TALE SPIN: F’REEZE A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW

                                             Fan-fiction adaptation by jb

Based on the Tale Spin #6 comic book; story by Bobbi J.G. Weiss

Disclaimer: The following story is based on the television series, characters and situations, created by Jymn Magon & Mark Zaslove, Tale Spin  © 1990-1991 Buena Vista Television/Walt Disney Company and W.D. Publications. This is an adapted work of fan-fiction, using characters and property of the Walt Disney Company without consent and for non-profit use. Some artistic liberties were taken to add more dramatic and humourous effect on the storyline.                                                

                                                 PART THREE

 

  On Pirate Island , Rebecca and the Festivia Latin Jazz Quartet had arrived and were immediately hustled into their dark and dank dungeons that she was all too familiar with.

   Upon arrival, the pirates stripped the band members of the contents in their wallets and for once, the businesswoman was glad she’d left her purse behind onboard the cruise ship. If they had looked at her identity and recognised her, it would have spelt deeper trouble for her.

   “C’mon, c’mon!” ordered the guard on duty, roughly shoving the hostages. “Get in there!

   “Wait’ll the Cap’n gets a load of you, girlie!” smiled Mad Dog while manhandling Rebecca. “I’ll probably get a bonus for this!”

   Girlie?!! Rebecca fumed.

   As he jostled her into the cell, she managed to strike him across the face, almost tripping inside.

   “Get your paws off me, you filthy pirate!”

    Mad Dog shook his head, seeing a daze of stars before his eyes and rubbing his sore jaw where she had hit him. He glared at her which she evenly returned with fury.

   “Heh-heh-heh!” the brigand grinned. “Ain’t you feisty… an’ the Cap’n loves that type!”

   “Yeah,” laughed his comrade as he locked the cell door and walked away with him. “We get ourselves a dancing girl to go along with the band for his birthday party – talk ‘bout two for the price of one!”

   Dancing girl??? These imbeciles think that I’m a

   The businesswoman walked away quietly to an empty corner of the cell and leaned against the cold cavern wall.

   “Ma’am…?” said the bandleader.

   “Please…I want to be alone for a while…”

   The band members understood and respected her privacy.

 She wanted to cry, but she wasn’t about to. All she could think about was what was she going to do about getting out of here before Karnage and his pirates discover who she was and most of all, one particular person on her mind right now...

   Molly…

 

 

 

 

  That evening, the Air Pirates whooped it up in sheer, unabashed delight at the birthday party held in the mess hall. They guzzled what seemed like gallons of root beer, gobbled up a sumptuous feast that their cook had prepared for them, laughing stupidly and singing terribly out of key.

   Rebecca, naturally, was horrified by the debauchery that went on before her eyes. She’d seen her fair share of wild parties before, but this one made anything she saw at Louie’s Place on a Saturday night look like a peaceful Sunday ginger ale champagne brunch in comparison.

   Reluctantly she put on a show for the pirates with all her dance moves as best she could as the band played “Osain.” She hadn’t had that much practice since taking those Latin dance classes back in university for fun and recreation. Now she was dancing for her life – literally.

   But what sickened her more, was that Karnage was looking at her with lust in his eyes…

   “I hate this!” she hissed to the bandleader in a low tone. “What if Karnage discovers I’m a phoney?”

   “He won’t, as long as you keep dancing. Now don’t worry, ma’am – we’ll get out of this mess somehow!”

   “Don’t worry? Easy for you to say! That pirate rat isn’t leering at you!”

    Thank goodness, he thought unwittingly.  

 “Mad Dog, my normally dimwitted flunky, I am proud of you,” Karnage praised him as he sat on his throne of honour. “Not only did you go out and find a band, but a good one! With a most intriguing dancer…”

   “Gee – thanks, Cap’n!”

   The wolf pirate ogled at the attractive she-bear again. The whip of her shawl whirled in synchronicity with her flamenco skirt revealing her slender, silken-hosed calves; the lapels of her blouse collar delicately flapped, teasingly exposing her bare neckline slightly; her torso movements giving her hips and rear end quite a pleasing shape to him while managing to keep her face hidden under the rim of her bolero hat.

   And yet she seemed vaguely familiar, which fascinated him even more. 

  “In fact,” he ordered, “go fetch her for me!” How I love mondo mysterioso lady-type women!...

  “Aye-aye, Cap’n.”

  “When’re you gonna open your presents, Captain? ‘Specially that big one!” asked Hacksaw anxiously, looking at the large purple and blue ribbon-wrapped present next to him. “I’m surprised Louie gave it to you, considerin’ you stiffed him for the cake an’ sundaes!”

   “How many times must I tell you, Hacksaw,” said Karnage, rattling a smaller present to his ear. “Your captain is adored by all – even his enemies!”

   At that moment, the cook was in the kitchen standing atop a barrel placing the last candles on the huge and lavishly-decorated birthday cake for Karnage on top. “Every year it’s the same thing – twenty-nine candles,” muttered the hippopotamus disdainfully. “Talk about getting stuck in a rut!”

  But unbeknownst to the hippo or anybody else for that matter, was that inside the cake laid two hideaways, waiting in anticipation within the hollowed centre made especially for them…

   “I c-can’t believe Louie t-t-talked me into this!” Baloo’s teeth were chattering as he hugged himself in an attempt to keep warm. “I’m f-f-freezin’ in here!”

   Molly, despite feeling a bit on the chilly side, tried to sound brave by waving her spatula and boldly stating: “Danger Woman doesn’t get cold!”

   The temperature inside the cake was roughly around minus-five Celsius which was modestly nippy, but within close confinement for at least a couple of hours for anyone with light clothing on, it could be made to feel like the Artic.

   Baloo knew he shouldn’t have brought the little girl along, but to leave her at Louie’s would result in a truckload of grief from Rebecca for taking her to a place she didn’t like him going to, even when he was on off-company time.

  And besides, since “Danger Woman” insisted on going with him, how could he say no?

   “So when do we jump out and attack the pirates?” she asked directly.

   “We’re n-not gonna at-t-tack anybody!” the pilot reminded her. “You know the plan – wait t-till it’s quiet, sneak out, light those candles – an’ then r-run!”

   “And we’ll rescue the Frosty Pep plane, too?”

   “W-we have to – it’s our t-t-ticket outta here!”

   Outside, the hippo lit the last of the candles and began to cart it out of the kitchen. He gave the signal to one of the pirates to start the cake ceremony, to which he rushed back to tell the others.

   “It’s t-too doggone c-c-cold in here!” Baloo whimpered softly. “I-I think I’m gonna sneeze! Ahhh—”

   “Baloo, you can’t sneeze!” Molly warned. “Somebody’s out there!”

   Meanwhile in the mess hall, Rebecca was forcibly taken to meet with Karnage, the moment she had been most dreading. The jazz quartet could do nothing, fearing what the pirates might do to them if they stopped in taking her away.

   “Greetings and salivations, O captivating coryphée!” he greeted her in a smarmy tone. “It is the most pleasurable and honorific of you to be gracefully dancing for one such as I, the most feared pirate of the skies, Don Karnage!”

     The displeasure is all mine, unfortunately…

   “So,” he said taking her hand and kissed it sloppily; to which she inwardly recoiled in disgust, “what is your name, my prancing pigeon?”

    Ewww, gross!None of your business!”

   “Gee, that’s a weird name!” laughed Mad Dog.

   “Playing ‘hard to get along’ with me, will you?” the lupine stated angrily, then brightening up with enthusiasm and a drool, “Oh, goody! I like it like that!”

   “So I’ve been told,” Rebecca muttered. Goodness, his horns are showing…

  “Where do you think you are going, lovely one?” said the pirate leader as she started to pull away from him, but had tightened his hold around her wrist while Dumptruck tied a blindfold around his eyes. “You must stay with me for the grand finality!”

   I don’t want to know what your idea of a ‘grand finality’ is, buster!!!

   Dragging the reluctant she-bear with him, Karnage was lead by the Dane to the centre of the hall as the pirates began to sing in honour of their commander when the cake came rolling in.

   “For he’s a jolly good pirate, for he’s a jolly good pirate, for he’s a jolly good piiiiiraaaaate….”

   Inside the hollow cake, Baloo could no longer contain the sneeze that was building up within and was about to reach its apex, despite the little girl’s fruitless attempts to silence it.

   “Ahhh – AHHH…”

   Oh no! Molly thought. We’re doomed!

  “ ...That nobody dares defy!!!”

   Flicking the blindfold off from Karnage’s eyes, he had the blissful look of contentment upon vision of the cake and sighed happily.

   “SURPRISE!!!”

  “AACHOOO!!!”

  The force of the pilot’s sneeze blew the top of the cake clean off, flew into the air and landed with a heavy plop onto the floor, extinguishing the candles that were still on top at that moment. Revealed from the cake were the hefty pilot and the oddly-dressed youngster inside, to which the party guests were in complete and stunned shock.

  Oops,” said a penitent Baloo to the world in general.

 “BALOO???” shouted Karnage, so surprised that he let go of the she-bear’s wrist.

“Baloo?!!”  Rebecca echoed equally, to which her hat popped off the top of her head.

Mommy!!!” The young cub waved happily to her mother, heedless of the gravity of the situation at hand.

“Becky?!!”
 
“Becky?!!”
Karnage repeated, turning to her and recognizing the businesswoman.

“Molly??!” she cried out, clasping her hands in feral terror of witnessing her child in clear and present danger.

 Waitaminute, Baloo frowned with a certain amount of bile rising in his throat and a gnawing feeling all at once, didn’ I just see Becky an’ Karny holdin’ hands together back a second ago??...

 But there was no time for him to speculate on the matter. All of this was just too much for Karnage to take with these unexpected turn of events at his birthday party, come to ruin his fun.

“GET THEM!!!” he roared.

 Baloo and Molly had already clambered out of the hollow space in no time and the pilot grabbed the handlebar of the trolley, where he said: “Here, fellas – have some cake!”

 With one mighty flip, he had dumped the cake over onto the charging pirates that were unfortunate enough to get covered in the chocolate icing, ice cream, ribbons and the sprinkly little doohickies on top, while some managed to escape the icy onslaught before them.

 C’mon, Beckers,” shouted Baloo hastily, grabbing Molly under his arm and Rebecca by the hand – that practically took her off her feet – all in a single motion, running like greased lightning to the nearest exit. “Party’s over!”

  “What in the – yow!!!”

 Seizing the opportunity to escape, the Latin jazz quartet had quickly gathered up their instruments and followed the three fugitives through the same door.

“Hey!” called out the trumpeter bandleader. “Wait for us!!”

  “Do not be standing about like stupid bumps on rocks in your pointed little heads!” Karnage vociferated to his henchmen and stomping his feet like an angry little child. “Get them before I taxidermize your pathetic, worthless hides for a new set of doilies for Mama!!”

 

  

 

 

    Running down the endless tunnels in its various byzantine twists and turns, Baloo, Rebecca, Molly and the four musicians raced frantically for their lives, trying to escape from the Air Pirates.

    However, the businesswoman was too vexed to feel any fear from the pirates as of this moment…

  “Baloo! What are you doing here with my daughter?!”

   “What were you doin’ holdin’ Karny’s hand?!”

   Holding his hand?! Of all the asinine –!

    “I was kidnapped, you moron! And I wasn’t holding his hand – he was holding mine!”

   “Then who are these guys?” the pilot asked, gesturing to the musicians behind them.

   “We’re the band from the cruise!” answered the bandleader. “We were kidnapped too!”

   “Really?” said Molly, “Baloo and me came here on purpose!”

    The grey bear cringed on those words. Aww, Cupcake! Didja have to put it like that?!

   “On purpose?!” Rebecca reacted, her anger growing by the minute over the pilot’s irresponsibility. “Baloo, what –”

   But he had halted abruptly, causing everyone to do the same as he did and saw the reason why. They had just ran into a huge cavern filled with Purrsian tapestries, platinum bars, pricey bric-a-bracs, chests brim-filled with jewels and jewellery of every kind and size, gold and silver coinage bulging in bags everywhere from wall to wall.

   “Oh, my goodness…” gasped Rebecca in amazement.

   “Man oh man,” Baloo exclaimed. “I think we hit the heart of Pirate Central!”

   “Mommy, look at all the money! The pirates are rich!

   “This isn’t their money, sweetie! They took it from people like you and me!”

    This gave the ace pilot another modus operandi to work with.

   “Yeah – an’ we’re gonna take some back!”
      Rebecca was shocked by this statement. When did greed get the best of him, especially at a time like this?

  “Baloo, you can’t be serious! That’s stealing!”

  “An’ since when is it wrong to steal from thieves?” he said, busily shoving handfuls of coins into an empty bag. “Look, Karny owes a coupla debts – I’m just gonna make sure he pays up!”

   The she-bear wasn’t going to argue with that type of logic that her employee had just explained, even as it gave her a headache and reluctantly, it did kind of make sense as he was now playing the aerial Robin Hood of sorts.

 “Here!” he said, tossing a large bag to the quartet bandleader. “This oughta cover your time an’ trouble!”

  Wow – will it ever!” he said gratefully as he caught it. “Thanks!”

  “This way!” came a distant voice from up ahead.

  “Baloo, they’re coming!” Rebecca alerted.

  “Jus’ a second!” said the pilot, quickly filling up two big bags full of coins as fast as he could. “Karny owes Louie an’ those Frosty Pep pilots too!”

  “But there’s no time!”

    Molly was just by the chests filled with pearls, overheard her mother and suddenly came up with an idea.

   “Bet Danger Woman can make some!” she said. “I got a plan!...”

   A group of armed Air Pirates lead by Mad Dog had followed the tunnel the prisoners had just ran through and heard voices coming from the cavern. He readied his pistol, locked and loaded.

   “They’re in the treasury – trying to steal our stolen stuff! Hurry!”

   The brigands barged in and saw the large pilot standing alone with the coin bags he held in his hands.

   “Hey!” ordered Mad Dog. “Put those back!!!”

   “Y’want ‘em?” taunted Baloo. “Come an’ get ‘em!”

   At that moment, Molly raised her spatula and shouted: “Fire!”

   Rebecca and the musicians at once spilled the pearls onto the floor in the direction of the incoming pirates, causing them to slip all over the place and into each other.

   Quickly running to Baloo at once, the five adults grabbed a nearby Purrsian tapestry rug with three on each side and charged at the skittering corsairs. Carefully avoiding the scattered pearls to the best of their abilities, they promptly dropped the rug onto them.

   “Hey! Who turned out the lights?” a muffled Mad Dog shouted underneath.

   “As my dear ol’ Mom use t’say,” chuckled the pilot as they ran out of the treasury toute suite, “‘When you’re in a rush, just sweep the dirt under the carpet!’”

   “Do you have any idea were we’re going, Baloo?” said Rebecca huffily, trying to keep up in her heels on the uneven rocky ground and hat bounding on the back of her head.

   Of all the days to wear my best shoes! And I’ll just die if I get so much as a run in these stockings!…

   “Sure I do – the docking bay! It should be right around this corner –”

   But then, the grey bear collided with a cutlass-brandishing Don Karnage and his search party. Fortunately, his girth was enough to bounce the head pirate off into his men and crash onto the floor.

    The fugitives quickly scampered back the other way.

   “Okay, maybe I need a map! Run for it!”

   “You will need more than a map when I am through with you, you uninvited party-crasher!” Karnage angrily snarled as he picked himself up from the ground, retrieved his sword and continued his pursuit.

  And there was more trouble in store. Mad Dog and his party had just returned from their entanglement back at the treasury and had blocked the tunnel leading to whence they had come from, just a few paces away.

 “Baloo, look up ahead!” announced the bandleader. “We’re trapped!”

 “Do not let them get away, men!” ordered the wolf leader. “Shoot to stop!!!”

  All seemed hopeless as the pirates readied their guns, until the she-bear cub made an accidental discovery in one of the side tunnels – a trolley cart large enough to carry all of them.

 “‘No need to fear when Danger Woman is near!’” she said triumphantly. “Look, everyone – a Dangermobile!”

  “Good girl, Molly!” said Rebecca. “Everyone, jump aboard!”

   They all piled onto the trolley and with a shove, they rapidly started to roll away down the corridor – right into the direction of Don Karnage’s company.

   “Gangway!!!” Baloo hollered with glee.

   “Nooo!” screamed the horrified lupine commander.

      They crashed into the search party, sprawling them all about like knocked-down pins at a bowling alley, leaving them amongst a cloud of dust. Lying in a symphony of moans, groans and a montage of stars and planets dancing before their eyes, Karnage dazedly rose from the pile and weakly called out before collapsing back onto the ground:  “After…them,…men…”

   Going faster and faster down the tunnels at a dangerous speed, the trolley cart’s acceleration started to make the passengers nervous except for Molly who was having the time of her life.

   Wheeeeeeee!” This is more fun than riding on a rollercoaster!

   “Slow down, Baloo!” ordered Rebecca, clinging to the trolley handlebar for dear life.

   “With what? I can’t even steer!”

   The ride was about to come to an abrupt end when one of the pirates, a big hulk of a bruin; was standing guard to an entrance, unaware of what was coming in his direction.

 “Ev’rybody,” shouted the pilot. “Assume the crash landin’ position!”

  Bracing themselves for impact, the riding party then whammed into the surprised guard with a thunderous “oof,” flinging them all off the cart and onto the ground.

 “Molly!!” coughed Rebecca in a receding dust cloud, turning to her tawny-coloured offspring who landed and tumbled right beside her. “Molly honey, are you alright?!”

    The she-bear cub lifted the tilted rim of the colander on her forehead back upright, gave her concerned mother a thumbs-up and a big smile.

   “Affirmative!! Can we do that again, Mom?”

   “Well,” said the bandleader philosophically; seeing that the guard was knocked cold out of his gourd from the collision, “at least we landed on something soft!

   “An’ we’re back at the party!” said Baloo happily, as he helped his employer off the floor, realising they were in the Air Pirates’ mess hall again. “This is great!”

   “Great?” the businesswoman said brusquely while she dusted herself off. “We’re back where we started from!”

   “But now I can give Karnage his present!”

    She looked at him disbelievingly. “You’re giving that slimy pirate a birthday present?!”

   “Nope,” said the pilot as he produced a box of matches from his shirt pocket and struck one with a wicked glint in his eye that corresponded with his grin. “But Louie is!”

 

 

 

  

  “They just up an’ disappeared, Cap’n!” reported Hacksaw, as the Air Pirates searched the tunnels for the prisoners.  After the trolley cart crash, they had recovered within minutes and Karnage was more than ever determined to re-capture the fugitives and personally skin the huge pilot alive.

   Nobody ups and disappears from Don Karnage! We will split up again and – ”

   “Oh, Karneee!” sang out Baloo mockingly, his voice echoing off the cavernous walls. “We’re down heeeeeere!

   Oooh, I really hate it when he calls me that!! Men, back to the mess hall!”

   The quartet bandleader stood by the entrance, waiting for the pirates to arrive while the others completed with the final task at hand. When he heard angry voices and footsteps approaching, he called out: “Here they come!”

   “Now we make our getaway!” Baloo said, grabbing his employer’s hand again and heading out another doorway, with the musicians soon following. “Let’s skedaddle on the double, guys!!”

   “But this is the wrong door!” Rebecca protested, clinging Molly to her.

   “No, this is the right door, Mommy! He took the wrong door last time!”

    Two minutes later, the pirates stormed the mess hall, primed for action and found….an completely empty room to their amazement and dismay.

   “So where’d they go?” queried Mad Dog impetuously.

   The wolf captain made a bizarre cognition, noticing that all twenty of the birthday sundaes’ candles were lit up – and making a slight hissing sound.

   “And who,” he said aloud, “lit all the little birthday fuses?”

   Then a sudden realization struck him…

   “Fuses?!”

  As if on cue, all the small firecrackers exploded in the sundaes, showering and splattering the room in a mélange of ice cream and sprinkles that lasted for about roughly half a minute. When the last sundae had gone off, Karnage had cowered into a corner with Gibber, shivering from the icy coldness of the ice cream and out of fear.

  “Is it over…?” whimpered the pirate leader.

  Standing up and surveying the scene, all his men and himself were covered in ice cream and burnt-up firecrackers. In spite of everything, he thought this puzzling manoeuvre was an average one for the large pilot. He expected a lot more from his arch-nemesis than this.

  “That was it? A few little boom-booms in the ice cream? That Baloo, he is one very estrange fellow!”

   Look out!” stated a frightened Mad Dog, pointing at Louie’s large present by the birthday throne, seeing it had one firecracker lit on top of it. “That one hasn’t gone off yet!”

   “So?” said their commander nonchalantly, approaching the present. “I will just put out the little flame. No flame, no boom-boom, yes-no?”

   He boldly pulled out the red firecracker from the top, only to find it was just a hollow canister with a longer fuse that went directly into the present. A rumbling noise emerged from the shaking box, growing louder and louder that made the faces on the brigands go white.

   Uh-oh,” said Karnage in a very tiny voice. This really isn’t my day…

 

 

 

 

Ahead of them by five minutes, the escapees finally had made their way to the docking bay, miraculously without further confrontation from any more Air Pirates; to which Baloo spotted the FP 427 Frosty Pep cargo plane coming within his view.

“Everybody in – pronto!” he ordered, huffing half in exhaustion and half in desperation. “We’re takin’ off!”

“Start the plane!” Rebecca shouted. “I’ll take care of the ropes!”

 Dashing along the boardwalk, they went aboard while she undid the mooring lines. Fortunately, the plane was unguarded and it still had a more than adequate supply of Frosty Pep ice cream, which made Molly extremely happy.

So this is what heaven is like…she thought dreamily. Beautiful…

C’mon, ‘Danger Woman’!” Baloo called out as he put the engines into operation. “Ride up on front with ol’ Papa Bear!”

“Okay, Daddy – err, I mean, trusty sidekick!”

As Molly ran into the cockpit and clambered into the co-pilot’s seat, the large pilot seemed a little startled by what the she-bear cub had just called him back in the cargo space.

Daddy??...

And yet, he found it was quite touching, too. Aww…

Tossing the last line away, the businesswoman jumped into the seaplane, seeing the musicians managing to settle themselves and their instruments in the cargo hold, she quickly slammed the door.

 “Are we all battened down back there, Beckers?!”

 “Yeah!” she hollered, hastily securing the hatch and racing towards the cockpit with her heels clacking on the metal deck. “Let’s get the fudge out of Dodge, Fly Boy!”

 Joining her pilot who just pulled away from the boardwalk, she found Molly waiting for her in the co-pilot’s seat. Lifting and placing her in her lap, Rebecca hugged and kissed her daughter warmly.

“Baloo, I don’t know how you did it, but you saved us!”

“And the Frosty Pep!” Molly added.

“Well, hang on!” the grey bear said as the cargo plane sped across the small bay. “We’re not outta this yet!”

  The FP 427 lifted off the surface, nearly missing a couple of the lagoon’s rocky spires and zoomed into the bleeding crimson atmosphere, which a deep velvety blue hue crowned the sky and speckled with the early evening stars. As the plane climbed higher and higher, Rebecca looked puzzled and worried by the perspiration concentrated on the pilot’s brow.

   “Why, what’s wrong? What’s in that big box that Louie gave Karnage anyway?”

   “Hee-hee – you’ll see, Mommy!”

    I’ll see?...

   A sudden whistling sound punctuated the air, followed by a flash off the plane’s port bow that the she-bear caught from the corner of her eye. Startling her at first, she turned her head to see a thundering, colourful array of pyrotechnics from above Pirate Island at a safe distance, spitting out sparklers, starbursts and comet tails galore in all directions.

   Oh…yes, I do see!” she smiled broadly. “I see very well!”

   “Heh-heh!” Baloo laughed at the sight, as they flew further away. “We gave ol’ Karny what he wanted most of all – a real bang-up of a birthday party!”

 

 

 

 

Epilogue

    

   The mood was of jubilation with the safe and successful return of Baloo and the others when the Frosty Pep cargo plane arrived at the Pair-O’-Dice Island Casino an hour later, much to Louie’s relief.

   Performing in the gazebo-like band stage in the main harbour quay situated next to the large docked riverboat casino covered in decorative lights, the Lady Luck, was the Festivia Latin Jazz Quartet playing a special guest gig at the party along with the house band; who had recently added a steel-pan player to their ensemble, doing “The Peanut Vendor” with a lively calypso feel to it.

    “Uh-huh…uh-huh,” said Baloo over the bar phone. “H’okay…thanks a lot, Mac. ‘Bye.”

   Hanging up, he turned to Louie who was wiping the inside of a glass with a dishcloth behind the tropical flower and candlelit-festooned bar while Molly devoured a Krakatoa Sundae Special with much enthusiasm.

   “Great news, guys! The Coast Guard picked up the Frosty Pep cargo pilots ‘bout a few hours ago an’ are gonna be just fine.”

   “Super-duper, man! Not to mention gettin’ a reward for recoverin’ the plane an’ its cargo for the ice cream company,” said Louie, removing his straw hat and bowing toward his best friend. “Hats off to you, Fuzzy!”

    Guess that horoscope was right after all, he proudly thought.

   “Well, I couldn’t have done it without li’l Miz ‘Danger Woman’ here, earnin’ her well-deserved Krakatoa Special,” he said, giving Molly an affectionate peck on the cheek. “Baby, yer da greatest.”

   The she-bear cub wiped off the ice cream on her mouth with the back of her hand and grinned smugly: “I know.”

   “Say, where’s Beckers?  Haven’t seen her since we finished dinner.”

   “Over there,” said the orang-utan, pointing toward the end of the bar to a solitude Rebecca, sitting on a barstool and staring into one of his concoctions in her hand, looking a little bit pensive while dangling one of her heels off the edge of her foot.

   “Whuzzup with her?”

   “Dunno,” replied Molly, before continuing with her sundae. “Mom said she wanted to be alone for a bit.”

   “Frankly, cuz, I think she could use some company.”

   “Gotcha…gimme what she’s havin’, Louie.” 

   “One Shirley Dimple, comin’ right up.”

The businesswoman swivelled the drink around in her glass and sighed despondently, not even noticing her pilot coming up to her. Clearing his throat, he asked politely: “This seat taken, lady?”

   “It’s a free bar…” she muttered, not looking up. “Go ahead.”

   “C’mon, Becky…what’s eatin’ ya?” he asked as he sat down. “Louie says yer killin’ happy hour – an’ that lasts twenty-four hours ‘round here.”

   “Just wishing…that I had better luck with men, that’s all.”

   “Whaddya talkin’ ‘bout? Ya had yer date with ol’ Karny back on Pirate Island , ‘member?” Baloo snickered. “‘Sides, didn’t ya ran inta yer latest Mister Right on the Festivia earlier with what-sits name – ‘Toady?’”

   Taddy,” she corrected, cracking a little smile. “And please don’t remind me about Don Gar-bage, smarty. I called the day cruise charter line to see about getting my purse I left behind when I got kidnapped…and to find out about him.”

    The pilot raised a suspicious eyebrow, feeling that gnawing feeling again.

   “And…?”

   “The good news is that they found the purse and are holding it until we get back home, plus giving me a complementary double pass for the next day cruise for getting their band back alive and for my troubles. The bad news is, I only knew Taddy by his first name…didn’t get a chance to know his last. And since there were five other men listed onboard with the first name ‘John,’ it’s impossible to find out who he was.”

   For some strange reason, Baloo felt very pleased about that.

  “Oh…oh well, at least ya got a free cruise outta it, Beckers.”

 “Yeah…count my blessings, I guess,” Rebecca sighed. I got to admit…‘Taddy’ is a rather dippy nickname…

 “Well, this oughta put that frown upside-down, Brown Eyes…the Frosty Pep Ice Cream Company’s awfully glad we returned back the plane an’ cargo all in one piece. They’re givin’ us ten grand outta gratitude.”

   The news lit up her face. “Really?”

   “Yep – an’ I’m gonna split the dough with Molly.”

   “With…Molly? Why?”

  “Hey,” he said in between sips. “It was her idea in the first place to go after them Air Pirates, so it’s only fair…an’ I do hope yer gonna put her share of the cash away fer her schoolin’ or somethin’.”

   “Oh, of course,” Rebecca agreed. Baloo was right on that matter and it was rather generous – and sweet – of him to give a rightful share to her daughter. “It’ll go directly to her college fund, I promise.”

   “Right on. Plus an autographed picture of Danger Woman, a coupla of Danger Woman comics an’ a month’s supply of Frosty Pep for her, too.”

   “A month’s supply,” she repeated with a smirk as she finished her Shirley Dimple. “The way she pounds through it, it’ll be gone in a week…or in your case, Fly Boy, three days tops.”

    Baloo hid a smile in his beverage. Must be feelin’ better already…

As the bands ended their number and the dancers applauded, Baloo had drained his glass and decided the opportunity was right to bring a little more cheer to her.

  “Say…why don’t we dance those mean ol’ blues away?”

  “Oh, Baloo,” the she-bear fretted, “I look like a mess! My clothes are dusty; I don’t have my compact to fix my face; my hair’s frazzled and I’m pretty sure I got a run somewhere –”

  “I don’ care, I’ma mess, too. ‘Sides, any couple who’s gutsy enough to dance together in their skivvies in public is certainly brave enough to dance like they’ve just came outta a trolley wreck.”

  Rebecca had to laugh at that. “Even without my castanets?” she said, looking at him coquettishly.

  “At least there won’t be any pirates interruptin’ this time,” the pilot guffawed.

   She just smiled. “After what I’ve been through today, I’d love to.”

  “Now yer talkin’.”

  When the two bears walked onto the dance floor, the bands broke into a slow song that sounded very familiar to Rebecca as she stepped into the grey bear’s arms.

  “Baloo! That song…it’s ‘Moonlight Melody!’”

  “Yeah…what ‘bout it?”

  “That’s…the same song I requested to those guys to play before we got abducted by the Air Pirates,” she explained, turning her head to the performers in surprise.

   “Really now? Must be some kinda coincidence,” Baloo said nonchalantly, as he secretly gave a wink at the Latin jazz quartet’s bandleader, in which he likewise returned. 

  Molly and Louie looked upon the scene, smiling with approval.

  “There ain’t enough ‘O’s in smooth to describe Baloo, Honey Bunch.”

  “Uh-huh…and so once again, the day is saved – thanks to Danger Woman and her trusty sidekick!” she said, slapping each other a low-ten.

  As they danced, Rebecca was deep into her own thoughts, running some things through her memory of late…

  C’mon, Becky…if ya want to meet some nice guys, go to Louie’s! Meet a real man – not some rich snob with some fancy-schmancy suit who calls himself Skippy or Biffy…”

  “What were you doin’ holdin’ Karny’s hand?!...”

   Coincidence?…I’m beginning to wonder now…

                  A slow smile spread on her face and she looked at her dance partner impishly.

                 And to think that I had thought…

 “Baloo…?”

     “Yeah?”

       She was deeply curious to ask him what made him think that she would ever consider holding hands with Karnage back on Pirate Island , perhaps even tease him just a little about it. But, remembering how he reacted this morning back at the office about her going out to meet other men, she just said:

“Um…do you have any plans for the Saturday after next? You…wouldn’t mind taking a day cruise with me, would you?”

“Boss Lady…are you askin’ me out on a date?”

A date? Her face turned red.

“Uh, no! I-I mean…I thought…well, I don’t want to waste a perfectly good complementary double pass for a day cruise on just myself, that’s all.”

“Of course.”

“Of course,” Rebecca repeated.

The pilot looked at her for a moment and then said: “Well…ya know I’m more inta airships than sea ships…the Saturday after next, huh?”

 “Yep.”

 “Only if yer wearin’ that outfit ya got on, Becky,” he smiled.

 Deal, Fly Boy,” she sweetly returned.  And maybe – no, I will wear my black fishnets, too.

Just then, the fireworks display went off above them, to which everyone on the floating casino and quay looked on with fascination and awe, except for Baloo and Rebecca who were too caught up in the music and themselves to even notice.

Wow!” Molly exclaimed. “Fireworks – twice in one day!!”

“Uh-huh,” grinned Louie, watching the ursine couple holding each other closer on the dance floor. “Fireworks.”                                                  

END

 

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