BED AND BREAKFAST
Fan-fiction short story by jb
“…and the armament shipments to the Greater Hounsland Reich should
arrive next week ahead of schedule, Mister Khan,” reported a fatigued leopard
executive to his chief executive officer and president of Khan Enterprises.
“Excellent, Whitling,” replied the tiger tycoon nonchalantly, sitting
at his desk in his large jungle-like penthouse office. “What about the other
armament shipment bound for
“It’ll be ready to leave our dock next Wednesday, sir.”
“Hmm…move the date to next Monday.”
“That’s…going to be a bit tricky, considering the paperwork,
“And why, may I ask?” Khan
snapped. He disliked being told of the impossible without an extremely good
“Well…you see, sir…” Whitling gulped, “there’s this global
arms and fuel embargo against Nippon since their invasion of
“Embargoes do not concern me,
Whitling. I am a businessman, not a
politician. Find a loophole to work around this…most troublesome embargo
nonsense over the weekend in time for Monday’s shipping.”
“Y-y-yes, Mister Khan.” Well, so much for that
overdue dinner date with the missus this Saturday night. Claudette is going to
skin me alive, again…
“Mondale, Imports Report.”
Mondale looked at his wristwatch, reading twenty-five minutes past two in
the morning and wished he had taken that truck-driving job ten years ago right
then when he felt his high-powered employer’s eyes boring right at him; he
realized he’d been summoned. Clearing his throat, the brown panther read out
his expected report.
“Sir, the tropical fruit produce have arrived in the mainland stores,
as well as your newly-purchased jasmine green tea product in all of your
“Good. Now, what about our sales with the nutmeg since the price
The elevator doors of Khan’s office suddenly opened and out through it
came a short, bespectacled whitish-grey rabbit wearing a lab coat, running up to
the tiger’s desk panting: “Mister Khan! Mister Khan, sir!”
The tiger raised a displeased eyebrow mixed in with a deep frown and
stood up for the first time in three hours. “Doctor Debolt – what is the meaning of
“Sorry, sir,” said the nervous scientist, remembering what happened
the last time he did such a thing with painful memory as he noticed the
predatory look in Khan’s eyes. “I beg to report, that the portable amplifier
dish that we’ve been working on has been stolen from your secret lab in the
“Stolen? By whom?”
“The Air Pirates, sir. It was en route to here about two hours ago to
be further tested by us and –!”
Debolt’s words were cut off with a loud skkkirrkkkch
that filled the room, making the executives and scientist recoil in terror and
furs stand up on end. It was the sound of Khan’s claws making deep, long
scratches on the surface of his mahogany desk and had curled shavings gathered
underneath them. It was clear he was beyond agitated.
“Oh, that accursed Don
Karnage and his detestable pirates,”
Khan snarled. “This is definitely
unacceptable news. Everyone, except for Doctor Debolt, are dismissed for the
evening. We’ll continue this meeting tomorrow morning at nine sharp.”
“But, sir,” began one executive, “what about …”
Feeling rather small than usual and very alone as the executives left the
office, more relieved to be leaving after a fourteen-hour workday; the rabbit
scientist slightly shook in the spot where he was standing in, dreading of being
interrogated – for the lack of a better term – by his employer. When the
doors closed, Khan gazed dourly at one of his top company scientists for a
moment that seemed to last for an eternity for Debolt before he spoke.
“That amplifier device had
a sensitive and powerful scanning range and was most
crucial to our surveillance and communications divisions, Doctor. Did they take
the plans or the prototype?”
“Just the prototype, sir.”
The feline contemplated this tidbit for a minute, scratched his chin and then said: “Hmm, yes, I see…a pity, yet somewhat of a sustainable loss for us. Nonetheless, put out a discreet word out for the recovery and reward for its return, plus we’ll have to tighten the security corridor in that region from now on. And find those pirates.”
“Yes, Mister Khan.”
“Good evening,” Khan dismissed him, swivelling his chair around and
faced outside the window overlooking the Asia-Pacifica metropolis’ night
skyline. Wiping his perspiring brow and not wanting to be asked any more
questions, Doctor Debolt scampered out of the office and was halfway near the
elevator when he heard his employer speak without having to face him.
“And one other thing, Doctor.”
Debolt stopped dead in his tracks and turned around. “Y-y-yes, sir?”
“Have someone send up another desk up here as soon as possible, please.”
“Yes, Mister Khan. Right away.”
The tiger gave an aggrieved
lose more desks that way…
The Ministry of Culture
Britannian Protectorate of
Five months later
Floating through the air of a partly-cluttered antiquities office with
the melodic wail of a songstress’ voice coming from a semi-scratchy
gramophonic record player’s Victrola speaker, a staccato rhythm of typewriter
keys mingled with the local exotic tune in the background.
And sitting at an organized desk was a diminutive brunette vixen wearing
frameless glasses, matching khaki shirt and shorts. She was busily typing up
some papers and quietly humming along to the Aridian music with pride while
enjoying the cooling breeze artificially provided by the electric fan lightly
blowing through her sunny office space. The telephone on her desk then rang that
interrupted the solace of her environment, yet it disturbed her not at all.
Pausing from her typing, she turned and picked up the receiver to answer.
“As-salamu ‘alayki –
Ministry of Culture, Doctor Foxworthy speaking.”
The archaeologist’s face brightened. “Katie!
Katie Dodd, long time no hear! How are you?”
“Still a million dollars short of being a millionaire,” replied her
colleague, followed by what sounded like a stretching grunt. “How goes it over
there in Aridia?”
“Booming. Tourism and archaeological permits have been skyrocketing
since King Utmost’s pyramid went open to the public; been finishing up on a
new paper on the subject that I’ll be giving a talk on at a regional symposium
next week and it looks like I’ll be a new aunt before the summer’s over. So,
how about you, Doctor? How was your sabbatical over in Xanadu?”
“Broadening, let’s just say. Since I’ve been back, I’m three months behind with my work; tackled a mountain pile of students’ papers to grade and getting five hours of sleep at night. If it wasn’t for adjusting to various time zones with all this travelling I’ve been doing lately, I wouldn’t have any fun at all.”
“So where are you calling
“In a hotel room in Montréal, believe it or not,” said the auburn-haired archaeologist, sitting on the edge of her bed, wearing a dark blue jacket over a white silk blouse and lacy jabot, plus a mid-length dark blue skirt. Kicking off her black high heels and wiggling her toes enmeshed in sheer black silk hosiery, she continued: “I’m giving a two-day lecture over here plus trying to drum up backing for that little project we talked about before I went off to Xanadu, remember?”
“You’re…” the Aridian
blinked in surprise, “going after the Cache of Molta again?”
“Yeah,” Katie sighed. “I want to be able to mount a full-scale recovery expedition of the September Weed between now and next summer. Things are not looking too pleasant in Zoorope these days, Doctor.”
“Yes, I know. Any luck?”
“Not too much, I’m afraid. Most of these foundations I’ve been
going to aren’t too keen in backing an archaeological job with high-risk
factors involved, much less let a…‘mere woman’ lead it.”
“How many places have you
“Oh, between Rio and
“And get a load of some of those Aridian artefacts you found with the
Cache for our museum? For a chance to work with you again, Doctor Dodd, anytime,
Katie smiled. “I knew I could count on you. What would I do without
“You could always ask that nice Professor O’Bowens to help.”
“Are you kidding me?” the
redhead snorted. “That guy’s all thumbs!
He must have gotten his doctorate out of an ancient box of Cracker Jerks!”
Katie just rolled her eyes. And
people say I need to get out more
“Well, I’m going to wrap up this call, Doctor. I’ve got some
lecture notes to review over and take a nice, long, hot bubble bath before I hit
“Sleep well, Katie. Keep in
touch with any progress with the funding.”
“You bet. ‘Bye now.”
End of Prologue
en route to Cape Suzette, Asia-Pacifica Rim
One month later
Rain pelted the Sea Duck’s
hull heavily as it flew though the air, helmed by its lone occupant and pilot,
Baloo. The seasoned flyer looked at the stormy skies that matched the colour of
his own fur. He frowned, troubled.
Sure, he had flown in rougher weather conditions than this, but after
three days of hauling ten thousand coffee grinders from Columbean to Crackyertoa
during its worse grinder shortage since the Milagro Coffee Beanfield War which a
major coffee-growing cartel who hired Higher for Hire for the big job,
gratefully thanked the now-exhausted pilot on behalf of coffee drinkers the
world over for their prompt and efficient delivery of the product in question.
Yeah, he had quipped to
the president of the coffee-growers cartel, Juan Valdez,
but doncha tell my boss that ‘bout me. She’ll have me committed to the
nearest loony bin in a hurry!
The president just gave him a blank look and just said, Buenos dios, señor.
Homeward bound, Baloo guided
his seaplane with great caution through the storm and he then could see the
welcoming faint glow of spotlights in the distance that pinpointed the way back
to the entrepôt of
The pilot checked his wristwatch, reading fifteen minutes to one. He
stifled a yawn and continued onwards. He was so anxious to get to his own bed
that he didn’t bother to detour to his favourite watering hole nearby, Louie’s Place, to hunker down until the storm had passed, let
alone pay heed to his stomach to be fed – which was a rarity, even for him –
proving how eager he was to get back to the comforts of home waiting for him.
Yep, in jus’ a li’l while I’ll be doin’ some fast snoozin’ in
my own bed, Baloo thought dreamily. Back
in my soft, warm bed…soft, warm pillow…soft, warm sheets…soft, warm
jammies…Becky’s soft, warm eyes…Becky’s soft, warm –
He suddenly snapped out of this runaway train of thought. Why was he
thinking about her like that for?
Slapping himself awake from his semi-dozy state, Baloo went back on
focusing his piloting the Sea Duck. It
was much easier that way. Man, oh
man…I’m a lot more tired than I thought!
Soft blues music filtered through the radio speaker at the
The she-bear had developed a taste for the music from her pilot and had
to admit, it did sound pretty good to her ears, unlike the first time she had to
endure the tortuously repeated playing of “I’ve Got Them Flat-Broke,
Sticky-Shoed, No-Banana Boogie-Woogie Blues,” moreover listening to some real
blues by the likes of “Ma” Rainy Day and Messie Smith, true and earthy women
singers to which she could really enjoy – and often at times relate.
Rebecca gazed upward at the grandfather clock in the corner that lightly
in the morning. Yawning slightly, she had already finished going through Higher
for Hire’s finances three hours ago and was just going over them again,
plainly out of boredom. The businesswoman was actually waiting up for Baloo to
return from his three-day run, half in anticipation to get the invoices from
their recent client and the other out of worry due to the raging storm outside
that had been battering the Cape and the surrounding area for the last two days.
She had even brought her eight-year old daughter Molly from their apartment down
here, just to be on the safe side.
This is a fun way to spend a Saturday night, the she-bear thought
Kit, in his shared room with Baloo and Molly in the spare bedroom
upstairs; were both sound asleep. Getting up with a stretch and walking over to
the nearest window overlooking the inner harbour, she could see through the
rainwater-shrouded pane the red-beaconed buoys bobbing in the choppy waters and
a light from Wildcat’s floating shack, indicating that he was up was well,
probably working on one of his crazy contraptions or something.
She gave a weary sigh and contemplated in brewing up another cup of
coffee, but didn’t want to be too jittery to be able to go to sleep when Baloo
got home. So she thought about doing some t’ai
chi to help her relax that she sometimes did before going to bed on those
stressful days at work, such as botched-up orders that could throw the whole
day’s schedule off or a late, important delivery her staff pilot managed to
But those late deliveries were becoming a thing of the past with him, she
had recently discovered. It probably took her strong will and absolute
no-nonsense attitude from day one that made him knuckle down to do the job
right, plus him taking on a few responsibilities that made Higher for Hire a
little more smoother operation to run nowadays.
Yet, Rebecca kind of wondered if there was something more to it than
Still staring out at the stormy outdoors, the she-bear admitted that she
missed him a great deal whenever he went out on a long haul job, when at one
time she practically relished them just so she wouldn’t have to put up with
his crassness and unsophisticated manners, looking forward to the silence not to
mention the tidiness of the office. Now, it just felt eerily empty – and a
quite lonely – without his presence.
It didn’t seem like Higher for Hire without its highly reputable ace
pilot that really gave the fledgling air cargo service the leverage above all
the other independents like her in town, especially run by a woman. So much had
changed in the last two years since she took over the air freight service in
those heady early days, from clearing out all of the company’s debts, mainly
from those silly get-rich-quick schemes she used to concoct to get Higher for
Hire out of the red faster and make a better life for her and Molly.
Oh, stop driving yourself crazy,
Rebecca, she thought, shaking her head and turning away from the window. Baloo
will make it through. And stop waiting up for him like you’re his wife, for
goodness sake. Go to bed or do something useful!
Deciding to do some ta’i chi
after all, the businesswoman walked over to switch off the radio, went upstairs
and tiptoed quietly into the bedroom where Molly lay sleeping in their bed so
she could change into her outfit.
Turning on a small table lamp on the dresser drawer that lightly
illuminated the room and pulling out her ta’i
chi top and bottoms from a drawer, Rebecca proceeded to undress. Managing to
get down to her lace-trimmed camisole and matching tap pants, she then heard her
daughter cry out. Startled, she hurried over to the bed where Molly was
fidgeting violently in her sleep to which her mother gently tried to shake her
“Molly? Molly honey? Molly!”
The yellow-furred she-bear cub awoke with a start and then suddenly
recognized her surroundings. Breathing a heavy sigh of relief, she lowered her
head to her drawn-up knees, but she didn’t cry.
“Had a nightmare, Pumpkin?”
“Yeah…it…it felt so…real.”
Lovingly stroking her daughter’s hair and sitting on the edge of the
bed next to her, Rebecca asked: “Like to tell me about it?”
“I…I was flying on the Duck and we were being attacked by Air
Pirates…then, two of them managed to board it in mid-flight. There was this
other passenger…some girl I’ve never met before…and we were fighting them
“Wow! That does
“Actually, Mom,” Molly kind of grinned, “that was the exciting
“I…see…” said Rebecca, raising a puzzled eyebrow at her.
“So…when did things suddenly get scary then?”
“Well, one of the pirates fired this great big gun, see, and the bullet
was bouncing off the plane’s walls everywhere – pting!
pting! pting! – then, it hit the back ramp lever and the doors flew right
open and then I got sucked right out of the Sea Duck and I was falling through
the air and…” Molly paused for a moment with her mother waiting with baited
breath in being caught up in the story, then followed with: “…and that’s
when I woke up.”
“Oh…well, it was only just a nightmare, sweetie,” Rebecca assured
her, yet feeling a bit disappointed privately in the cliff-hanger the little
girl left off with. She liked adventure stories, even the tall tales Baloo told
to the point she wanted to believe them. “It couldn’t happen like that for
“There was one really weird thing about that dream, Mom.”
“What was that?”
“There was this brown-haired lady in it too, including in the fighting.
She wore these glasses and for some reason, I remembered that she could read
upside-down. Isn’t that weird?”
The she-bear shrugged. “Weirder things have happened, honey.”
It was just then Molly noticed her mother was in a half-dressed state.
“Are you coming to bed now, Mom? What time is it? Has Baloo come home yet?”
“Oh, no…I…I was just going to change into my ta’i
chi clothes and do some exercises before I go to bed. And no, Baloo isn’t
home yet, baby. It’s quite late, so go back to sleep, okay?” Rebecca
answered, dropping a kiss on her child’s forehead.
“Okay,” she said, snuggling back down under the sheets and holding
her favourite doll Lucy in her arms. “What were you still doing up for,
“I was going over the company’s books, Molly,” Rebecca replied, now
walking back to the dresser drawer. “That’s all.”
“Were you waiting up for Baloo, too?”
“No,” she said, somewhat uncomfortably. “Don’t be silly. What
makes you say that?”
“You really like him, don’t you?” Molly asked coyly. “C’mon, Mom,
Rebecca glanced at her a little sharply. “Molly…honestly.
Please just go to sleep, will you?”
Just then, the familiar sound of high-powered Superflight 100 engines
came roaring within earshot. The businesswoman turned and her face unexpectedly
lit up, exclaiming: “The Sea Duck!”
Running out of the room, the she-bear was halfway down the stairs when
she heard Molly call out from behind her: “Oh, Mother…are
you going to meet Baloo looking like that?”
“Looking like what?” she asked in puzzlement, stopping and turning
back to her daughter who had a strange grin and cast her hand over her body in
contrast to her mother’s current ensemble. Looking down, Rebecca realized that
she was still in her lingerie.
“Oh, my!!” Rebecca blushed, slapping both her hands on her cheeks in
mortification. Heading back upstairs quickly but quietly with the lacy hems of
her underpants loosely flapping with her movements, the she-bear whispered in
embarrassment: “Uh, Molly…could you, uh, hand me my, uh…”
Without missing so much as a beat, Molly casually whipped out her
mother’s fancy satin floral print bathrobe from behind her back and handled it
over to her with an amused smirk on her face and suppressed a chuckle, which an
annoyed Rebecca didn’t think was all that funny.
“Hey, I didn’t tell you to go romping around in your undies,
“What’s going on out here?” murmured a sleepy-eyed Kit in his
nightshirt, who had opened his bedroom door just then. “Did I hear the Sea
“Um, nothing, Kit! Nothing!” Rebecca answered, frantically putting her
robe on just in time and tying the belt. “I’ll take care of Baloo. You kids
go back to bed, alright?”
As she headed back down the stairs, the fourteen-year old navigator
looked towards the younger bear cub and knowingly grinned. “Absentmindedly
raced down in excitement to greet Papa Bear in her unmentionables again, kid?”
Molly tittered. “Yup.”
Rebecca grabbed an umbrella from the nearby stand at the bottom of the
stairs and made her way to the door leading to the dock with a clipboard
underneath her arm. Opening the door, she instantly felt the wind and rain rush
on her face. Bracing against the malevolent forces of nature, the she-bear
opened up the umbrella and thrust herself forward to the Sea
Duck where Wildcat, wearing a raincoat; had already set himself to moor the
“You need a hand, Wildcat?!” she shouted at the mechanic through the
“S’okay, Rebecca! I got ‘er!”
Hurrying along the deck, the businesswoman reached the side hatch door
just in time for the grey pilot to open it wide for her. As she entered quickly
inside, Baloo exclaimed to employer: “Hooo-whee!!
Man oh man, it’s a-rainin’ Calicos an’
“Sorry we couldn’t make the weather more palpable for a better
welcome home, Fly Boy,” she said, shaking the rainwater off her retracted
umbrella. “Did the run go okay?”
“Smoother than parachute silk, Boss Lady,” Baloo answered proudly,
producing four sets of invoices which he promptly handed over to her. “How’s
everythin’ here at the ranch?”
“Other than our year-round sunny weather we’re having, it’s been
business as usual,” Rebecca replied, briefly rifling through the invoices with
some satisfaction as they were all in place and accounted for.
“More like business as unusual,
Becky. From what ya told me before I left, we ain’t got no other haulin’
work in three weeks time an’ then there’s a pause before we even get busy
“It’s only temporary, Baloo. Business will pick up again real
soon,” the businesswoman replied nonchalantly. But he detected a trace of
worry in her voice, which indicated that she too was concerned about the work
slowdown approaching Higher for Hire, but wasn’t about to let on that she was.
She was always like that.
“Besides,” she snidely added, still looking at the invoices, “since
when have you cared what happens to Higher for Hire’s work load,
Shutting down the Sea Duck’s
onboard power, the pilot answered with some feeling in his voice: “Since I
started workin’ for you.”
Caught off guard by this unexpected response, Rebecca’s head jerked up.
For a guy that was once so eager to leave Higher for Hire under her stifling,
bureaucratic management and head off for open skies where he wouldn’t have to
work for anyone but himself, the businesswoman wondered what those words meant.
Did he now had a vested interest in the company…or was there more to what he
It was then that Baloo noticed that she was in her bathrobe. Not that he
didn’t mind, but it did pique his curiosity. So he asked: “Say, Becky,
whacha got yer robe on for? Were ya gettin’ ready for bed or somethin’?”
The businesswoman snapped out of her thoughts and her cheeks glowed to
light pink, the same colour as the one of the flowers on her print robe. She
turned away from him and pretended to continue reading the cargo invoices.
“N-n-never mind, Baloo. It’s nothing.”
If you only knew, Fly Boy…
“Nuthin’?” the pilot echoed with a crafty smile. “Are ya sure
‘bout that, hon?”
“Not unless you value your spleen, buster,”
growled Rebecca, clenching her teeth and shooting a poisonous glance at him.
Her answer made Baloo’s skin crawl and in giving him an involuntary
shudder, he decided not to push it any further – if not for his spleen,
wherever or whatever that was – so remained silent afterwards.
What are you getting all so steamed
about? The voice in Rebecca’s head spoke to her. It’s
not like he’s never seen you in your frilly underthings before.
Don’t remind me,
please, she answered her conscience, and
besides that was different!
Remembering that time
over the Spruce Moose hijacking
incident when they were temporarily marooned on that desert isle outside Cape
Suzette and the she-bear had to reluctantly strip down to her best full slip –
along with Baloo and hundreds of the Cape’s business and social elite that
night in their own underwear – in order to create a makeshift hot-air balloon
to get off the island. But he had been a real gentleman as he’d always been,
even called up Kit ahead of time when they got back to Higher for Hire to get
her spare bathrobe ready upon arrival and presented it to her while she waited
in the taxicab to maintain her dignity when she returned to her apartment
building that dawn, which she had found it very gallant of him. And touching.
Getting back to business, she then softened her tone and changed the
subject. “Don’t worry…we’ve been through rougher skies than this, Baloo.
We’ll manage. Well…everything is in proper order, customers seemed
satisfied. Ready to brave the storm again?”
“Ready when you are, Becky.”
I’d never thought I’d say it, but…she thought, opening up
her umbrella again with a secret smile, I really missed you calling me
The two bears stepped out of the Sea
Duck, shut the hatch door tightly and ran back towards the office. Wildcat
had firmly secured the seaplane’s moorings to the deck and joined the racing
couple underneath the umbrella, when a stiff gust of wind managed to wrestle it
from Rebecca’s grip and sent it flying off into the stormy gale, drenching
both her and Baloo.
“Shoot!” she yelled
“C’mon,” shouted Baloo. “Let’s pull chocks, double-time!”
An opened door waited for the trio with Kit in his bathrobe at the
entrance way inside. Quickly closing the door after them, the two wet bears
shivered from the cold rain.
“Boy, you two look like a couple of drowned rats,” said Molly, who
handed both adults each a separate clean and dry blanket to cover themselves
with, which both of them took very gratefully.
“Thanks a lot, sweetheart,” Baloo said.
“Want us to get you some towels and pajamas?” offered the navigator.
“That would be lovely, honey,” said Rebecca. “Thank you.”
As the two bear cubs went upstairs to do their task, Wildcat spoke up
then. “Uh, if you all don’t need me for anything, I’ll be headin’ on
back to my shack.”
“Go ‘head, Wildcat,” said the pilot. “Thanks a lot fer moorin’
the Sea Duck, pal.”
“Anytime,” he said as he headed for the door. “I’m gonna work on
that electric bathtub. Sure ya don’ wanna test it?”
“Some…other time, maybe,” Baloo answered warily.
“Tried to get you to test for him, too?” Rebecca snorted after the
mechanic closed the door. “He’s going to get himself or somebody killed with
that thing someday, I swear.”
“Yer tellin’ me,” her pilot agreed and then yawned. “The only
thing I’m lookin’ forward to is a hot shower an’ some serious shut-eye.”
“You’re in luck, Papa Bear,” said Kit, coming down the stairs with
Molly behind him, both carrying the towels and nightclothes in their arms.
“We’ve got plenty of hot water and your bed’s already been laid with clean
“Thanks, Li’l Britches.”
“Good,” smirked Rebecca, “hope there will be enough hot water in
the morning by the time you finish, Fly Boy.”
“Compared to how long you
take in the bathroom, Boss Lady?” he retorted. “An’ it ain’t pleasant
havin’ a wet brazierre smack ya awake in the mornin’, lemme tell ya.”
Rebecca didn’t know if she was turning red from embarrassment or anger
from this past memory, but just gave a somewhat narrowed glance at him.
“You’re never going to let that one go, are you? I told you
then I had to rinse out a couple of things for an emergency and forgot one was
still in the stall! And I already said
I was sorry for leaving it hanging there, for crying out loud!”
The two kids looked at each other and rolled their eyes with a sigh. Oh,
great…a sniping contest in the middle of the night…
“How can I, Becky?! I still can feel the welt on my nose!”
“Aww, poor sweet Baloo,” she cooed. “Want me to kiss it and make it
Baloo leaned forward right in his employer’s face and growled darkly,
“Be my guest.”
They glared at each other for a moment as Kit and Molly uneasily looked
on, feeling the tension build between them into what was going to happen next.
Then, Rebecca’s hardened features dissipated, raised herself en
pointe ballet-style with her toes, closed her eyes and delicately kissed the
tip of the huge pilot’s nose. This took Baloo completely by surprise, if not
their young witnesses.
Lowering back down on her soles, the she-bear gave her employee a
simpering look, fluttered her eyelids and gently purred, “Better?”
Baloo just had a gobsmacked expression that left him speechless and a
strange, warm and giddy feeling inside, only numbly mumbled:
one way to defuse a powder keg, Kit thought amusedly. Or
“Come along, Molly… it’s way past our bedtime,” Rebecca said with
a sultry smile and raised eyebrow, doing a very slinky starlet-like walk up the
staircase as she carried her nightgown and towel with her daughter at her heels
who just quietly grinned. “‘Nighty-night, boys.”
Reaching the top of the stairs and as they entered the spare room, Molly
giggled then asked, “Why’d you tease him like that for, Mom? He’ll be
awake all night long.”
Her mother only chortled. “Well, honey, it’s all part of being a
girl. Take notes.”
“Good night, Rebecca,” Kit said, then turned to the pilot who was
still left in a daze which the youngster hadn’t seen him in when she also
playfully kissed him on the onset of that bogus “mission to Mars” they took
in the guise of squeezing a two-week vacation out of their employer that led to
a whole lot of trouble.
“Baloo? Baloo?” he said, gently shaking the grey bear. “Say ‘good
Confusedly, Baloo said: “Ahh…good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you
The navigator rolled his eyes again and shook his head. Taking his
guardian by the arm, he pulled him towards the ground floor shower stall.
“C’mon, Hotshot. Time to hit the showers.”
“Why, Coach?” the pilot asked dumbly. “Did we win the big game?”
“Yeah,” Kit answered sarcastically. “You scored the winning touchdown, champ.”
The pilot idiotically beamed. “Outta sight!”
“I think we’d better run you a cold shower, Papa Bear,” the
Baloo, still lost in his delighted delirium, just nodded.
Having removed her wet clothes and thoroughly drying herself off, Rebecca
slipped on and buttoned up her white flowing Victorian nightgown with a pink bow
and outer ruffled trim with a satisfactory smug look on her face. Ordinarily she
wasn’t such a flirt, but on occasion she just couldn’t help herself and even
enjoyed doing it to the big lug of a pilot.
Smoothing down the nightdress, the she-bear walked over to the dresser
drawer mirror, grabbed her hairbrush and began brushing long strokes. In the
mirror’s reflection, she could see Molly was again fast asleep.
She thought about it again after a few strokes and stopped smiling,
thinking: Why did she do it?
Oh, it’s been a long night, she tried to convince herself.
I’m just plain tired. It
didn’t mean anything and probably not to that dumb galoot.
that so? The voice in her head retorted. Did
you see the look on his face? You practically left him smouldering on the spot
where he was standing. That doesn’t mean it didn’t cross his mind – what
That answer surprised her so that it made her drop her brush and it
landed painfully on her foot, making her clamp her mouth shut to muffle her yelp
while quietly hopping on the other foot.
Letting out a laboured sigh, Rebecca picked up her brush and placed it
back on the dresser. Lightly hobbling over to the bed, she lifted up a corner of
the bedcovers and climbed in next to her daughter. Turning off the nightstand
lamp, Rebecca laid awake for a little while in thought.
Sometimes…it gets lonely at night.
It would be so nice to share my life again
with someone special. To have strong, rugged arms around me…looking into those
dreamy brown eyes…
Knock it OFF!
The voice brought her back to reality. Go
Sleep…how can I sleep?
Count sheep. Count ledgers. Count anchovy pizzas. Count anything. Just
not that oversized pilot of yours...
Oh, shut up.
“Ahh…beddy-byes for Baloo,” the grey pilot contentedly sighed,
slipping his nightshirt over his head after taking that long, well-deserved hot
shower that relaxed his whole body. With a mighty, inelegant stretch, he made
his way to bed.
“Are we going to do any flying lessons tomorrow, Baloo?” Kit asked,
in his bed across from him.
“I dunno, Li’l Britches. It’s gonna depend on how the weather’s
actin’ an’ on what ol’ Beckers gotta say ‘bout it, ‘kay?”
“Okay,” the navigator yawned. Turning over in his bed, he could hear the familiar mattress creaks of the larger bear getting into his. Blackness enveloped the room as the light went out. “‘Night, Papa Bear.”
Baloo yawned. “G’night, Becky.”
Becky? Kit thought in surprise. But considering he’d been on a
long-haul run and probably lingering over that kiss, the youngster just shrugged
it off with a knowing grin.
Poor guy… he thought before
drifting off to sleep. I hope no girl will ever put a spell on me like that.
Rubbing the residue from her eyes and making a small yawn, Molly quietly
climbed out of bed and went downstairs toting Lucy in one hand the following
morning. She had been awoken by the wafting aroma of breakfast being made from
the kitchen and, feeling hungry, decided to investigate. Passing by one of the
windows on the stairwell, the she-bear cub saw that the rain had stopped and the
skies were spread with silver grey and white clouds against the light blue sky.
As Baloo would say, she
thought, ‘It’s a good day fer flyin’.’
Walking into the kitchen, Molly saw Baloo at the stove working on
something on a skillet. Hearing the door open, the pilot turned to see the girl
there looking sweet in her violet and white ruffled-edged nightgown, he beamed
“‘Mornin’ there, Angel. Howja sleep?”
“Pretty good, aside from Mom’s snoring,” she answered, helping
herself onto a nearby chair at the small dining table. “Watcha making?”
“Scrambled eggs an’ bacon. An’ I got a stack of pancakes an’ a
mess of hash browns at the ready. Ya want any?”
Molly just laughed. She remembered Baloo’s infamous and insatiable
appetite, which was why she liked staying over at Higher for Hire more than she
did at home. He was a lot more fun at breakfast time, while her mother usually
rushed her out the door on school days.
“Sure,” she said, pouring a glass of orange juice from a pitcher set
on the table. “I’ll have some pancakes and eggs, please.”
“Comin’ right up, buttercup!”
Taking a sip of juice, she looked around the kitchen and realized
something was missing. “Say, where’s Kit?”
“Out runnin’ some errands. He’ll be back soon enough,” Baloo said, dishing out some eggs on the side of the plate laden with two pancakes. Presenting the plate to her, he added with some debonair airs about him and a faux French accent: “Here ya go, madame-mozzarella.”
“Silly!” Molly chortled. “It’s pronounced ma-dam-mow-selle,
not ma-dame-mozzarella. And
mozzarella’s from Italia, not
“Eh, close enough, Cupcake,” the huge pilot dismissed with a wave of
his paw as he placed the plate in front of her. Hunkering down on his heels so
that they were at eye-level, he then asked: “How’s ‘bout an l’il ol’
tip fer the chef an’ waiter?”
“Here you go,” the she-bear cub said, planting an affectionate peck
on his cheek. “Thank you, Baloo.”
“Aww,” he said, slightly blushing and touching the side of his face
Molly just kissed. “Thanks a bunch, honeybunch.”
“You’re welcome,” she said blithely as she cut into her first
pancake piece drizzled with maple syrup and shoved it into her mouth. At that
moment, Kit entered the kitchen carrying a newspaper under one arm and holding a
small brown paper bag in another hand.
“‘Morning there, Molly.”
“Didja get the mornin’ paper an’ stuff there, Ace?” asked Baloo.
“Sure did, Papa Bear. Got the Sunday paper and a bag of sweet rolls
like you asked.”
“Oooh, sweet rolls!!” Molly
exclaimed gleefully, about to reach for the bag. “Gimme one!”
“Finish what’s on yer
plate first, baby doll,” said the grey pilot, which the girl just sighed but
continued on with her breakfast. “By the way, where’s yer mom?”
“Upstairs still asleep, last time I checked. Why?”
“Hmmm,” murmured Baloo with a thoughtful grin as he dished out Kit’s breakfast the boy was holding a plate up to near the stove. “Team, I got me an idea…”
Rebecca, her eyes closed and all curled up in bed with the blankets all
swaddled with her body, was all snug and comfortable with a wide smile on her
face. She rolled over in her sleep and gave a long contented sigh, just as the
spare bedroom door was given a polite tapping.
“Becky? You up?” Baloo asked though the door. Holding a loaded
breakfast tray with Kit and Molly behind him, the pilot pressed his ear against
the door, but heard nothing except from what he swore was something that sounded
like a muffled giggle.
“Anything, Papa Bear?” Kit asked.
“Dunno, L’il Britches. Can’t make out fer nuthin’, ‘cept
“Well, just go in then.”
“Okay, then,” he said tentatively, turning the doorknob with one hand
and holding the tray with the other. “I jus’ hope she ain’t in her
skivvies or somethin’.”
“You almost came close last night,” the navigator muttered which made
“What was that?”
“Oh… nothing,” Kit replied innocently as all three of them walked into the room.
Quietly walking over to her bedside, they saw Rebecca still asleep with
the big grin.
Baloo thought with relief. The Boss Lady’s still asleep…an’ from the
looks of it, is in a good mood.
She then chortled sumptuously, followed by a pleasurable purring sound.
“Looks like we’re in the middle of a good dream here, Papa Bear,”
The she-bear rolled over again in bed with a girlish, delighted squeal
and giggled: “Tee-hee-hee…Baloooo…don’t…”
A surprised look struck on all of their faces, but none more so than the
pilot himself that it almost made him drop the tray. Molly had to cover her
mouth to hold back a gasp and so did Kit in order to repress a snort.
“Heh-heh-heh,” Baloo chuckled very nervously as he looked at the
youngsters. “M-m-mebbe she’s havin’ some kinda nightmare.”
“Oh, yeah,” Kit commented, trying hard not to laugh out loud.
“She’s terrified, Baloo.”
“Aw, man,” the huge bear sighed embarrassingly, setting down the tray
on the floor as Rebecca continued giggling in her sleep. “I’d better wake
‘er up before it gets outta hand.”
“Aww, c’mon, Papa Bear,” the navigator teasingly pleaded.
“It’s getting interesting.”
“Yeah,” Molly chortled quietly. “I wanna know what you’re doing
to my mom in there.”
“Well, you guys are too young to know ‘bout those
kinda things an’ I don’t want it
to git any more interestin’,” said
Baloo warily. He reached out and gently, but firmly shook his employer by the
shoulder. “Becky? Becky, wake up!”
“Hmmm?” Giggling just a little bit more, her eyes opened slowly.
Suddenly, she awoke with a start. “Huh? What? Where… what?”
Rebecca looked up to see who had woken her from her slumber, deeply
gasped in shock and turned a shade of red unlike ever seen while drawing up the
bedsheet over her chest as if she was indecently exposed. “Baloo!!
Kit! Molly! H-h-h-how long have you
been in here?!”
“We, uh…we just walked right in here,” the pilot said quickly and
then turned to the children. “Right,
“Yeah, right, Rebecca,” Kit answered, keeping a straight face as did
her daughter. “We just wanted to say ‘good morning’ to you.”
“Uh-huh,” said Molly, who had clambered on top of the bed to her
mother’s side and giving her a peck on the cheek. “And
serve you breakfast in bed!”
“Breakfast in bed?” Rebecca asked delightedly, now relaxing her grip
on the sheets as Baloo presented the tray down on her lap with a spread fit for
royalty. Laid out before her were scrambled eggs and bacon, a side of hash
browns, a cup of freshly-brewed coffee, a fruit danish with icing zigzagged
across the surface on a separate pastry plate and, for a touch of elegance, a
pink rose – which Baloo had taken one from the desk vase bouquet his employer
had downstairs – placed in tiny vase next to the smaller plate and cloth
napkin-wrapped eating utensils.
“Oh, my,” she beamed very warmly. “To what do I own this pleasure?
It’s not my birthday or Mother’s Day,” then she folded her arms across her
chest, tilted her head with a cocked eyebrow, sarcastically adding: “…or is
this ‘Hit-The-Boss-Up-For-A-Raise’ Day?”
“Nope, nuthin’ of the sort, Rebecca,” said the grey bear with an
honest smile. “Just…thought it’d be somethin’ nice to do on a Sunday
morn, that’s all. An’ to top it all off, the Sunday paper jus’ fer you.”
Rebecca lightly blushed, feeling her heart rate quicken by this gesture
as Baloo handed the newspaper over to her. “Well, thank you so much, Baloo.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been served breakfast in bed for no special
occasion, not since my ex-husb…I-I mean,
it-it’s very sweet. Thank you all.”
Taking the coffee cup to her lips, her pilot told her: “I made it
jus’ how ya take it, Beckers…cream with double sugar.”
“Mmmm,” Rebecca pleasantly
murmured after taking her first sip. “You can actually taste
“Courtesy of our most recent clients, Boss Lady. The president of the
coffee-growers gave us ten pounds of the best grounds around outta gratitude.”
“Definitely must send them a thank-you card to him, that’s for
sure,” his employer said, lying back on her pillows, taking another sip and
savouring the full-bodied and aromatic taste. “Mm-mmmm…nectar
from the gods.”
“Well, we’ll letcha enjoy yer breakfast there, hon, and we’ll git
back to our own,” Baloo said a bit hurriedly, now hustling Kit, Molly and
himself out of the room. “We’ll collect the dishes later, ‘kay? ‘Bye!”
Closing the door behind them, Rebecca thought his hasty behaviour was a
bit bizarre, even for him. Shrugging it off, she delved into her first bite of
eggs and a strip of bacon which were quite good. Mmm,
not bad at all. Not only does this guy dance and fly great, he’s a pretty darn
good chef, too, then saucily thinking, considering
his size, it’s no wonder.
She really did believe it was rather sweet of her pilot to serve her
breakfast in bed, reminding her of how lucky she was to have him around.
However, she couldn’t help in recalling with great embarrassment over what she
was highly enjoying prior to her unexpected wake-up call.
I just had, she thought as she cleaned up the remainder of the plate,
washing it all down with another slosh of coffee.
Goodness gracious, I really hope he and the kids didn’t hear anything I
said…what if I talked in my sleep?
Putting that thought – and the dream – out of her mind, she opened
the Sunday edition of the Cape Suzette Gazette’s
business section that would alert her for any upcoming trends she could wisely
corner into. Yet she couldn’t concentrate too much on that section after a
little while and switched to the society pages instead. Now starting on the
danish, Rebecca came up with a serious and interesting notion: I
wonder… should I make Baloo a partner in the business?
Then she saw something in the paper that really caught her eye. Oooh!
Twenty-five percent off pleated skirts in assorted colours at
Four weeks later
Mirroring the tall buildings off its windows rolling by, a taxicab drove
through the post-morning rush hour traffic before coming to a complete stop
right in front of
Mirroring the tall buildings off its windows rolling by, a taxicab drove
through the post-morning rush hour traffic before coming to a complete stop
right in front of
“The name’s not ‘Babycakes.’ It’s Doctor Dodd to you,” said the unsmiling, voluptuous vixen archaeologist who
didn’t like being ogled at so early in the morning, let alone any given part
of the twenty-four hour day. Running a small wad of bills in her gloved hand,
she produced the exact fare and handled it over to the driver. “And I will pay
“As you wish, Doc,” he said, snatching the money from her hands.
“Allow me to open the door for ya.”
“Save the chivalry for some other dame,” Katie said acidly, gathering
her portfolio case and purse before she opened the door. “I can handle myself
“I’ll bet you can…Red,” replied the driver, conspicuously eyeing
every aspect of her shapely posterior, including the tail, with a slight drool
as she stepped out of his vehicle.
She fumed. Nobody calls me “Red”– period!!
Slamming the car door hard, the cab then sped off into the traffic flow
and Katie looked on after the vehicle, thinking with indomitable relief: And
good riddance!! Where’d he get his
license from, a gumball machine?!
The redheaded vixen then
turned to her surroundings, finding herself in front of the imposing
Shere Khan was the last ace
in her deck.
Applying a new coat of lipstick and taking a quick inspection to see if
her hosiery seams were straight, Katie then gathered up all of her courage and
took a deep breath, making long, confident strides towards the office
building’s revolving doors, one thought running through her mind.
Kathleen old girl, here goes nothing…or something…