Hm...a note for Ch 72: Am wondering whether the fan team-up vs Scribbler foreshadows more fans being involved? You've blended IRL (well, okay, in-real-chat, anyway) and Muppets extremely well. I'll take a lesson from it!
More when I have the chance to read ch 73 again. I like savoring my fic meals...
The author apologizes in advance for this interruption, and will--immediately following this post, post more story, but there is so much going on with this story that I've got to inject a couple of things.
Thing 1: (Gosh! I feel just like Dr. Seuss!) I LEFT SOMETHING OUT! I was doing an inventory of the story parts I have scattered all over my computer and found a bit that should have posted with the Christmas Eve show stuff. I am mortified that I left it out, but immediately following THIS post I will include it in it's own separate place. Sorry! Mea culpa! Me could use a cuppa!
Thing 2: There is SO MUCH getting ready to happen in this story that I can't quite wait to tell you. We're going to have music, and mayhem, and go to the Oscars (along with some people we DON'T want to see there) and then there will be some exciting job opportunities, and some surprising revelations and a new music album and--oh, goodness, we're going to see Annie Sue and Kermit's brother Jimmy and...whew, I'm exhausted and energized just thinking about it.
Thing 3: (So I lied about there being a couple of things. Sue me.) I really, really, really appreciate you guys for coming to read. I do not take your patronage for granted, and I love to see your smiling avatars when you post. Hello to new people, like Newmansfan (who is not quite new) and Fersureitsjess. Hello to the old friends, too, like Leyla and Prawnie and Togetheragain and ReneeLouvier and, of course, Ed. There's so much more to this story that I've written so far, and I promise not to stop before it's all posted (even if I'm 112). That's it. Two posts to follow.
It was probably too much to ask that everything go smoothly with the second new show in less than a month, but Kermit would have asked if he’d known who to address the question to. As it was, his fretting was groundless, and the new songs and the new show and the new costumes and, yes, even the prunes and zombies turned out just fine. Better than fine, actually, as the entertainment news would report. The cast had finally escaped after two encores, which had gotten sortof creative since they weren’t doing Christmas carols anymore. Thank goodness for Rowlf and his ability to play almost anything at the drop of a hat.
Kermit wandered through backstage, watching the cast and crew disperse in twos and threes and sixes, proud of their efforts and a little tired after the strenuous two days they’d all had. He yawned, looking forward to being in his own room.
Piggy would undoubtedly be occupied for some time yet, dealing with her pet dressmaker, but Kermit did not mind at all. He was grateful and pleased with Thoreau’s help with the show, and glad that something good—and profitable—could come out of the union. Maybe I’ll get a break on Piggy’s next Oscar outfit, he thought, then snorted. Fat chance of that.. Still, whatever Piggy wanted, he intended to try to see that she got it, especially if what she wanted was…him.
Although Thoreau had had no idea that someone would be at the show for an exclusive peek of his costumes, the after-show revelation by Piggy left him swooning and pale.
“But—but what if—“
“No ifs,” Piggy said. She held up her little phone screen for him to see, and he squinted at the acerbic message from Marty.
GREAT. Now I’m getting calls from fashionistas about holding out on them. Thanks, kid.
“Is…is that…good?” Thoreau asked uncertainly.
“It’s good,” Piggy said serenely. “What he means is that every fashion god or goddess that he didn’t call is now calling him to complain. Trust me—that’s good. When you get ready to launch your spring line—“
“If! If I can even pull everything together on such short—“
“When,” Piggy repeated, “you’ll have some serious buzz.” She turned her cheek to him. “You’re welcome.”
Automatically and obediently, Thoreau leaned forward and bussed her cheek. “Thank you,” he said faintly. He looked at Piggy, his eyes suddenly coming back into focus. “I…I guess it’s about time for me to go back home. I have to plan a trip to NY, try to call in some favors, line up some models—“ He stopped, looking at her speculatively.
“Yes,” Piggy said. “Whenever you want me. Just run it through my schedule with Marty.”
“And do you think—“
“She’d love to. Janice would do anything for you after your help with that little beach number.”
“So, I guess that just leaves—“
“Oh, for goodness sake!” Piggy snapped. “Just call me, okay? And I’ll bring the entire cast and crew with me for the fashion show if you want.—got it? Need me, call me, get me—got it?”
Thoreau’s eyes were humble—a rare sight indeed. “Got it,” he mouthed. “Thank you, Sweetie. I couldn’t have…I wouldn’t have…”
Piggy took Thoreau by the shoulder and, for the second time that day, pushed him out of the room she was in.
“Go. Leave. Be creative—somewhere else.”
When at last she had her dressing room to herself again, Piggy leaned against the door and smiled to herself. They grow up soooo fast, she thought. It’s just getting them to leave the nest….
Rizzo and Gloria Jean had patched it up after the show.
“Sorry,” she said, rubbing his shoulder gently. “It’s just been pretty tense around here.”
“Tell me about it,” Rizzo agreed. “We’ve been burning the candle at both ends and the middle around here.”
“That’s the truth,” she said. There was a slightly awkward silence but they passed through it.
“So…we could go dancing, or go get some pie? Or call it a night?”
Gloria Jean smiled. “Pie sounds wonderful, but if I eat pie tonight I will seriously not fit in my costume tomorrow. How about…a show?”
Rizzo shrugged. “I’m game—and I have a Christmas bonus to spend. Point me to a concierge.”
They were not the only couple negotiating.
“Geez, that was fun,” said Foo Foo. “Watching the show was great but being in it was even better.” She shot Rowlf a sideways look. “I’m gonna miss it when I go.”
Rowlf digested the news and the look, and something inside of him slumped a little, but he smiled amiably. “What else have you got lined up?” he asked.
“I’m doing a commercial next month,” she mused, thinking through her calendar. “Then I’m subbing for a friend of mine who’s does old folks therapy at an assisted living facility” She turned and flashed a grin at Rowlf. “Some people find it very soothing to have me around.”
“That’s just because they don’t know you like I do, Foo,” Rowlf replied.
She stuck out her little pink tongue at him.
“Then what?” Rowlf asked. “Anything else on the horizon?”
“What is this?” Foo Foo complained. “Twenty questions? I feel like I’m at career day!”
She tackled Rowlf with energy and pinned him to the ground. Her sharp little teeth were bared in a snarl, and Rowlf held his hands up in surrender. Mock surrender. As soon as Foo Foo dropped her guard, Rowlf grabbed her and rolled, pinning her neatly with his bulk.
“Hey-ow!” Foo Foo protested. “You’re on my hair!”
“Oh, sorry,” said Rowlf immediately, and gave up what little advantage he’d had. She flipped him over her head and pounced on his back, biting him on the back of the neck.
Panting, Rowlf lay still a moment.
“I liked this better the other way,” said Rowlf conversationally.
“Talk is cheap,” muttered Foo Foo around a mouthful of fur. Rowlf got up on all fours, his muscles bunching beneath his soft brown fur, and then he gave a tremendous shake. Foo Foo held on for dear life, but just barely. Rowlf was able to dislodge her with little trouble, and then he pinned her fluffy white form with one burly arm.
“Had enough?” he teased.
“In your dreams.”
“We’ll talk about those later,” Rowlf murmured, but his eyes were laughing. “Better say ‘uncle.’”
Foo Foo merely grunted, so Rowlf reached out and tickled one little pink foot pad experimentally. Foo Foo squealed and let out a short, sharp bark of protest.
“No fair!” she said. “No fair no fair!”
“I wasn’t aware we were playing by official rules,” said Rowlf, reaching to tickle her back right paw.
“Stop! Stop! Uncle oh uncle!,” cried Foo Foo. After a moment, when he was convinced that she wasn’t faking, Rowlf let her up.
“A pleasure,” said Rowlf. “Dinner’s on you.”
Foo Foo sniffed, regaining her excessive dignity. “Fine,” she snapped. She turned and looked at him narrowly. “How did you find out I was ticklish?”
Rowlf shrugged. “Job application,” he said casually.
Foo Foo shook her head. “Piggy would never—“ she began, then let out a little gasp. “That little fink! That little frog fink! How did Kermit know?”
“The privileges of marriage, I guess,” said Rowlf. Foo Foo gave him a look, then sighed and leaned close to him as they headed out toward the strip. There were some privileges she was happy to live without.
“Hard to believe we’re going to be heading back home in a week,” Scooter said. They were sitting on one of the cubes backstage, enjoying the relative quiet.
Sarah groaned. “Hard to believe I’m going home in a week,” she moaned.
Scooter stopped and looked at her, opening his mouth and then closing it.
“Um,” he said, then stopped.
“Um-what?” she asked. “’Um am I hungry?’ Or ‘Um am I happy to be going back?’ Or ‘Um am I thrilled to be engaged to the most—‘“
“Would you like to move in with me?” Scooter blurted. His eyes searched her face for signs that he’d offended her or shocked her or upset her or—“
“I know it’s sortof sudden,” Scooter said. “I know we haven’t really talked about it. I know you just told your parents that we’re getting married so you’re sort of—“
“Yes,” said Sarah simply. She seemed surprised by the firmness in her own voice. She cleared her throat and said it again. “Yes. I would like to move in with you, Scooter Grosse.”
Scooter looked at her, not quite believing his ears. “I’m messy,” he said. “I keep terrible hours at work, and I drink right out of the car—“
Sarah kissed him, cutting off whatever it was he was trying to say. It took her a long time to stop kissing him, and he took an equally long time to stop kissing her back. When they pulled apart at last, Scooter grinned. Sarah grinned back at him, biting her lip and raising her eyebrows.
“So…your parents won’t hate me, right? For taking you away?”
Sarah laughed. “My Dad’s been dying to turn my room into a home office,” she said. She reached out and ran her fingers through his unruly red hair. “And they like you,” she said, “almost as much as I do.”
“I…love you,” Scooter said softly. He was still getting used to saying it, but he liked it. He liked it a lot.
Sarah just laughed and kissed him quick. “Thank goodness,” she said.
“So, Sal—you got any plans?” Johnny Fiama’s voice was elaborately casual, and Sal took a moment before answering. Johnny probably wanted some ironing done, or cleaning, or someone to get him some food. Not that Sal wasn’t ready to do those things—he was, but he was just thinking about what might be coming when he answered.
“Um, not any immediate plans,” Sal said. “Why—whatcha want me to do, Johnny?”
“Wanna take a walk down the Strip?” he asked.
Sal hesitated. “You want I should take a walk with you?” he asked warily. Usually, being asked to take a walk with Johnny wasn’t a good thing.
“Yeah. Sure—just a walk down the strip. Get a drink or something.”
“A drink?” Sal thought a moment. “Could I get a drink with one of those little umbrellas in it?” he asked. Johnny just sighed.
“Sure, Sal—a drink with one of those little umbrellas.” He put his hand on Sal’s shoulder as they walked out the door. “And maybe one of those little sword things, too,” he said.
“Ooh!” Sal cried. “I love those things.”
There was always the possibility that, one day, romance would appear out of nowhere and pop Johnny Fiama right in the kisser, but until that time, one thing was certain—With the exception of Mama Fiama, nobody was every going to love Johnny more (and with less reason) than Sal.
It was almost midnight and Marty was in a bad mood. His cell phone and his office phone had been ringing off the hook for hours now and he was plenty tired of it. When the cell chirped again, he considered dropping into his cup of coffee, but he planned to drink the coffee—midnight or no—and he didn’t want to ruin it.
“What?!? he barked into the phone. “Spit it out.”
The voice on the other end of the phone was unruffled. “Happy to,” said a cultured, professional voice. “I’d like to get right to the point.”
“If this is about that designer—“
“It’s not. It’s about one of your clients.”
“I’m listening.” He looked at his watch, squinting at the numbers. “You got two minutes to state your business and get off.”
“Not a problem,” said the cultured voice, and talked for almost a minute and a half. When he was done, he stopped, letting his words sink in.
“Huh,” Marty grunted. “I need to think about this.”
“I knew you would,” said the cultured voice. “Think about it a lot. When you have an answer for me—and only then—call me back. I know something this big doesn’t happen overnight. Take the time, but then call me and tell me good news. You won’t be sorry.”
After a few seconds, Marty hit “end” and ended the call. His brain was buzzing—without the coffee—and he rubbed the bridge of his big nose like he had a headache. This was a lot to take in—a lot to think about. An opportunity? Yes. Something to think about? Heck, yes. Would he be sorry if he said yes? Nooo. Would someone else be sorry? Without a doubt. Marty paced the room and thought. He thought and paced the room. He downed half the cup of now-cold coffee absently and thought and paced and thought some more. No way around it, he thought. Have to be done—and soon. But he needed a little time to plot, a little time to plan. This was the deal that changed everything, and he just needed to be sure.
Oh Auntie Ru I'm so glad you're back and updating this great story!!! I discovered the updates just as I decided I was done studying for the day the bar exam ( since it was 2 in the morning then) and read them and as always loved them. I promise to provide a full review of both updates tomorrow when I do not feel brain dead from studying property law all day
Although, I do have to say that I loved the bit with Kermit and Robin on stage on X-mas eve and Piggy's thoughts about the pair- absolutely adorable and I am very glad you found that little lost treasure of the story. Please keep up the fantastic work and I will definitely post better reviews of these updates tomorrow. Sweet dreams!
Chapter 77: Some Auld Acquaintances Should Be Forgot
There were, of course, reviews. Notwithstanding the charms of Mrs. The Frog, Kermit was out of bed at an ungracious hour, picking up all the papers. Mabel caught him going past, and promptly snagged, fed and caffeinated him, but Kermit’s worrying was for naught. Or, as he liked to view it, his optimism was rewarded.
The changes to the show were roundly approved, and—although he wished Piggy were here to interpret the fashion sections for him—it looked like Piggy’s designer-cum-costumer was about to make yet another splash in the fashion world. Kermit smiled, humming a little with satisfaction. His own dream of making other people happy had spread like a virus, and he thought with pleasure that it just kept making ripples in the world around them, touching other lives in ways no one could predict.
One life in particular had been touched, but not in an affirming way. While there were reviews, none of them were written by Fleet Scribbler. Bribes, threats and whining proved to no avail. After the Christmas Day debacle, he was firmly off this particular story—or, at least this particular phase of the story—and no amount of incentive or invective would sway him. His boss had given in with typical bad grace, but given in all the same.
“Nevermind,” snapped the hateful voice. “I have other ideas for bringing down the frog.”
Scribbler didn’t like the sound of that, but he stuffed it into the same unhappy place that he had stuffed the other comments from his boss. He was watchful for any signs that Piggy was in real danger, especially after the incident in the pass-through corridor between theaters, but managed to ignore most of the everyday ranting that went on.
The incident (which in Scribbler’s type-driven mind was The INCIDENT), had bothered him a lot, aside from the obvious pain and trauma of a broken nose. He had confronted his boss heatedly, but the stunned, flummoxed look he received had finally convinced him that his boss had not been behind the, um, accosting of Piggy. Like Kermit, he shied away from the word “attack.” Despite the furor and fury the other man’s actions had incurred, Scribbler would not have described the other man as a common thug. As a matter of fact, he was decidedly non-thuggish, if Scribbler were fair, which he was not inclined to be. As far as Scribbler knew, he was known primarily for being an independent go-between, a setter-upper for deals that proved contentious or delicate. Scribbler tried and tried to remember what—exactly—had been said, what specific words had been used, but he could still make no sense out of the man’s presence in that apparently not-so-secret corridor.
His snooping had, however, turned up some other interesting things. He had discovered, quite as a by-product of his other snooping, that Seymour Strathers had officially joined the ranks of the hopeful, and the hopeless—the rank and file of Piggy admirers that followed her every movement with awe. He had heard, indirectly, that Strathers had been the one to suggest the casino’s invitation to the muppets, although he knew that Kermit’s name had long been respected in the business. The thought of Kermit’s name being respected while his own had sunk so low made Scribbler bare his teeth in a fierce grimace, but he made an effort and pushed it away. Scribbler was not sure what Strathers infatuation might mean in the big picture, but he knew that he had been nearly apoplectic about Piggy’s ordeal. If it wasn’t his boss, and it was the casino owner, then…who? Who could be after Piggy—besides the obvious rank and file—and what could they be after her for?
Here, Scribbler underestimated himself. It didn’t happen often, but there had been a time when it never happened, and now it was happening quite a lot as the seeds of self-loathing and second-guessing burrowed under his skin. What he underestimated was the power of the written word—the power to inform, to sway, to convince, to…mislead. He had been writing for months about the imaginary break-up of Piggy’s marriage, with the malicious intention of separating them. But he had also been writing for moths about how Piggy was overworked and underappreciated in her husband’s company, and how a rose like her ought not to wither in Kermit’s crummy old vine. Scribbler had underestimated the way that some people, if told something long enough, loud enough and frequently enough, would begin to believe it. And it was working. In the same way that predators try to separate the animal they wish to take down from the rest of the herd, Scribbler had been trying to separate Kermit but his most-prized lamb. No one was saying it would happen but, thanks to him, some people were saying it could.
Only someone who had a long history with Sesame Street could truly appreciate how small—or how big—that difference could be.
Blissfully unaware of the future, the cast and crew went about their lives.
With Christmas over and the end of their time in Las Vegas within sight, the mood shifted slightly. The new songs in the show kept everything fresh, but there was an underlying sense of restlessness now. Those who had not managed to spend their entire Christmas bonus now made a serious attempt, except for a frugal few. Piggy was not among them, and put down a substantial deposit on something she did not tell Kermit about in the jewelry store.
“Bawk bawk buc buc buck?” Camilla demanded, but Piggy shook her platinum curls unconcernedly. “By the time Kermit sees this bill—if he does—he’ll have other things to worry about.” Little did she know how true those words might prove.
The Electric Mayhem was talking daily about putting down the final tracks for “Fozzie’s Angels,” and there were more and more calls from the studio. Scooter handled what he could, but the calls required Kermit’s personal attention frequently. Piggy watched him become preoccupied and thoughtful with bemusement, but kept him on his toes—often literally—when they were performing.
Robin was showing signs of homesickness, not by moping and becoming whiny, but by ramping up his energy level to prepare for the time when he would be swamp-deep in cousins. Kermit would never have voiced it, but he was beginning to look forward to being a long-distance uncle for a bit. Once they were back home, he would have virtually no social life until the movie wrapped, then dive gills-first into post-production. Scooter’s surprising news had left him scouting somewhat anxiously for an assistant assistant, but when Scooter caught wind of it he nipped it in the bud.
“Boss,” he’d said, managing to sound professional and slightly hurt at the same time. “Would I run out on you when you need me? Sarah’s got all a lot on her plate now, and a wedding to plan.” He looked around carefully before he spoke again. “I need an excuse to not be involved in that.” He fixed Kermit with a look. “Nothing personal, boss, but I had quite enough wedding planning for a lifetime helping you.”
Kermit shot him an amused look. “So what are you planning to do?” he asked. “Just rent a tux and show up?”
“Yep,” said Scooter smugly. “Only, I’ve already got a tux.”
Beaker and Bunsen had talked to several overland shippers, but no one seemed inclined to want to handle a mutagenic tree.
“They should call Hogwarts,” quipped Rizzo. ‘I hear they like that kind of stuff there.”
Pepe had been summarily dumped by almost all the showgirls in their casino.
“In our zip code, more likely,” Gonzo said with some satisfaction. He and Camilla had become friendly again, but—alas—not romantic, although she had threatened him with bodily harm if he failed to squire her around at the movie premiere when the time came.
Mabel grew more thoughtful as the time approached for her adoptive, um, eaters to head back home. She stayed up late more than once dispensing home cooking, advice and a listening ear. Clifford seemed a constant recipient of all three.
“Tell me again about the girl made just for me,” he teased her one evening.
Mabel smacked him smartly with a wooden spoon, but not hard enough to hurt. “What--have you run out of women back home?” she kidded him.
“Just about,” Clifford had said, sighing hugely. He very deliberately did not think about Janice. “I want a girl like you, Mabel,” he said with a grin. “Smart, funny and good in the…kitchen. Sure you don’t have any unmarried daughters?”
Mabel hit him again, and this time it smarted a little.
“If you dare take up with one of my daughters…” she threatened, then her short-sighted muzzle broke into a big grin. “I’ll get the guest room ready for you at Christmas.” For a second, her eyes looked suspiciously bright, and then she was rolling out pastry for jam rolls. Clifford walked over and put his long, lanky arms around her little shoulders, then kissed her on top of her head right between her velvety ears.
“I’m gonna miss you, Mabel,” he said quietly.
Mabel snorted, but it sounded a little wet and sniffly. “Get on with you,” she said. “Or I’m gonna spread you with jam.”
Thoreau was the first to go. He came by Piggy’s dressing room one afternoon and stayed for almost an hour. Kermit walked by at one point, intending to ask Piggy if she wanted to catch a bite, and heard them talking rapidly. He stopped with one hand on the door and thought better of it. They were obviously having some sort of heart to heart, and he did not want to be in the middle of it. Now that Brenda had gone, Scribbler had fled, the publicity was fading, and things were shifting forward in his head to the studio instead of the stage, Kermit appeared his usual, diffident self. Doing the live show seemed to have calmed his demons somewhat, and he was pleased to be the object of Piggy’s affection without all the pricks and tweaks of jealousy that had plagued him.
A sudden inspiration struck him, and he cornered Fozzie and took him out for a big, cheesy, cholesterol-busting pizza and a couple of root beers. Though marriage had its benefits, Kermit was glad for a chance to catch up with his bachelor buddy.
Howard had two armfuls of cds teetering dangerously and there was a pen between his teeth. A lock of blond hair was falling over one eye and he had the nervous, crazed look of someone who is positive he has forgotten something vital
From the doorway, Thoreau said, “Howard,” but not loudly, and the sound didn’t carry.
Piggy cleared her voice noisily to no effect.
“He’s busy,” whispered Thoreau. “I’ll come back.”
Howard finally looked up at the unmistakable sound of flesh smacking flesh and whirled around, the cds wobbling precariously. Thoreau stood before him. He was rubbing his arm and shooting Piggy a dark look, but her own expression was unreadable. She did, however, appear to be blocking the exit door.
“Um,” Thoreau said, then coughed, cleared his throat and tried again. “I’m, um, going to New York the end of the month,” Thoreau said. “I usually go, you know—to see the newest fabrics, make up my orders for next season.”
Howard started to speak, then realized the pen was still in his mouth. He nodded, his eyes wide but uncertain.
“And it’s usually, you know, a real bore because of all the work but I try to take in a few shows, meet some clients for lunch. Of course, this trip won’t be quite as easy-going, because I’m trying to launch my own spring line and that will just be loads of turmoil.” Thoreau appeared to trip, then recovered and shot Piggy a murderous look and a muttered oath. He spoke again, the words coming out in a rush.
“So, I was, um, wondering—if you aren’t too busy, you know—if you’d like to, um, go with me.” That last was said almost defiantly, and instead of staring at his toes, which he had been wont to do since entering the room, he was practically glaring at Howard, daring him to answer. The next sound in the room was silence. The next sound after that was the sound of the pen hitting the floor. Howard tried to answer, then closed his mouth and opened it again.
“That would be lovely,” Howard managed. And giggled.
All of Thoreau’s nervousness fled. He grinned, looking suddenly boyish—except for the faint lines that were just beginning to show around his eyes.
“Great,” he said. “I’ll, um, call you and we’ll hammer out the trip details later when you’re not so busy.”
Howard nodded, astonished, and Thoreau sailed out of the room in high spirits.
That left Miss Piggy, who smirked at the astonished choreographer before slipping out the door.
Foo Foo was next to go, reluctantly skipping the last show to catch a deal on her flight. Gallantly, Rowlf manhandled (er, doghandled) her luggage to the curb.
“I hate to see you go,” said Rowlf, then grinned broadly. “Actually, I like to see you go," he teased, ogling her for effect. “It’s the doing-without-you part I don’t like.”
“Rowlfie,” said Foo Foo gently. She was gazing intently into his face. “You know how you like to chase cars?”
“Rowlfie’s” eyes lit up, making any other answer unnecessary, but he nodded anyway.
“So, tough guy--what’d you do with all those cars?” Tough guy segued into confused guy. “Huh?”
“What’d you do with the cars you caught?” persisted Foo Foo. “What’d you do when you caught them?’
“Um, nothing,” said Rowlf, baffled. “I just—well, after they stopped I…oh.”
“Oh,” said Foo Foo. Her little dark eyes were sparkling. “After they stopped speeding away, you stopped chasing them, right?”
“Um, yeah.” Rowlf suddenly pretended to be scratching a flea behind his left ear, a process which the little white dog cut short by leaning in and kissing him gently on the corner of his mouth.
“I’m still speeding away,” said Foo Foo. “So any time you feel like working off a little energy chasing me down….”
Rowlf laughed and caught her shoulders in his warm, furry hands.
“Be good, Foo,” he said.
Foo laughed and disentangled herself. “I’m always good,” she said archly. She walked to the waiting taxi, then stopped and looked back. “Take care of yourself, Rowlfie,” she said. “You’re a good dog.” She stepped into the waiting cab. Rowlf knew she was far too dignified to hang her head out the window but he hoped she might. He watched hopefully until the cab disappeared from view.
“Gosh, Uncle Kermit,” said Robin. “This was our last show.”
“It was,” said Kermit. He seemed equal parts wistful and ready to be done. “Tomorrow we’ll all be heading back home.”
“And two days after that I’m going back to the swamp!”
“Yup,” said Kermit. “Train set and all.”
“Thank goodness,” Piggy breathed, just loud enough for Kermit’s aural organs to hear. He turned and smiled at her over his nephew’s head.
“Is everybody leaving?” Robin asked. “What about Dr. Bunsen and Beaker?”
“Renting a truck, I hear,” Kermit said mildly, and Piggy snorted.
“The band is packing up, and Mr. Thoreau is already gone and…it will be strange when everybody’s gone.” Robin paused, deep in thought.
“It will be quiet,” Kermit said, gazing fondly at the top of Robin’s head. It seemed closer than it had before Thanksgiving—the kid must be growing.
“If…if I go home, who is going to watch after you and Aunt Piggy?” Robin asked. He had taken his job of bogeyman banisher very seriously after the train had arrived and the stories had stopped.
Piggy and Kermit exchanged startled glances, then looked down at Robin’s worried face.
“Well…we’ll take care of each other, Robin,” Kermit said firmly.
“Yes—I’ll take care of each Kermit,” Piggy insisted, “and Kermit will take care of me.”
Robin digested this, obviously not satisfied. “I could stay,” he offered, but dubiously, and his voice was forlorn.
Kermit stopped walking and knelt in front of his nephew. He had to look up to meet Robin’s eyes. Definitely growing.
“If we need you, we’ll call. How’s that?” Kermit formed his froggy fingers into a fist.
That did it. Robin’s smile spread all over his face.
“Okay, Uncle Kermit,” he said solemnly. He formed his hand into a fist and bumped knuckles solemnly. “Just so you know I’ve got your back.”