The Mommy’s Curse
A TaleSpin story conceived by John Pesterfield.
Written by John Pesterfield and Bearcat. Additional story suggestions by Gidget.
TaleSpin is a registered trademark of The Walt Disney Company.
All characters used in this story are from Disney’s Tale Spin and are used without permission, with extreme respect and for totally NON-PROFIT USE. This is also the first story by these authors and is purely an educational exercise in creative writing.
The following characters in this story are part of Disney’s TaleSpin series: Baloo the Bear; Rebecca Cunningham; Molly E. Cunningham; Kit Cloudkicker; Wildcat; Dr. Bovon; Professor O’Bowens. Any other incidental characters are the creation(s) of the authors.
We thank the creative Disney talent behind TaleSpin for the creation of memorable characters and a series that has a loyal following to this day. We also thank Gidget for her reviews of the story and all her additional suggestions and input. It has been invaluable. J
The hospital was fairly clean and efficient, with many private rooms for special and VIP patients. As the clock approached six in the morning, Rebecca was just falling asleep. The doctor had finished taking several samples. Baloo sat in one of the chairs next to her bed snoring. Kit was in the other chair with both legs dangling over one of the armrests. Molly was wrapped in a blanket sleeping in a cot brought in by the nurse.
By noon, Rebecca awoke to the smell of lunch, or what the hospital kitchen passed off as lunch. Baloo sat on the bed next to her already eating and obviously enjoying it.
Rebecca noticed that Kit and Molly were not in sight. "Where are the kids?"
"Kit took Molly back to Higher fer Hire ‘bout two hours ago. Thought she’d best get away for while and he didn't want business to suffer either."
At that moment Dr. Bovon entered. "How's my patient?"
"I feel fine doctor, except for how I look," Rebecca answered between bites of food. "It is a little hard to eat though. What do the tests show?"
The doctor opened and briefly skimmed the file.
"You’re in almost perfect health. In fact, if you didn't look the way you do, I'd say you were wasting our time."
Back at Higher for Hire Kit sat behind the desk shuffling papers and answering the phone. Molly sat on the floor talking to her dolls.
She waggled Lucy, the smaller doll in her right hand and said in a squeaky voice, “Mommy, when will you get better?”
She answered herself in a deeper tone, waggling the larger doll in her left hand. “Maybe by tonight. I’ve got work to do.”
“Then can you play with me?” Squeaky voiced again. “Yes, sweetie. Right after I finish taking invention-tory.”
"Hello, this is Higher for Hire… can I help you? No, I’m sorry. Miz Cunningham isn't here...she'll be back in a few days, but I can help you with… but… now wait a minute, I’m sure I can… hello? Hello?" He slammed the receiver down, startling Molly.
"What was that all about, Kit?"
"Just one of your Mom's customers, Molly.” He shook his head in disgust. “Some people are so rude."
He got up from the desk and walked around to her. "You hungry, Molly? I can fix something up in the kitchen."
"Thanks Kit, but..." She looked away, biting her lip. Then she looked back at him and asked, "Can we go see Mommy?"
He knelt down to her eye level. "Not right now, Molly. Baloo's with your mom. He'd call if we needed to be there. Now come on,” he said, picking Molly up. “Let's get some lunch."
"Okay, Kit", she said with little interest. Kit groaned as he lifted her.
"You okay?" she asked.
He smiled back at the six-year-old. "Yep! But, boy, you're getting too big for me to carry."
Back at the hospital, it was a different story --
"Yuck! You tell me I'm fine and yet I have to… eat this stuff?" Rebecca stared at the unappetizing runny mess of brown goo on her plate. “I think I saw something move.”
Baloo just shook his head. It looked fine to him.
"Look, Rebecca, I know you'd like to get out of here, but I still have a few more tests to run, and a few I'm waiting for as well. So you might as well enjoy it."
She just looked at him. "Enjoy? This? This is... is..."
He cut her off. "It's all you can have here. It's full of vitamins, minerals..."
"Saltpeter!" she snapped back.
He took two steps toward her.
"Now that will be enough. While you are here, you'll eat what everyone else eats. Okay? I know it's bland, but it's better than nothing. Which is what you will get if you keep this up."
Baloo just sat there, snickering. He was delighted she was getting the business instead of him. The glare she shot him, however, could have frozen half of Thembria.
"Okay!” she said, still glaring at Baloo. “I'll eat it. Just don't treat me like a two-year-old."
"Oh, don't worry…" Dr. Bovon said as he started for the door, tucking his clipboard under one arm. "I won't. As long as you don't start acting like one!"
He was barely out in the hallway when he heard Baloo burst out laughing. This was followed by the sound of the metal tray hitting the wall. "Ouch! Hey, watch it, will ya?"
Dr. Bovon rushed back to the room to find both Baloo and the wall covered with food. “What did I say about eating everything, young lady?” Dr. Bovon lifted the receiver of the phone on the wall and quickly dialed. “Dr. Lewis, could you come to room four-eleven? Thank you.” The doctor turned with a smug smile. “That should take care of you.”
“Who’s Dr. Lewis?” Rebecca asked.
“She’s from pediatrics and she’s used to handling brats.” With that the doctor turned on his heel and left.
“BRAT?! Where does he get off calling me a brat. I am not a brat!” Rebecca said through her teeth, clenching her fists. Sitting on the bed with her knees up to her chest, she did indeed remind Baloo of a stubborn little girl.
Hearing their voices float out of the room into the hallway, a nurse stopped Dr. Bovon. "Can I give you a hand, doctor?"
"Yes," he said rubbing his forehead. "As soon as Dr. Lewis comes onto this floor have her stop by my office first. I'll need to explain my patient."
"Anything else, doctor?"
Bovon shook his head. "Get me a glass of water and an aspirin.”
Several days had passed when Dr. Bovon paid his final visit to Rebecca’s room. "Congratulations, Rebecca. I’m releasing you today. You can go home whenever you want.”
She didn't hear the muttered 'Good riddance' under his breath.
Rebecca, who had been fidgeting over the past few days, now stood up and hugged the doctor. She didn't notice his slight wince that even medical detachment couldn't hide.
"Did ya find a cure, Doc?" Baloo asked.
Baloo had spent every day with Rebecca, not even returning to Higher for Hire. He figured that Rebecca was concerned about his personal appearance --- especially when she began asking the nurse for an air freshener. Now even he had to admit he was starting to smell --- not bothering to change or bathe for so long.
"Unfortunately no. As far as I know, there is no cure. The disease isn't even in medical science. Unless we can find a way to reverse this condition… I’m afraid this is going to be you for life."
Rebecca stared at him, shocked. She had been hoping this was just a virus or something food-related that modern medicine could cure.
“No!” she whispered. “No! No… I don’t deserve this. How am I supposed to raise a daughter…run a business looking like…like… like a freak?!”
“What am I supposed to do?” she screamed at the doctor as she grabbed the lapels of his lab coat. Dr. Bovon glanced at Baloo.
The big bear gathered Rebecca to him and held her in his powerful arms. “Easy, Becky. Easy. Doc? Ain’t there anythin’ we can do?”
Dr. Bovon expelled a heavy sigh. “I’ll go over the test results again. Maybe I missed something.”
Rebecca tried to calm down and began to dry her eyes. Again she felt comfort in the arms of her pilot, her friend, though she’d never admit it to his face.
“Baloo…how… how do I get out of here? I can’t go out looking like this. You’d have reporters all over the place.”
Sheepishly, he smiled and picked up a shopping bag from the floor next to his chair. Opening it, he handed her the contents. “I… kinda brought these for ya.”
“A trench coat and hat?” she said, examining each item.
“Well…” Baloo said. “It was that or one of Louie’s costumes from last New Year’s Eve.”
Rebecca looked at him strangely. “I have to ask. What was it?”
Baloo cupped a paw around his mouth and bent forward to whisper in her ear.
She turned red. “You’re right. No way would I wear that.”
Rebecca grabbed the articles of clothing and put them on. Glancing down, she noticed that the price tags were still attached.
“You could have gotten some new clothes for yourself, you know,” she commented as she held her nose. Or at least a bath, she thought.
“Come on, Baloo. Let’s get out of here.” Rebecca quickly buttoned the coat and jammed the hat down over her face and they carefully made their way out of the hospital.
No one but Dr. Bovon saw them leave.
Later at Higher for Hire, Kit was just getting Molly up from a much-needed (for Kit at least) afternoon nap when someone knocked. As Kit went to answer it, Molly followed, rubbing sleep from her eyes. Kit opened the door. "Baloo! Why aren't you still with Miz Cunningham?"
"She's with me. You can come out now, Becky." Someone in a trench coat and floppy hat stepped out of the shadows she'd been hiding in and entered the office.
“That’s not Mommy. Mommy doesn’t wear hats like that.” A pale hand which had been hidden by the sleeves of the trench coat reached up and reluctantly raised the brim of the hat, revealing her mother.
She couldn’t help but see the apprehension, then dawning revulsion on Molly’s face.
She turned to Baloo with tears in her eyes. “Oh, Baloo.” Trying to fight back the tears as she spoke. “This will never work. Even Molly finds me ugly. And I can’t run a business looking like… like this!” Then she felt something grab her hand. When she looked down, she saw Molly looking up at her. She had summoned the courage to approach her. Tears were in her eyes as well.
“Don’t worry, Mommy. We’ll make you better. And ‘Danger Woman’ always keeps her promises.”
For the first time in days Rebecca felt at home. Even if she was stuck looking like a freak, as long as she had her daughter and friends’ support, it might make the situation tolerable. At least that’s what she was trying to tell herself.
Baloo shut the door behind her and went over to Kit. “Shut them curtains, Li’l Britches. We don’t need the publicity.”
Kit nodded and gave him a thumb’s up. “Roger, Papa Bear.” He went to close the curtains on the two downstairs windows, then headed for the kitchen to deal with the one over the sink.
It did not go unnoticed by Rebecca.
“Baloo! I can’t hide forever… no matter how much I want to.” Rebecca had now tossed the hat onto her desk and sat down in his old green armchair.
“I don’t understand. This is not a disease, and there’s nothing medically wrong with me. Yet that quack can’t explain why I look this way. All he gave me was a lot of bull. You know what I wish I had right now, Baloo?”
He looked at her, with his head cocked to one side. There was a long pause. “Okay, I give. What?”
“One of your outrageous excuses to explain away all of this!”
“Very funny. I don’t make excuses.”
“Oh?” she demanded. “What about the time you told me Molly ate your maps? Or getting attacked by Don Karnage I don’t know how many times?” Then her steam was beginning to build when she lashed out, “And what about that volcano stunt you claimed to pull in order to sell pizzas? And then there was…”
Baloo could see how much she was hurting inside and for once suppressed the urge to fire back at his boss. Instead he put a paw on her shoulder.
“Now hold on there, Becky,” he protested. “Kit and me did fly into that volcano. Was the only way to cook them two hundred pizzas.”
“Yeah.” Kit had returned from the kitchen. He added sarcastically, “The fur on the seat of my pants will never forget it.”
“Aw, man, not you too.”
He just smiled. “Sorry Papa Bear. Uh, Miz Cunningham? If you’re hungry I’ve got some meatloaf in the ice box.”
The thought of food, with her mouth the way it was, was a repugnant one. But she had to eat.
“That would be nice, Kit. If you have any bread back there, assuming it hasn’t turned green.” She looked at Baloo. “A meatloaf sandwich would be great.”
While Kit went back into the kitchen Rebecca sat, deep in thought. “Baloo? What have we been doing over the past few months?”
He groaned. “Haulin’ your cargo. What else?”
She shook her head. “No, I mean has there been any place we’ve gone that’s been, you know, unusual?”
Baloo began to take a settle himself on the corner of Rebecca’s desk, but a cold glare put a stop to it. Instead, he meekly stood by the end of it. “What? Ya mean weird? Not that I know of, Becky. Why?”
“Let’s look at the facts. One, I no longer look normal for some reason. Two, there is absolutely nothing wrong with me otherwise. I mean, maybe I picked up some type of bug the doctors have never even seen. Maybe it’s a scientific experiment gone awry. Oh, I don’t know what I mean anymore! I guess I’m just grabbing at straws here.”
“Well, let’s say you’re right. Maybe ya did pick up some sorta bug. Let’s think where we’ve been. Last month I flew inta Thembria. I had ta deliver them rolly skates for the Thembrian Ice Hockey team. Then, there was ‘bout a dozen trips ta Louie’s.”
“Yes, and a major food bill from all the lunches you had eaten there.”
Baloo frowned at her and thought: Too bad your memory hasn’t gone with your looks, lady. But he avoided saying it. “We’ve been to at least twenty-eight different locations, Rebecca. You weren’t along on any of them.”
“Wait. She did go on a few of them, Baloo.” Kit came back, carrying a plate with Rebecca’s sandwich. “Molly was visiting someone at the time.”
Molly, who had been watching and hearing all these goings on, playing with Lucy and listening quietly from her corner, sat up. “Yeah, Mommy. I went to see Grandma and Grandpa, remember?”
Rebecca blinked. “I forgot about that, Molly. You’re right, Kit. I did go on a few of those trips. There was the one to New Fedora. I had to sign for that new shipping contract. Then there was the side trip to Spango Pango.” Then she crossed her arms and glared at Baloo
“I had to make nice with the city officials because of one of your boo-boos, Baloo.”
He sighed, recalling that trip. He just wished he could forget the reasons.
“Yes. I see you do remember. Good! Now, there were one or two other places. One was a trip for the military and the other was for some university.”
Kit interrupted. “Yeah. I remember that one. It was another one of Professor O’Bowens’s digs. He had radioed us to bring in some special equipment. He wasn’t too happy when we got there though.”
“I know,” said Baloo. “Seems we were supposed to circle the island a few times. Kind of a ‘native custom’, he said.” A horrid thought entered their minds.
“Kit,” Rebecca said slowly. “Get Professor O’Bowens on the phone.”
On the far side of town, in the shadow of the Khan Tower, a phone rang in a small musty office. A secretary with hands tinged with cigarette stains picked up the receiver.
“Cape Suzette University. Archeology Department... Professor O’Bowens?… yes, he’s here. One moment please.” Putting down the phone, her shrill voice rang in Kit’s ears. “Doc! Phone!” There was a momentary pause, then the secretary said, “He’ll be right with you, young man.”
Kit could hear the professor muttering something to the secretary. Did he just hear him call her an ‘old bag?’ Then he heard the sound of the receiver being picked up.
“Hello? Professor O’Bowens here.”
Kit cleared his throat. “This is Kit Cloudkicker, Doc. With Higher for Hire?”
Kit could almost see slow smile of recognition light up the professor’s face. “Kit! How are you? How’s Baloo?”
Kit was surprised by his cordial attitude, after what he’d heard. “Fine Professor, but unfortunately this isn’t a social call. We need your help here. It has to do with your last trip.”
There was a moment of silence, as though Professor O’Bowens had to sweep the cobwebs from his own brain, before he remembered the trip Kit was referring to.
“Oh yes. Kit, I’d love to discuss it with all of you, but I’ve got to prepare for a class tonight and…”
Kit cut him off. “Doc. This is important. Please come over, will ya?”
O’Bowens was now a bit curious. There was a real hint of concern in the cub’s voice that worried him. There was a long pause, then the professor said, “I’ll be there as soon as I can, Kit.”
Within the hour the professor was at their doorstep. Kit let him in.
“Hello, Kit. You said you needed my help?”
“You bet, Professor. Come in.”
He handed Kit his fedora. “I hope it doesn’t take too long. I’ve got a class to teach this eveninnn….” His voice trailed off as he saw Rebecca for the first time.
“Oh my! This isn’t possible. I told you that you had to circle the island three times!”
End of Chapter 2