.

~

“What do we do?” shouted Portillo, desperately fending off yet another attacking Vegetarian. The Burger King and his army had been battling all day with rarely a let-up. By dusk, everyone was exhausted, that is, except for the Vegetarians who continued to fight with a righteous ferocity. “Until In-N-Out returns,” replied the Burger King, slashing away with his spatula, “we continue fighting.” The former spy had vanished about an hour ago for reasons unknown to Portillo. “Why ain’t they gettin’ tired?” The Vegetarians nearby laughed. “Because we are healthier than you!” shouted one. “Because we are stronger than you!” crowed another. “And because you’ve been taking your supplements!” This voice had come from behind. Everyone turned as In-N-Out stepped into view. With a slight grin, he held up an unlabeled brown bottle and shook it. The rattling noise indicating that it was full of pills. “What have you brought us?” inquired the Burger King as the Vegetarians began to shift uneasily. “Nothing horrendous, your Highness, I assure you. It’s just some vitamin B12. I was just taking a stroll through the woods, and, lo and behold, I found a large stash of these bottles near some tied-up horses.” “There’s nothing wrong with taking B12!” bellowed the bearded Vegetarian defensively. I quite agree,” replied In-N-Out. “However, you need B12 for energy. As you don’t consume meat, you need these to sustain you.” He rattled the bottle again. “So,” said the Burger King, turning to the Vegetarian warriors, “it seems that we have a decision to make, don’t we? We can keep fighting until you drop from fatigue, or we can agree to disagree and go our separate ways.” The bearded man ran a hand agitatedly through his disheveled hair. “Don’t do it, man!” a Vegetarian called out. “Take the deal!” shouted another. “Meat is murder!” unhelpfully yelled a third. “Fine,” the bearded man finally said. “We’ll stop the fighting…”then added menacingly, “…for now. But we’ll be back!” “I’ll be waiting,” the King said with a smile. “We want our B12 back though,” the bearded man continued. “Of course,” replied the King, motioning to In-N-Out who stepped forward and handed the bottle to the man. “And the rest of it?” asked the man. “Ah, yes…” said In-N-Out slowly, “we’ve got a bit of a problem there.” “What problem?” “You see, there was this pond nearby, and as I was carrying your pill bottles, I tripped and over they went into the water. It was rather unfortunate that all of the bottles were open at the time…” At that, the Burger King’s army roared with laughter. The bearded man jabbed an angry finger in their direction. “This isn’t over!” With that, he and the Vegetarians melted into the evening shadows. The Burger King turned to In-N-Out. “Tripped, you say?” he inquired with a grin. “Actually,” In-N-Out replied with a comical shrug, “I tripped at least three or four times. There were a lot of bottles.”

~

There was a great celebration in Prince Carl’s camp that evening after Little Caesar’s former prisoners were proudly escorted in by the Hamburglar. However, not everyone was in a festive mood. Wendy sullenly sat in her tent, confined there by the angry Prince. Although her efforts in the rescue were appreciated, the fact that she had disobeyed a direct order could not be ignored or tolerated.

 “I thought we had an agreement,” Prince Carl said through gritted teeth as he stood with his arms crossed at the entrance to the tent. Wendy, sitting on a cot, stared at the ground and nodded, unable to look at the Prince.

“Look me in the eye, Wendy,” he commanded. Slowly, she drew her gaze up to his face. It wasn’t so much the anger there that troubled her; it was the disappointment. Her eyes began to well up with tears. “I thought,” continued the Prince, “that with everything that has happened to you in the past several days, you might have finally outgrown some of your foolish behavior. Clearly, I was wrong.” With tears starting to fall, Wendy shook her head, unable to speak. “I forbade you from leaving this camp. I sent someone out of your own choosing. Yet, you thoughtlessly put your life at risk, not to mention the lives of others, to play the hero.” “But,” blurted Wendy, “the Hamburglar was in trouble, and…” “Be that as it may, it does not excuse you from your willful disobedience. It would have been unfortunate had the Hamburglar been captured, but according to him, it was you they wanted. The whole thing was a trap! They expected you to waltz into their camp to stage a rescue and, by heaven, you proved them right! It was by sheer good fortune that you weren’t taken.” “Yes sir,” Wendy murmured meekly. “Until further notice, you will remain in your tent,” Prince Carl then paused, and seemed to struggle with what he was about to say next. “As I’m no longer sure… of your ability to keep your word, I will have a guard posted at the entrance.” With that, he turned to go. “I’m sorry,” whispered Wendy. “I really am.” The Prince turned back, his face losing its sternness. “As am I, Wendy.” He stepped out of the tent, only to return a moment later. “Just so you don’t think me completely heartless, I do allow visitors.” He gave a small smile as he left the tent and Baskin and Robin entered, Baskin carrying a large bowl of ice cream. “Chocolate ice cream?” Wendy asked, wiping away her tears and looking into the bowl. “Of course not,” said Baskin with a smile as she sat beside the red-head. Robin also smiled, producing a spoon and handing it to Wendy. “It’s a Frosty,” she said.