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Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Ruahnna, Apr 21, 2006.
Oh, piggy worries so much!
And poor kermit! So alone...
More please Ru!
*leaves a banana muffin*
* at the new chapter of KG. This made me happy, something to read on a rainy day now that the rain's stopped. Not to mention it's a bit hectic with family stuff going on today.
*Laughs, grins widely, and has a general myrthful reaction to how us—Piggy's friends—are keeping her in good company.
Should we be concerned over Mr. Lowry's demeanor? There was that figure tracing around backstage after the show...
And I hope Frosty's witticism doesn't come true in this instance over in the Big Apple.
Thank you as always for posting.
Oooooh the thlot pickens!
LOVED numerous tossed-off phrases in this, although "spectacularly tarty" has to be the funniest.
Hmmmm. Since when did the theatre director get fussy at Piggy? Has Seymour paid him to try and get backstage, or to entice Piggy to this alleged casino gig, which seems to be what he apparently has told Frosty he was after? The shadow can't be Scribbler, he's busy in LA, and everyone else seems more or less accounted for; had to be our fave nasty stalker creep. I'm happy that both Autumn and Ed picked up on Something Not Right Going On. Perhaps someone shortly being thwacked with a silver-tipped cane is in order.
Mabel's comment about her vast brood was a giggler, and her observation about what one does when NOT getting what one wants made me pause and think. Yes, that is true, and the mark of maturity when one can shoulder on without bitterness at the universe after a rejection or denial. Very well put.
I can just see Piggy seeing Kermit's text message and going the wrong direction with it (i.e. Does he NOT want to talk to me?), as insecure as she is right now. You've done an excellent job at pushing your two leads apart. Eager to see how you get them back together safe, sound, and wiser for the experience!
Once again, am not treated to knowing that this was updated! Angry Piggy is Angry!!
Other than that, I'm with the Newsie on this as to why Lowry suddenly got up in the heebie jeebies. It's always the quiet ones, you know. Always the quiet ones...
i know how you feel.. i went like a year and a half not knowing there were updates! took about 2 weeks to get caught back up.. (stupid life not letting me just sit and read through.. *sigh* i certainly hope Lowry isn't in on anything shady with Junior...
kermit was soooo close to finally telling Piggy what happened.....poor frog...they both need to come clean...be waiting desperately for oscar night so they can be visually reunited.....please update soon!
*Wants update to KG. *Needs an update to KG! *Also needs lyrics to the song In My Life due to uncertainty in the oneshot I want to write without the musical interlude.
And Counter Man Guy did you mean the Beatles song or some other song? Cause I have a Beatles songbook with lyrics and chords and all that jazz.
Jes, I meant the song by the Beatles. But no worries, Aunt Ru already delivered. As to when I'll write and/or post, that's yet to be done.
Chapter 134: Since I Fell For You
Piggy and Thoreau and Howard went about their showy and celebratory night on the town as well-prepared as a seasoned army ready for battle. The bar filled to capacity and beyond just so patrons could watch her drink champagne and toss her hair. If they were lucky, she might even take the dance floor with one of her companions. The house was so pack the servers were having trouble moving freely when Piggy looked up in a coquettish manner and asked the gentleman who had taken their order if the piano-player took requests. His answering smile was broad, and he brushed aside Thoreau’s generous tip peeking slyly out from under the tray.
“I’m sure he’d be delighted,” he said suavely, but in reality he was cheering inside. Although he had served their table, he was, in fact, the owner of the establishment, and the thought of Miss Piggy gracing his stage and microphone was the kind of luck that most restauranteurs dream of. He had already tabulated how her unexpected visit was likely to impact his bottom line for the next five months, and he would have hired an orchestra to accompany her if she only asked him to. Piggy fluttered her eyelashes and swept to the stage.
Beneath the table, Ed’s grip on Autumn’s hand was only matched in intensity by her grip on his.
“She’s going to sing!” Ed murmured, and heard Autumn bob her head quickly in agreement. If she had trusted herself to speak, she would have. She had certainly found herself in dramatic situations before, but it was hard to match the sheer magnitude of drama that Miss Piggy seemed to wear like a fine French cologne.
Piggy bent and lifted the hem of her close-fitting dress as she mounted the steps, revealing a nice flash of well-toned calf muscles. The percussionist in the back fumbled his drumsticks and one of them clang-banged on the cymbal as it fell, although he did manage to catch it before he hit the ground. Normally, his bandmates would have ribbed him about his flub, but there was not one fellow musician who had so much as raised an eyebrow at the hapless drummer—their eyebrows were otherwise engaged.
Miss Piggy brushed the hair back from her face and wet her lips. She took the mic in one hand, then put it back into its stand so she could shuck the baby-blue fur jacket, managing to give the crowd and the musicians a good look at how well the gown she wore fit her bountiful curves. Thoreau had made this one for a private party, and she hadn’t been photographed in it nearly enough to suit either of them. She might have hung the jacket on the back of a chair, or handed it back to Howard or Thoreau, but eight gloved hands had reached to assist her, each musician hoping to be the one she allowed to hold her coat while she sang.
“Vous are too kind,” Piggy demurred, favoring a tall, strapping trombone player with the honor. The drummer and the bass player gave him indignant looks and silently vowed to cut him out of the weekly poker game, but it was unlikely that he’d have cared if he’d known. She took the mic again and stepped into the spotlight.
“Amazing how she always hits the spotlight dead-on the first time,” Thoreau murmured. The light would have dazzled most performers, but she took it in stride, as well as the flash of several phone cameras. His voice was dry. “Do you think it’s natural or an acquired talent?”
“She may have practiced,” Howard whispered back, “but I’ll bet you the bill it’s 99% natural. It’s like she’s got some sort of homing device for center stage….”
Piggy waited patiently while the audience members with phones took pictures, but when it became obvious that most of the crowd was waiting not-so-patiently for her to sing so they could record it on their phones, she leaned over and whispered something into the conductor’s ear, her soft snout and lips brushing against his well-groomed beard. He nodded enthusiastically, adding something that made Piggy giggle. The conductor joined the trombone player on the “not-invited-to-poker-night” list, but remained deliriously oblivious. He gave the band a couple of quick hand signals and a murmured comment, then raised his baton. Piggy smiled, but her long lashes swept over her eyes and she did not look at the audience. The band played a low, trembling chord.
“When you just give love.
And never get love.
You’d better let love depart….
I know that’s so.
And yet I know.
I can’t get you out of my heart….”
Piggy’s lashes swept up to reveal tragic blue eyes, and the audience members either gasped or stopped breathing all together. The band had the advantage, however, of not being able to see her face, so they were able to continue playing as though nothing earthshaking was going on.
“Youooooo…,” she wailed, her voice swelling as she sustained the note, “…made me leave my happy home.
I miss you now that I am gone.
Since Moi fell for you.”
Thoreau and Howard looked at each other, and Thoreau bit his lower lip. “Ooh, she’s still a teeny bit mad at him, I think,” he whispered.
“She always did have a talent for putting her heart out there on her sleeve,” Howard murmured. “If he were here, I’ll bet he’d wish he weren’t here, if you know what I mean.”
“I do know—but I don’t agree. I think he’d be happy to be here under any circumstances.”
“True, that.” Although everyone else in the roomed seemed tensed with burgeoning excitement, Piggy's old friends relaxed. Things were well in hand, and they did not need to keep such a close watch when everyone else in the room was doing it for them. Although they had not had a chance to talk about it, both of them had noticed her unusual behavior backstage, wondering what had spooked her earlier. They were more than happy to have two of Piggy’s fans—now friends—along, after Piggy had explained their casino heroics, and the fashionable couple sat enraptured beside them, thrilled to be crowded around the same small table as their idol.
“Love…brings such misery and pain,” Piggy sang.
Her eyes were closed, but her face was upturned to the spotlight as though looking for warmth or blessing.
“I guess I’ll never be the same.
Since Moi fell for you-oooo,” she murmured, and smiled a secret little smile as she opened her baby blues.
The look of drowsy contentment on her lovely face, the teasing hint of tender exasperation spoke more for Piggy's feelings for Kermit than a thousand tabloid photographs. Anyone looking at her could see that she was—unequivocally—smitten, smitten and beholden to the one she was singing about. It was brilliant, it was artistry, pure and simple—and it had the added advantage of being absolutely true.
“He’d wish he were here,” Thoreau murmured. “No doubt about it.”
Howard’s hand found his as they watched Piggy work. She certainly knew how to bring a torch song home.
The Indie Vittles were bringing it home. They’d gotten off to a fitful start, but once they’d managed to work out the kinks, the music flowed fast and smooth and mellow. Tricia felt it wash over her like a wave—like a tonic. It had always been a safe place to retreat to—to the hot pulse of rhythm and music streaming out of you like steam. All jokes aside, it had been their time together on the road that had really cemented their sound, and while it had sharpened their playing, it had worn smooth their differences until they barely had to talk between songs to communicate. Susie reacted to the slightest sign from any of them and drove them forward with the beat as one familiar song flowed into the next. At last, they were satisfied—satisfied and exhausted—when they shut everything down for the evening and went their separate ways.
Tricia opened her mother’s kitchen door and walked in, and her face split into a huge grin. Clifford stood before the stove wearing one of Mable’s aprons. It was comically short but it did protect him some from the little bubbles of tomato sauce that kept threatening to erupt from the pan and spatter his T-shirt and the loud Hawaiian shirt he wore over it.
“Where did you get that shirt,” Tricia demanded, laughing out loud.
“I’ll have you know I got this shirt at a jumble sale in a very ritzy part of town,” Clifford objected.
Tricia swung her purse down on the countertop. “And what town would that be—Podunk?”
“Hey!” Clifford cried, but he was grinning broadly. He put his hands on his hips and made a disapproving face. “Here I am—cooking dinner—and you come home and make fun of my fashion sense.”
“If I apologize, can I have some of that pasta?” Tricia asked. The scent of Italian herbs filled the kitchen and her mouth, dry from singing, was watering at the scent.
“Please wash your hands, have a seat and wait to be served,” Clifford said, and Tricia just laughed and started to slide into the kitchen booth, but Clifford gave her a look and she stopped.
“What?” she asked, checking her hands. The look he was giving her made her think he might make her wash them, and she got up sheepishly and washed them at the kitchen sink. When they were washed and dried, she plopped down onto the worn bench seat again, but Clifford caught her elbow gently and lifted her back up.
“Go have a seat,” he said, waving toward the living room, “and wait to be served.”
“Oh good grief,” Tricia griped. “It’s not like we’re getting all…fancy.” She pushed through the door and stopped in her tracks, seeing the little table set with a checked cloth and a green glass vase on it with flowers from the garden. She recovered her composure almost immediately. “What?” she cracked. “No candl—“
Clifford pushed past her, deftly holding a tray with two bowls of pasta and a small candleholder which gleamed and threw shadows from the flowers.
“Your wish…” he singsonged, but Tricia had grown quiet.
“What is this, Clifford?” Tricia asked, feeling her stomach coil with tension.
“This is dinner,” he said.
“But---but you got all, um, formal and everything….”
For a minute, their eyes met, hers worried and his worried, too.
“Not formal,” he said solemnly. “And not fancy either. Practical.”
Tricia raise her eyebrows at him. “Oh?”
“Yeah,” he said, grinning. “I don’t want you to see me get food on my nice shirt.”
Tricia bit her lip, trying hard not to smile, but in the end she grinned so hard it made her cheeks sore. "Want a sweetie," she thought. "Half formal and half silly.
And all trouble."
Despite almost overwhelming temptation, Ed and Autumn took their leave just before Piggy left the stage. She had submitted to an encore, but she had been firm about a second. All eyes were forward as they wended their way through the other patrons and made for the door. Reluctantly, Ed preceded her outside and allowed Mr. Finkel to usher him into the warmth of the cab while Autumn went to the Ladies Room.
Hastily, Autumn tied a silk scarf over her burnished head and slipped on a pair of fashionable tortoiseshell glasses. She stopped just inside the door to turn her felted wool jacket inside out, transforming it into a stunning faux-sable coat. Ed couldn’t know it, but her claret dress was now silver. Her shoes now had rhinestone bows on the backs of the high heels. Since Manhattan has its fair share of shapely, stylish women, there was almost nothing that would have identified her as the same woman that accompanied Miss Piggy into the bar and that was good. That was very good indeed.
Ed waited with every show of patience for Autumn’s arrival—and none of its substance—and finally breathed a sigh of very genuine relief when she scooted in beside him. His arm went automatically around her waist, glad to know she was back where she belonged.
“Any trouble?” she asked, smoothing Ed’s hair back from his temple. He would need a trim soon, and there were a couple of little curls that she couldn’t help wanting to smooth.
“None,” Ed said evenly. “You?”
“None. But I think we made our getaway just in time.” Autumn smiled. “It’s beginning to resemble Time’s Square out here.”
The news that Miss Piggy and her celebrated designer, Thoreau, were out and about on the town was big news. Other than the night of her Broadway debut, when she had arrived unexpectedly at The Grill in the company of her castmates, there had been little chance of capturing the luminous face or luscious figure of Mrs. The Frog, but Piggy knew how to court attention when she wished.
The sidewalk outside the bar was now crammed with paparazzi and entertainment network hopefuls. Every reporter who had not managed to cadge an assignment to cover the Academy Awards felt adrenaline surge into their veins, and they had come in hopes of seeing a little news made! Fashion writers who had hoped to score pics of the porcine diva getting all chummy with Thoreau, who was in New York to pitch his never-anticipated, unprecedented everyday fashion line rubbed shoulders irritably with entertainment columnists who hoped to find something scandalous and wicked going on when Mrs. The Frog stepped out without Mr. The Frog. As an added perk, Howard Tubman, who had choreographed several notable Muppet productions, was apparently joining the glamorous duo. Dance! Magazine was purportedly drooling on their pointed shoes for a picture they could use.
Autumn and Ed had already gotten one wonderful photograph with Piggy backstage, but that was all the photography Autumn felt could be tolerated. Piggy would have said that there was no such thing as too much publicity, but Autumn knew otherwise. Before the photographic hounds were unleashed, fading into the night was advisable—especially since she wasn’t fading on her lonesome.
“What?” said Ed, hearing her smile and reaching self-consciously to touch the curls that she had smoothed.
“Nothing,” said Autumn. “I was just thinking what a wonderful night this was—the show, Miss Piggy and her lovely friends…the company.”
Ed smiled and his arm tightened around her waist.
“The fact that the evening isn’t over yet?” he murmured.
“Oh, Ed, Darling!” Autumn cried happily. “That’s exactly what I was thinking!”
Scribbler woke himself snoring, startled and then shot upright. He’d been having a nightmare—something to do with seagulls wearing size 22 wingtips…. He looked around his dingy apartment and was glad—glad—for its familiar dumpiness. He stood up, stretched and heard several vertebrae pop and shuffled off to bed. Although he debated it, he decided to change out of his day clothes and found the sheets pleasantly cool and soft when he slipped between them. He fluffed his pillow, pushing the bad dream away.
He would not think about anything bad. He would only think positive things, happy things. He would think of Piggy, dragging him by the arm through the park to take her picture before a picturesque tree, a lovely pond, a statue. Oh, how he had loved those afternoons with her! He smiled, beginning to drift.
She had loved them, too. In fact, it had been her who set their schedule most of the time, and after a while Scribbler had given up any right to plan his own social calendar in favor of being cheerfully bossed by the most entrancing pig on the planet. Those had been good times—good times indeed. He felt a twinge of annoyance, thinking of the way his employer had manhandled him and wondering if there was something about him that just screamed ”pushover". He’d certainly been a pushover for her.
Scribbler smiled, drifting into dreamland. If Missy wanted to boss him around again, he wasn’t going to protest.
“You’re moping,” Chad accused, but there was more compassion than chide in it. Rory startled and looked up to find his partner looking at him with a look that was hard to fathom. Rory looked up from the book he’d been staring at and held out his hand. Chad took it and climbed in to sit down next to him on the comforter. “Want to talk about it?”
Rory shook his head and smiled, trying to look normal, trying to sound normal. Between the company at home and the funny doings backstage, the whole day had been, well, weird. At least the show had gone well, and Chad’s mother had absolutely adored seeing the show again with Piggy playing opposite her almost-son-in-law. The introductions after had been a huge hit, too, and they were all happily anticipating brunch and gossip in the AM.
“Not really,” Rory said, and smiled when Chad nudged him with his shoulder.
“You pick such strange times to be strong and silent,” Chad said disapprovingly. “Most times I can’t shut you up, but—oh!”
There was a moment or two of silence—a happy, busy silence—then Rory sighed. He’d been thinking about Piggy, thinking about the show, thinking about the man who had tried to kidnap her and about her friend who might not actually be her friend. And he was thinking that he wished he wasn’t the only one who knew what he knew. He had promised to keep Piggy’s confidences, but now he wished he had someone to keep his.
“It’s nothing…,” he began, and made the mistake of looking up. He found Chad’s chocolate-brown eyes fastened on his, waiting patiently for whatever he would say. He tried once more to brush it off, to keep the party line (or the Piggy line, as the case might be), but it was impossible. He sighed again and told Chad everything.
“But what can I dooooo?
I’m still in love with you!
I guess I’ll never see the light.
I get the blues most every night.
Since I fell for you….”
Love it! Will come back and review as I work my way through the chapter. Thank you for posting.
*Leaves a pair of double-fudge 11 cookies for Aunt Ru.
Piggy, and the coat thing, HA! I would've done it to. Out of the goodness of my heart... AND HELLO! MISS PIGGY'S COAT!!! LOL.
And the song she sang... *Sigh*
PIGGY, JOO HAVE EMOTION!
Really, I felt that. And I only read it.
SO GOOD JOB TOO JOO RU!
*Leaves a case of Fudge for Ru*
Few little things I failed to post.
*<333 the scene with Cliff and Trish. *Almost hears Bella Noite playing in the background.
So when you say 'burnished head', do you mean "shiny/glossy"?
And then you toss in a snapshot of Scribbler for good measure.
Hope for more when possible as we await the awards and brunch and whatever.
No, go back to bother WMG to get you out of the deathtrap she's written you into.
What the...?? Alright, that's it. Counter's McStory Guy, you are hereby designated to tell me when this thing gets updated cause the site ain't doin it for me!
With THAT said, is there really anything TO say? Greatness needs no words, though I actually thought this a little on the short side. Maybe it's cause I managed to get this right as it was posted and not weeks later when I've got two or three segments to read back to back.
I don't know, but really you could write the brown fox jumps over the lazy dog and I would read it and praise, that's how good ju is.
What? No lurking presence of Seymour at this posh club where the house band still wears GLOVES? (flashback to TGMC...)
Lovely ingenue doings, dear! LOL at "she's still a teeny bit mad at him". You make Piggy come off as the Marlene Dietrich of the Muppets, which is a good and right thing. Enjoyable to envision!
Hmm. Why is Autumn still playing 009? (Way better than 7...) And why ISN'T Ed, if she's sticking with him for the evening? (sounds like a thrilling evening!)
Nice scene with Tricia and Clifford. A plate of spaghetti, a tacky shirt, and thou...or something like that...
Rhonda is going to be gloriously peeved when she hears of the photo op that she apparently missed. Newsie had better already be in LA or he'll never hear the end of it.
A lovely break in the action. Now, back to our scheduled intrigue!
Thrilling night? Little do you know what we have planned for the December oneshot.
*Uses nagging stick to see if we can get an update to this before year's—and world's too?—end.
*Also hopes for a reply from Aunt Ru regarding Ms. Jolalene.
To: All my Readers
From: Ru, with love
Chapter 135: Out of Nowhere
Usually, with paparazzi at a fever pitch and security at a minimum, Piggy would have slipped out the back and made for the safety of Moishe’s cab, but this was not the usual night out on the town. This was drama of the highest sort, and Piggy had come armed with 800 different emotions. She’d left the stage in a flurry of kissy-kisses and perched on her chair for a glass of ice-cold champagne, but almost immediately they had gone into the carefully prescribed leave-taking ritual which effectively signaled to the crowd that they would have to return to their evening’s previously scheduled entertainment. Howard and Thoreau buffered her protectively as they slinked through the crowd, with Piggy mugging and preening and charming as only she could. They posed for pictures and signed cocktail napkins and made insincerely modest rejoinders to the praise heaped before her bewitching ankles and Thoreau’s immaculately-polished wingtips. Later, in the warmth of the cab, they would find themselves possessed of more than 27 desperately-scribbled phone numbers and protestations of undying love (or some such). Howard later found one tucked into his cummerbund and brought the count to 28.
When the door of the bar opened onto the street, it was indeed like Times Square, with the flash of cameras, the cheering of fans and the press of the press. Although Piggy’s wide-eyed look of pleased astonishment was genuine, she felt more than a little thrill of unease. When Kermit was with her, the crowd was always more respectful, more deferential. His small green figure could part even a hostile crowd and give her safe passage. She was suddenly away that some of the people in the crowd probably believed that she was forever outside of Kermit’s protection and affection, having tossed him aside in pursuit of some other lover.
The reporters shouted questions at her, but she could not hear them clearly over the din of screaming, chanting fans, so some of the more desperate pushed the limits of propriety to get her attention, invading her space. Piggy tried to smile and push down her instinct to hi-yah those who got too close.
“Miss Piggy, now that you’ve tasted success on Broadway, do you think you’ll ever be able to go back to—“
“With many weeks to go before your contract runs out, do you think you’ll be trying to find a more permanent—“
“Miss Piggy—is it true that Rainbow Productions next movie will be looking for a new star?”
“Miss Piggy, are there any leading men who you fancy if you—“
“Miss Piggy, don’t you think Kermit deserves at little credit for your success, and how do you feel about fans who think you’re treating him unfairly now that—“
“Miss Piggy, is it true that—“
“Now that you’re free from your obligation to Kermit’s last movie, what do you plan to do with your new-found freedom?” Piggy didn’t like the tone of that question at all, but she felt Howard’s hand rest lightly on her arm, warning her not to respond without thinking.
Even for someone schooled in the performing arts, Piggy’s composure began to falter and she looked up to see Mr. Finkel clearing a path for her to the comfort of his cab. Howard took one hand and she reached back to hold tightly to Thoreau’s slim fingers, but once she gained the safety of the cab she felt secure enough to turn and face the crowd.
“Moi is so happy to be performing on Broadway. It’s long been a dream of mine to share myself with all the wonderful fans who just can’t seem to get enough of Moi, no matter how many hit movies I make.” The crowd roared its approval, but there were a few grumbling murmurs. “I’m so thankful to Kermit, Mon Capitan, for encouraging Moi to take the part and to make so many sacrifices so that Moi could be here.” The grumbling abated, replaced in part by some moans of frustration. Evidently, some had not come to hear her speak affectionately of her husband. “Of course,” Piggy continued, as though she was unaware of any discontent in the crowd, “even if Moi hadn’t come to New York to be on Broadway, Moi would have had to come to New York with my favorite designer, Thoreau—“ Here, she dropped her voice to a throaty whisper and laid her hand on Thoreau’s arm.
“Miss Piggy! Oh! Miss Piggy! I love you! I can’t live without you! Marry me! Please!” shouted a ragged voice.
The eager erstwhile lover was silenced, although whether by security or a rival was unclear. Piggy looked surprised, blushed deeply, and lost her train of thought.
“Are you going to be modeling for Thoreau’s new everyday line?” someone asked. Piggy’s expression was grave and regal.
“Of course Moi is going to model for the new line. The average woman needs to see how his marvelous designs are meant to be worn so that they will have something to aspire to.”
A microphone was shoved into Thoreau’s face, but he looked unperturbed.
“Tell us, what was the inspiration for your new everyday line?” blurted a tall, willowy reporter with mounds of blond hair.
“Over the Christmas holiday, I worked with Miss Piggy and Rainbow Productions on their holiday show in Las Vegas,” Thoreau said calmly. “Their show had evolved since they arrived and they needed some amazing costume ideas, so of course they called me.” Thoreau smiled, completely at ease, and cast a fond look at Piggy. “That is, Miss Piggy called me and told me she wanted me…and what Miss Piggy wants….” The crowd chuckled appreciatively. “While I was there, I was inspired by one of the dance numbers I designed the costumes for and, well, the rest is history.”
“It’s not history yet,” Piggy said, fluttering her eyelashes. “Thoreau is pitching the distribution rights for his clothing line this week. Then it will be history—fashion history, that is!”
“Who else is modeling for your line?” said a reporter who looked like a real, live Ken doll. More than one eye had turned to look at Howard, who stiffened in surprise at being crowded rather rudely by the eager hordes. “Is Howard Tubman going to model for you, too? What about Kermit? Any plans for Janice or Camilla to join their co-star Miss Piggy on the runway?”
Thoreau looked at Howard and—for an instant—Howard’s eyes widened with sudden recognition of the precariousness of his situation. He opened his mouth to speak—
—but it was too late. “As a matter of fact,” Thoreau drawled lazily, “my friend Howard Tubman, the esteemed choreographer for so many of Rainbow Productions amazing production numbers, is going to grace the runway for our preliminary review. As for other members of Rainbow Production modeling, I’ve not assigned all of the numbers yet, so anything can happen.” He smiled charmingly. “The most entrancing pig on the planet wants to go to supper, and you remember what I said about what Miss Piggy wants….” He gave a wry, wicked smile, the dangerous smile the fashion photographers loved to publish. “Now if you’ll excuse us….”
Deftly, Thoreau slipped his arm around Piggy and neatly shoehorned her into the back seat of the cab with admirable aplomb, then followed her in. Howard went around to the other side of the taxi and got in, putting Piggy safely in the middle. Thoreau rolled down his window so Piggy could blow kisses at the crowd. That meant that the crowd could hear him perfectly when he gave the address of one of New York’s toniest eateries. There was a mad scramble from the press to get to their own transportation.
Once the cab pulled out into traffic, Moishe angled his head back to check with them. “You want me to beat them to the restaurant, or you want to make a grand entrance?”
“A grand entrance,” Piggy said.
“The second one,” said Howard. They smiled at each other, but then he looked across her cozy figure and gave Thoreau the evil eye.
“The next time you volunteer me—“ The threat hung in the air.
“You’ll love every minute of it,” Thoreau said sagely, unperturbed. Howard’s eyes narrowed, and although he said nothing, Piggy thought he looked like the conversation wasn’t over yet. She bit her lip worriedly. She had bullied Thoreau into asking Howard to come to New York. Both of them could be bossy and demanding, but she hoped they were finding enough things in common to enjoy each other’s company on the trip.
“I hope you’re hungry. They have a pumpkin ravioli that will melt in your mouth,” Thoreau was saying. “And their fruit crepes with raspberries are sinful.”
Piggy sighed, ravenous but expectant, and settled back. For the first time in a while, she felt warm, and pampered and safe. She let Howard hold her hand, but she put her head on Thoreau’s shoulder and sighed while Mr. Finkel drove them safely through the night.
Kermit turned over and looked at the clock, whose hands had not seemed to move for the past two hours. He sighed, knowing how this played out. The clock on his bedside that refused to move for the first half of the night developed warp propulsion after two in the morning and then he woke up gritty-eyed and sluggish. He had not quite counted on how much he had come to depend on Piggy’s warmth and softness in the big bed they shared. It seemed entirely too much room for one relatively small amphibian. One relatively small cold-blooded amphibian, who missed snuggling with his warm-blooded (and frequently hot-blooded) wife. Kermit sighed and turned his pillow over, pulling the covers more firmly around his shoulders. Even if she were here, Kermit reminded himself, she would be far from ready for bed. She was out on the town, out with Howard and Thoreau and he doubted that she’d spared more than a passing thought for what her stick-in-the-mud spouse was doing. Feeling sorry for himself made him feel good for a moment, then worse, and he stiffened his resolve and softened his expression by sheer force of will.
It’s not her fault—I made her go, he reminded himself, and the thought made him unexpectedly proud—proud of her, and proud of himself. It had been a hard thing but the right thing, and he was glad about it. Piggy on Broadway. It did him good to think about it, and he fluffed his pillow again, rolled over onto his back and thought about it, long and hard.
When they had first met, Piggy had been interested in a career in theater. Unlike many of the young actresses her age, she had been more attracted by the lights of the Marquee than the sparkle of Tinseltown. Jim had been low-key, but obviously excited when he’d talked to Kermit about her audition for The Muppet Show, and while there had been no immediate plans for anything other than a very occasional ingénue, Piggy’s star quality had been evident from the moment she arrived. Kermit had been interested because Jim had been interested, so he had watched her arrival and check-in with more than passing attentiveness. Jim had caught him peeking around the curtain and grinned hugely, his expression mischievous.
While he’d been secretly mortified to have been caught ogling the young starlet, Jim hadn’t teased him too much. Jim had known that he’d not been comfortable with the last leading lady he’d been paired with, and he had wanted to find someone with whom Kermit had some on-screen chemistry. In the darkness, Kermit grinned. Chemistry was right! he thought. Chemistry, or maybe alchemy. Whatever you called it, he and Piggy had it in spades when they shared the screen-and when they were off-screen. Regardless of whether or not they were on again or off again, if you put the two of them in front of a live audience or a camera, things happened. Kermit could still remember the almost euphoric combination of anticipation and dread he felt when they took the stage together, never certain what was going to happen, regardless of how well-scripted his plans. His grin turned into a chuckle and Kermit felt his neck muscles begin to relax.
There had been times when he’d shamelessly taken advantage of her professional aspirations, scripting things he’d longed to hear her say, but Piggy had usually managed to pay him back in kind by alternately wrestling the reins away from him or throwing them feistily back into his lap. Just when he expected her to dig her high-fashion stilettos in, she would suddenly melt and defer to him, or flounce away in a huff and a cloud of perfume. It hadn’t helped that he’d alternately stared after her with a dopey expression on his face, or fumed and run after her. And when he had reached a fever pitch, ready to assert his mastery of the situation (or something like), then those big blue eyes would fill with tears and he would feel like the biggest heel in the world. Kermit’s cheeks flushed, although there was no one there to see it (or feel it). Sometimes he had been the biggest heel in the world, but she had always found some reason to stay anyway. Looking back, he realized how hard it must have been, and how much she had wanted to stay to have put up with his years of waffling and indecision. If she’d ever gone away—
Kermit groaned in frustration and sat up in bed. This certainly wasn’t helping. The only thing that was going to help was to get the film in the can—or to a point where he could steal a few days away—and to get up there to see her. And he couldn’t do that when he was sleep-deprived and crabby. Besides, he was going to see her tomorrow—not in person but in real time, and no amount of thrashing around in the sheets was going to make that happen any sooner. He needed some shut-eye, and to find his center. Determinedly, Kermit flopped over, fluffed his pillow for the final time, rammed his shoulder into it and managed, after a time, to—finally—fall asleep.
“Sooo….” Rory said, and dared a look at his partner. “Now you know. Please don’t tell Piggy I betrayed her confidence. I just…needed to tell someone.”
“Of course you did! Su cerdo es mi cerdo,” quipped Chad, leaning his shoulder against Rory’s. “I’m sorry some creep made a run at her. Being an uber celebrity does have its drawbacks.”
“You’ll have to let me know when you get there,” teased Rory, expecting to get a swat in return. Instead, Chad preened.
“I promise not to forget all the little people,” he said, doing a pretty good imitation of Miss Piggy.
Rory burst out laughing, then clamped his hand over his mouth. “Ooh…. You better not let her hear you. She’d swat you into next week,” he said
Chad looked unperturbed. “I’m not worried,” he said airily. “You’d come to my defense.”
Rory coughed—politely—and looked at Chad with his eyebrows raised. “I’m game,” he said, “but I wouldn’t want to get on Piggy’s bad side.”
Chad pursed his lips. “Does she actually have a bad side? I certainly haven’t seen it if she does.” His tone was teasing, but a tad snippy.
Rory cleared his throat, feeling like they might be straying into dangerous territory. “Me neither,” he admitted, but tempered this admission with a wolf-puppy look. “Besides, I’m not really anxious to tangle with Bobo again.” He flexed his shoulder, hoping for a little sympathy, and Chad rolled his eyes and sighed. “Oh, get over here and let me rub your shoulders,” he said.
He didn’t have to ask twice.
By everyone’s calculation, the evening had been a success, though not without its unpleasant moments. Piggy had not actually performed again, but she had danced with Thoreau—very proper and elegant—and had taken the floor with Howard for a little showy footwork, making the paparazzi foam at the mouth. The crowds of fans and reporters and parasites had reached almost street-riot proportions by the time they left the restaurant, with repeated hand-wringing by the owner that three complimentary meals, champagne, a crème brulee and a whole cocoanut-chiffon cake were not enough to shower on the divine swine and her companions. Piggy had been both effusive and regal, batting her eyelashes and laying her satin-gloved hand lightly on his arm. His two tops waiters had almost gotten into a fist-fight in the kitchen, and had only desisted when threatened with the promise of getting the boot if they didn’t stop.
Mr. Finkel once again forged a path through the throng to give them safe passage back to his cab, and Piggy strutted the gantlet like it was the runway she would grace later in the week. If anyone noticed that her composure was a little frayed doing so, it didn’t show up in the pictures. Marty had been on alert since they’d left the theater in the cab, and he was fielding requests and phone calls with his usual aplomb. He’d put a bug in Scooter’s ear, too, but told him not to try to manage the stream of press—good or bad. Marty would deal with that and try to keep Kermit in the loop before their big day tomorrow. This week was going to a Piggypalooza of press, and the kid had enough on his plate. Marty would handle this part, and try to keep things steered in the right direction.
The pictures would be phenomenal, and Piggy knew how to set up a sound-bite, but there was going to be fall-out. Piggy knew it. Marty knew it. Kermit knew it, but was probably less sanguine about it than he let on. Marty couldn’t worry about that at the moment, but he was making a mental list of the positives and he planned to do everything he could to make things easier on the long-distance couple while still showcasing Piggy as the diva superstar she was. It was a fine balancing act, and Marty, for all of his curmudgeonly ways, was an expert. By the time Piggy texted him in the cab to say they were heading for home, he’d already squashed a couple of ugly posts, spun about 436 others stories and managed to tweeted a reminder about her appearance on the Academy Awards with her doing hubby to everyone on his account. He knew Muppet Central was on it, and he grinned, imagining the forum lighting up like a Christmas tree. Years of experience in showbiz had taught him one thing, at least: sometimes, you had to sit back and let people do what they did best.
Clifford had not spent years hanging around Kermit for naught. He had watched and listened as Kermit has used his musical prowess to both attract women (read: Miss Piggy) and to keep them at bay (read: Miss Piggy). It is hard to end up in too much trouble when you have a guitar in your lap and your girl by your side—instead of the other way around. So after supper, Clifford had led Tricia over to the couch and picked up her old practice guitar that Mabel had helped him find. They sat singing and strumming, passing the instrument back and forth and trying to out-do each other. If both of them had hoped to fend off intimacy, they had only succeeded in fending off the physical kind. Music had touched and healed some deep places in both of them, and finding someone who spoke that sacred language was wonderful and unsettling and strange. When Mabel got in about 2 a.m., she found them arguing companionably about what key some old love song “ought” to be sung in. Seeing them, laughing and arguing and looking up in genuine surprise when she walked in, reassured Mabel even while it gave her pause. She smiled at them while they waved her over.
“Mom! Mom—come and sing soprano with us,” said Tricia, and Mabel stopped and put down her big purse and came and sat in the comfortable chair opposite the couch.
“Give me a chord,” she said, and took off her shoes to flex her toes. Clifford obliged, and when Tricia’s voice joined his, Mabel chimed in. She would never grace a stage or sing solo, but she had a lovely untrained voice and she sang the melody while her daughter and Clifford wove harmony around it. When that song ended, Clifford played another one, and—after that, Tricia took the instrument and played.
By this time, it was after 2:30 and Mabel’s eyes were closing every eight bars.
“Folks, I got to get some shut-eye,” she said. “These old bones have to work in the morning. Go to bed—both of you.”
Reluctantly, Tricia put the guitar down, smiling at Clifford. He was smiling back at her, warm and gentle, but Tricia made no move to kiss him goodnight. She touched his arms lightly with her slender fingers, then followed her mother down the hall.
“See you in the morning,” she murmured.
Clifford just nodded. He could sure get used to that.
Piggy was still fuming about the impertinence of some of the questions, but she was having a hard time deciding if she was more incensed by reports that Kermit could do without her or that she was doing better without him. Although she longed to retreat to her cozy little apartment for a soak and a solitary cup or warm milk, she could not afford to bring the paparazzi to her door. She had allowed Howard to cajole and bully her into going back to their hotel. Finkel’s skillful driving had led the reporters on a hair-raising ride, but he pulled up in from of the doorman with enough time to see them safely inside before the parasites descended.
“Come in, darling,” Thoreau said, ushering her into the luxurious room. Piggy decided immediately that she was due a little sumptuousness. She allowed Howard to take her coat and then stepped out of her heels to walk barefooted on the carpet. He gestured at the bottle of champagne that was chilling in a bucket of ice on the table, but she shook her head.
“No—no more for me,” Piggy said. She already had a glass of champagne at the bar, and a glass of wine with dinner. The combination of two performances that day, and her after-show performances as a diva on the town had made her giddy and more than a little punchy, and she did not want to add to that. She sat on the couch and flexed her toes decadently.
“I’ve ordered cocoa,” Howard said, putting down the room phone. He sat down on the far end of the couch and Piggy was about to complain and demand he come and sit beside her, but in the next instant, he had leaned down and lifted her feet into his lap. Gently, with a dancer’s understanding of what pressure points were most likely to bear the strain of dancing and walking in heels, he began to rub her tired feet. She sighed gratefully and relaxed, slumping against the back of the couch, but Thoreau was there, slipping a pillow behind her back. He settled next to her on the couch and put his arm around her shoulders.
“There, Darling, rest you pretty head on my shoulder. You’ve paid your dues and then some today.” He smiled at Howard across the divan. “Wasn’t she marvelous tonight?”
“She was perfection,” Howard said, using his knuckles to rub the tender underside of her toes. “A couple of times, when she was arguing with that Kenickie fellow—“
“Rory,” Piggy said automatically, her voice drowsy.
“Right. Rory. A couple of times when they were sparring, I could have sworn he was channeling Kermit.”
Piggy flinched, and Howard stopped rubbing her feet. “Sorry, Piggy—did I hit a sore spot?”
Piggy nodded, her cheek on Thoreau’s shoulder. She knew if she spoke she might cry. Howard resumed rubbing her feet, but gently, and Piggy felt one lone tear escape but that was all, and it was hidden by her hair.
She tried. Piggy did her best. As a matter of fact, she’d been doing her best all along and by herself, but some of that had been born out of necessity. True, she’d made friends but she still felt very keenly the weight of expectation that loomed over her like a dark cloud. Having her good friends close was wonderful—was lovely—but after Thoreau did his song and dance for potential business partners this week, he and Howard would go home—home where her life was, home where her frog was.
She was so quiet, Thoreau shifted so he could see her expression, and there was no mistaking the tears that were sliding silently down her lovely face.
“Oh, Sweetie,” he said, then shot Howard an exasperated look. “You big dumb boar you,” he said, and Howard gave a small cry of protest.
“But—but I didn’t—oh, mercy, Piggy. I’m so sorry.” And he scooted over and put his arm around her waist.
Chagrined at causing trouble between them, Piggy roused herself. “It’s not you—it’s Moi,” she said, wiping savagely at the evidence of her weakness. “And I’m fine. I just—I just miss my Kermie.” Despite her best efforts, her voice trembled on that last word.
“I know, Honey,” Thoreau said, patting her shoulder. “He’s miserable without you, too.”
“But—but I don’t want him to be miserable,” Piggy wailed.
It was Howard’s turn to shoot Thoreau an aggravated look. “Nice going,” he muttered. Thoreau looked mortified.
“I don’t want him to be unhappy. I just want him to be here—with Moi,” Piggy said haltingly. “I want him to be here to see me on Broadway, but he can’t because he’s working on the movie.”
“Scooter says they’re working very hard,” Thoreau said eagerly. “He said they’re back on track again.”
Even in her distraught state, Piggy’s radar went off. “What do you mean, back on track.”
The men exchanged wary looks. Piggy’s tears dried almost instantly.
“What?” she said. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing….” Howard said. He had never mastered “insincere,” and his expression gave him away instantly. Piggy swung back to glare at Thoreau.
“Spill!” she demanded, but Thoreau put his hands up defensively.
“I know nothing. I’m a simple tailor.”
Piggy was about to say something unladylike, then changed tactics. Her big blue eyes filled with big blue tears and she looked from one to the other helplessly.
“Something awful is wrong nobody will tell me,” Piggy said. She conveniently ignored the fact that something awful had certainly been wrong here in New York, and she had yet to come clean about it.
“Everything’s fine,” Thoreau soothed.
“It’s not awful,” Howard said.
“It must be!” Piggy wailed. “No one will tell me!”
I had better get a nomination for this, at least, Piggy thought angrily, but her tears were working their magic.
“It’s nothing,” Thoreau said, putting his arms around her. “They’ve already fixed it.” He cast Howard a beseeching look, and the boar put his arms around both of their shoulders, completing the group hug.
“Here,” said Howard, handing Piggy a pristine handkerchief. “Dry your eyes and don’t cry. I may get drawn and quartered for it, but I’m going to talk.”
“And now—a little something to tide you folks over until morning,” said Dr. Teeth, and smiled his wide smile. “That’s a little cruise humor,” he added, to a ripple of amusement in the crowd.
Floyd bit back a groan but his bushy eyebrows rose. Seeing it, Janice shot him a teasing smile and did a little fancy riff on her guitar. Floyd rose to the challenge and improvised a few chords, then settled in to the regular rhythm of the song.
The crowds had been growing as the cruise progressed. They seemed to be hogging more than their share of the after-dinner crowd, and that was nice. He wouldn’t have wanted to put it in print, but he liked playing the occasional dance tune. It brought back good memories and gave him a chance to mellow out on stage with the band. Animal seemed to find them calming as well, and he was currently playing the snare and cymbal with no sign of impatience. This was the last set of the night, and the last song of the night. After this, it was a walk, dinner, a nightcap and a hasty retreat to their cabin.
The song wound to a close, the couples on the floor and the patrons at the tables clapping and smiling. There was more than one wolf whistle from the table of young bucks who always sat neat the front, but Floyd wasn’t worried. Janice never even seemed to notice the guys that seemed to notice her, leaving Floyd to do all the noticing. The waters of the Caribbean were warm, and the ship could get a little stuffy at time. Janice had acclimated by adapted her wardrobe, which no one had objected to. The midriff-baring halter dress stopped well above her knees, and when Floyd put his hand on her waist, her skin was warm.
“Good set, Honeybunch,” Janice said, kissing him on his furry sideburns. “I think they like us.”
“I like us,” Floyd said, smiling at her while he unchained Animal from the stage and the drum set. Animal got to his feet, whining a little with excitement.
“Heel, Animal,” Floyd said absently. “We’re going for a walk right now.”
Janice slipped her hand through Floyd’s arm. He had forgone a jacket tonight for a loose, tropical-inspired shirt in loud colors, and it made Janice smile. Nobody could rock a print like that like her guy!
They passed Dr. Teeth, who was crowded now by a whole throng of groupies. He was holding court, cracking jokes as they made dinner/dancing plans.
“Eh, Teeth still has it,” Floyd said with a grin. Janice looked over her shoulder.
“I don’t think he’s been in before three any night this week,” she observed.
Floyd said nothing, but he had his own opinions. “Let’s us get in before three,” he said, and they set out to take Animal all the way around the moonlit deck.
It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. For one thing, Howard and Thoreau hadn’t really been around the studio, so they couldn’t tell what they didn’t know. Any gossip they had picked up had been tertiary.
“And something happened to the film. That’s why Kermit couldn’t come and see me,” Piggy said thoughtfully. “I wonder why he didn’t just tell Moi. I would have understood.”
“You would have worried.”
“I would not!” she protested, but was firmly out-voted. “Fine,” she muttered, cheeks flaming. “I would have worried. But—but it’s okay now?” Her blue eyes were begging for reassurance. “The film is back on track?”
“Scooter says the film is back on track,” Thoreau said. “He said they were back on schedule when he and Sara came by to get their clothes for tomorrow night.” He did not add that he’d heard indirectly that the track they were back on was also behind schedule—it probably wasn’t true, and there was no need making things worse than they already were.
“Oh!” Piggy said, brightening. “The dress! How’d Sara look in the dress?”
“Like a vision,” Thoreau said. “She’ll give Scooter something to think about besides work tomorrow night.”
Piggy managed a smile. Sara had managed to have that effect on Kermit’s assistant. She leaned over and kissed her friend and dressmaker on the cheek. “Thank you for doing that for Moi.”
“My pleasure, Sweetie. Speaking of tomorrow night—you’re going to look amazing, but not if you don’t get some shut-eye. It’s too late to send you home, so I’m going to call Room Service and have them send you up some pjs.”
Piggy tried to protest, but to no avail. She was both out-voted and out-maneuvered.
“But I don’t have any clothes and I’m supposed to go to brunch in the morning,” she tried. “I need to go home and find something smashing to wear.”
“Not to worry,” Thoreau said. He got up and went to the large closet, coming back with a dress on a hanger with his signature garment bag over it. “I was going to save this for when we have our meeting, but I’ve got an idea or two about that.” He held the bag out to her. “Look at it,” he said. “It’s to die for.”
Obediently, Piggy unzipped the garment bag and looked inside. She almost cried again, but stopped herself. “It’s beautiful,” she said. “Do you want me to try it on.”
“You have to ask?” Howard teased, inclining his head toward Thoreau. Piggy was glad to note that they seemed to be friendly with each other again. She had been worried that the trip might prove too much for their budding friendship.
“If vous insist,” Piggy said. She stood up, took the garment bag and went to try it on.
“I still don’t understand why I can’t wear my lab coat tomorrow,” Dr. Honeydew protested. “If I win, I want to appear professional.”
“Me me mee meep me,” Beaker said firmly. He took the lab coat from his friend and hung it on a hanger.
“Oh, all right,” Honeydew pouted. “I suppose it is customary.”
Beaker handed him his tuxedo and he submitted with bad grace to trying it on, then turned uncertainly as Beaker gave him a critical once-over.
“Meep mee mee mo,” Beaker opined, and Honeydew smiled.
“Yes,” he said. “I put fresh batteries in the pocket last week.” He touched a switch and immediately the trim on the lapels, the collar and down the sides of the pant legs lit up with iridescent light. “See?”
“Mee! Mee mee mee-mee meep,” Beaker said, clasping his hands together.
“Why, thank you, Beaker,” said the good doctor, blushing. “I do feel rather elegant.”
Luckily for him, there were so many reporters strewn around the lobby, he wasn’t that noticeable. He had even managed, by careful steps, to cadge a chair near the concierge, and he was there when the call came down for a set of lady’s pajamas to be delivered to the two gentlemen—
The room number was inaudible, and Seymour seethed in frustration. The little trollop. She was spending the night with those dandies while he sat down here in the lobby. He wondered savagely if Kermit knew what she was up to, and had half a mind— His hand reached for his phone.
No. No. That wouldn’t help. In fact, it might not be such a bad thing after all.
Piggy liked to make such a show of being a one-frog pig, but that was obviously not the case. She’d certainly spent the evening enjoying the attention of two handsome gentlemen, with no frog in sight, and now she was preparing to spend the night.
Here, Seymour’s thoughts derailed, and he ended up grinding his teeth in frustration. When she was his, he would teach her decorum, but the thought that she might not be as proper as she seemed was also titillating. He would have to think about that.
A white-gloved bell-hop appeared at his elbow.
“Can I help you with your things, sir?” he asked politely. “The concierge says you haven’t checked in yet….” It was polite, but he was being told in no uncertain terms to check in—or get out. Seymour hesitated, but in the end, the thought of being in the same building with her while she was cavorting upstairs was making him slightly crazed.
“You’re very kind,” Seymour said, laying a $50 casually on the white glove. “I think I’ll have a drink in the bar first…and then….”
The $50 disappeared as though by magic. “Very good, sir,” he said, and moved on. Seymour watched him hit up a reporter who had been camped stubbornly near the elevators on the off-chance that she might reappear before getting up and walking out.
The evening had not been a total waste. In fact, it had been enlightening, to say the least. In the cold night air, Seymour smiled, and it was not a pretty sight.
Piggy needed a little help with the zipper, but when it zipped, the dress nestled impudently against her curves. Thoreau smiled, pleased with himself, but Howard was not as silent.
“You look marvelous, Lambchop,” Howard said.
“Lambchop never looked this good,” Piggy muttered. Thoreau loosed her hair from its half-up do and let the platinum curls spill over her shoulders.
“Down? What do you think, Howard?”
Howard was thoughtful. “She needs lipstick.”
“I know I need lipstick,” Piggy snapped. “He means the dress, my hair—the look.”
“Oh, the look is fab,” Howard said. “Although I don’t really like it with pantyhose. I think you should wear it bare-legged,” he ventured.
Piggy hesitated. He knees were scraped raw, and she had not revealed the full extent of the damage since it was already bandaged.
“It’s too cold to go barelegged,” Thoreau chided. “I brought some silk mesh stockings.”
Piggy relaxed. Stockings she could do.
“I think my heels are a little high for breakfast,” she worried, but Thoreau dismissed it.
“Pish tosh,” he said. “It’s never too early for a classy pump.”
The pjs arrived, and Piggy went to change out of the dress and into the silky loungewear. When she came out of the bathroom, she made for the couch.
“A pillow and a blanket and I’m fine,” Piggy said.
“Oh no,” said Thoreau. “You’re not sleeping on the couch. You’re sleeping in my room.”
Here, Piggy protested, although she was almost too tired to make a fuss.
“But it’s not fair for you to give up you room and sleep on the couch just because I’m having a boo-fest and missing my frog,” she whined. In the too-long pajamas, she looked a bit like a little girl having a tantrum.
“It’s perfectly fine,” said Thoreau. “I insist.”
Howard went over and unlocked the connecting door between the room, then stepped through and turned on the lamp by the bedside. Housekeeping had come by earlier and turned the bed down. There was a mint on the pillow.
“Here, Sweetie—all turned down, pillows fluffed and ready for you.”
“But you have a busy day tomorrow. Moi can’t let you sleep on the couch—“
“It’s okay. I promise.”
Thoreau took Piggy’s shoulders in his hands and looked at her. “Piggy,” he said gently. “I’m not sleeping on the couch.” He kissed her on the cheek, and sent her off to bed.
Oh! Poor Piggy! I want to give her a hug. I'll say that this chapter was very wonderful Ru.
*passes out the letover, yummy fruitcake and two blueberry muffins to Ru for a job well done*
Here are some thoughts after finishing the latest addition to this novel.
1 You just don't hear the word "slink" that often.
2 "The press of the press", I like that image.
3 Probably the best implied frog appearance is his being cast as Moses when it comes to creating a channel amongst the crowds for his pig to safely walk through.
4 Real live Ken doll as one of the reporters? This makes me snort because I finally saw Toy Story 3 a couple weekends ago, those bits were funn-ee.
5 "One relatively small cold-blooded amphibian, who missed snuggling with his warm-blooded (and frequently hot-blooded) wife."
Lovely word play, you get points for that.
6 I'm smiling at Kermit's reminiscences from the beginning days of The Muppet Show.
Was that leading lady he was paired with before a reference to the bit where he ended up hurt, both physically and emotionally, from trying to court Miss Mousey in the Valentine Special?
Also, it's somewhat authorially eerie how both Fleet and Kermit are having trouble sleeping, and how they're recalling happier moments with Piggy to fall into that somnambulist state of mind.
7 About Rory's comment to Chad at the beginning of that section...
"And knowing is half the battle." Yes, I recapitulate, I've watched waaaay too much TV in my years.
I'm even worse if you give me even the slightest lead-in into something that my mind immediately connects with a Muppet reference.
8 As for Chad's solution to Rory's aches, all I have to say is...
If your back is hurting.
I can say for certain.
I'll be there to treat you to a soothing backrub.
When there ain't no hole in the washtub.
9 "Clifford had not spent years hanging around Kermit for naught. He had watched and listened as Kermit had used his musical prowess to both attract women (read: Miss Piggy) and to keep them at bay (read: Miss Piggy)."
Of course you would have Miss Piggy as a substitute for a definition of what a Muppet's ideal of love-wooing/pursuing should be. So we shouldn't be surprised to open up a dictionary and find her picture there, at least when it comes to the frog—or other Muppets attempting the same endeavor.
10 "It is hard to end up in too much trouble when you have a guitar in your lap and your girl by your side—instead of the other way around."
Another wonderful turn of phrase of yours.
11 Give you a chord Mabel? How's about a C, a bouncy C.
*See Note 7 supra.
12 "True, she'd made friends but she still felt very keenly the weight of expectation that loomed over her like a dark cloud."
Again, you paint such a lovely picture with words.
13 Yep, guess all that money that went into acting lessons is now paying off for Piggy.
14 Nice quips between and on the ship.
15 "Scooter says the film is back on track," Thoreau said.
And if Scooter says so, it is so.
16 Hmm, Bunsen must be nominated for one of the main special effects categories announced on Academy Award Sunday rather than at the ceremony held separately for the erm, "other" specific details of movie magic.
Also... The song "All Dressed Up" by Joe Raposo at this scene.
17 Again, you just have to chuckle at the use of "titilated". And there's one of Ru's fave words.
Stevie: Ca-vort, ca-vort, ca-vort. Yip yip yip.
18 Heh, money makes the world go round and the greased wheel and all that rot.
19 "You look marvelous, Lambchop," Howard said. "Lambchop never looked this good," Piggy muttered.
*Silently curses the power of Ru's imagery—and imagination, no comment.
20 For some reason, I find the moment where Piggy's likened to a little girl in the pajamas a rather endearing touch, reminding me of when she appeared in the T-shirt and scuffs with the hairclip that had "PRINCESS" spelled out in rhinestones waaaaaaaay back in Chapter 3.
21 "Piggy," he said gently. "I'm not sleeping on the couch."
Good night everybody!
An excellent update, thank Ru for this Christmas (or Boxing Day) present.
If you're just tuning in after Christmas, don't miss the LAST chapter....
Chapter 136: Out of Context
It was an old maxim around the studio that, “If the pig ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”, which was actually a corollary to “If the frog ain’t happy, he erupts into arm-waving hysteria”, which was usually accompanied by “Not now, Fozzie”, the oft-quoted, “Our insurance doesn’t cover that Gonzo!” or the always popular, “Scooter!! I need you!” All studios have their own flavor, their own style, as do most businesses.
About his current place of employment, Scribbler would probably have said, “If the boss ain’t happy, I’m definitely going to be beyond miserable.” Despite having come back to Los Angeles unwillingly, unhappily and on short notice, the fact that he was now here in LA instead of New York, where she was was now somehow his fault. Scribbler listened to the angry, insulting voice berating him through the phone and took it with the resignation of the hopelessly doomed. There was no pleasing his boss—none—and the best he could hope for was to get out intact and with some semblance of dignity and professionalism. A month ago, he would have scrapped any plans to escape with his livelihood, but something had changed in the past few weeks. Maybe it was discovering he could still work a story with a fresh angle when everything was against him. Maybe it was discovering that he had not been completely forgotten in his old haunting grounds. Maybe it was talking to her again, without wishing he was dead. In the process of reminding her of who she had once been, he had remembered some of who he had been as well.
“While you’re here pretending to get ready for the awards tonight, she took every reporter in the state of New York on a merry chase through the night life of the Big Apple. Every paper in the country has pictures of her singing, dancing, signing autographs, quaffing champagne or snarfing down coconut chiffon cake, and what do we have?”
There was a pause in the diatribe, and Scribbler considered putting a journalistic toe into the water, but it looked like a trap, and it felt like a trap, so he said nothing.
Even that did not work. “That’s right—we’ve got NOTHING!”
Scribbler thought it was good he had two ears, because he couldn’t imagine using the one near the phone again any time soon. “There are a million stories about her in the news today, and not one of them will make the rotten little amphibian wish he were dead!”
Scribbler said nothing, not certain if this made him glad or not. There was certainly no love lost between him and Kermit—how could there be, when they both wanted to be the primary planet in Piggy’s orbit?—but Scribbler had come to realize that he wasn’t going to get what he wanted by attacking Kermit directly. What his boss wanted was less clear, but clearly more dangerous to Piggy’s husband.
The silence was broken only by harshened breathing, and Scribbler felt the tension building. He would have to say something….
“I thought the video on youtube was a real stab in the heart,” he said, hating himself for the cringing way he sounded. “She pretty much said he’d been mean to her and made her leave, right? That doesn’t make him look good.”
There was a silence and Scribbler held the phone away from his head, ready for another explosion, but there wasn’t one.
“I mean, everybody thinks he’s so…so selfless for letting her go, right? She said something about that in one of these…um, in one of the papers.” He did not care to admit how many newspapers and tabloids he had already purchased and perused to catch news of her. “But what I want to know is this—how come he’s so anxious to get rid of her, huh? What’s he up to here that he doesn’t want her to know about?”
There was a groan of frustration and a few words never aired on Sesame Street. “He’s working on the stupid movie! Everybody knows that.”
“Really? And you know that because he said so?” Scribbler’s voice dripped with sarcasm. He had been a reporter too long to not have mastered the art of sarcasm. “Gosh,” he said, turning up the volume on his obnoxiousness. “Imagine how easy this job would be if we all just wrote down what the celebrities told us?” He held his breath. The phone might still blow up in his hand, but in the end, his gamble paid off.
“Okay. That’s not entirely stupid. Too bad none of the reporters writing about it took that approach.”
“You don’t say,” Scribbler practically growled into the phone. Fury, hot and dangerous, had boiled up under his skin and it was all he could do to tamp it down before he said something that would get him canned—or worse. “Too bad you don’t have a reporter up there who could have written that story, you know, firsthand,” he dared. “Gee, I’d write it today, but with the Academy Awards tonight, it will be yesterday’s news—and then some—by the time we could get it out.” He’d been striving to sound like Beaver Cleaver, but he could hear the Eddie Haskell oozing out of his voice.
“Fine,” muttered his boss. There was a warning undertone in that response, but there was also a certain grudging admiration. Scribbler started to smile but the flame of admiration went out as quickly as a match. “But I expect you to write something equally scathing about their appearance today.”
Scribbler ground his teeth. He thought the chances of him getting anywhere near Kermit tonight were going to be slim and none. Marty would have everything well-plotted and planned, and he knew from experience that that red-headed assistant of Kermit’s might look like a big kid, but he could be an effective dragon-at-the-gate. He shivered, thinking of the one they called Deadly, and was glad he usually didn’t leave the theater. Scribbler wondered nervously about the big Muppet called Sweetums—there’d been some scuttlebutt that he was working at the studio as security or something. Scribbler could easily imagine being picked up like a stick and broken in two, and while his life was hardly a bed of roses, he hoped to continue his time on this miserable ball of dust a little longer, at least.
“I spent most of the day talking to brainless starlets and gutless actors more worried about their BMI's and their BMW's than their behavior,” he said. “Trust me—I’m in a pretty vicious frame of mind.”
Something in his tone must have alerted his boss that he was loaded for bear (or at least for frog) and a little trigger happy, so the rest of the conversation wasn’t awful. It eventually ended and Scribbler sighed, went back to his papers, and waited for the ringing in his ear to stop.
He felt himself perched precariously on the horns of this dilemma (and gulped and tried to remember if Sweetums had horns on that big head of his). If he didn’t write something brilliant and sharp-edged, he might not be trusted to go back to New York. But if he wrote something mean and damaging, all the work he’d done in New York would be for naught. If he stopped and closed his eyes, he could still feel the warm, solid weight of her against his side, his arm supporting her as she struggled to find her footing. He thought about the way she had looked when she had said, “He saved me.” There had been a time when he’d taken that look of trust and adoration for granted, back when she would have asked him anything, and he would have done it. Other images came unbidden to his mind—the sounds and smell of all that had transpired in his boss’s dank office…. He had felt the threat to his own safety there, but it had been eclipsed by the threat implicit in that heinous act to Missy’s safety. He suddenly did not want the rest of his coffee. He wanted a shower. He wanted his freedom, if he could figure out what that meant, and from whom. And he wanted Missy to pick up her phone and call him again and tell him what she was up to.
Today’s newspapers said that, last night, that designer friend of hers said Miss Piggy got what she wanted. That had certainly not been news to Scribbler.
Dressing had turned into more of a logistical nightmare than usual because Piggy had none of her own things, but they had eventually sent her out the door looking positively lovely. Piggy had finally agreed with Thoreau that the heels were, in fact, the perfect height to show off her legs, which the dress was already doing. She had texted Rory to say not to wait for her and Moishe, and that she would meet them there at the appointed time. The doubt in Rory’s voice had fueled her determination to get there on time, and she had arrived at seven past the appointed hour—not nearly too long to wait for her appearance.
Despite its name, Four Seasons never changes. It is always beautiful, luxurious and perfect. Nothing is out of place. Nothing is ever late or imperfect. It seemed the ideal place for a genteel get-together where the primary goal was making yourself pleasant and enjoying the company of other pleasant people.
Although she had not been able to return to her apartment, Piggy nevertheless arrived at the restaurant as radiant and exquisitely styled as it was possible to be. The maître d' welcomed her warmly, taking her gloved hands and holding them briefly in his own. Her stylish coat and fur muff and hat had been whisked into the coat room and she was led to her table with deferential attentiveness.
The room was full of the filthy rich and the not-quite-dirty rich, with a fair sprinkling of notable celebrities. Piggy smiled and nodded regally as she passed, feeling the weight of eyes on her. She knew how to walk this walk and she floated across the polished floor with grace and style. Her lips parted in a genuine smile at the sight of Rory and Chad standing at the table, gazing at her with every evidence of admiration. Rory’s suit was conservative perfection, but Chad’s showy sharkskin suit showed off his lean, muscular physique. Mrs. Mansfield smiled and held out her hand to Piggy. Piggy took it and the women exchanged pleasantries while Chad pulled out her chair for her. She sat, and there was a collective sigh—very discreet—at the sight of her sitting happily and elegantly at the table. More than one busboy was distracted by the curve of her plump little calf or the enchanting turn of her crossed ankles. It was far from coincidence that some of the patrons received the wrong order and ate it anyway, unmindful of what they were eating, so there was nobody to chastise the waiters who seemed to have forgotten what they were doing and for whom.
A mimosa appeared as if by magic and Piggy sipped it delicately, feeling the champagne bubbles tickle her snout. They placed their orders and dispensed with the necessary small talk with some stiffness, but within moments they were chatting like old friends. Piggy learned that Mrs. Mansfield—Eileen, please, dear—was an attorney, and though they touched on last night’s stellar performances on stage, there was an unspoken agreement not to talk shop. Rory inquired politely into her evening with her friends, and Piggy answered nonchalantly, although the look in his eyes said he would demand a better accounting once they were not so public. He was pleased to see her looking so well and so happy.
It had been a tough week for Piggy, and she had been inexplicably high-strung last night after the show, but this morning she was charming perfection. Rory felt humbled that she was making such an effort to be here just to make a good impression on his mother-in-law. He was glad that he had taken the blame over her injuries in front of her friends. Despite telling Chad the night before, he wanted Piggy to know that she could trust him to look out for her.
They joked, told stories and did justice to the excellent food set before them. Since coming to the big apple, Piggy had had few chances to eat out in the company of friends—other than last night—and she found herself relaxing. She knew herself to be among friends, and she knew herself to be radiant and she knew that evidence of said radiance would soon grace the pages and websites of news organizations all over the globe, adding to the buzz from last night’s publicity. All was right with the world—at least for the moment.
When the entrees were served, she waited until the waiters had withdrawn—goodness, there seemed to be a lot of waiters for their table!—then Piggy teased Chad a little about his cutting-edge fashion. Though his cheeks flushed with pleasure and self-consciousness, he bore up under it well. “Mother,” he demurred, gesturing fondly in her direction. “She tends to spoil me.”
“When he lets me,” Eileen said, smiling and twirling her mimosa glass. “He’s insisted on being shockingly independent.”
Piggy knew what that was like—at least a little.
“I want to make it on my own,” Chad said composedly, folding his long, slim hands on the table in front of him. “I want to be hired because they like my dancing and my acting—not because you know people, Mother.”
Piggy giggled and turned to Eileen, her forehead puckering attractively. “Who do you know?” she asked politely. Mrs. Mansfield was obviously well-off—her clothes were amazing and she had the chic, well-cared-for look of the financially comfortable. She was one of those women who looked so perfectly appropriate and stunning that she seemed to blend seamlessly into her environment. Thoreau had commented on it the night before, noting how familiar she seemed, but they had concluded that it was because she was such a perfect specimen of her “type” and Piggy had thought no more about it.
Mrs. Mansfield smiled and her eyes twinkled with mischief. “I’m a freedom fighter,” she murmured, and Rory and Chad both shook their heads and grinned. When it was obvious that Piggy didn’t get the joke, Chad hastened to explain.
“Mother’s little joke,” Chad said with a reproving look. “I would have said she was in assets management.”
“Or asset coverage,” Rory quipped, but Piggy’s blue eyes remained innocent.
“I work with people who want to be let out of their, um, contract,” Mrs. Mansfield demurred.
“Ooh! Like people who want to renegotiate the pay they get per episode?” Piggy said. Might be good to know….
“Not exactly,” Eileen said, her eyes merry. She sipped her coffee and blotted her wide smile with her napkin. “I deal more with, um, personal contracts.”
Chad could contain himself no longer. “Good grief—are you telling me you don’t know who my mother is?” He sat up straight and looked at Rory, astounded. “She doesn’t know who my mother is!” He sounded delighted.
“Congratulations dear,” Eileen murmured absently. “You’ve eclipsed me, no doubt.”
Piggy was beginning to feel like she’d stumbled into “The Banana Sketch”, and she looked to each of them in turn. Rory came to her rescue.
“Eileen represents high-profile people when they want to—“
Oh. Oh no. Nononononono!
“—divorce,” he finished.
“—divorce.” Piggy’s head swam with images and all the color drained from her peaches-and-cream complexion. Now she knew why Mrs. Mansfield seemed so familiar—she had seen her countless times on television, usually arm-in-arm with whatever high-powered executive or celebrated socialite she was currently representing. Although she usually strove to present the unpleasantness of a public scandal in non-escalating terms, she was the go-to person for high-profile celebrity divorces.
Rory watched expectantly for signs that his co-star understood, waiting for her to join in their witty wordplay, but when she blanched and looked ill, his expression became concerned.
“Piggy, honey—what’s wrong? Are you—?”
Piggy’s voice was barely above a whisper, choked with suppressed tears. “Are you telling Moi that I’m sitting at Four Seasons with the best-known celebrity divorce attorney on the planet—and nobody bothered to warn me?”
Now Rory looked confused. “Warn you?” he asked. “I don’t understand. It’s just Chad’s mom—why would I need to—oh. Oh no. Oh god, Piggy—I’m sorry. I didn’t think—didn’t realize…. I never imagined that people would…oh, Piggy, please—don’t cry. I’m sorry! I’m an idiot and I’m so, sooo sorry.”
Although tears filled her eyes, Piggy clung to her composure. Rory stopped mid-gesture in reaching to comfort her, realizing that the sight of her co-star drying her tears wasn’t likely to help things. He stared at her miserably. Mrs. Mansfield seemed surprised, but Chad was frankly flummoxed, with no idea what to say.
“Oh for goodness sake,” Chad said. “Nobody who knows you would think—I mean, that is—oh dear. Piggy, Miss Piggy—I apologize.”
Just like Piggy had seen her do a hundred times on television, Eileen reached out and patted her hand as though she were one of her distraught clients, and not the mere mother of a friend of a friend.
“I do apologize, Miss Piggy,” she said calmly. “I’m sure noone that knows you would dream—“ She trailed off, remembering what Rory had said about Piggy being somewhat solitary and private because so much of her life was already in the public eye. Her mind raced, thinking of the possibilities, and she sighed. “This is going to take some thinking about, Miss Piggy,” she said, imminently practical. “We might as well eat. I’m sure we’ll come up with something, but I think I’m going to need to put my game face on.”
Rizzo was turning from the toaster oven with a laden plate of pastries when something on the television caught his eye. “Hey Gonzo—get in here. Miss Piggy’s on television.”
“I thought that was tonight,” said Gonzo. He came out of the bathroom with foam all over his neck.
“Naw, this was last night,” Rizzo said.
“Boy,” said Gonzo. “Kermit’s going to be awfully disappointed. When I saw him the other day, he was all geared up for tonight.”
Rizzo sighed and waved a hand to shush him even as he murmured out of the corner of his mouth. “They are gonna be on television together tonight, you big weirdo—but Miss Piggy is on television now.”
“Oh. Why? What’d she do this time?” If Gonzo was aware of the irony of him asking that question, it didn’t show.
“I don’t know,” Rizzo said, “but she looks pretty good doing it, if you know what I mean.”
“I know what you mean,” said Gonzo. He stared at the screen as some morning show played a clip of Piggy walking into a restaurant and then a clip of her singing. Maybe it was because Camilla had been unapproachable so long, but Gonzo wasn’t having much trouble remembering the feeling that he used to feel whenever he saw Miss Piggy. He stood there with the foam congealing on his face and neck and stared, transfixed, as Piggy sang and walked and then waved at the fans. It looked like she was waving to them, and Gonzo smiled and waved back. Rizzo saw it and shook his head.
“Apparently,” said Rizzo, “she was out on the town last night with Howard and that scary dressmaker she hangs out with.”
“You mean Thoreau,” said Gonzo.
“Yeah, yeah—Thoreau. She apparently had a good time last night.” He sounded a little disapproving.
“Eh, probably. But she’ll have a better time today, believe you me.”
“Why should I believe you?” Rizzo demanded, watching Piggy get into the taxi and blow kisses before being driven away. “What’s she supposed to do today?”
“She’ll see Kermit,” said Gonzo. “After that, I don’t know, but seeing Kermit will be the best thing that’s happened to her in a while, I’ll betcha.” As Piggy’s companions had recently observed, noone who knew her—or Kermit—would think otherwise.
“It’s about time something good happened to Kermit this week,” said Rizzo. He had worried and fretted a little about everything that had happened at the studio this week, but Gonzo seemed more relaxed. Of course, Gonzo was a complete lunatic…. Rizzo turned to look at Gonzo and was startled to see what appeared to be shaving foam all over his cheeks, chin and neck. “Um, Buddy—you shaving now?” He tried to imagine Gonzo less furry and less blue.
Rizzo gestured at his friend's congealing coiffure. “You’re, um, wearing shaving foam.”
Gonzo touched his neck self-consciously. “Oh. No. This isn’t shaving foam. It’s whipped cream.”
Rizzo felt his eyes cross. He opened his mouth, intending to ask, “Why are you slathering whipped cream all over your fur”, but stopped and closed his mouth instead. On second thought, he really didn’t want to know.
Eileen putting her game face on seemed to involve discreetly freshening her lipstick, but while she seemed utterly absorbed in the task, she murmured comfortingly to Piggy, giving instructions without it being apparent. Rory and Chad had lost their wide-eyed looks of horror and did their level best to make pleasant small talk to ward of any eavesdropping while the womenfolk figured out what came next. They talked about their shows, the food, anything and everything that came to mind in order to keep a sound barrier while the ladies conversed quietly.
Eileen turned and looked at Piggy with interest. “Give me a look and laugh and shake those lovely curls,” Eileen murmured. “You know how to give someone the royal brush-off, but nicely?” Anyone looking would have seen Eileen turn and ask Piggy a question, but even those who might have been able to read lips were unlikely to be able to read snouts as Piggy responded.
“I know how to give someone the royal brush-off,” Piggy said through gritted teeth. After her initial dismay, she had pulled herself together, and was now in control of herself—at least, to all appearances.
“Good. Do that, then,” Eileen said, “only smile when you do it, friendly-like.”
Piggy did it, and she felt the ripple of surprise that coursed through the room. While it fueled her concern that people were watching them, it also reassured her. Her Piggy-sense had told her she was the topic of much conversation, and it was a slight relief to know it was accurate.
“Lovely, my dear,” said Eileen, blotting her lipstick to cover her next statement. “Now I’m going to look at you beseechingly and earnestly and you are going to laugh in my face—but nicely. Got it?”
Although she would hardly have owned it, Piggy could take direction with the best of them, and she followed Eileen’s lead, improvising as she went.
Eileen gave her an impassioned, earnest look, and Piggy bit her lip in merriment before bursting in gales of infectious laughter.
“Oh Eileen,” Piggy said, gasping for breath. “You know Moi cannot help you. Moi is very happily married, but vous are sooo kind to ask.” Again, the crowd murmur rose and fell, proof that their conversation was being noted.
Eileen shook her head ruefully, but smiled her sharkish smile. “I knew it was pointless, but you can’t blame a gal for asking.” Earlier, their voices had barely crossed the table, pitched just for each other’s ears, but their last statements carried clearly to the seven tables nearest them. Watching news of what they’d said spread through the room reminded Piggy of what happened when you dropped a pebble in a still pond—the ripples went on and on and on in ever-widening circles until they beat themselves out against the shore.
“Mother,” Chad said, his voice pitched to carry above the din. “I told you not to bother Miss Piggy if she came to brunch with us. You know she doesn’t need a lawyer.”
Mrs. Mansfield turned and smiled her stunning smile at her son. “You are so right, dear,” she said distinctly. “What a smart boy I’ve raised!”
Piggy turned and gave Eileen a genuine, if somewhat resigned smile. “He comes by it honest.”
Part of what makes casinos so addictive is that patrons are completely shut off from the outside world. There are plenty of things to entertain you, but no television screens in the lobby or in the bars would alert to the existence of an outside world. Still, there were phones, and Mabel’s phone had been buzzing discretely and silently in her pocket as she filled coffee mugs and dished with regular customers while she dished out food.
“Winning or losing this trip, Jason?” Mabel asked. “Guts or glory?”
“Can’t complain,” Jason said. “I didn’t lose my shirt.”
Jason came regularly with his brother Joshua to the casino, and was usually a modest but steady winner—never enough to alarm the management and never enough to make the trip anything more than a pleasure trip.
“Best not,” Mabel said. “If you do, the showgirls will never let you leave.”
Jason laughed and ordered more toast with jelly, and Mabel went to take his order to the kitchen. One of the younger girls grabbed her when she went in.
“Hey, Mabel,” she said, holding out her phone. “Look—your pig friend is on the news.”
Mabel looked with wary surprise at the pictures, gradually relaxing enough to smile. Well, look at Miss Piggy—all dolled up and painting the town with her two good friends, Mabel thought fondly. She had been worried for a moment that something bad was in the news—more gossip or garbage trying to erode the solidarity of her little adopted family. But that was silly. Things were going great, right? And tonight she was gonna get to see Kermit and Piggy talk to each other almost live on television. Mabel shook her head and smiled. What an old worrywart she was getting to be. And all for nothing….
Despite the damage control they were doing, Piggy was desperate to get news to Marty before it reached Scooter or—worse yet—Kermit. She was under too much scrutiny to text—even if electronic devices had not been summarily banned from the dining room. The staff didn’t frisk you, exactly, but if so much as a phone appeared in the dining room, a hostess would arrive to escort you politely to “somewhere you could have a more private conversation”. Piggy knew that that gave her some protection from unwanted pictures of her sit-down with Eileen, but it also kept her from getting word out to Marty. Finally, she decided to risk it, excusing herself to go to the ladies room. Eileen had offered to go with her to act as a buffer, but Piggy thought that made her look too dependent on the attorney, so she had demurred. She stood, excused herself charmingly, and made her unhurried, unconcerned way to the ladies room, stopping to say a few well-placed hellos but not really stopping to chat. She went to the bathroom, surveyed her pale face with a frown, then slapped a smile on her face and stepped out into the foyer to make a phone call.
Marty picked up the phone absently. He’d been looking at the photo of Piggy on the stage at the packed bar. Variations of it had appeared on several news websites, and even more variations—many of them obviously made my hand-held phones—had flooded the cosmos. He liked that photo—liked the pose of her looking all old-school glamor and sultry sex appeal—but it wasn’t the picture he liked the best. The one he liked the best was one that had been taken of her in the cab. Howard could be seen in profile behind her, and Thoreau was in the foreground, with Piggy smiling and blowing kisses out the open window. It was a good picture of Piggy, though not the best by a longshot, but what made it Marty’s favorite was the fierce, protective expressions on her companions’ faces. She looked comfortable—they looked vigilant. That made his old heart glad, and that was good because his old heart and his old body and his old brain were wiped after the last night. He’d been fielding questions and requests all day, and had been exceptionally glad that the hounds had finally been called off in order to get ready for the big show in LA. He’d already sent a whole bunch of stuff to Kermit’s phone, and he was gonna call the frog in a bit and call it a night—or a morning, at least—so he could catch some shut-eye before everything began again in earnest this afternoon.
“What?” he barked into the phone, but it wasn’t as loud as usual. There was silence, and he looked at the phone in surprise for a moment. It was impossible not to remember the unexpected phone call that he’d gotten from that piece-of-work reporter who used to—
Marty took his feet off the desk and put his elbows on it. “Yeah, Honey,” he said. He knew from the sound of her voice that something bad had happened, and for a moment his heart leapt into his throat. Durn her and her independent ways! He should have sent a whole army of bears up there to look out for her--
“I’ve got a little problem that Moi knows you can help me fix,” Piggy said, and though her voice was bright, he could hear the tears just trying to ooze out.
“I can fix it, Honey,” Marty said gently. “Are you okay? Can you talk where you are?”
“Moi is at Four Seasons,” she said distinctly, and Marty felt a little better. Nothing bad ever happened at Four Seasons—not that he could recollect, anyway. Oh—oh! It was coming back to him. She was going to brunch with that kid she danced with—the one that looked like a big farm boy.
“Good place to be. You at your breakfast?” He looked at his old-style watch. “Um, brunch?”
“Yes. Moi is here at brunch with Rory—you remember Rory—and some friends….” She paused as though he had interrupted her, a cue for him to try to guess what she couldn’t—or shouldn’t—say.
“New friends? Some reporter bothering you?”
“Not yet,” Piggy said. “But I’m sure I’ll hear from him soon.”
Marty decoded for a moment. “So—the reporters aren’t on it yet and you want me to see if I can head them off at the pass?”
“Oh Marty,” Piggy said with a laugh, and he heard the relief and anxiety in her voice. “Vous are sooo clever to remember! Have you heard anything more about our counter-offer yet? Moi is working very hard to get ready in case things work out….”
Good grief. Marty had never had such a quick study as Piggy, and she could play this game better than him most days. He wished he’d had a little sleep and a lot more coffee.
“We’re going to sell this as role prep?” he said, and Piggy giggled again. Marty felt the sweat break out on his forehead. He still didn’t know what the trouble was, but he was pretty sure it was going to be a hassle and a headache and that he and Scooter might have to spend part of the day sitting on Kermit to keep him from charging up to New York. Good thing Sweetums was on hand, too.
“Eileen was soooo kind to let me pick her brain. Do you think we could bring her on as a consultant? I think it would add realism to the part.”
“Eileen…. Eileen from Eileen’s Colossal Cookies?”
He felt her rage at not being able to blurt it out, felt her trying to will him to guess and he jumped in again. “Eileen Fisher?”
“Didn’t you mention something about needing someone to help us keep the legal dialogue accurate?” Piggy asked.
Legal…legal…Eileen who knew about legal dialogue…oh flapjack. Marty gave a small sigh and rubbed his forehead, where a splitting headache had erupted. “You’re at Four Seasons with the best-known celebrity divorce attorney in the 48 contiguous states—is that about it?”
“That would be lovely,” said Piggy.
“Would it do me any good at all to ask how? Or why?” he said plaintively.
“Ohhh. No thank vous,” Piggy demurred. “Vous are so thoughtful.”
Marty’s brain was racing. They needed some sort of vehicle that Piggy might conceivably star in that would justify a public meeting of this sort, because if they didn’t give the tabloids something to hang their innuendo on, Piggy was going to find herself facing tabloid-style divorce coverage of a divorce that wasn’t happening. Whatever they did, they needed to nip this, and nip it good.
Many a young Hollywood hopeful had lamented that—while leading men were allowed to age with some dignity, being paired with younger and younger co-stars as their hair silvered and their name recognition grew—women tended to be relegated into three basic categories: Babe, District Attorney and Driving Miss Daisy. Piggy had never made it out of the “Babe” category, which suited them both just fine, but he could easily see her in a smart business suit, a monogrammed suitcase…ahhh.
“Piggy—how do you feel about Legally Blond.”
“Moi has excelled at both,” Piggy said, “as you well know. But of course I could not break my contract to star in Grease for anything. See if they won’t reconsider the timing, won’t you?”
“I’ll get right on it,” Marty said. “You sit tight and let ol’ Marty take care of everything, okay?”
“Vous always know best,” Piggy said. Her voice was subdued, but it was imbued with a world of faith—faith in him to make everything all better. Marty knew that—whatever had happened before—he had won back her trust. He intended to sit her down for a little heart-to-heart to set things right—but first things first.
“As a matter of fact, I do,” he said. “Linger over coffee a little while I get the ball rolling, okay?”
“Yes, Marty. Moi will talk to you again before the awards.”
“You can bet on it,” Marty said. He heard a click and the dial tone buzzed in his ear. He sat still for a moment, let out a huge breath, and dialed a new number with a New York area code.
“Lowry?” he said when the phone was picked up. “This is Marty. Yeah—fine, fine. Couldn’t be better. Look—what’s up with you? I sent you my most-celebrated client and I’m a little worried you aren’t keeping up with her. I’ve had forty-eleven phone calls this weekend (which was true), and there’s a rumor going around that Piggy would make a good Elle in Legally Blond. You know anything about that?”
“Wow,” Scooter said again. Then, “Oh…wow….” Tangled in the covers, Sara flopped over behind Scooter so she could look over his shoulder at the handheld.
“Wow,” she said. “Where was that taken?”
By way of answer, Scooter scrolled through the photos on the screen, which showed the taxi pulling up in front of the restaurant, then Thoreau opening the door of the cab, then Piggy looking up from out of the cab, then Piggy stepping out of the cab, then Piggy stepping up onto the sidewalk, her dress lifted demurely by one gloved hand, then Piggy turning at the walkway in front of the restaurant, then Piggy waving her ”celebrity wave” to the crowd, then Piggy turning back toward the restaurant, then Piggy going into the restaurant, then the restaurant door, which had shut behind her.
“Wow,” said Sara again. “That’s a lot of film. Who took it?”
Deftly, Scooter slid a finger across the tablet and the pictures spun and changed. Sara saw a dozen variations of the pictures she’d just seen. “Well,” said Scooter, pointing, “these are all made by fans who showed up to watch her go in the restaurant last night.”
Sara’s eyebrows climbed. “There…there are hundreds of them. Good grief.”
“And that’s not even the real media,” Scooter said. Once again, he ran his finger across the screen, which changed in the wake of his touch. There were still more pictures of Miss Piggy—sharper, crisper, closer.
“Those are much better,” said Sara critically. While she did not approve of tabloid journalism in principle, she would have agreed that there was a certain skill involved in capturing a sometimes unwilling subject. It was not something that she liked to bring up around Scooter or his boss. She pointed to some pictures of Piggy on stage, standing in front of a microphone. Piggy’s gloved hands were held up beseechingly in the air, her lovely face tilted to catch the spotlight. “Those are even better. Who took them and where were they taken?”
“They apparently stopped off at a bar for champagne on the way to dinner,” Scooter explained. He ran his finger over the screen again and stopped on a news page. They skimmed the article in silence.
“Hmmm,” said Sara.
“That’s one of the better ones,” Scooter said. “Most of them are about the same.”
“Sounds like they had a busy night,” Sara said, skimming the article. She felt Scooter’s eyes on her and turned to catch him smiling at her.
“They weren’t the only ones,” Scooter said, and Sara blushed.
“Oh yeah?” she said, cheeks flaming. “Well, let’s see how you react when I’m almost eaten by monsters sometime,” she huffed.
Scooter drew her gently into his arms, the handheld forgotten.
“No thank you,” he insisted. He kissed her gently, then held the contact until she was kissing him back. “I wasn’t complaining,” Scooter murmured. “Just commenting.”
“Well I have a few comments about men who spend all their time working—“
“I’ve already talked to Kermit about that,” Scooter said solemnly. “We’re only going in for a coupla hours this morning, and that’s just to keep him from getting all nerve-whacked about tonight.” He smiled at her. “Why don’t you sleep in—“
“Too late for that!”
“And I’ll be back before you know it.”
But Sara was already up, trailing a bedsheet behind her while she thumbed through her own phone. “Wow—there’s a lot of stuff out there about Piggy. What did Kermit say?”
Scooter made a rueful face. “He said—“
“She’s doing what?” Kermit said. His head was positively spinning. He’d gotten up this morning to a full bladder, a full phone and an empty head and stomach. He saw that he’d missed an earlier call from Marty and listened absently to the message he’d left telling Kermit all was well and to call as soon as he could when he got up….
Kermit was on the verge of erasing that message when another voice mail started.
“Hey Kermit—Marty. Look—I need to let you in on a couple of things as soon as your little webbed toes hit the floor, okay? Call me.” Kermit listened to the time and realized that the message had been left while he’d been listening to the first message. He hit “redial” and waited for Marty to pick up.
“Thank goodness,” said Marty, and launched right in.
Separate names with a comma.