The sun rose into the heavens, pouring it’s light across the lands of Nottingham. Birds chirruped, and the simple folk of the land awoke and began their daily toils. All except one, who sat upon a rock at the top of a hillock. He had been up since the wee hours, accompanied by his bottle of Nottingham’s finest ale, and his trusty banjo (who he affectionately called Al junior).
He sat, mumbling to himself, as the suns first rays reflected off his metallic body. “Let’s see now…” He flicked through the pages of a small book held in his three-fingered grip. “If I wanna win the bard’s annual sing-a-thon, I’ve gotta come up with something good.” A few more pages were turned. “Nope, not the round table, that one’s been done so many times, it’s boring.” Another page is flipped. “What’s this…? Excalibur? Geez, is this thing advertising King Arthur, or what?”
With a snort of disgust, the metallic man threw the small tome to the floor. “Damnit, I need something fresh, something recent. Something, something…?” Suddenly, his square pupiled eyes fell upon a poster tacked to a nearby tree. A poster so new, that the ink was still slightly wet. “Of course, why didn’t I think of that before! Robin Fry, local hero to the downtrodden, and all around nice guy! The critics will lap it up!”
Bouncing with glee, he lifted his banjo. “Well, now I’ve got my inspiration. All I have to do is get the lyrics. Let’s see…” He strummed his guitar, and began.
“I tell a tale this night, good friends,
Of a man with hair as red as flame.
All have heard of his daring deeds,
|And all in Sherwood praise his name.
After King Rob-o left this land,
To fight across the seas.
He left his little brother Zapperiah,
Despite our begs and pleas.
He’s so cruel and greedy,
He bleeds the people dry.
If he weren’t takin’ my money,
It’d bring a tear to my eye.
But the guy’s a crook,
And I tell you not a lie.
Because the fat jackass,
Is bleeding the people dry!
But wait, there is hope,
Robin is our saving grace.
Because he’ll steal from the rich to feed the poor,
And put that idiot in his place!
Beloved by the people,
In forest’s glen he hides.
He’s a curse on Zapperiah,
And now his time he bides.
His merry men, his army,
Are ready at the call.
To fight for the poor,
Of Sherwood, and England, and all!
The sherriff of Rastifaria,
Can’t catch the wiley hood.
But he sure as hell,
Wishes he could!”
He stopped his song, strumming his banjo for a few beats, whistling along with the tune, before stopping abruptly. He looked down at his banjo and smiled proudly. “Yeah, that sounds good. They’ll be chanting my name at the awards ceremony this year! Alu-mini-um, they’ll say, he’s the best! The best bard their ever was!” He basked in his own glory for a moment, then a look of contemplation flashed over his optical sensors. “But it’s still missing a kick. Hmm… Maybe if I add in a little bit of a story… Yeah, that’ll spice it up. Now, let’s see…” His strumming continued.
“Robin Fry and little Scruffy walkin’ through the forest,
Laughing back and forth at what the other has to say.
Reminiscing this and that and having such a good time,
Hoo der lally hoo der lally golly what a day.
Never ever thinking there was danger in the water,
They were drinkin’ they just guzzled it down.
Never dreamin’ that a scheming Sheriff and his possy,
Was a watchin’ them and gatherin’ around.
Robin Fry and Little Scruffy runnin’ through the forest,
Jumpin’ fences dodgin’ trees and tryin’ to get away.
Contemplating nothing but escape and finally making it,
Hoo der lally hoo der lally golly what a day.
Hoo der lally hoo der lally golly what a day!”
Pleased with himself, the robot bard picked up his ale bottle, and tipped it to his mouth, finding it virtually empty, he swore and got up to go and buy some more from the tavern.
Little did he know, that the two very people he had been singing about, were not but a few miles away, having run from the Sheriff and his possy in a similar manner to which the song had referred. Little Scruffy was lying flat on his back, puffing and panting hard. Pointing a finger at Robin Fry, who was leaning against a post at the edge of the forest, he gasped. “Scruffy thinks you’re taking too many chances, Fry.”
Fry huffed, waving a hand in Scruffy’s direction. “Chances? Scruffy, that wasn’t taking a chance, that was just a bit of fun. Lighten up, will ya’?”
Finally managing to get to his feet, Scruffy gestured at Fry. “Scruffy thinks you should take a look at your hat.” Fry did so, finding a metal tipped arrow stuck through it. Scruffy put his hands on his hips. “Scruffy doesn’t think that’s a candle from a birthday cake.”
Fry turned the arrow in his fingers. “Well, whaddya know? They almost had me this time. They’re getting better. You got to admit it Scruffy, they are getting better.”
Scruffy folded his arms. “Humph. Scruffy thinks that next time the Sheriff will hang us. Yup. An’ it’s hard to laugh while you’re just hangin’ there.”
Fry laughed. “You’ve got to be kidding. The Sheriff and all of his dimwit guards couldn’t get you off the ground, old buddy. And besides,… think fast!” He threw the arrow at Scruffy, who ducked just in time.
Scruffy stood back up, holding his hat firmly on his head. “Hey, watch it. This is Scruffy’s only hat.”
Fry roared with laughter. “Oh, come on Little Scruffy, you worry too much. Lighten up, man.”
Scruffy chuffed out a short laugh, before looking serious again. “Fry, Scruffy’s been thinking, are we good or bad guys?” He gestured with his arms. “Robbing rich to feed the poor.”
Fry frowned at him. “Scruffy, rob people? That’s one of the words that you’re mother should punish you for saying. No, we never rob. We… we borrow a bit from those who can afford to go without it.”
Scruffy shrugged his shoulders. “Scruffy thinks that with all the borrowing, we sure are in debt, uh huh.”
Fry began to laugh along with his short friend, as in the near distance, they heard a bugle sounding. Cocking his head to one side, Fry let his trademark grin spread across his face. “Heh heh, sounds like another collection for the poor is on it’s way, eh, old pal?”
Scruffy removed his hat, holding it to his chest, as if in reverence. “Yeah, Scruffy calls it sweet charity.”
They started heading towards the road which the approaching carriage would have to pass, smiles pasted on their faces.
The carriage that the two friends intend to “borrow from” is that of the royal Prince Zapperiah, brother of the recently resident King Rob-o who has gone to fight in the far off crusades. Inside his livried carriage, he sits, with his rather over proportioned behind, on a velvet cushion, with his chief advisor, and second in command, as he put it, Sir Kif Kroaker, at his side. The obvious differences between them were almost comical. Zapperiah was a thirty something tub of lard, who’s blonde hair was almost non existent, and was replaced with a toopay. His robes were red, and made from his favourite fabric, velour. He was a human, but with the low intelligence of an ape. Sir Kif, on the other hand, was a diminuative amphibious humanoid. He was skinny in the extreme, and his skin was pale green. In character too, they were each other’s opposite. Zapperiah, is shovanistic and egotistical to the point of self dillusion. Whereas Kif was mild mannered, and most often shy. At this moment in time, there had been placed between them a large chest, and piles of leather pouches, containing tax money. Tax money forcibly taken from the good people of the country. They were heading through Sherwood Forest at this very moment, in order to tax the people of Nottingham. Although poor, Prince Zapperiah was sure that he could squeeze a good deal out of them before they were through. He put his chubby hand into one of the bags, sifting the coins through his fingers. “Aha, taxes! Kif, is there anything more wonderful in the world than money?”
Kif stuttered. “O-of course not, sire.” But his romantic nature, coupled with his natural appreciation of all things sensitive and loving, forced him to add. “Except maybe the love of a good woman.”
Zapperiah laughed. “Kif, my dear underling, I have yet to meet a woman that I would consider worthy of me.”
Kif hid his revulsion at this statement of ego, and decided the best course of action would be to change the subject. “Well, it is true that none can match your skill for squeezing money out of the poor.” Secretly, this revelation disgusted Kif, but he bore it for the sake of his position.
Zapperiah laughed. “Ah yes, there you are correct my friend. I believe the phrase goes ‘rob the poor to feed the rich.’” Kif scowled, looking at Zapperiah’s enormous gut. Yes, that statement was apt enough. Ignoring, or possibly just oblivious, to his advisor’s disgust of him, Zapperiah prattled on. “Anyway, Kif. Where is our next tstop?”
Kif fumbled in his robe pocket, red like the Prince’s, much to his distaste. The Prince, in his wisdom, had decided that his entire court should wear the same as he did. Kif pulled out a map, and opened it. Scanning the weathered parchment, he read off the next stop on their travels. “The next stop is Nottingham, sire.”
Zapperiah beamed. “Ah! Nottingham, the richest peach of them all.”
Kif sighed. “It’s plum, sire.”
“What?” Zapperiah asked halfheartedly, as he placed the crown of the King of England on his head.
“It’s plum, sire, not peach.”
Zapperiah gave a stuttering laugh, as the crown slipped over his forehead, and covered his eyes. “Damned thing…!”
Kif, inwardly smirking, complimented his Prince. For as disgusted as he was with the man, he needed the money this position afforded. “A perfect fit, sire. It makes you look regal, noble, masterful, dignified…”
Zapperiah tapped his fingers on the arm of his seat impatiently. “Yes, and…?”
Kif gave a loud sigh. “… and handsome…”
Zapperiah grinned stupidly. “Very good. Nice job on the ass kissing.” Kif squirmed uncomfortably, as Zapperiah readjusted the crown, so that it lay jauntily slanted over his head, barely hanging on. It was the only way he could wear it, and not have it slip over his eyes. “There, that’s better. You know, this crown makes me feel powerful, and sexy. Mmm yes, I definitely feel sexy.”
Kif grimaced. “Yes, sire. How well King Rob-o’s crown sits on your noble brow.”
Zapperiah beamed for a moment. “Doesn’t it though?” Then his expression darkened. “Rob-o! Kif, haven’t I told you never to mention his name!”
“Forgive me sire, a mere slip of the tongue. I am simply your humble advisor, who can not possibly know as much as your royal Majesty. After all, it was your idea that I hypnotise your brother…”
“I know.” Zapp began to giggle. “And sent him off to that stupid crusade.”
Kif looked regretful. “Much to the sorrow of her Majesty, the Queen Mother…”
Zapperiah’s expression of glee crumbled, and he wailed. “Mommy! Yes, she always did like Rob-o best, it’s because I was adopted, and he’s her real son, it’s not fair!” He sniffled, and stuck his right thumb into his mouth. Sucking on it, he began to whimper to himself.
Kif winced. “Sire, please don’t do that. You have an extremely sloppy sounding thumb.” Zapperiah ignored him, continuing to slurp at his thumb. Kif suddenly had a stroke of insight. “Sire, you know, I could help you with this psychosis. If you would allow me to, I could hypnotise you, and…” He began to pull his pendant out of his robe.
But Zapperiah waved his large hand at him. “No! Keep that away from me. I don’t want it.”
Kif felt hurt. “I was only trying to help, sire.”
“Yes, well, that maybe so, but I don’t want any of it.”
“Very well sire.” Kif tucked the pendant back into his robes, with a deep resentment in his heart. All he ever wanted to do was help, but here his skills and well meaning actions were always put down.
Zapperiah leant back in his chair, making it creak ominously. “Well now, enough of talking of subjects that don’t involve me being important or desirable. Think up a new topic Kif, or you’ll be walking to Nottingham.”
Kif began to brood. There were many subjects he would like to bring up. About how it was unfair to tax people so much, about how he thought that Zapperiah was a spoilt fat boy, about how he wished the Prince would just grow up and get a life. But he couldn’t say any of these things. So he tried a different tack. “I hear that Lady Leela is staying at the castle, sire.”
Zapperiah’s expression brightened considerably. “Ah, the lovely Lady Leela, hmmm? I’ll have to make time to get to know her better.”
Fry peered down the track that led through Sherwood, searching for the carriage they had heard coming. Scruffy joined him, shielding his eyes against the sun with his visored cap. Spotting the coach first, Scruffy humphed, and stepped back from the verge of the hill. “Scruffy’s disappointed. It’s only small potatoes, not worth nothin’.”
Fry looked closer, and turned to Scruffy, a grin on his face. “Small potatoes, says you? Idiot! More like King Edward’s, that’s the royal coach! It’s Prince Zapperiah himself!”
Scruffy raised his bushy eyebrows. “Scruffy remembers there being a law about robbing royalty. Scruffy’s high tailing it. He’ll se you around.”
Scruffy made to run off, but Fry grabbed the back of his shirt. “Oh no you don’t. We’re in this together. And besides.” He grinned mischeviously. “You wouldn’t want to miss this opportunity to perform in front of royalty, would you?”
Fry dashed off towards the road. Scruffy sighed, before following. “Here we go again.”
They hurriedly made their way to the side of the track, collecting a couple of disguises from their special hidey hole on the way. This time, they were gypsies. Scruffy tied a neckerchief over the lower part of his face, to hide his moustache. Fry put on a black wig, that curled around his shoulders, both of them wore dresses and cloaks, like true gypsy women. As the carriage approached, Fry waved his hand, hailing it. “Hoo der lally! Hoo der lally! Fortune Tellers!”
Scruffy waved around some crystals and beads he held in his hands. “Fortune’s forecast! Sheila has lucky charms, Yes she does, uh huh!”
Fry waved his arms further, making the bangles he had put on his wrists jangle and clatter. “Yo, get the dope with your horoscope! Come on, you know you wanna!”
Inside the coach, Zapperiah heard their calls, and clapped his porky hands happily. “Do you hear that, Kif. Fortune tellers! Female fortune tellers! Could this day get any better?” He yelled to the driver. “Driver! Stop the coach!”
Kif, always one for self preservation, spoke up. “Sire, what if they’re bandits?”
Zapperiah scoffed. “Oh poop, Kif. Women bandits? Whoever heard of such a thing? Women are housewives, cleaners, and maybe bikini models if they have good boobies, which you know I think are the most erotic part of a woman.”
Kif sighed. “Yes sire, I know.”
Just then, the curtains that made up the wall of the coach, opened. In came a woman of average height, with long black ringlets, and bright make up on her face. Behind her, another woman of shorter stature and with a neckerchief covering her face, stayed at her side. Zapperiah smiled broadly. “Ah, fair maidens of the road. Welcome. Feel free to bask in my presence. You may kiss the royal hands, or the royal lips, whichever you prefer.”
The black haired woman laughed lightly. “Thank you, sire. A most gracious offer.”
The shorter woman nodded. “Sheila agrees, most gracious, uh huh.”
Stepping forward, the woman with the black hair took one of Zapperiah’s hands. Kif couldn’t blame her. It would be the utmost rudeness, even punishable, to refuse such an offer from nobility, but if it were a choice between a kiss on the hand, or a kiss on the hlips, he knew which he would choose, had hee been a woman. The shorter woman took the other hand, and they both bent to kiss his fingers. The first woman mumbled. “Most generous.” Just as her lips were about to touch his fingers, she whipped one of his rings off, and into her dress.
Kif, though admiring of her skill and ordasity, was nevertheless, bound to protect Zapperiah’s best interests. Which is why, upon seeing this theft, he began to stutter. And when the second woman began kissing Zapperiah’s rings, only to come away with a mouthful of jewels, he could hold his tongue no longer. “Sire, did you see…”
But he was cut off by Zapperiah. “Hush Kif. These two beauties are merely showing their adoration for me. And who can blame them.”
“Silence, Kif! Honestly! No appreciation for womanly admiration.”
The black haired woman shooed her companion back out of the coach, and then smiled at Zapperiah. “Masterfully said, sire. Allow me to prognosticate for you.”
Zapperiah raised an eyebrow, a hopeful smile on his face. “So, you do that sort of thing?”
“Of course, I am a fortune teller, after all, sire.”
He frowned. “And being a fortune teller makes you good at it, right?”
She laughed. “Well of course, sire. I couldn’t very well be a fortune teller, if I couldn’t see into the future, could I?”
He blinked. “Future?”
“Yes sire.” She sat down near the table at the side of the coach. “Now, come and sit closer to the table, and dim the lights. Spirits do not like brightness.”
Zapperiah moved over to the table, plunking his considerable weight down into a chair, while Kif dimmed the oil lanterns lighting the coach to a barely visible glow. The woman placed her hands flat on the table. “Now what?” Zapperiah asked, with the curiosity of a child.
“Now, sire, just close your eyes and concentrate.” Zapperiah closed his eyes, but still peeked at her from under his lashes. “Now sire, tight closed, no peeking.” Zapperiah reluctantly did as he was told, and the woman began to wave her hands in the air mystically. “Oooooh, come to me, spirits! From the mists of time and space, come and show me your wisdom…”
While Fry was entertaining the Prince, and the little green advisor, Scruffy had crept back outside the coach, and was currently holding onto a rod. On the other end of which, attached by a cord Was a crystal ball, filled with tiny little fireflies. Scruffy peered into it. “Scruffy knows you can do this, glow little guys, uh huh.”
From inside the coach, Fry was getting agitated, what was taking Scruffy so long? “Come on spirits, don’t be shy! Yoo hoo!”
Scruffy pushed the rod through the curtains, next to which the table stood. “Glow little guys, glow.”
The crystal ball emerged into the coach, and because of the dimmed lights, it appeared to float on it’s own above the table, and a glow eminated from inside it. Fry gasped. “Look, sire! Look!”
Zapperiah’s eyes snapped open, as he looked to where the woman pointed. “Ah! Remarkable, floating spirits…” He made to touch the ball, but the woman smacked his hand away. Zapperiah looked at her bemused. “You wouldn’t happen to be into S&M, would you?”
“Naughty naughty, sire.” Fry chastised, trying desperately to ignore the S&M comment. “You mustn’t touch.”
Zapperiah grinned. “What mustn’t I touch, fair fortune weaver, you, or the crystal ball.” He winced slightly. “Ow, that did actually hurt, you know? You’re quite strong for a beautiful woman.”
Trying desperately not to gag, Fry changed the subject. “Shh, sire. We must be quiet, so the spirits can speak to me.” Fry put up his hands, guiding the floating ball to the table. “Now, gaze into the crystal, and we shall see what the spirits have to say. Hoo der lally, hoo der lally…”
Zapperiah stared hard into the crystal, but in truth, mainly because if he looked through it at the right angle, it magnified the gypsy woman’s chest. “Hmm.” He mumbled. “There’s a pleasant vision, alright.”
Fry, ignoring the Prince’s mumbling, pretended to gaze into the ball. “Ah! Yes! A face appears! A crown on his noble brow, and a kingly sparkle in his eyes.”
Zapperiah beamed. “Hmm, sounds familiar, tell me, gypsy fair, is he regally handsome?” He tried to give her his best sexy look.
Fry hesitated, but only for a moment. “Yes, yes he is.”
Zapperiah guffawed. “Hear that, Kif? She’s got me to a T, wouldn’t you say?”
Fry, deciding to lay it on thicker, began again. “Oh, and he is regal, yes, a powerful face, a face to be loved.”
Zapperiah leaned back in his chair, his eyes closed. “Ah yes, you clearly see the truth of my greatness and desirability.”
Fry giggled nervously. “Yes, of course I do…”
Zapperiah frowned slightly, his eyes still closed. “So, what else?”
“Else? Um, of course. Yes, I see your name, a very illustrious name…”
Zapperiah’s frown deepened. “I know my name, tell me how many women will fall to my desirability, or something like that.”
Fry frantically searched for something to say, as he surobticiously bent, grabbing one of the bags of taxes from near Zapperiah’s foot. Kif saw, and tried to stop him, granted, only half heartedly. A brief tug of war ensued while Fry spoke. “Ah, yes. I see… it… now! Your greatness and good looks will draw women to you. Your… name… will… go down…” He yanked the bag away from Kif, who stumbled, and knocked his head on a lantern. “In history!”
Zapperiah clapped his hands, looking towards Kif. “I knew it! Did you hear that, Kif! I knew it! And… Kif, what the devil is wrong with you? Have you been at the wine? Because you know that’s my reserved vintage.”
Back outside the coach, Scruffy, who had been scouting around, had made a discovery. The hubcaps on the coach were solid gold. “Hmm, Scruffy thinks he’ll take these.” Looking around to make sure no one was looking, he bent with his back to the wheel, and slowly began wiggling the cap off. He did the same to the other three, and stuffed them into the front of his dress, and down the back of his pants, making him appear a lot curvier than before. Spying something else interesting, namely the huge chest of treasure guarded by four huge men that was resting on two carrying poles held at waist height by the same four guards. There were at least three gigantic padlocks holding it shut. Scruffy grinned to himself, no problem. Slinking over, he ducked underneath the chest, and pulled out a dagger from a sheath on his ankle. Quickly and quietly, he twisted the dagger into the bottom of the chest, making a hole for the coins to fall through, which they promptly did. Straight into Scruffy’s cleavage. “Scruffy thinks he’s hit the jackpot, uh huh.”
As he was walking away from the chest, his dress much more obviously full than before, one of the guards noticed him, and whistled appreciatively. Scruffy batted his fake eyelashes flirtaciously, and made a hasty walk to the side of the track, where he bumped into Fry, who had just run out of the carriage, arms full of coin bags, jewellery, and even had the Prince’s huge velour fur lined coat over his shoulder. The collision caused them to drop some of their treasures, and so they frantically tried to gather them back up, when the curtain to the royal coach was thrown open, and Zapperiah stood there, crown on his head and his underclothes straining to hold his huge stomach in check. He bellowed. “Come back my fair wench! If you wanted my clothes off, all you had to do was ask… Hey, my rings are gone! Kif! Kif, she’s robbed me, she’s robbed me and didn’t even let me see her boobies. Why do they always do that, Kif? Kif! Where the hell are you, Kif!”
Kif staggered out from behind the portable throne, rubbing his head. “What, sire?”
Zapperiah stared out after the two escaping gypsies. “Kif, I’ve been robbed.”
It may have just been the head wound talking, but Kiff frowned, and snapped. “Oh, you don’t say?”
From outside, and in the distance, the triumphant call of the black haired gypsy was heard. “Oo der lally! Oo der lally!”
As well as the much deeper voice of the smaller gypsy. “Sheila still has lucky charms, she does, uh huh!”
Suddenly realising that they were in fact getting away, and that his guards were not moving an inch to stop them, Zapperiah shouted. “Well, what are you idiots waiting for, get after them, and get me my stuff back, and their underwear if you can!” His guards picked up the ppoles that pulled his carriage, and charged after the two thieves, but since the hub caps were now missing for some reason which nobody could figure out, the wheels fell off the carriage, and catapulted Zapperiah, who had still been leaning out of the carriage, into the mud on the track. Zapperiah pounded his fat fists into the muck around him, splashing his underthings with even more filth, as he threw a tantrum worthy of any incredibly fat toddler. “no! no! no! It’s not fair! It’s not fair!”
Kif, who had managed to stay inside the carriage, sidled up to him. “Well, sire. I did tell you that we shouldn’t stop. I did say they might be bandits. But they clearly weren’t just pretty faces, were they, sire? I …. I… Sire?” Kif cowered down, seeing that Zapperiah was holding a gilt framed hand mirror over his head. “Sire, you really don’t want to do that. It’s seven years bad luck and you have enough already…” Zapperiah brought the mirror down, smashing it over Kif’s scaly head. Watching dazedly as the fragments of glass fell from his nose, Kif sighed. “Oh, and now see? You’ve broken your mother’s mirror.”
Zapperiah’s eyes bulged, and filled with tears, he bawled. “Mommy!” As he sat down in the muck again with a huge splat, and started to suck his thumb again, before stopping, and pulling it from his mouth. He looked at it. “Kif, I have a dirty thumb, clean it.” He held out his thumb to the small amphibian, who sighed.
Alu-mini-um sat on a bench outside the tavern, chuckling to himself, a bottle of ale in his grip, his tenth of the day. “Ah, I can’t believe how stupid that Prince is. Tricked by two guys in drag. Honestly! And now he’s having a temper tantrum because those stupid wanted posters have been updated, and still no one will turn Fry in.” He took a long pull from his ale. “Although we’re paying for it, though. The reward money would be nice,, considering it’s gone up. But I can’t bring myself to even think of it. What can I say, he’s a heroic thief. Not many times someone who steals is called a hero, trust me.” Bending down, he picked up his banjo off the cobbles, making it obvious he had been talking to it. “Well Al Junior, you know as well as I do, that the taxes are huge now. The people of Nottingham are starving, good job all I need is booze, even that’s becoming harder to get now.” He tapped his chin knowingly. “But Fry’s still stealing, and giving the money to us poor folk. Good job, isn’t it?” He stopped suddenly, and peered down the street. “Uh oh. Don’t look now, it’s the long and greasy arm of the law, the Sheriff of Rasterfaria.”
Indeed, strolling down the street, with his puffy nobleman’s clothing, in it’s day glow yellow, was the man in question. His tiny brown cap was perched on his head, and his step was brisk and bouncy. His good mood was further emphasised by him whistling and singing as he walked. “I love money, doo doo doo. I love money, especially when it’s taxes from you.” He stopped his walk, looking beadily at a figure exiting a house across the way from him. “Ah, would yah look at dat, de goody goody Rabai Zoidberg out doin’ good again.” Slyly, he tiptoed after the Rabai, and he listened at the door of the house that the giant lobsterman had entered.
Inside the house of old Hubert, the local inventor and crackpot, Rabai Zoidberg was greeted by the old man happily, despite him being injured, and his leg in a plaster cast. “Why, Rabai Zoidberg! Good to see you old friend.”
Zoidberg looked around nervously, before pulling a small pouch from his robes, and handing it to Hubert. “Shush, we must be quiet, we must. Here, this is for you from the hero Robin Fry.”
Hubert squinted at the pouch of coins through his thick spectacles. “Huu-whaa? I didn’t ask for any more bolts.”
Zoidberg slapped a claw to his forehead. “It’s not bolts, you mishugena, it’s money.”
Hubert’s wrinkled face split into a grin. “Oh, yes, of course!” He took the bag. “God bless that Robin fellow, whoever he is.”
Having heard enough, the Sheriff acted as if he was just approaching the door, and began singing again. “Diddly dum deed um.” He tapped on the door of Hubert’s house.
Panicking, Zoidberg scuttled around the room, making Hubert quite dizzy. He warbled as he scuttled. “It’s the Sheriff, it is! Hurry, hurry! Hide it! Hide it!”
The Sheriff pushed on the door llightly. “Here I come, hope ya’re decent, cause my medical plan don’t cover havin’ a heart attack.” He entered, seeing an innocently smiling Zoidberg, now calm, and a vacant looking old man in his rocking chair, his foot up on a cushioned stool. “Well, hello dere folks. It’s jus yer friendly neighbourhood spiderman- uh, I mean tax collector.”
Hubert blinked for a few seconds. “Oh, but Sheriff, with this blasted broken leg, I haven’t been able to work on anything lately, and so haven’t sold a thing in the past few weeks. Plus I’m old, please, have mercy.”
The Sheriff tried to put on a sympathetic face. “Ah, I understand what ya’re sayin’ Hubert. But everyone else has ta pay their taxes, and jus because ya’re old, and ya have a bad leg, don’ mean ya can’t pay.”
Zoidberg burbled. “Oh, Sheriff, have a heart, why not? He’s an old man, he is.” He moved to the stool. “Here, Hubert, let Zoidberg fluff your pillow.”
Hubert lifted his leg slightly as Zoidberg fluffed his pillow. “Thank you, old friend.” As his leg lifted, the distinct sound of clinking coins could be heard.
Stepping forward, the Sheriff grasped hold of Hubert’s plaster encased leg. “Here, let me help you lift yer leg, Hubert.” He jerked it up, so that Hubert’s rocking chair was as far back as it could go. “Is dat too high? Oh, what’s dis?” He said innocently, as a few coins slid from inside the cast, into his hand. “It appears you dropped some coins in yer cast, Hubert. Here I’ll get dem out fer ya.” With that, the Sheriff smacked the foot of the cast a few times, Hubert wincing in pain as he did. The last of the coins slid out, and the Sheriff lowered his leg back onto the cushion. “Dere. And what do ya know, it’s enough to cover yer taxes, Hubert, how about dat?”
Hubert simply winced again, and whimpered. “Ouch…”
“Oh, I’m sorry if dat hurt, but ya see, no pain no gain. You don’ gain anythin’, but Prince Zapperiah does.”
Zoidberg clacked his claws. “Now see here, that’s not fair, it isn’t! You evil, crummy, um, bad bad man!”
The Sheriff waved a hand at the lobster. “Now now, don’t be sayin’ tings like dat. I’m not one of yer congregation, so don’ be preachin’ ta me.” Turning, he exited the house, singing again. “Day call me aa git, but I say it don’ fit…. Dum deed um dum.”
At another house in the village, there was a birthday party in full swing. The whole family sang happy birthday to the oldest son, Walt. “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Walt, happy birthday to you.”
Walt was handed a small package wrapped in pink ribbon. His youngest brother, Sissy, smiled happily, as he flounced around the room in his pink sundress and ballet shoes. “I wrapped it Walt, I did!”
Just as the boy was about to say something to his brother, the door opened, and the Sheriff entered. “Well, it sounds merry in here, don’ it?” Spotting Walt holding the pink wrapped gift, he smiled. “Well, sonny, dat looks like a real gay lil box.”
Walt looked at the box. “It’s my birthday present, sir.”
“Well, duh, kid. I ain’t dat stupid. So, why don’ ya open it?”
Walt unwrapped the parcel carefully, but was noticeably uncaring about the fate of the pink ribbon. Inside it, was a large, shiny silver coin. Walt’s face lit up. “A farthing, how splendid!” He turned the box upside down, his little hand poised to catch his farthing, but, as it fell from inside the box, a larger, darker skinned hand caught it before his tiny fingers could even touch the metal. Walt looked up at the Sheriff, who pocketed the coin in his tax pouch.
The mother of the family, Mom A-mia by name, scowled at the Sheriff. “Hey, you pilfering blubber ball, how can you take that from him? Do you know how many packets of cigarettes I had to give up buying to save that money for him?”
The Sheriff smiled demurely. “Much betta fer it, I bet. A healthy way ta save, and a gesture dat I’m sure Prince Zapperiah will appreciate when I tell him how ya both sacrificed so much ta pay yer taxes.” He looked down at Walt, who was beginning to cry. “Aww, now, don’ start cryin’. Prince Zapperiah would wish ya a happy birthday too, I’m sure. He’d wish ya an even better one if ya gave him some cake, too.”
Mom A-mia frowned. “We don’t’ have cake, you dolt. We barely had enough to buy that sodding ribbon.” She pointed to the ribbon, which the youngest, Sissy, had tied in his hair.
The Sheriff shrugged. “No skin off my nose, though, is it?”
Suddenly, they all became aware of a tapping sound coming from outside. Looking into the street, they saw a raggedy old beggar, wearing dark glasses, tapping along the street with an old length of cane. His croaky voice called out. “Money for the poor? Anything would be welcome. Except buttons, because that’s just mean.”
Smiling to himself, the Sheriff approached the man, and pulled a coin from his pouch. Holding it over the small earthen cup the blind beggar held in his hand, he threw it down into the cup, the rebound of which caused all of the coins, not many, to be sure, to jump out of the cup, and all landed in the Sheriff’s hand. He tucked all of the coins into his pouch. “Well, I’d say dis has been a great day. Be sure ta keep savin’ after all, every lil helps the Prince.”
Whistling, the Sheriff departed. Seemingly confused, the old beggar shook his cup upside down, finding nothing in it. Mom A-mia rolled her eyes. “For cripes sake, man. You’ve been swindled. Oh well, never mind. Come in, you might as well. You’re letting the cold in, shut the door behind you.”
The old man came in, and shut the door behind him. “Thank you kindly, ma’am, thank you kindly.” He leaned against the wall. “Now, did my old ears hear correctly, is there a birthday here today?”
Walt, who was still sniffling pitifully answered him. “Yes. You aren’t going crazy, well at least no more than most old people. It’s my birthday. And the Sheriff took my birthday farthing, which I was going to invest in horse and cart racing.”
The old man patted the boy’s shoulder. “There there now, shut up. It’s all okay. I guarantee it.” The beggar pulled up his glasses and took off the droopy hat that had been hiding his face, revealing none other than the rogue himself.
Walt’s eyes went wide. “Oh wow, Robin Fry! Where’s my autograph book?!”
Fry threw his arms wide, his cloak over his arm. “Happy birthday!”
Sissy ran and hid behind Walt, peering around his older brother at the hero. “Wow, he’s so much taller than he looks on the posters, he only looks about 3 inches tall on them, but he’s really not!”
Fry, a little disturbed by the queer looking child, decided to ignore the comment, and asked Walt. “So, how old are you today, then, son?”
Walt held up his fingers, counting them just to make sure. “I’m 7, next year I’ll be 8.”
Fry pretended to be shocked. “7! Why that’s almost a grown man! I tell you what, I have a present that is perfect for you.”
Walt’s face lit up. “Really, a present? For me?” Fry handed him his bow, and a single arrow. “Wow.” Walt posed with the bow and arrow. “Well, do I look like a fearless hunter?”
For the first time, the middle brother of the family, who had been hiding behind Mom A-mia up until this moment, peered around her legs, holding a small stuffed teddy in one hand. “No, you look like a dork.”
Walt scowled at him. “Shut up, Larry!”
Larry pouted. “But Mister Wuggles said so, not me!” He brandished the bear. “You know I have to talk for him.” He pointed at Fry. “Besides, you don’t’ look like Mister Fry does with it, anyway.”
Fry frowned, looking down at Walt, who seemed a little deflated. “Hmmm, you know, he’s right. Let me see now… Aha!” He took off his cap, and plonked it on Walt’s head. “There, much better.”
Walt’s smile could just be seen from under the brim of the hat. Even when he adjusted it, his eyes were barely visible. “It’s better now, right?”
Sissy giggled. “Yeah, you can’t see your ugly face now because it’s too big.”
Mom A-mia poked her girlish youngest son in the back of the head. “Hey, I’m the only one who can call any of you armpits ugly.”
Larry poked him in the same way. “Yeah, Sissy! Mom’s the only one who can call us ugly.”
Fry couldn’t help but chuckle at this display of family, um, togetherness, or whatever it was. He patted Walt’s head. “Heh, don’t worry, you’ll grow into it soon enough.”
Walt pulled the hat back so he could look up at Fry. “I know I will. Hey, I’m going to go and try out my new bow. Se you later!” With that, he dashed out of the doorway, Sissy hot on his heels, his pink dress fluttering behind him as he ran.
Larry rushed to follow his brothers, waving Mister Wuggles at Fry as he passed. “Thanks for calling by! Do it again on my birthday, kay? Mister Wuggles wants a gold statue of himself!” Then he was gone.
Fry turned to Mom A-mia, who snorted and rolled her eyes. “Way to make my oldest get an ego. Thanks, I guess. At least it’ll give him confidence and stop him whining.”
Fry shrugged, pulling out a pouch of money from his belt. “I wish I could do more, like, maybe, pay for a shrink for your youngest son. I mean, that can’t be healthy for him. But here.” He handed her the pouch. “I guess this will have to do.” He smiled at her softly. “And keep up hope, peace will return to Sherwood, you’ll see.”
As he left, Mom A-mia looked down at the bag of coins she now held. “He does keep our hopes alive. Hmm, I guess one packet of cigarettes won’t be too much from this little payload.”
While their mother was contemplating which brand of tobacco sticks to buy, her three children, including their small robotic friend, Tim, were playing outside the walls of the castle. Walt had just shown Tim his new bow and arrow. Tim looked at it with amazement. “I say, did Robin Fry really give it to you?”
Walt grinned self importantly. “Yes, he did. And he gave me his hat too.” He pointed at the hat on his head.
“Golly!” Tim whirred happily. “His hat? How jolly exciting! Say, Walt, could I have a go at shooting your bow and arrow?” Tim pleaded, his tiny optic sensors conveying innocence.
“No, me!” Larry interrupted. “Because Mister Wuggles says I’m special.”
Walt sniggered. “You are. Just not in the way you think.” He held his bow out of reach of his brother. “Besides, it was my present, so I should get to shoot it first.”
They all watched as Walt strung the bow, and prepared to fire. Sissy twisted the hem of his dress nervously. “Um, Walt. I think you’re pointing it too high.”
Walt gritted his teeth. “No, I’m not, it’s just because you’re shorter than me, that’s all. Now shut up and watch this!” He shot the arrow into the air. The arrow flew up high, and straight over the wall of the castle.
Tim tapped his small cane on the ground, and shuffled his mangled left leg nervously. “Oh dear, chaps. I think Walt’s gone and done it this time.”
“Yeah.” Sissy danced on the spot, his little pink shoes raising dust from the ground. “It went in the bad Prince Zapperiah’s back yard. Hey, Walt, you might have hit a gardener or something.”
Walt set his chin, and set off for the castle’s main gate, the others in tow. The entrance was a huge iron portcullis. But, considering it wasn’t made to keep out children, the bars were just wide enough for them to squeeze through, which Walt was attempting to do. Larry grabbed his sleeve. “Walt, you can’t go in there. Mister Wuggles doesn’t want to.”
Tim tapped his cane on the portcullis. “I’ll say. Prince Zapperiah will chop off your head, and that wouldn’t be too spiffing.”
Walt huffed, pulling his sleeve from Larry’s hand. “I don’t care. It’s my arrow. And stop talking about that bear as if it’s alive, Larry.”
Larry pouted and hugged his bear close to him, but said nothing. Sissy brightened up, pointing at Walt. “Hey, wait! Tim might tattle on you!”
Walt nodded. “Yeah, he might. Tim, you gotta swear the oath.”
Tim’s eye sensors brightened. “An oath?”
Larry perked up again, stepping in. “Yeah, put your hand over your heart and cross your eyes.”
“But I don’t have a heart, and my eyes are fixed.”
Walt considered, reaching forward, and twisting one of Tim’s sensors so that it pointed inwards, and then did the same to the other one. “There. Now put your hand over where your main fuel pump is.”
Tim did so, and looked at him expectantly, or at least he tried to. “Now what?”
Walt looked solemn. “Repeat after me. Creepies, crawlies, and a horse’s head.”
“Creepies, crawlies and a horse’s head.”
Walt nodded. “If I tattle tale, I’ll be short circuited.”
Tim shivered. “If I tattle tale, I’ll be short circuited.”
Larry frowned. “You changed it.”
Walt rolled his eyes. “Of course I did, you idiot. Tim can’t die, can he?”
Larry looked confused. “I guess not…”
“So there’s no point in saying, if he tattle tales we’ll hit him till he’s dead, is there?”
Larry pulled at Mister Wuggles’ right ear. “No…”
Walt grinned. “Come on then.” With that, the children entered through the bars, and along the path to the inner courtyards and gardens of the castle.
In the very centre of the castle, there was a small badminton court, which, at present, was being used by two young women. The shorter, and younger of the two, wearing a bright pink dress and veil over her midnight black hair, was grinning at her lady and friend. “Come on Leela, it’s your serve.”
The other player, a tall one-eyed woman with long purple hair under her white veil, huffed, and pulled up the skirts of her equally white dress, and prepared her serve. “Alright, are you ready, Amy?”
“Sure, I’m your lady in waiting, aren’t I? That means I’m always waiting for whatever you’ll pull next, so hit me with it.” Leela grinned at her and served. Amy brought her racket forward, sending the shuttlecock back at her friend. “Geez, they don’t make these rackets nail friendly, I almost broke another one.”
Leela chuckled, as she ran, her skirts in her grip to stop herself from tripping, hitting the shuttle back to Amy with a strong forehand. “You really should consider cutting them shorter, you know.”
Amy grunted, as she whacked it back over the net. “Shorter? Are you mad? What’s a lady without her signs of femininity? Speaking of which, my gurdle is killing me. So much for women being the weaker sex, look at the pain we have to go through daily. Not to mention monthly.”
Hitting it equally hard, Leela sent the shuttle straight at Amy, or more specifically, her veil. “Whoops, sorry Amy.”
Amy frowned, batting at her veil, trying to find where the shuttle had gotten stuck. “Damn it, it’s worse than bats.”
She continued wafting her hands around her head, as Leela began to giggle. “Oh Amy, you look ridiculous.” Amy shot her a glare, but Leela just laughed harder. Spying something on the ground behind her friend, she headed towards it. “You can stop killing imaginary flies, Amy. It’s here behind you, it must have gone straight tpast…” She trailed off suddenly, as she spotted a small pair of feet in pink shoes behind a bush near to the shuttle. “Hello, who’s there? Come on out, it’s okay, we won’t hurt you.” The four children, one a robot, one tall with a feathered cap on, one who was holding a small stuffed bear in a death grip, and one, who she had noticed first, was a boy wearing a pink frock and shoes. “Well, where did you all come from?”
The tall boy shuffled nervously, his overlarge hat falling over his frightened eyes. He pulled it back on properly, and stuttered. “Please, don’t tell Prince Zapperiah we were here, mommy said that he would chop off our heads, or do something worse that involved ‘unmentionable things’.”
Leela frowned, flipping her purple hair over her shoulder, as she knelt in front of the children. Amy shot a disapproving look at her, no doubt not relishing the state of Leela’s dress after sitting on the ground. Leela smiled kindly at the little ones. “No need to fear, neither I, or Amy will say a thing. You aren’t doing anything wrong, and besides, the day I talk to that oaf of my own free will, will be the day hell freezes over.”
Amy nodded, approaching nearer to the children herself. “She’s right. Don’t be afraid. “ She stopped and smiled at Sissy. “Hey, I like your ribbon.” She turned to Leela. “Doesn’t he have a nice ribbon, Leela?”
Leela was looking intently at the tall boy with the feathered cap. “Hmm, yes, he does.” She paused. “Amy, who does this young archer remind you of?”
Amy came closer, bending at the waist to get a good look at Walt. “Hmm?” Her eyes widened, and she stood straight. “Well Fluh! He looks like Robin Fry with that cap and bow.”
Leela’s lips spread into a grin. “Yes, exactly what I was thinking. The only person I’ve seen with that sort of taste in hats is Robin Fry.”
Walt, his nerves vanished by the show of kindness and interest in him by these two adults, pointed at his bow. “Yes, and look at this bow, isn’t it cool?”
Larry sniggered. “Mister Wuggles could take you, even though you’ve got that.”
Amy stepped further away, and pretended to look afraid. “Oh Leela, we’re surrounded! By fierce teddy bears and bandits.”
Sissy looked around wildly. “Bandits? Where?”
Tim, who’s eyes had been returned to normal, spoke up for the first time since entering the castle. “I do believe she means us.”
Sissy cocked his head. “Us? But we’re not bandits.”
Larry bopped his little brother on the shoulder with his bear. “That’s why it’s called make believe, stupid.”
Tim shuffled his bad leg. “Do you think it’s safe for us to play?”
Larry pointed to Leela, who had stood up again, ruffling her dress to get the dust off the hem. “That’s Lady Leela.”
Sissy bounced on his feet. “Yeah, and mommy is always saying how nice she is, and that she wishes she still looked as good as she does.” He grabbed Tim’s arm. “Come on, I wanna see her up close.”
Sissy dragged Tim towards the two women and his older brother. Larry made to follow, but got his shoe caught in his trouser leg. “Hey you guys! Wait for me!”
Reaching the small gathering, Sissy suddenly became shy. He scuffed his shoes and pointed at Walt, who held the retrieved arrow in his other hand, as he spoke to Leela in a squeaky, shy voice. “I told Walt he was shooting too high, he didn’t hit a gardener, did he?”
Leela laughed lightly, ruffling the pink ribbon in his hair. “No, he didn’t hit a gardener. But It’s a good thing he did shoot too high, because look, now Amy and I get to meet you all.”
Larry held his bear up to his ear, and nodded, as if it had said something important to him. He tugged on Leela’s skirt to get her attention. “Mister Wuggles wants me to tell you that he thinks you’re hot.”
Leela’s face flushed, and her mouth opened, as if to say something, but nothing came out, so she shut it again. Sissy giggled. “Mister Wuggles is right. Are you going to marry Robin Fry?”
Larry, caught up in the moment, bounced on his feet. “Yeah, are you? Mommy said that you and Robin Fry are sweethearts.”
Leela’s face flushed even more, as she bit her lip, laughing nervously. “Um, well, yes, we were close, but that was several years ago before I left to go to London.”
Tim, always interested in the ways of organic beings, asked. “Oh, may I ask, did he ever kiss you?”
Leela’s eye closed, and a dreamy smile of rememberance came over her face. “No. But he did attempt to carve our initials on this tree.” She gestured to a large oak nearby. “As you can see, he wasn’t too skilled at that, but it was so sweet….” He had carved LL+RF was ‘ere.
Walt looked at the markings on the tree trunk with curiosity. “You gonna have any kids together?”
“Yeah.” Larry nodded. “Like mommy has us. Mister Wuggles thinks you should.”
Leela patted the bear on the head affectionately. “Oh, thank you Mister Wuggles, but it’s probably not going to happen. He’s probably even forgotten who I am.”
“No way!” Walt’s shout was so assured, that it made them all jump. “No way would Robin Fry forget you. I bet.” He was getting excited now. “I bet. I bet he storms the castle. Yeah! He’ll storm the castle, rescue you, and take you out to Sherwood forest!”
Amy prodded his nose with a finger. “Ah, but wait a moment, young sir. You’ve forgotten the biggest problem. Prince Zapperiah.”
Walt scoffed. “He doesn’t scare me. I could beat him, easy.”
Tim shook his head. “Well, I’m jolly scared of him, he might think I’m a chair, and sit on me.” He shuddered.
Retrieving her racket, which she had dropped on the court, Amy brandished it at Walt. “Ah ha! I, the fattest tub of lard ever to walk this earth, Prince Zapperiah, challenge you to a duel! Here, take this!” She swiped at him playfully.
Walt backed away, before grinning, and pulling a toy wooden sword from his belt. It was old, and chipped, but it was one of his favourite toys. He leapt forward, yelling. “Death to butterball tyrants!”
Amy’s eyes went wide, and she made a show of running away from Walt, gathering her skirts around her. “Ahhhhh!”
The others, including Leela, were laughing at the spectacle of a small boy in a feathered cap waving a wooden sword, chasing a woman in a pink dress wielding a badminton racket. Sissy was doubled up. “Get him Walt! Slice him into bacon!”
Leela had to lean against the oak tree nearest her, her eye watering with tears from her laughter. “Oh, my brave hero, save me from this fearsome lardball!”
Amy came towards Leela, but Walt got in the way, and poked her in the stomach with his sword, making her jump back. Then he followed up with a poke in her arm. She pouted. “Ow! That’s not fair, I’m fatter than you!” She slumped to the floor, forgetting her dress and the dust. She made a face, and wailed. “Mommy!” And began sucking on her thumb loudly.
Sissy was practically on the floor now, pulling in gasps of air as he laughed. “That’s… Prince Zapperiah… alright…. Big baby!”
Caught up in the game, Walt whooped and jumped towards Amy. “Yes! Now I’ve got you right where I want you!”
“Mercy!” Amy cried, holding up her hands. Taking the sword from him, she pretended as if she had been stabbed, tucking the sword under her left arm. “Oh, Oh, he got me… I’m… dying…” she slumped to the floor on her back. “Oh, so it isn’t the heart attack I foresaw that is my undoing, it is the brave Robin Fry…”
Slightly worried, Walt leaned over her, and whispered. “I didn’t hurt you, did I? Mommy said that I could be put in jail if someone said they were dying while I was around.”
Amy cracked one eye open. “No, kid. This is the part where you drag your lady fair off into the beauty of the forest.”
His eyes sparkling, Walt ran to Leela, who was looking bemusedly at Amy lying on the ground, and grabbed her hand. “Come on, lady fair! We gotta go!”
Laughing to herself, she let the boy drag her into the trees. “Oh Fry, you’re so brave and spontaneous!” Walt stopped in a little clear patch only a few feet in. Acting overcome and out of breath, she sunk to the grass. “So, this is Sherwood forest, then? I like the decoration.” She poked at a patch of heather near her left foot.
Walt sank down on his knees next to her, the thrill of the game leaving him. “Yeah, it is. But it’s just a boring forest. What do we do now?”
“Well.” Leela’s lips curved into an expression akin to a smirk. “Usually, in this sort of situation, the brave young hero gives his lady a kiss.” Her eyebrow rose suggestively, as inside she was laughing at his expression of horror.
“A kiss?” His face screwed up. “No way, that’s gross!”
She inched closer to him. “Well, if you won’t.” She lunged at him, and giggled as he tried to get out of her arms. “Than I will.” She gave him a large smacking kiss on the cheek.
At that moment, before Walt could wriggle free, Sissy burst through the bushes, and stopped in his tracks when he saw Walt in Leela’s arms, and a lipstick mark on his cheek. There was utter silence for a moment, before Sissy burst out with peals of high pitched laughter. “Hey guys! Walt’s got cooties! Lady Leela kissed him! Walt’s been kissed!” He ran back out of the bushes, whooping and chhering. “Walt’s been kissed!”
Later that day, after the children had left, Leela and Amy returned to their shared living space in the castle. Leela was looking out from their balcony window, humming softly to herself, as her face held a far away expression. Amy, who was sitting in a rocking chair across the room, attempting to knit something that resembled a squished cat, smiled at her back. “Ah, to be in love.”
Leela looked over her shoulder at her friend and lady in waiting. She sighed, her gaze becoming distant and sad. “Oh Amy, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Surely he must know that I still love him. I mean, he’s sweet and not the brightest candle in the box, but he must know, mustn’t he?”
“Of course he does.” Amy gave up on the dead cat-shaped lump of wool, putting it aside. “He’s oblivious, but even a blind man could tell that you love him from that look you get on your face every time he’s mentioned.” She stood up. “And just wait till your uncle, King Rob-o comes back. You’ll see, he’s going to have an outlaw for an in-law. It’ll be great. We can make it a feather themed wedding.”
Leela turned, wrapping a long piece of silk over her hair as she did. She laughed at Amy’s look of wistful excitement. “Feathers? Well, really Amy. But I wish it could happen. But when?”
Amy snapped back to reality. “Oh, soon. I know it. But remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
Leela frowned slightly. “Yes, ordinarily, but this is Fry we’re talking about.” She turned to look again out of the window. “I’ve been gone for such a long time. I can remember his face so clearly, but what if he’s forgotten me?”
The forest was quiet. Just the sounds of birds chirping, and the bubbling of the stew in the small cooking pot over the fire. Stirring the food absently, Fry leant his chin on his free hand. He wasn’t really concentrating on the cooking. He was daydreaming. Daydreaming about the love of his life. He could remember her so clearly, her smile, her laugh. He sang to himself softly, a nonsense song that came into his head whenever he thought of her. “La da di did um. Something something, dum did a da.”
Scruffy had opted to do the laundry. Not that he found it more enjoyable to do, but someone had to do it, and he didn’t trust Fry to do it properly. The guy had a tendency to just hang the clothes out and say he’d washed them. Turning his head, he fluffed a wet rag to hang on the line. “Fry, Scruffy wants to know if grub is ready. Scruffy’s hungry, uh huh.”
“dum dum dum dum dum, dum dum.” Fry clearly hadn’t heard him.
“Dum, dum dad um dum, dum dum.”
“dum dad a dum, dad a dumm dum dum.”
“French Fry?” Starting to get annoyed, Scruffy reverted to using the nickname that Fry hated. Turning, Scruffy’s eyes squinted. “Oh marmalade.”
Finally broken from his trance, Fry peered over at his friend. “What was that, marmalade? I thought this was stew?”
Scruffy shook his head. “Never mind. Scruffy knows what your mind is on. Somebody with long eyelashes and a killer figure. Scruffy knows you are imagining smelling her sweet perfume, and…” Scruffy trailed off, sniffing the air. “Hey, that ain’t sweet perfume.”
Fry’s attention turned to the pot he was stirring, seeing that black smoke was coming up from the stew. “Whoa, it’s on fire! Can stew do that?”
Scruffy scrambled over to the pot, pulling it from the platform they cooked on, and placed it on a flat boulder nearby, fanning it with the rag he still held in his hand. “Scruffy thinks you burned the chow, uh huh.”
Sighing, Fry rubbed a hand over his face. “Sorry, old pal. I just can’t stop thinking about Leela. I don’t know how to stop. I love her, you know?”
“Uh huh, Scruffy knows.” He grunted, as he continued wafting the smoke away. “Scruffy don’t know why you don’t just marry the girl, uh huh. Might stop you ruinin’ the food.”
“Marry her?” Fry scoffed. “Scruffy, I don’t know what your parents told you about that sort of thing, but you don’t just walk up to a girl, say ‘Hey there sweet thang, you remember me? We used to be a hot item, wanna get hitched?’ And then bring her back to live in a ruddy forest. That’s no place for a lady as fine as Leela. She deserves so much more, like a gold carriage, and a huge house, no a mansion, and a little dog to play fetch with and…”
Scruffy snorted. “Scruffy thinks you’re making a big deal out of it. Scruffy suggests you climb the castle wall and sweep her off her feet, uh huh. Women like that sort of thing.”
“No. It’s no good. Things just don’t happen like that. Besides, what can I give to her that she doesn’t have already?”
“Scruffy doesn’t think you can offer her a good meal, your cooking stinks, like your socks.”
“Hey now.” Fry glared at him. “You can insult my culinary talents, but you insult my feet, now that’s going too far.” He grinned. “Heh.” Then, his mood went south again. “But seriously, Scruffy, she’s a classy lady, she’s used to the finer things.”
Scruffy turned to him, folding the rag over his arm. “So she likes caviar, Scruffy knows where he can get some good fish, uh huh.”
Fry frowned, sitting down on a tree stump. “I’m an outlaw, Scruffy. What kind of jerk would I be if that’s how I expected her to live for the rest of her life? Always on the run, always wondering where our next meal will come from, always wondering what that sharp thing is poking you in the back while your asleep in a tent, no. That’s no way for a beautiful woman to live.”
Suddenly, there was a rustling from the bushes next to him, and out stepped Rabai Zoidberg. He clicked his claw in Fry’s face, making him lean back away from it. “Don’t call yourself an outlaw, your not one. Why, Zoidberg wouldn’t be surprised if they sang songs about you in the future, he wouldn’t. You’re a hero, you are, why not.”
Fry grinned, winking over at his oldest friend. “Hero? Do you hear that, Scruffy? He called me a hero. Do you think that counts to go on my credit report?”
Scruffy grinned. “Uh huh, Scruffy would say it was a pardon, cept we ain’t been arrested yet.”
Zoidberg trilled to the two laughing friends. “Laugh now, but there is something big happening in Nottingham, there is.” Spying the pot of burned stew on the flat stone, he dashed over to it. Scruffy stepped aside, used to this reaction from him, and allowed him to gobble down the concoction. Zoidberg patted his stomach. “A little well done… Fry must have cooked it, he must.” Fry winked at him, acknowledging the fact. “Well, in thanks for the meal, Zoidberg will tell you, Prince Zapperiah is having a big archery tournament tomorrow, why not.”
Scruffy went to rewash the rag. “Phhfft, archery tournament, Scruffy knows Fry could win that standing on his head. Scruffy thinks you know it too.”
Fry took a bow in front of his two friends. “Oh, I know it. But thank you for the praise, scruffy old man. But I’m sure we weren’t invited to the occasion, either that, or we really need to hire a postman.”
Zoidberg turned his attention to the front of his robes, which were splattered with stew. He began licking at the stains. “Maybe you aren’t, but if you don’t go, there is someone who will be very disappointed if you don’t make it, they will.”
Scruffy huffed, hanging the rag on the line. “Yup. Scruffy imagines it’ll be old banana brain, the Sheriff of rastifaria, uh huh.”
Zoidberg warbled happily. “Nope. Wrong.” He waggled his mouth tentacles at Fry. “Lady Leela, it is.”
Fry’s eyes lit up, his face full of joy. “Wowee! Lady Leela?”
Zoidberg nodded. “Yes, why not. She’s going to engage her mandible with the winner.”
Fry looked at him blankly. “She’s gonna what?”
Scruffy sighed and rolled his eyes. “Scruffy thinks he means she’s gonna give a smooch to the winner.”
Fry leaped into the air. “She’s gonna give a kiss to the winner! Whoo hoo! Come on, Scruffy, what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”
Fry made to dash past him, when Scruffy caught the taller man by the back of his shirt. “Hold on! Scruffy doesn’t like the idea of rushing in. Lots of soldiers around. Uh huh.”
Fry’s face split into a huge grin. “Ah, but you forget, I am a master of disguise. And as the gamblers say ‘if you don’t want to risk it, you ain’t gonna win it’. Or at least I think that’s what they say. Anyway, I’ll make this my best performance of stolen identity yet!”
The tournament had arrived, all was hustle and bustle around the castle grounds, where the archers would compete. The huge tent for the contestants was set up, and archers from all over were gathered inside, inspecting their bows and talking of times and shots past. In his royal box, Prince Zapperiah was enjoying the hustle and bustle around him, and the prospect of catching his foe, Robin Fry. He beamed over at Kif, who sat in a chair, noticeably smaller than his own in height and width, and held a bunch of grapes in his small green hands. “This is a great day, Kif. To coin a Norman phrase, a ‘coup dee tarte’.”
Kif sighed, closing his eyes. “It’s ‘coup d’etat’, sire.”
Zapp paused from his inspection of Lady Leela, who sat in a smaller section of the royal box, to his right. Turning back to Kif, he frowned. “What is?”
“The phrase, sire. It’s coup d’etat.”
Zapp scoffed, returning his gaze to Leela’s reclining figure with more interest than she would allow, if they were in private, but being in public, it would detriment her character to slap him. “Never mind semantics, Kif, what do you think of my plan to catch that thief?”
Kif shifted in his chair to get more comfortable, straightening his back. He knew it was best to humour the idiotic man, even though it wasn’t actually his plan, he tended to get sulky otherwise. “Ingenius sire. There is no way Robin Fry can escape you this time. In public he will have no choice but to surrender.”
Zapp grinned. “Yes, of course, it’s a brilliant plan, glad I thought of it. Now, Kif, feed me a grape, and remember, keep low, you’re supposed to be lower than me, and you’re sitting too straight, slouch. That’s an order.”
Kif sighed, allowing himself to sink down in his chair, while pulling another grape from the bunch, and cringing, as he popped it into Zapp’s mouth. “Yes, sire. I apologise.”
Zapp chewed, and then swallowed his grape. “Ah, forget it Kif. There are more important things at hand than your pitifulness. My hook is baited, now all we need do is to wait for the bird to play it’s hand, and then we shall sink his battleship. And then I shall have revenge for making me look like a fool, and ruining a perfectly good set of underclothes. Mud is hell to wash out, you know.”
“Yes, sire, I know. You made me spend an entire night washing them.”
“Ah, yes. Well, as I was saying… revenge!”
Kif’s eyes widened. “Hush, sire. You don’t want anyone to hear about the plan, do you?” Not that he much cared, but if someone overheard and ruined things, he would be the one to get the blame, no doubt about it. “It is a secret, after all.”
Zapp looked at him. “Secret? What secret, and keep those grapes coming, Kif.”
Kif gave him another grape. “The secret of Robin Fry’s capture, sire.”
“Ah, yes. I thought it was a secret I didn’t already know, like who it is in the castle you keep writing love letters to.”
Kif blushed, his skin turning slightly transparent. “Love letters, sire? I… I haven’t…”
“Of course you have, Kif. I found them when I was looking through your things yesterday.”
“Sire?” Kif blinked, shocked that even Zapp would do such a thing. “My things?”
Zapp accepted another grape. “Yes, Kif, your things. I was looking for my foot cream. I didn’t find it, but I’ve ordered some more from the apothecary, so you’ll be visiting fungus country tonight.”
Kif shuddered, he hated rubbing Zapp’s feet. “Yes, sire.”
“Now, where was I in my ranting…? Oh yes, Robin Fry’s capture. This will show him, and all of these insolent peasants who wears the crown, and the gewel-encrusted slippers. Oh, and that reminds me, you’ll need to wash them too.”
“Yes, sire.” Kif, deciding that he should change the subject, turned to petting the current subject of Robin Fry. “I can completely understand you’re wish to show him who is boss, sire. I mean, he managed to fool you with that ridiculous disguise of his, and then robbing you blind, making you look like a complete and utter berk.” Not that you don’t do a good enough job of that yourself, he added silently.
“Shut your mouth!” Zapp made to bop Kif on the head, his rage evident in his red face. Kif, used to this reaction, even if not expecting it at this moment, dodged. Zapp frowned at him. “Kif, did you just dodge?”
“Um, sire, I…”
“You did, Kif. You dodged.” Zapp pointed at him. “You dodged, and that means I get a free hit. Now, hold still.”
Kif did as he was told, clenching his eyes shut. Zapp brought his fist down on the top of Kif’s head, which made a squishing sound, and a large dent appeared where Zapp had hit. Kif wobbled in his seat. “Thank you, sire.” He slurred slightly, before putting his thumb in his mouth, and blowing to re-inflate his head.
Over at the other side of the box, Leela was squirming in her seat with excitement. “Oh Amy, I can’t wait to see him! But how will I know that it’s him? I hear that he’s gotten a lot better at disguises since I last saw him.”
Amy smiled indulgently at her over enthusiastic friend. “Oh, he’ll find a way. Don’t worry. He’s full of surprises, is that young man. I even heard he fooled a stupid nobleman with a female gypsy costume.”
Scruffy brushed yet another leaf off his borrowed noble clothing. Hiding in the bushes was never a good way to stay clean. Fry, who crouched in the undergrowth next to him, wasn’t really concentrating on his clothes, but on the young woman sitting in the far side of the royal box. His eyes were wide with awe, and he stepped forward out of the bushes. “There she is, Scruffy. God, she looks fantastic… She’s so gorgeous…”
Scruffy grabbed the back of his shirt, pulling him back into the bushes. “Scruffy thinks you need a cold shower, uh huh. You’re letting your head be taken over by your heart, and that ain’t good here, nuh uh.”
“Oh, stop being such a worrier, Scruffy. Even my mother wouldn’t know me in this, or yours for that matter.” He gestured to his clothes. He wore a long, hooded cloak of dark green, and black trousers and boots. Over his face he had slipped a fake beard, which matched his hair exactly, making it look very real. “And she was the one who showed me how to shave properly, remember? It did help that she had experience shaving her own facial hair off.”
“Uh huh, she had a mighty fine beard.” Scruffy grinned. “But you ain’t got to fool Scruffy’s mother. You gotta fool banana brain.”
Scruffy pointed to just past the line of bushes, where the Sheriff, in all of his bright yellow glory, was approaching. Fry grinned at him, and brushed his way out of the bushes, heading straight for the Sheriff. Approaching him, Fry put on a northern accent. “Sheriff, yer honer. A treat tis ter meet yer, sir, pleasure indeed. An’ face ter face too, this’ll be a story ter tell the missus.”
The Sheriff blinked at him, and then nodded. “Well, tank ya. I hope ya missus is well. Now, if ya will excuse me, I don’ have time ta pretend like I care who ya are. I have ta go win dis tournament.”
Shrugging, Fry clumped after the Sheriff, as he headed towards the main archery range. Scruffy huffed. “Hmm, Fry’s not a bad actor, uh huh, but wait till he sees how Scruffy fools the fat ass.” Adjusting his royal purple cap, Scruffy strode towards Prince Zapperiah’s seat. Approaching him, Scruffy put on a cultured attitude. “Ah, me lord. The head honcho, the big man, the main attraction. An honour to meet you, uh huh.”
Zapperiah laughed pompously. “Well, it’s nice to see a man of class around here, besides myself. He has class, doesn’t he, Kif? More than you, anyway.”
Scruffy doffed his hat slightly. “Uh huh, took the words right outta my mouth Big Zee.”
“Big Zee!” Zapperiah slapped a hand on his massive stomach, making it jiggle alarmingly. “I like that! I’ll have to get that monographed onto my clothes. Oh, and my luggage. Have it done, Kif. Ha ha! Big Zee, yes, yes, I like that.”
Kif cringed at the sound of Zapperiah’s over indulgent laughter. Yep, Big Zee was a good nickname, if only to describe the size of his stomach. Kif, believing this new man a threat to his position of advisor, spoke to him briskly. “And by what name should his majesty call you, sir?”
“Lord Scrufus of Chutney. And don’t talk to me like a moron kid. I know what you’re thinking, and you don’t have to worry, nuh uh.” Turning to Zapperiah, Scruffy bowed, and made to take his hand. “I had better lay some good old fashioned ass kissing your way, huh Big Zee?”
Zapperiah snatched his hand back from the small gentleman. “Um, no, if you don’t mind. The last time that happened, I lost quite a few rings. And I happen to like these ones.” He gestured with a hand. “Please, sit anywhere you like.”
“Uh huh, don’t mind if I do.” Scruffy hopped up onto the seat where Kif was sitting, knocking him off the side of the cushion. “Ain’t no better seat than the royal box, that’s what Scrufus has always said, uh huh.” Kif bounced on the floorboards of the box, making a rather nasty squishing sound. “Oh, excuse me spongy.”
Kif spluttered. “Spongy? I… well… I… that’s my seat!”
Zapperiah guffawed, slapping Scruffy on the back, nearly knocking him from the chair. “Ha ha! Kif, who needs jesters when your around. You’re too funny for words. Now, get out there and keep a look out for that person we were waiting for.”
Kif scowled. “But… but it’s my cushion…”
Scruffy hunkered down into the chair. “A nice one too, uh huh.”
Kif sighed, his shoulders slumping. “So, I’m dismissed, then?”
“You heard the big guy, buddy.” Scruffy smiled. “Enjoy lookin’ for whoever it is your lookin’ for. And get some sun, okay, you’re looking a bit pale, snakey.”
Kif slunk away, not knowing whether to be angry at what he had just been called, or relieved that he didn’t have to feed the fat pig with any more grapes. He snorted. “Snakey, indeed. Who does that guy think he is?”
From behind a set of barrels where they had been having a discussion about whether polka music was better than folk, Rabai Zoidberg and Alu-mini-um watched the small green advisor slink past. The robotic bard scratchd his cheek. “Hmm, that little guy is up to something.”
Zoidberg nodded. “Yes, my friend, I agree, why not. Come on.”
They followed him past a few more tents, till they found him buying a balloon from one of the cart vendors. Confused, they watched, as he held the balloon up, putting his thumb in his mouth, and inflating his own head. He floated up into the air, using his free arm to swim through the sky. He floated over top of a few tents, and just happened to see a man approaching the royal box, or more specifically, Lady Leela. The man wore a long hooded cloak, and had a scruffy looking beard. He bowed to the two ladies. “Ah yer ladyship, ma’am. Beggin’ yer pardon, m’lady, but yer is a fine lookin’ lass. Hope that I win that there kiss yer offerin’ ter the winner.” He winked at her, grinning widely. “I’ve been told I’m a fair good snogger.”
Leela’s face lit up with joy, her hands clasped at her heart. “Oh, thank you, kind sir. A nicer compliment I couldn’t have asked for. I’m sure you are a fine, um, snogger, as you put it. I wish you luck.” She flicked a look around, before leaning forward, and whispering to him. “With all my heart, my love.”
Kif narrowed his eyes. He thought to himself, his mouth tightly shut. ‘Hmm, I wonder…?’ He flicked a look at Amy, who was smiling at her friend. ‘I like her hair like that.’
From below him, the captain of the guard, a huge dark skinned man wearing a spandex-like vest and trousers stepped forwards, his huge smile flashing white in the sun. “Yah Majesty, wid ya’re permission, we are ready ta begin.”
Zapp waved a hand at him. “Cut the crap and get this show on the path, Captain Barbados.”
Captain Barbados turned, and flung his arms wide, shouting to the gathered crowd of village folk and the other audience members. “Everyone! Listen up! De tournament for de sparkly Golden arrow is now underway!”
The first lot of archers, five in all, made their first shots of the day. Among the archers was a robot that looked suspiciously like Tim, his right leg bent at an awkward angle. As he made his shot, it went wide as he struggled not to fall over. Tim didn’t seem to care, as he waved at his father from the audience. “Oh, I say, Good shot dad!”
The next group stepped forward, which included the Sheriff and Fry. The Sheriff strung his bow and shot, hitting the target. The crowd was determined to hate him, however, as they booed him loudly. Fry stepped forward and strung his own bow, shooting a perfect bull’s eye shot. After all, he was there to win. The crowd cheered loudly. “Yay!”
Prince Zapperiah cocked an eyebrow at the stranger’s outstanding shot. “A perfect cow’s eye, well, I wonder…”
Scruffy deliberately ignored the stupid mistake in the Prince’s cunning statement, and leaned towards him. “Scrufus thinks that’s what they call pulling it back and letting it go, uh huh.”
Back at the tow line for the archers, Fry was playing up his part. He hopped restlessly from foot to foot. “I’m tellin’ yer, I’m gonna win this tournament, and then get the kiss from der pretty Lady Leela, and that there golden arrow trophy, look grand on me wall, that will.”
The Sheriff huffed, glaring from behind his glasses. “Listen here, friend, if ya can shoot yar arrow as well as ya shoot yar mouth, ya’re as good as Robin Fry.”
Fry guffawed, slapping the Sheriff on the shoulder. “Robin Fry says he? Blimey, I ain’t that good! I’m a dab ‘and, but not that dab!”
Scruffy, watching closely how Fry was doing with the Sheriff, nudged Zapperiah in his flabby side. “Uh huh, that kid’s got class. What do you think, big Zee?”
Zapperiah eyed the stranger with the beard again. “Ha! Indeed he does Rufe, indeed he does, almost as much class as an expensive escort.” He clapped theatrically. “Brayvo! Brayvo!”
Fry bowed to the Prince, who seemed to be appreciative of his skill with his bow, before looking back at the Sheriff and squinting craftily at him. “Oh, and by the by, I ‘ear yer havin’ trouble catchin’ that there wiley Robin Fry.”
The Sheriff puffed up his chest, plucking at the fabric of his fine silk shirt. “Dat’s ‘cause he’s scared of me. Ya see he didn’t turn up taday? Dat’s ‘cause he knows dat if he did, I’d be on him like a snake on a sugar cane. I’d know if he was, I can see troo dos stupid disguises he’s so famous for.”
While they were talking, Kif had managed to float over the top of them without being noticed, being as there were lots of red flags and banners around, he seemed to blend in for the most part. Looking down, he got the proof he had been looking for, a flash of ginger hair underneath the cloak hood. It was Robin Fry, only he had hair that exact colour. Kif grinned, his breath still held. ‘Wait till I tell the fat ass, I’ll be off foot duty for a month!’ He began to float back towards the royal box, when from the ground, he heard a loud twang. Looking down, he saw Rabai Zoidberg and Alu-mini-um shooting an arrow at him using the strings on Al Junior as a bow. He panicked, as the balloon he held popped. Not able to hold himself up by his head alone, he fell from the sky, huffing out his breath as the robot bard caught him. Zoidberg held up the top of a nearby barrel, as Kif was stuffed inside. “Wait! Unhand me! You’ll pay for this! Oh no! Wait! Please, I don’t drink! Please, not a beer barrel, please!” They didn’t listen, and nailed the lid back on top, trapping him inside with the alcohol.
Meanwhile, back at the archery range, Captain Barbados was once again waving his arms around importantly. Fry wondered if the man used to be a windmill in a past life. He boomed over the noise of the crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, and lil annoyin’ children! The final contestants for de last round of de tournament has been decided! Dey are, dat Sheriff of Rastifaria, de one who isn’t as beautiful as me!”
The crowd exploded into cat calls. “Booooo!”
The captain ignored them. “And the fine bearded fella from Yorkshire! He be a fine man, dat one! Still not as beautiful as me, but still, he be fine!”
Again, the crowd showed their appreciation of their unknown hero. “Whoooo!”
Sissy, who hadn’t been paying much attention thus far, archery wasn’t his favourite thing to do, turned around quickly. “Where’d the train go?”
No one paid any attention to him, all eyes were on the bearded Yorkshireman. One eye in particular was glued to him. Prince Zapperiah, having been admiring her cleavage again, noticed that the eye of the Lady Leela was fixed on the stranger. “Well, my voluptuous lady, I see you fancy a bit of Yorkshire in your life, hmm? You know, royalty is so much better for you…”
Leela cut him off quickly, not wanting to listen to any more of his inane drivel than she had too. But she tried to be polite. “Me, sire? Well, yes I do like variety, and he does interest me greatly. He has good form and poise.”
“Ah, yes, he interests me too, my little vixen. And speaking of form…” He leered at her body again.
The booming voice of Captain Barbados cut into their conversation, much to Leela’s relief. “For de last shot, de targets will be moved back tirty paces. But I’m not gonna do it, ‘cause I’m too beautiful!”
The Sheriff flicked his wrist, and one of his henchman, an incredibly fat man with greasy looking skin and wearing a black hooded cloak shuffled to his side. “Ya heard de ditzy idiot, Sal. Get an’ move de target.” He whispered in his ear. “An’ don’ forget what ya’re supposed ta do.”
Sal flipped his hand in a sloppy salute. “Yeahs, yeahs, I knows what’s I’m supposeds to doos. I’m lazy not stupids.” He grabbed the target in his arms and shuffled back with it to the proper distance, crouching down behind it to help anchor it in place while the shots were fired.
The Sheriff took his shot, and at the last moment, Sal bobbed up with the target, meaning the Sheriff got a bull’s eye. The crowd had noticed and started shouting and calling out. “Boooo! Boooo!”
The Sheriff grinned, patting his large stomach. “Well, I guess dat wins de golden arrow, de kiss from the lovely Lady Leela and de whole ting, now don’ it?” The man from Yorkshire stepped forward to take his shot. Hitting the bottom of his bow, the Sheriff tried to make the shot go high, which it did. But Fry pulled another arrow and as quick as lightning, had hit the first arrow, making it head straight for the target, and split the Sheriff’s arrow in two. It hung like limp spaghetti, and then fell, leaving Fry the winner.
The crowd roared it’s approval. “Whoooooo! Whooooo!”
Sissy stomped his foot, spinning in a circle. “Seriously, where is the damn train!”
Fry grinned, most of it being masked by his fake beard, as he strode up to the royal box. He stood in front of Prince Zapperiah. The Prince clapped once. “Well, a fine show. Not dinner theatre, but, well, that’s another matter. Congratulations from myself and Kif, when I find where in blazes he’s disappeared to. But rest assured, you’re going to get what’s coming to you.”
Fry couldn’t help flicking a look over at Leela’s beautiful smiling face, as he spoke to the Prince. “Why, thankin’ yer kindly, your highlyness. Meetin’ someone as importan’ as yerself is a real treat fer me.” He grabbed hold of Zapperiah’s hand and started shaking it furiously. “A real treat!”
Zapperiah yanked his hand back from it’s impromptu strangling, and winced. “Thank you. And please try and show the royal fingers a little more respect, if you please. Now, kneel.” Fry did so, and Zapperiah pulled a long, shining sword from it’s sheath, and nearly dropped it from it’s weight. “Gracious, how in hell do people fight with these darned things? Well, anyway.” He placed the blade on Fry’s right shoulder. “I proclaim you the winner, or should I say, the loser?” He snagged the hood of Fry’s cloak and ripped it off, pulling his beard off with it, leaving him unmasked, and visible to all. “I say, that was a good line. Kif! Write that one down. Kif? Blast it! Oh well, I’ll tell him later. Guards! Seize him!”
Sal blinked, but didn’t move. “Yup. I sees him.”
“No! You idiot! Grab him!” Zapperiah fumed at the man.
Sal rolled his eyes. “Ohs, whys didn’t yous jus says that in the firsts place.” He stomped forward and wrapped his large, tree-like arms around Fry, pinning him to the spot. Behind him, the Sheriff approached with some shackles, and soon, Fry was held by chains and a straight jacket, his arms pinned to his chest, and Sal had let him go.
Zapperiah grinned. “Now, what was next in my maniacally triumphant speech…? Oh, yes. Ahem! Off with his head! Wait a minute, hasn’t another villain used that phrase? Damnit! Where is Kif, he’d be able to tell me…” While Zapperiah was mumbling to himself, the executioner approached, his terrifyingly huge axe glinting in the sun.
Leela looked on in horror, as her beloved was clapped in irons. Tears glittering in her eye, she leant towards Prince Zapperiah, whether hoping to dazzle him with her feminine (ahem) charms or not wasn’t clear, but she pleaded nonetheless. “Oh, please, sire, have mercy! Please, don’t kill him!”
Zapperiah’s attention was indeed caught by her, or at least by what he could see from the new angle she was presenting herself in. “And why shouldn’t I, my seductively bosomed lady? By the way, did I mention what my favourite part of a woman is… it’s the-“
Leela interrupted him, she clearly knew what his favourite part of a woman was, he told everyone on a daily basis. “Because I love him, sire!”
Prince Zapperiah raised an eyebrow. “Love him? How is that possible?”
Amy shook her head and mumbled. “Don’t tell me we have to have the birds and the bees talk.” Louder, she said, “simple, they know each other from way back. They’re good friends.”
“Good friends?” Zapperiah looked between Leela and Fry. “Hmm? How good?”
Alu-mini-um shouted from the back of the crowd. “None of your business!”
Zapperiah shook his head. “Well, no matter. Does this scoundrel with detachable facial hair love you too?”
“Of course I do!” Fry looked up at Leela, his eyes shining. “Leela, my darling love, I love you more than life itself. I love you more than sunshine, more than the fresh air, even more than ice cream!”
Leela clasped her hands in front of her, her eye wet with tears. “Oh Fry…”
“Hmm, ice cream, you say?” Zapperiah considered. “What flavour?”
Fry blinked up at him. “Um, all of them?”
Zapperiah nodded. “Ah. Well, you have a convincing argument, for it is a true love that can overcome the seductive allure of ice cream. But I’m afraid I really don’t like you, and you don’t want me to be king, so therefore you must die! You are a traitor to the crown!”
Fry leaned forward in his restraints. “Traitor to the crown? It isn’t even yours, you big fat faker! It belongs to King Rob-o! Long live King Rob-o!”
The crowd responded in kind. “Long live King Rob-o!”
All except Hubert. “Who?” But he was ignored.
Prince Zapperiah smacked his hand on the arm rest of his seat. “Shut up! I’m King! Stop picking on me! Now, off with his head! Damnit why can’t I remember who said that first. Kif!”
Leela put her hands over her face. “Oh no! I can’t look… Amy, what’s happening?”
“Nothing yet. Oh, wait, the executioner’s lifting his axe…”
“Well, you asked…”
“It was rhetorical, amy.”
The crowd watched in horror, as the huge axe lifted over Robin Fry’s head. Suddenly, the Prince called out. “Stop! Don’t let that axe fall, on it’s own or otherwise!”
Unseen by the shocked crowd or even the two ladies in the royal box, Scruffy had slipped behind the Prince’s seat, and had put a dagger to the Prince’s back. “Uh huh, good. Now tell them to release my buddy or Scruffy is going to let you make friend’s with Scruffy’s favourite pearing knife, uh huh.”
“Sheriff, let my budd—Ow! I mean, let the prisoner go!” The Prince swallowed thickly. “Untie him immediately!”
The Sheriff blinked at the Prince through his glasses. “Untie de prisoner?”
Amy put her hands to her mouth and shouted. “You heard him banana brain, or is your sense of hearing as stunted as your sense of fashion!”
“Sheriff!” Zapperiah’s voice had gone up a clear octave. “I am in charge here, I pay your wages and allow you full sauna privileges.” Hissing to Scruffy he lowered his voice. “Not so tight, I need to breathe, you know.” Again his voice rose, more panicked than before. “Therefore, you do as I say, now let him go. For the love of wonderbras, let him go!”
The Sheriff untied Fry, who brushed the loose ropes off himself. Overcome with joy, Leela jumped from the royal box into Fry’s arms, who promptly fell onto his behind, holding her close. Amy cheered and whooped. “Ha ha! Love conquers all! Can I get a wayho?”
The crowd obliged with an earsplitting, “Wayho!”
Fry smiled goofily at his lady love, paying no attention to the impromptu Mexican wave going through the crowd. “Thank you for believing in me my love, I am alive thanks to you. I owe you everything.”
She flushed, climbing off him, and helping him to his feet, wrapping him in a hug. “You owe me nothing. I couldn’t bear to live without you.”
The Sheriff adjusted his brown cap, squinting at the happy couple, and then at the Prince, who was sweating, even more than usual. “Dere’s someting goin’ on here.”
Back behind the Prince, scruffy pressed his dagger more firmly into Zapperiah’s back. “Now, tell Fry to kiss the Lady Leela, or Scruffy gonna have a go at making a human swiss cheese, uh huh.”
Sneaking around the back of the box, the Sheriff saw the Prince being held at knife point. “I knew it! How dare ya, ya filty outlaw!”
Shocked at being found out, Scruffy released the Prince, who fell forwards out of his chair in his haste to get away. Pointing at Robin Fry, Zapperiah yelled. “Well, don’t just stand there! Kill him!” At his yell, the guards attacked, distracting the hero for a second. Seeing this, Zapperiah reached for his long sword, nearly dropping it again. He swiped at Robin Fry from behind. His attack failed, as he slid on the squished remains of his grapes which Kif had dropped before leaving for God knew where. “Um, eep!” He squeaked as he ran to a safe hiding place, after having his weapon knocked (very easily) from his hand by the red haired rogue. Bobbing his head out from behind the barrel he had chosen, he bawled. “Hurry up and kill him already!” After which he ducked back to avoid a flying chair.
Lady Leela could do little more than watch anxiously as her beloved fought for their escape. Feeling a tug on her arm, Leela turned to see Amy armed with her knitting needles. “Go, Leela. This is no place for you my lady!”
“But what about you? You’re a lady too.”
“Good point. Here.” She handed Leela one of her needles. “Just in case.” Amy ran off into the crowd of fighting peasants and guards. Aiming a solid poke at one of the soldiers, she yelled. “Take that you big bully!” Turning, she kicked at another with her heeled shoe, hitting him hard in the shin. “And that!”
Leela jabbed at one of the soldiers who tried to grab her, but he pulled the needle from her hands. Ordinarily, she would have kicked his ass, but considering he was one of the few wearing armour, and she was now weaponless, she called for help. “Fry! Help!”
Hearing his love’s cry for help, Fry, who had been forced to climb on top of the royal box, cut one of the ropes holding up flags atop the tented structure, and used it to swing down and scoop her up into his embrace. Landing on top of another tent, he smiled at her. “Hey there, beautiful. Care to attend a wedding? Say, ours?” He paused. “I just asked you to marry me, you did get that, right?”
She smiled sweetly at him, whilst kicking a guard in the head who was trying to sneak up the side of the tent. “Oh Fry, darling, I thought you’d never ask. Of course I will. But couldn’t you have waited for a more romantic time, like when we’re not being attacked by greasy royal guards?”
He shrugged. “Eh, the time felt right.” He swiped with a short sword he had stolen from another guard, cutting the rope that one of their attackers was using to climb up to them. “So, how do you feel about London for our honeymoon?”
She bopped another soldier over the head with her shoe. “London? Yes, of course.”
“And then Normandy, I’ve always wanted to go there, and after that, how about somewhere sunny?”
She jumped out of reach of a short guard that slipped and fell backwards off the tent. “How about Spain?”
“Sure, sounds good.” Fry knocked a man out, causing him to fall off into a horse trough. “Just remind me to buy sunscreen.”
“No problem, hon.”
Back on the ground, Little scruffy was having the time of his life, beating guards right and left. “Scruffy thinks this is his best part of the day, uh huh.” Charging into a tent full of battling soldiers, he found that it was crammed so full, that the tent began to move with the amount of people that were stuffed inside. All of a sudden, unknown to Scruffy, Amy jabbed the rump of the nearest soldier to the flap of the tent, causing him to shout and start a stampede. Scruffy stuck his head out of a hole in the front of the tent. “Whoa, Scruffy thinks we need a driver!”
Up on top of their refuge, Robin Fry and Lady Leela were still discussing their future, while clobbering guards over the head with whatever was handy. Fry dodged a sword swipe. “I think six children is a good number to start with.”
“Six?” Leela asked incredulously, as she pulled one of the cream pies from a nearby food stall. “Is that all? I want at least a dozen.” She threw the pie at the nearest soldier. “Take that, you cream puff.” She laughed as the man fell from the tent, clutching his face. Fry guffawed, pushing another man away with his sword.
Captain Barbados was trying his best to restore order, and to get attention back on him. “Hey everyone! Hey! Pay attention to me! I’m beautiful! I deserve attention!” At which point a rather fat soldier fell on him from above.
Prince Zapperiah was trying his best to see what was going on, whilst trying not to be seen. Which, to be honest, was a fruitless task. Considering he was hiding behind a chair no bigger than a child and three quarters of him was clearly visible. “Ah, this is the perfect place to hide.” Suddenly, he was bopped on the head by a pointy heeled shoe, which proved to be attached to Lady Amy Wong. He squealed and scrambled away from her. “Stop her from attacking me! I didn’t touch anything… this time!”
Amy jabbed at him with her knitting needle. “Just pop already, you giant blubber zit!”
She missed, barely, and Zapperiah managed to get to his feet. “Seize the lady in pink! Hmm, that sounds like a song I once heard, what was it?” Amy jabbed at him again. “Ahhh! Never mind!” He ran for it, diving behind another beer barrel as yet another chair came flying his way.
Dodging the guard that tried to grab her, Amy knocked him over, and made a run for the forest, as the battle wound down, with Robin Fry as the winner, escaping with Leela just at that moment. “Whoohoo! Long live King Rob-o!”
Cowering behind the barrel he had last dived behind, Zapperiah shivered in fear of the mad pink woman with the knitting implement. “Kif, you boneless bag of gloop, why don’t you grow a backbone. You’re never around when I need you, or when it’s time to cut my nails.”
Suddenly, Kif’s voice became audible, from inside the barrel Zapp was sheltered by. “I’m coming with the clippers! Hic! Hee hee, clippers, slippers, flippers… I have slippery flippery feet. Hee hee.” Zapperiah straightened up, pulling the lid from the barrel with a sharp jerk. Kif emerged, with his eyes half lidded and a goofy smile on his face. “Oh, there you are. Hic! Not like I could miss you, hee hee. Guess what, guess what?” He leaned closer to Zapperiah, and whispered. “That Yorksheer, shiyare person from another part of the country that has York in it, he’s Robin Fry.”
Zapperiah blinked. “Robin Fry, you say… Hmmm… Wait! I know that! Gah!” He bashed the lid of the barrel back onto Kif’s head, which squished flat on top. “Damn you Kif! Now inflate your head and come and help me figure out which other villain has used the catchphrase I’ve stolen, and help me come up with some of my own.”
Kif sighed. “Yes sire, hic!”
The evening was balmy, and the forest was lit with the billions of glowing fireflies that came out in the dusk. Fry and Leela walked through the peace and beauty of the trees, Fry only tripping on three occasions. It was truly romantic. They entered a small clearing in the woods and sat down on a fallen log. Leela leaned against her beloved, and laid her head on his shoulder, sighing contentedly. “Oh Fry, this is such a beautiful night. I wish that it could last forever.”
Fry put his arm around her, pulling her closer to him. He was just about to make a move, when out from the bushes jumped Rabai Zoidberg, a real mood killer to be sure. “Surprise!” He was followed by a load of others, including Amy, Scruffy and many of the villagers. The good Rabai spread his claws wide. “Long live Robin Fry, he’s a hero, he is. Hooray!” Fry frowned at him. “What?”
Fry sighed, letting Leela go. “Nothing.” He muttered under his breath. “Just that you ruined the most perfect scoring opportunity I’ll have for ages.”
One of the peasants, a man with one eye and a vertical smile called out. “And long live the Lady Leela! Way to show the normals m’lady!”
Another villager, this time a woman with tentacles instead of arms, but with still one eye, joined in with her companion. “I’ll agree with Morris, bravo!”
Morris smiled at her. “Thanks honey.”
The crowd cheered. “Yeah, well said.”
Zoidberg smiled at the two. “Thank you for your support, Morris, Munda.”
“Yeah.” Amy chipped in. “Especially considering how that dirty Prince Zapperiah treats you all, I say he should go down!”
Scruffy nodded his approval. “Uh huh, Scruffy agrees with the lady. Yup.”
Fry took hold of Leela’s hand. “Hey, Little Scruffy, sing us something.”
Scruffy nodded to Alu-mini-um. “You up for it?”
“Ready if you are, pal.” The robo bard strummed his banjo. “Let’s do it!”
Scruffy cleared his throat as the melody began, and the people around him started to dance.
“Oh the world will sing of a crummy king
Many years from now.
Not because he was just
Or had a graceful bow.
While metal heart King Rob-o leads
in the crusading spat.
We all have to put up
With the overweight stupid brat.
As ugly as he is a pig
He even has to wear a wig.
We all know he’s
the phony King of England.”
Zoidberg danced past, clacking his claws in rhythm.
“A pox on the phony King of England, why not!”
Scruffy began banging the fallen log with a stick, making a rather effective drum.
“He sat down and nearly broke the throne
Which is nothing like the King.
He can’t think for himself
He just does the puppet thing.
He throws an angry tantrum
If his dinner comes too late.
And then he calls for mum while sucking his thumb
But if he thinks she’ll come he’s got a long wait.
He’s sure to be known as Zapperiah the worst
Both the last and the first!
A pox on the phony King of England!”
Scruffy did a twirl with his drumstic/branch and grinned at Alu-mini-um, who was headbanging. “Uh huh, lay that rhythm on Scruffy, yeah!”
Amy emerged from the mass of dancing villagers and grabbed Scruffy’s free hand. “Come on, let’s dance! Whoohooo!” Scruffy threw his branch away and began twirling Amy around. “Yeah!”
Scruffy passed Amy to another villager, and continued his song.
“He taxes us without mercy
And he eats our cake and bread.
While King Rob-o’s crown keeps slipping down
Around his big fat head.
But while there are merry men
In our Fry’s loyal pack.
You had better bet we’ll find a way
To beat him blue and black.
And even before he knows we’re there
Fry’ll have nicked his underwear.”
The crowd laughed as Fry pulled a face. “Eww, no way in hell, Scruffy, no way in hell.”
Scruffy clapped his hands.
“The sleezy, measly king of England.
The snivelling, grovelling, weasly, fleasly
Blabberin, flabberin, jibberin, jabberin
Plunderin, plottin, wheelin, dealin
The most useless king of England, Yup!”
The party went on long into the night, and Little Scruffy’s song was repeated many times during the next few days.
As was inevitable, the song was heard by all in the castle (mainly because Kif delighted in singing it under his breath at all opportunities) and one fine morning the Sheriff entered the main hall of the castle, skipping along and singing a very tuneless version of the song. “He trows an angry tantrum
If his dinner comes too late.
And den he calls fer mum while suckin’ his tumb
But if he tinks she’ll come he’s got a long wait.
He’s sure ta be known as Zapperiah de worst
Both de last and de first!” He grinned at Kif who sat behind the tax counting table, as the Prince had so christened it. “Well, what de ya tink, Kif?”
Kif laughed, clapping his hands together. “That’s the Big Z to a ‘T’. Hey, you know what my favourite bit is?”
“No, which part?”
Kif cleared his throat. “Ahem. He’s sure to be known as Zapperiah the worst
Both the last and the fir—Glurk!” Kif swallowed thickly, his eyes going wide, as he saw Zapperiah open the door directly behind the Sheriff. He tried to amend the situation. “Um, the shivalrous, handsome, desirable…”
The Sheriff waved his hands at Kif, shaking his head. “Nah, mon! Ya got it all wrong. It’s the snivelling, grovelling, weasly…”
Zapperiah tapped the Sheriff on the shoulder. “Now now Sheriff, there’s no need to say those things about Kif.”
The Sheriff jumped, nearly losing his glasses. “Um, But I wasn’t sayin’ dat about Kif, sire. I…” He saw Kif making the cut throat motion and mouthing ‘shut up’ to him. “Um, well anyway, it’s a big hit in de village. Everybody’s singin’ it.”
“Hmm…” Zapperiah rubbed his chin, and then pushed the crown back up as it slipped again. “Well, I can’t say much for their taste in music. I prefer Duran Duran myself.” He brightened. “Well, I’ll help them change their minds about their choice of song, double the taxes! No, Kazillion the taxes!”
Kif sighed. “Sire, one, that isn’t a real word, and two, that makes no sense.”
Zapperiah blinked. “Oh, then what comes after double?”
Kif rubbed his temples, here comes that headache he’d been expecting. “Triple, sire.”
“Ah, very well. Triple the taxes, then.”
And so, the taxes were tripled, and soon many of the villagers couldn’t afford to pay their taxes at all. So, they were put into the worst hell imaginable. For what worse horror was there than to be put into prison, a prison that had posters of the Prince plastered on every wall. In hardly any time at all, the prisons were full. Even the ever slippery Alu-mini-um, king of the debt collector dodge, had been caught and put into the slammer. He sighed, holding Al Junior in his lap. “Well Al Junior, I guess we lucked out this time, huh? That Prince Zapperiah sure is a ratfink. Usually, that would make him a hero to me, but putting me in here with the rest of these losers is going too far! I mean yeah, these guys deserve to be in here, especially him.” He gestured to a villager that was a single leg with a face. “But why put me in here? Stupid taxes. He would’ve taxed me to death, cept he can’t, cause I can’t die, but you get the point, right?” He sighed, patting Al Junior gently. “Well, at least I still have you. Man, Nottingham’s deeply boned, deeply deeply boned.” He brightened. “Hey, I bet I could write a song about this!” He picked up his faithful banjo and began to strum.
“Every town has it’s crummy times
Sometimes good times, when I’m around.
But since I’m locked up
Too bad for Nottingham.
I’d almost believe that if we could fly
We’d up and leave and wave bye-bye.
To the tears that the skintubes cry
Isn’t there any free booze for me, not in Nottingham.”
Of the people that hadn’t yet been imprisoned, the good Rabai, Morris and Munda were among the lonely few left. Morris, who had just popped up from the catacombs where he and his wife lived, to visit the Rabai, looked around the empty building sadly. “I don’t think anyone is coming to bingo night tonight, Rabai.”
Zoidberg sighed. “You are right, my mutated friend. But I will keep the jukebox playing, someone might hear it and take comfort, maybe? We need to keep hopes alive.”
Munda popped her head up next to Morris’, peering out of the crevice near the floor of the rotted building. “How can there be any hope with that blowhard Prince around?”
Zoidberg nodded, picking up a small box from a nearby table. “Yes, you are right. And look friends, our donation box is as empty as our hall, and Zoidberg’s belly.”
Munda hesitated. “Rabai, I know that it may not be much, but we have saved a little something, ever since Morris cut down on his drinking. We would like to give it to put in the donation box.”
She handed up a single coin to Zoidberg, who sniffed it. “Ah, your last farthing. Generous, very generous. It can’t buy much, but it’s more than Zoidberg has. Thank you.” He put it into the donation box, where it made a lonely clunk.
Morris chuckled mirthlessly. “We were saving it for dark times. A rainy day, if you will.”
Zoidberg gestured to one of the small windows. “Well, it’s raining now, and it’s dark. We have no money for lamp oil during this dark night, Zoidberg can hardly see, he can.” He sighed. “Things can’t get any worse.”
He was immediately proved wrong, as the door opened, and in stepped the Sheriff, complete with bright orange umbrella. “Well, hello dere Rabai, poor turn out tonight, ain’t it? Looks like I came jus’ in time.”
Morris scowled, pulling back into the darkness of the hole in the floor. “What does that jackass want?”
Munda pulled back at the same time, but smacked Morris with her right tentacle. “Morris, shut up!”
The Sheriff shuffled over, shaking the water from his furled up umbrella. “Well, det’s see…” He picked up the discarded donation box, and opened the lid. “Aha!” he shook out the single coin, which Zoidberg had just put inside.
Zoidberg narrowed his eyes, his mouth tendrils twitching. “Now Sheriff, that’s donations for the poor, it is.”
The Sheriff snorted. “Ya, I know, it looks pitiful. Besides, de money goes ta poor Prince Zapperiah, to help resolve his humiliation at bein’ fooled by Robin Fry.”
“He’d better put that back, or I’ll…” Munda growled lowly, flexing her tentacles.
The Sheriff looked around, unable to see the two mutant villagers because of the shadows in their hidey hole. “Well, blessin’s on ya Rabai, and I tink you’d betta see a doctor, ya sound like a woman fer some reason.”
Zoidberg crouched, clacking his claws menacingly. “Why you… you… no good thieving person, you!”
“Now Rabai, take it easy. I’m only doin’ my job.”
Zoidberg was fuming. “Bah! Job! Collecting taxes for that fat, empty headed human!”
The Sheriff pointed at him. “Now, watch dose mouth flaps o’ yours, Rabai. They may jus’ flap too much and get you put in a hangman’s noose, or a boiling pot.”
Zoidberg roared with anger, charging at the Sheriff. “You! Get out of here! Go! Get out!”
Seeing what was about to happen, Munda covered her face with her tentacles. “Oh dear, I can’t look… Tell me what happens Morris…”
Zoidberg snapped his claws at the Sheriff, who was backing away. “You want taxes, mister big shot Sheriff! Well, Zoidberg will give you taxes!”
Morris was starting to get excited. “He’s about to chop something off the Sheriff.” Shouting to Zoidberg, he encouraged. “Go on, Rabai! Go for the family jewels!”
Munda hissed. “Morris!”
Zoidberg made a final lunge at the Sheriff, but his sandals caught on a loose nail in the floorboards, causing him to trip, and before he could get back to his feet, the Sheriff had snapped clamps onto his claws, and a collar around his neck. “Dere. I knew dere was a reason I carried dese tings with me. Now, ya’re under arrest for treason ta de crown.”
Munda gasped, as Zoidberg was dragged away. “Oh no… Morris…” She turned to him. “You had to egg him on, didn’t you?”
Morris put up his hands. “What? The Sheriff had it coming.” He hugged her. “Don’t worry, things’ll work out.”
She sighed. “I hope so, Morris. I hope so.”
Back in the prison, Alu-mini-um was finishing his song. “Every town has it’s crummy times
Sometimes good times, when I’m around.
But since I’m locked up
Too bad for Nottingham.” He clicked his manipulator fingers together. “Yeah, I still got it.”
Kif was unsettled. As much as the Prince could act childishly, and in some cases having downright mardy fits, he had never seen him as moody as this. “Um, sire, you don’t appear to be your usual self. You haven’t attempted to hit me, or grope the maids, once today.” He forced a smile onto his beak. “I know, how about you count some taxes, that always cheers you up, or I could go and get a copy of your favourite adult magazine?” There was no response from Zapperiah, who just stared into the distance. Kif tried again. “ Money is still coming in, sire. The jail is full to bursting, and we’ve updated the posters to the swimsuit special, and… oh, yes, Rabai Zoidberg has been jailed, too.”
Zapperiah exploded with anger, his teeth clenching, and his eyes bulging. “I don’t care about that stupid crab! I want Robin Fry, he took the Lady Leela from me, just as I was about to make my move! How could she prefer him to me… Wait…” He looked to Kif, who was cringing away from the outburst. “Did you say Rabai Zoidberg?”
Kif blinked. “Um, yes sire, and he’s a lobster, not--“
Zapperiah clapped his hands. “Aha! Kif, I have it! I’ll use that idiot shellfish to act as bait for Robin Fry! Kif, set up the pieces, the whistle is about to be blown and the race will start!”
Kif ignored the nonsense the man was spouting. “Another trap?”
“Yes, Kif. Do I have to do all of the thinking around here, as well as being the decoration? The Rabai will be led to the gallows in the village square.”
“Sire, hang the Rabai? Not only is he a holyman, I don’t think the rope will make much difference to his shell.”
“Hmm, good point. Well then, have a pot set up. We’ll broil him to death, and then have a buffet! And when Robin Fry shows his face, my men will be ready, and properly fed.”
Later that afternoon, The Sheriff and his two main henchman, Sal and Trigger-Happy were busy setting things up. The Sheriff had just finished placing the pot ready for the next morning. Turning to Trigger-Happy, the newest addition to his ranks from a farm out in the country, the Sheriff smiled. “Well, Trigga, everyting is ready.”
Trigger-Happy smiled, showing the gap in his teeth. “Yup, Sheriff. That there is the prettiest boiling pot I ever done seen.”
Sal, who was lounging on the steps of the jail, yawned. “Yesses, buts I thinks we should checks that the fires will lights properly.”
The Sheriff glared at him. “Are ya dumb as well as ya is lazy, Sal?”
At that moment, the Sheriff spied the approach of a familiar old beggar and his cane. Along the street the man came, tapping to find his way. He called, as always. “Alms for the poor. Or even a slice of bread if you have it. Brown, if possible, I’m on a diet.” He stopped near them, cocking his head. “Did I hear correctly? Be that the Sheriff?”
“Indeed, ya did.” The Sheriff smiled.
The man tapped at the blocks on top of which the boiling pot stood. “And what’s this?”
The Sheriff shrugged. “We’re gonna be makin’ a meal of de Rabai.”
The old man straightened to his full height for a second, and his voice sounded stronger. “Boil the Rabai! Uh, I mean…” He hunched again, and his voice returned to it’s cracked state. “Boil the Rabbi?”
Sal chuckled. “Yeahs, at dawns break. And maybes we’ll be havings a hangings too…”
Trigger-Happy thumped his shoulder. “Hush up, Sal!”
The beggar tapped the blocks again. “A hanging? Who be the one for the rope?”
Trigger-Happy pulled on the Sheriff’s yellow cuff. “Sheriff, I think he be getting too nosey.”
“I didn’t mean nothing by it.” The beggar backed up a step. “But I figure there might be trouble if that there Robin Fry turns up.”
Sal laughed again. “Wells, the olds guy guessed it, Sheriff. Guesses he ain’ts so crackeds in the head afters all.”
Again, Trigger-Happy hit him. “Zip your lip, Sal!”
The beggar laughed this time. “Ah, no worries. The Sheriff be too smart and too fashion sensitive to be fooled by the likes of that thief. He be a fine law keeper, says I.”
“Ya hear dat, Sal.” The Sheriff chuckled. “Fer bein’ a raggedy old blind man, he sure knows good dress sense and a fine man when he sees it, don’ cha tink?”
“Beggin’ your pardon, Sheriff, but I still think that wiley old varmint knows too much.” Trigger-Happy gestured to the beggar.
“Oh, jus’ shut up Trigga. He’s jus’ a harmless blind man. We could beat him up easily if he starts makin’ trouble.”
The beggar gave a little bow and went on his way. “Alms for the poor. I was serious about the bread, by the way.”
Fry took off his beggar’s disguise in a nearby alley, resting against the wall, he sighed. Little Scruffy peered around the corner of the alley at the main square with the Sheriff and the other two guards. “Fry, Scruffy says we can’t let them eat the Rabai.”
“I know, Scruffy. A jail break is his only shot.”
Scruffy turned sharply to look at him. “Jail break! Scruffy says that’s a long shot, uh huh.”
Fry put up a hand to stop his friend from continuing to protest. “I know it’ll be difficult, but I have to. Or the Rabai is as good as digested.”
Later on that night, Little Scruffy was hiding in a shadow filled alley next to the jail entrance in the castle. He eyed the Sheriff, Trigger-Happy and Sal, who were all still on guard. Sal sighed, shifting on his stool, which could barely hold his weight. “It’s ones o’clocks and alls is wells!” In the distance, a bell tolled three times. “And Mikey stills can’ts counts properly.”
The Sheriff, who was leaning against the jail door on a stool of his own, sighed sleepily, having been woken by Sal’s shout. “Sal, ya hot dog, ya’re a coupla hours slow, mon. Set yaself a few hours ahead, Mikey’s right on time. And for Jah’s sake, get up and look around de perimeter a bit.”
“I’ms not slow, Sheriffs. I justs runs on my owns time. And dos I haves to?”
The Sheriff sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. “Aww, jus’ forget it, Sal.”
Sal grinned. “Yesses, sir!” He leaned heavier onto his stool. “Aaaah….”
“Sal, how can I sleep wid ya yellin’ about it bein’ alls well all de time?”
“That’s just the thing, Sheriff.” Trigger-Happy whispered, coming closer to the Sheriff and aiming his shotgun around him. “I don’t think all is well. I got the feeling in me bones that there’s gonna be a jail break any time now. Either that, or I’ve got another cold.”
The Sheriff pushed on the barrel of the gun, pointing it away from him. “Well, don’ be pointin’ dat ting at me if ya tink ya might be sneezin’ any time soon. In fact, don’ point it at me, full stop.”
Trigger-Happy laughed, patting the gun. “Aw, done be worrying, Sheriff. The safety is on old Daisy.” At which point, the gun let out a blast, and a chunk of stone wall was shot off from a couple of inches above the Sheriff’s head. “Whoopsy!”
The Sheriff glared at him from under his cap, which he had pulld down to save it from the bullet. “Ya idiot! What are ya tryin’ ta do? Kill me!”
“Just trying to do my duty, Sheriff, sir.” Trigger-Happy stuttered, while holding his gun close. “Daisy didn’t mean nothing by it.”
Annoyed, the Sheriff humphed and crossed his arms. “Sure it didn’t. It was yar itchy trigga finger dat has it in fer me.” Glaring over at Sal, he yelled. “Alright Sal, enough lazin’. Get up an’ patrol a bit. I mean it! Now, or no puddin’ rations fer a month!”
Sal grumbled, but heaved himself off his stool, and began to lope along the edge of the yard. Just as he finished the circuit and went to sit back down, a hand whipped out from the nearby alley and dragged him into the shadows. “Heys!”
At the cry from Sal, Trigger-Happy spun around. “Hey, Sheriff, did you here that there noise?”
The Sheriff shot to his feet. “Yah, I did. Someting is not right here. Cover me.” He paused. “Actually, on secon’ toughts… Is the safety on ol’ Daisy?”
Trigger-Happy patted his gun again. “You bet it is, sir.”
The Sheriff stepped behind his henchman. “Dat’s what I was afraid of. Tell ya what, ya go first.” They moved to the wall by the side of the jail entrance, where Sal had last been. “Alrigh’ you dere! Come on out wid ya hands up. All of them, even if ya have more dan two.”
“Yeah, y’all better reach for the sky.” Trigger-Happy pointed his gun at the shadows.
In the alley, Fry was finishing putting on the long, dark hooded cloak that Sal had been wearing. He pulled the hood up to hide his face in the shadows, and adjusted the body pads he had put on under his clothes to make him the same size as Sal. “You just watch this performance, Scruffy. This is an oscar winner for sure.”
Scruffy grunted, nudging Sal, who was tied up with rope at his feet. “Uh huh, for sure. Just be careful. You still owe Scruffy money.”
“Hey, I paid you that back. Granted, it was with rocks, but the point still stands.” Before his friend could speak, Fry had exited the shadows of the alley, and stepped into the sight of the Sheriff and Trigger-Happy. He put on an accent almost exactly like Sal’s. “Heys Trigs, stops pointing that guns at me. Theys makes me nervous, you knows that.”
“Aw, for the love of Jah! It’s just Sal.” He turned to Trigger-Happy. “Ya time waster. Now get back ta yar patrol! On de double!”
“Yes sir. I’m a goin’!”
The Sheriff huffed, heading back to his stool. “Dat daft Trigga, getting’ everyone all worked up fer nutting. Dere ain’t gonna be a jail break. Dat Rabai will be simmerin’ at day break.”
Fry followed him slowly, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Yous ain’t wrongs there. Tells yous what, justs sit down and I’ll keeps watch, I was goings to asks for a raise anyways.”
“Well, tanks Sal. An’ keep up dis sort of work, and dat raise will be yars soon enough.” He yawned widely.
Fry pushed on the Sheriff’s shoulder, making him lean back against the wall. “Dere’s. Just closes yours eyes. Whys not haves a nap? Tells yous whats, I finds it uncomfortable to wears my belts whiles I’m sleepings. Let’s me just loosens this…” He loosened the belt, and slipped the jail keys from it’s secure place on the belt. “Nows, justs yous relax.” He turned away, and spoke in his own voice, under his breath. “Dumbass.”
The Sheriff, who had started to nod off, opened one eye. “Ya say something, Sal?”
Fry froze and turned back. “Nos, justs that you relax, and lets mes dos the works. Remembers the raise.”
The Sheriff smiled sleepily, before closing his eye again. “Hmm, ya do dat, Sal. Nice of ya.”
“Nos problems.” Fry unlocked the jail door, as Little Scruffy came over to him. Fry grinned and gave the thumbs up sign. Scruffy entered the opened door, and let it shut behind him. But instead of the small click they were expecting, there was a loud clunk. Fry scowled. “Aw, nuts.” They ran off into separate directions, both disappearing into the shadows.
Trigger-Happy came running, slipping on the cobbles of the square. “It’s happening! Sheriff! Jail break!” He tripped and landed flat on his face.
The Sheriff scowled down at him. “Trigga! Shut yar trap! De door is closed, now let me sleep, ya dummy. One more false alarm, and I’ll give ya something ta yell about.”
Trigger-Happy got to his feet and slunk away, while the Sheriff nodded off again, snoring loudly. Fry rushed back to the door, as Scruffy did the same from inside the prison hallway. Fry passed the kay thorugh to him. “Scruffy, you find the Rabai, I’m gonna pay a visit to the treasury. Namely Zapperiah’s bedroom.” He shivered with fear. “The things I do for people.”
Fry rushed off, and Scruffy headed into the jail, looking for his lobster friend. He searched for a long time, until he heard the familiar whiny voice of the shelled holyman. “When is feeding time? Zoidberg was hungry before, he was, but now he’s starving.” Scruffy approached his cell, and peered in. “Scruffy? Is that you? Oh thank all that is edible! Speaking of which, you have a candybar, maybe?”
Scruffy shook his head. “Nope, but keep your voice down. Scruffy bustin’ you out of here, uh huh.”
Zoidberg blinked at him. “You have nothing for Zoidberg to eat?” Scruffy shook his head. “Awwww…” Scruffy unlocked his chains, and they both set about releasing all the villagers.
One of those released just so happened to be Walt. He hung around Scruffy. “So, where are the bad guys, then? I have some strong words for them.”
“Hold your horses there, why not.” Zoidberg put a claw on his shoulder. “Rocks might work better.”
Up on the balcony of Zapperiahs bedroom, Fry was cringing at the prospect of entering, but enter he did. Peering through the shadows, he saw Zapperiah lying in a huge heart shaped bed, and Kif in a small bed only just big enough to fit him. Both were snoring, and Zapperiah was cuddling a bag of gold under each arm. He spoke in his sleep. “Hmm, yes, the boobies are best.”
Fry noted that not only was Zapperiah snuggling with two bags of gold, but there were bags all over the floor. Grinning, he whispered. “Paydirt!” He went to the balcony and pulled an arrow from his quiver, attaching the rope he had used to climb the castle to it. Aiming, he shot the arrow, hitting the jail wall, next to a window where Little Scruffy was waiting. Pulling the rope into the window, Scruffy hooked it through a shackle hook, before shooting it back to Fry. Scampering back into the room, Fry hooked the rope through the only thing he could find, the canopy support of Zapperiah’s bed. Grabbing the bags one by one, he took the bags to the balcony, attaching them to the rope, as Scruffy pulled them over.
“Robin Fry!” Fry froze at the sound of Zapperiah’s voice. Peering back into the bedroom, he saw that Zapperiah was sleep talking. “He took her from me… mmm…. Cleavage…. Robin Fry will pay…”
Over in the prison, Zoidberg was whooping happily, as he handed out bags of gold to the other freed prisoners. “Yay! Free food money for all! Zoidberg will eat well tonight!”
Scruffy tapped Zoidberg on the shoulder. “Scruffy has left some people to gather up the last of the loot. We gotta get outta here. Follow Scruffy. He knows the way, uh huh.”
Outside, the prisoners were about to start filing past Little Scruffy and the Rabai, who were going to direct them out to the main gate. Suddenly, Little Scruffy looked up, and watched in horror as the bottom of one of the still moving coin bags split, letting a coin fall, and hit the still sleeping Sheriff on the head. Snorting, the man woke, blinking sleepily. “What de…?”
Scruffy grabbed him, putting a hand over his mouth. Yanking him inside the jail door, he switched clothes with him in a matter of seconds, and sat back outside the door to the jail, with the Sheriff’s hat pulled low, and his moustache hidden in it’s shadow. He had managed it not a moment too soon, as Trigger-Happy sidled up to him, his gun held up and ready. “Sheriff, sir. Don’t get your dander up, but I got the feelin’ that something is gonna happen. I’m sure of it. Just like I was sure we had bad potatoes that one time… poor granny didn’t believe me…”
Before he got suspicious and could shoot that gun off, Little Scruffy grabbed him, putting him in a head lock, and trapping the gun under his foot. “Rabai, Scruffy thinks you had better get goin’, uh huh.”
Rushing out, the villagers, led by Zoidberg, boarded a two wheeled hand cart. Knocking Trigger-Happy out with a blow to the head, Little Scruffy got to the cart, and stood, blinking at it. “You expect Scruffy to pull this?”
Mom-a-mia, who was happily smoking on a cigarette she had stolen from one of the other villagers, puffed a cloud of smoke into his face. “Well, who else can?”
Scruffy pointed to Alu-mini-um. “He can. He’s strongest, uh huh.”
“And what’s in it for me?” The robot bard huffed.
“You won’t die. And booze.” Scruffy replied. “Good booze, uh huh.”
The last two bags. Why did he have to hug the damned things? Fry scowled as he tried pulling the bags from Zapperiah’s grip. The Prince screwed up his sleeping face, and grunted. “No, no take my boobies.”
Fry rolled his eyes. “Sheesh.” Picking up a discarded pillow, Fry managed to put the soft plush item into Zapperiah’s grasp, replacing the bags he removed, at last.
Zapperiah sighed happily. “Ah, a giant uniboob.” He snuggled the pillow happily.
Attaching the last two bags to the rope, Fry grabbed onto it, but stubbed his toe on the balcony rail. “Ow!”
Kif woke with a start, and looked in bewilderment at the rope above the Prince’s bed. His quick mind worked out what was happening in a second, as he saw that the bags were all gone. He jumped up, and made to dash to the balcony. Thinking twice, he grabbed a dagger from the nearby dressing table, used to help shave Zapperiah’s armpits. Looking out at the escaping Robin Fry, Kif glanced back at Zapperiah, and narrowed his eyes. This might be his only chance. With a triumphant cry, he stabbed the pillow in Zapperiah’s arms, and ran for the balcony. “Wait for me!”
Zapperiah woke with a start. “No! My boob exploded! Wait… What the…?” He saw the dead pillow, the lack of money or Kif, and the rope hung over his bed. “Kif? Why are you hanging laundry in my bedroom? Kif! Where are my money cuddles?” He got from the bed, and followed the rope to his balcony. “What?” He saw the figures of Robin Fry and Kif jumping to safety at the jail, and taking his money with them! “Guards!” He ran out into the castle, and out into the main courtyard. “Guards! To the jail! Kif’s gone mad! Somebody find my slippers, my feet are cold!” At which point he was crashed into by a group of guards, which promptly carried him along with their momentum. “Ahhh!”
Fry helped Kif up onto the cart. “You sure about this? I mean, it’s not a cushy life you know. Plus he might be mad at you.”
Kif smiled. “I ‘ve had enough. Besides, I want to get to know the Lady Amy better, and let’s face it, it’s about time he went without a nanny.”
Fry grinned. “Okay, get going!” He hopped up onto the cart himself. “Full speed ahead!”
“I ain’t a ship, ya know.” Alu-mini-um huffed, as he heaved the cart forward. “And somebody needs to lose some weight. I blame the Rabai.”
The cart bumped over the edge of the drawbridge, and Larry, who was at the edge of the cart, was jolted. Mister Wuggles fell from his hand. “No, mister Wuggles!” Larry threw himself off the cart to retrieve his bear.
There was a pause of silence for a second. Kif tapped Mom-a-mia on the shoulder. “Um, wasn’t he your child?”
She looked around. “Oh, yeah… Save him. I guess.”
Fry jumped from the back of the cart, running back to scoop the boy and his bear up. Running for the gate again, he was horrified to see the portcullis come crashing down. Pushing the boy through the holes in the gate, he spoke to Scruffy. Neither of them heard Larry’s cries of, “ow! Hey, that’s my head!”
“Scruffy, get them to safety.”
“What about you? You’re trapped, Scruffy doesn’t see a way out, nuh uh.”
From behind him, Fry heard the unmistakable voice of the Sheriff. “Look! We got him!” He looked back to see the man running towards him, a fire torch in hand, clad in his lime green under clothes. “Ya’re trapped ya dirty sneak, like a snake in a sugar cane fire!”
Fry looked back to his friend, who was helping a bruised and battered Larry back onto the cart. “Hurry up and leave Scruffy. And tell Leela I’ll be home for supper. So you better cook something nice for us to eat.”
Not waiting to hear his friend’s response, Fry ran for it. Making his way to the top of the castle, he was chased by the Sheriff, who burned everything in sight with his mad waving torch. “Ya see, sugar cane fire! We got him now! He’s at the top of de main turret!”
Seeing the only choice he had was to jump into the moat, Fry scowled. “Damn, and I forgot my arm bands and my rubber ring.” Still, he jumped, landing with a splash. Surfacing, he swam for the edge of the moat, where Scruffy and Walt waited for him.
Zapperiah appeared at the top of one of the castle walls. “Shoot him! Sink him! Do something!” Arrows were shot from every vantage point, and a few items were thrown, including a kitchen chair, a fork, and a picture of Zapperiah. All of a sudden, Fry sunk beneath the water.
Scruffy wrung his hands nervously. “Scruffy knows you can do it, Fry. Scruffy still wants that money.”
Walt peered out at the water. “He’ll make it, right? Because hero figures are hard to come by, you know?” Fry’s hat floated to the surface. “Oh, never mind.”
Scruffy shook his head. “Nuh uh. Not possible…”
Zapperiah cheered, waving his hands in the air. “Haha! He’s done for! Dead as a doorstop! Kif, come and listen to me gloat. Kif? Oh, I forgot, he betrayed me. Hmm.” He turned to the Sheriff, who was standing next to him. “You, you will be my new lacky.”
Walt took off his hat. “You think this will be worth more now?” He paused. “Awww, who am I kidding, I want him to make it, I need archery lessons.” He suddenly bent forward, peering at the water closely. “Hey, look, a reed that can swim.”
Scruffy leaned over too, looking down at the reed which was bobbing just below. “What the…?” The reed spat a stream of water at him, soaking his moustache. Out of the water, with reed in hand, emerged Fry with a huge smile on his face. “Huh, you had Scruffy worried. He thought he would have to get his ass whooped by Leela when he told her you had bit the arrow. Uh huh.”
“Not to worry, she might do it anyway.” Walt smiled. “Wait till she sees the state of his clothes.”
The Sheriff gasped, pointing out at the trio. “Look! He got away again! Stupid wiley snake!”
Fry stuck his tongue out at them both and blew a raspberry. “Nah nah nah nah nah.”
“No one says nah nah nah nah nah to me!” Zapperiah fumed. “Sheriff, this is your fault.”
The Sheriff stared at him, open mouthed. “My fault! De nerve of ya!”
“You set the place on fire.”
“Yah, maybe so. But ya littered, ya misused the toilet facilities, ya put your ugly picture all over de walls. Ya ruined yar mudder’s castle.”
Zapperiah wailed. “Mommy!” His thumb made it’s home in his mouth again, and his other hand made friends with a nearby stick, as he gripped it tightly.
“Um, sire?” The Sheriff backed away. “When I said ruined, I didn’t mean that it was a total ting. I mean, come on…”
The Prince lunged at him, swinging the stick. “You rotten… rotten… something that’s rotten!”
The Sheriff ran for it, with the Prince in hot pursuit. “Jah help me!”
Things got better from then on. King Rob-o returned, without any components missing. He pardoned Robin Fry, who was now a free man in the truest sense. It was a sunny day in the village of Nottingham, and Alu-mini-um, ale bottle at his side, was sitting outside the church, talking to Al Juniorr. “See? I told you things would be fine. Daddy knows best. And that Robin Fry, a pardon by the King, who would have thunk it.” He swigged from his bottle. “And putting those no good jerks who taxed us and imprisoned us to work in the stables, sheer genius! Now the royal crap gets to clean up the royal horses crap.” The church bells began to toll. “Hey, looks like the ceremony is over, at last. Stupid humans and their stupid marriages.”
The doors opened and out of the church poured the villagers, Robin Fry, Lady Leela, Rabai Zoidberg, Little Scruffy and the golden King himself, Rob-o. The people cheered as Leela kissed Fry on the cheek, and he dipped her in a kiss that was entirely inappropriate. “Long live Robin Fry! Long live King Rob-o! Long live… um… everyone! Yay!”
King Rob-o patted the Rabai on the shoulder. “Well, it looks like I have an outlaw for an in-law. Ha! And I like the theme.” He flicked the red feather that was stuck to the side of his crown. Behind him, Amy grinned.
Zoidberg nodded. “Yes, it was very tasty.” He slurped his mouth tendrils. “Are you going to eat that, by the way?”
At the foot of the steps, Walt, Larry, Sissy, and Tinny Tim were gathered. Tim cocked his head at the carriage, in which Robin Fry and Lady Leela were climbing. “I say, why are you going, Walt?”
Walt shrugged. “Archery lessons. And not to mention the fact that I get away from Larry and that annoying bear.”
Larry sniffled. “Mister Wuggles says he’ll miss you too.”
Walt scowled and climbed up on the carriage, next to Little Scruffy. The older man cracked the reins, and they started moving. “Scruffy says let’s go!”
Lady Amy wiped a tear from her eye. “Oh, I’ve never been so happy. How about we follow in their footsteps, huh, Kiffy?” Kif sputtered and began to turn transparent, but she noted that he didn’t say no.
As the carriage drove past the royal stables, voices could be heard. “I’m the Prince, I shouldn’t have to do this sort of thing. Sheriff, rub my feet.”
“Rub dem yaself, I’m busy.”
“You then, you rub my royal feet.”
“Nos, I’ms on a breaks.”
“You’ve been on a break for the last five days!”
“Yeahs, and what’s your points, Trigger?”
“This isn’t fair…”
“Trigga, stop complainin’, an’ put dat damned gun down, if dat ting goes off in here, it’ll blow us all ta high heaven.”
“Yes sir, Sheriff sir.” Pause. “It sure is nice to be back doin’ work like I used to.”
Pause. “Won’t anybody rub my feet?”
Three voices in unison. “No!”