Today is L-Day at the A-Z Challenge, and, of course, today is another day of the Happy Acres saga. When last we left our crazy friends, they were sharing the stories of how they came to be at Happy Acres. I apologize for how long this episode is. It got away from me.
Bill's and T-Bone's Tale
"I choose to wait for my turn," Simon said, putting on his best monarchical air. "As king it's my prerogative."
Mia snorted. "That is no way any kind of truth. We all know it except for maybies you. The zombies are totes convinced that you are simply what they call a duck."
"Don't you mean a chicken?" Artie asked.
"Oh nosies," Mia said. "Poultry is in no way involved."
Artie's brows came together in confusion.
"Just go with it," I said. "She means Simon is ducking the potential discomfort of revealing anything about himself."
"If Simon's ducking out," Tessa said, looking around the room in earnest. "Then who's next?"
Another awkward silence settled while we all watched each other, waiting for a volunteer. T-Bone and Bill exchanged a glance, and Bill sighed in resignation. "We'll go next," he said.
Bill and T-Bone had been here before me, so I was curious to hear their tale.
"I'm afraid of puppets," Bill said, then stopped. I think we were supposed to infer the rest.
"Then why do you wear one on your hand?" Artie asked when Bill didn't continue.
"The story's a lot longer than that," T-Bone said. "Ya see, when Billy was a boy he was ascared of puppets the same way some folks are ascared of clowns or monsters under the bed."
Mia shuddered. "Zombies are for defs afraid of the crawly things under the bed. And in closets. Very not good."
"Then one day in school," T-Bone continued, "the teacher put on a puppet show teachin the class about proper dental hygiene. He asked Billy to stand in front of the class and let the puppets show the other children, on him, how to properly brush teeth."
Bill whimpered behind T-Bone, and T-Bone patted him on the shoulder.
"Billy dint care for all those puppets all up in his face. Billy don't really like to have his head touched by anyone, truth be told, but least of all puppets. It was a lil more than he could handle, and his poor little self just kind of went blank inside. He ran screamin and hollerin out of the classroom and the school nurse finally found him curled in a little ball in the girl's bathroom. That's when I showed up to rescue him."
"So Bill's been here since he was a kid?" Tessa asked, in awe.
"Naw. I helped him through that rough spot, along with the aid of some professionals. He was fine for a while, but refused to live in houses with closets, and always kept his bed directly on the floor. No bed frames to allow for space underneath, ya know? And a'course he stayed away from puppets of any kind. Had a bit of a tough time with the Muppet Show, but with my help he got through it."
"So how'd he end up here?" I asked.
"Billy grew up to be a teacher, convinced he could do a better job protecting little souls than his teachers had. One day he took the children to the art museum, wantin to enrich their hearts with art. Unfortunately, he picked a time that the museum had a special exhibit on the history of puppetry. Taken unawares, Billy led the students into the room, not knowin what evil lurked therein. When faced with the horror of puppets hanging from the ceiling, in glass cases, lounging on tables, and waiting to pounce on him from curtained windows, well, Billy lost it big time."
Mia's eyes were wide, and she leaned into the story, hanging on T-Bone's every word.
Tessa swallowed hard. "What happened to him?"
"The door was blocked by all the children, so he was trapped in the room with no escape. His eyes rolled up into his head and he muttered to himself as his knees buckled and he went to the floor like a sack of rocks. When he came to, I was there protecting him from all the hideous beasties. But he couldn't cope out there in a world full of puppets, so we came here."
"Wow," Mia said. "The zombies are totes in awe that you survived a puppet apocalypse. That is no easy feat at all, no sir."
"Zimbabwe," Bill whispered.
"What's with Zimbabwe, anyway?" Simon asked. "I could understand calling upon Scotland in your times of need, but Zimbabwe?"
"Billy is convinced that Zimbabwe is the only corner of the world free from puppet influence," T-Bone said. "Other than Happy Acres."
"How lucky you ended up in Happy Acres!" Tessa said, bouncing in her seat, a little cloud of golden glitter floating from her pocket. "Of all the places you could have gone, what are the chances you'd end up at the one puppet-free safety zone?"
"Yeah, it defies explanation," I said.
"Well," Artie said, clearing his throat. "That is quite a tale, Bill. And, er, T-Bone."
Tessa jumped off the couch and twirled. "This is so much fun, I can't stand it," she said. "Can I go next? Please, oh please oh please?"