“So why are we doing this?”
“Because my parents need help cleaning their spare bedroom.”
“So, again, why are we doing this? I mean, it’s beautiful on the surface, we’ve got whole two days off in a row, and I hear that they've finally worked out all of the kinks with those swan boats in Central Park.”
“Because they’re my parents, and they need my help. And I keep telling you, those aren’t boats, they’re giant swans.”
“Ok, so then why am I doing this?”
“Because shut up and climb down the ladder.”
Leela was waiting for Fry when he finally got to the bottom of the ladder. “Look Fry,” she said, “my parents need me to help them, and I need you to help me.”
“You need me?”
“Of course I do, goofball. I can’t do everything.”
“Oh,” he said, disappointed
Smiling, she added, “I need you for other things, too. And if you’re really good, I’ll need you for that when we get home.”
He smiled his infuriating, wonderful grin at her and her heart melted. Why did it take me so long to really see him, she thought. Leaning in, she kissed him lightly on the lips. “Come on,” she said. “The sooner that we finish this, the sooner we can get out of the sewer and enjoy the rest of our day off.”
Several hours later, Fry, Leela and Munda were knee deep in old books and clothes.
“Mom,” Leela said, “where did you get all the junk?”
“It's not junk, honey. It's all of my old college things.”
“Where's Morris' stuff,” Fry asked as he picked up a small, ratty looking gym bag. Without even opening it, Fry could tell that whatever was inside hadn't been washed in years, if ever.
“That's pretty much it, Philip. Morris didn't ever have much. Even while I was at Brown and he was living in my closet, all he usually had was that bag. And you don't want to know what came out of that thing sometimes.” Hearing that, Fry's eyes went wide and he quickly dropped it.
The bag bounced on the floor, shivered and started to scoot away from them and back into the room.
“Go pick that up Fry,” Leela said without looking at him. “We’re probably going to want to burn it,” she added, looking at her mother. “Dad won’t mind, will he?”
“Not at all, sweetie,” Munda replied. “In fact, I was just telling him the other day…”
There was a loud noise in the room behind them, which both women ignored as they continued to chat about nothing as they boxed up the clothes so that they could be donated to less fortunate mutants. Fry was being strangled by a tentacle coming out of the bag. The tentacle appeared to Fry to be a tongue, as the zipper on the bag itself appeared to be a toothy maw, filled with razor sharp teeth, Hell bent on ripping his face off. Fry used the bags handles to keep it off his face as he searched quickly for something to hit the bag. His vision dimming and the future of his face looking grim, Fry grabbed the tongue and started to beat the bag against the wall. The teeth bit into his hands quickly and drew blood. This further excited the monster, who knew that his meal was close at hand. But Fry was equally determined to knock the monster unconscious. He slammed it repeatedly until the tongue loosened from around his throat. But Fry didn’t stop swinging until the monster bag stopped moving. Still holding the tongue, Fry opened the bedroom’s window and threw the bag out. It hit the house next door with a thud and slid down the wall. He slammed the window shut and gasped for air. Staggering to the doorway, he panted, “Demon… bag …tried…to…eat…me…”
“Oh, Philip,” Munda said. “You poor baby.”
“Oh Lord,” Leela said, covering her eye. “He’s faking it mom. A demon bag, Fry? Seriously?”
“I believe you, Philip,” her mother said, turning her head and winking at Leela. “Let’s get these things out to the hover boat so we can get them over to the donation center.”
Despite being so humid and smelling worse than his laundry pile used to, Fry was enjoying his ride through the sewers. Sure, he’d have much rather been on the surface, but he was with Leela and his being there made her mother happy. And that, in turn, made Leela happy. Plus, he was going to get snu-snu as a reward tonight, so he had that going for him. All in all, despite nearly being eaten by Morris’ old gym bag, the morning had gone great.
“Where did all of this junk come from,” Fry said as he wandered the aisles. “I swear, I remember having some of this crap a thousand years ago.”
“Some of it was salvaged from Old New York,” a rasping voice said from behind him, causing him to jump. “Sorry to frighten you.” Shaking its head, the mutant smiled and said, “No, I’m not sorry. I love doing that to you normals whenever I can. Ah, it’s so much more fun now that we’re allowed onto the surface. Ya creep around in dark alleyways and jump out just as one of you normries walks by, scaring the ever-loving bejesus out of ‘em. I tell ya, it makes my night.”
Fry looked at the little thing and tried not to recoil. The creature was humanoid, standing about four feet tall at the shoulders, but it walked on its knuckles, so Fry guessed it might be slightly taller than that when standing upright. It was blubbery, with the occasional bits of hair sticking out all over its body, and it smiled with a mouth full of short, sharp looking fangs. But that wasn’t why Fry recoiled. It was the smell that surrounded the mutant. He (at least Fry thought it was a ‘he’, but he wasn’t sure) smelled worse than his laundry pile used to before Leela got him straightened out as a condition of their dating. This thing was worse than wet dog, wet socks, and Zoidberg all rolled into one giant stink pile. In short, it smelled like New Jersey.
Fry, his eyes watering stepped back. “Whoa, buddy. You might want to ease up on the onions and French cheeses.”
“Hey,” the monster snapped back. “You try living in a sewer your whole life, showering and cleaning yourself with what you surface dwelling jerks flush down the drain and see how you like it. And what’s a ‘French’ anyways?”
“Sorry, buddy,” he said, continuing to step back. “I’m just saying you might want to, you know, do something about your stink.” Thinking fast, Fry added, “If you want to keep scaring the normal, I mean.”
“Go on,” the mutant said back, trying to decide if he should be angry with this jerk or hear him out.
“I mean,” Fry said, scrambling to keep from further insulting the mutant, “you could keep smelling like that. But then you lose so many scares.”
“What do you mean? My funk is part of the fun. Watching them normies puking their guys out on their fine clothes after a night a partying makes me laugh like nobody’s business.”
The mutant was buying what he was selling, so Fry continued. “Look,” he said, reluctantly moving closer and putting his arm over the mutant’s shoulders, “you want to scare the normals on the surface, right?” When the mutant nodded, Fry continued, “Then you’ve got to sneak up on them. That funk you’ve got going on gives you up from a mile away. Wash it off, and you’ll be able to sneak up on them. Otherwise, you’re stuck to scaring folks in New Jersey, and you know they don’t scare easily. I mean, Robot Hell is there. That tells you what kind of place it is.”
“You know, I was considering killing you before for insulting me. But, you’ve opened my eyes to a potential gold mine of scaring normals. Thanks, pal,” the mutant said as he walked away.
“Don’t mention it,” Fry said. “Ever.” Sniffing, Fry said, “Ugh. I’m going to have to burn this jacket.”
Walking behind him, he heard Leela make a disgusted sound. “What smells like wet Zoidberg in here? Fry, what have you been rolling around in?”
“It wasn’t me, Leela. There was this stank mutant, see…”
“Blah, blah, blah, whatever, Fry. I don’t care. We need to go home so we can get cleaned up. We’re taking my parents out for dinner.”
“What? When did that happen? I thought we were going to go to the Park to ride some swans.”
“When you were rolling around in whatever it was you were rolling around in to gain that funk instead of helping me unload all that junk from the hoverboat.”
“Leela,” he said, looking at his cell phone-telephone, “it’s like, noon. Have your parents turned into the Professor so we have to have catch the Pre-Early Bird Special Special?”
“We’re meeting them later tonight at a new, mutant-friendly restaurant in Brooklyn. I just figured you’d want to…unwind,” she said, arching her eyebrow, “for a little while after all of the hard work you’ve done today. Just you and me. All alone, with nothing to do for a few hours, both in need of a shower…,” she added running her finger down his chest.
“Yeah, I guess I could use a shower. And maybe a nap, too. I am kind of tired and I really do stink. I was just saying to myself that I think I have to burn my jacket.”
Shaking her head, Leela said, “You are all kinds of clueless, aren’t you? Good thing that you’re cute.”
The sun was just setting as Fry and Leela shot out of the Transit Tube near Malboro’s in Brooklyn where they were meeting her parents. Leela landed gracefully as the Tube spit her out, but Fry wobbled a bit when he landed.
“After all this time, you still can’t land right?”
“It’s not the Tube,” he said after regaining his footing and taking a couple of unsteady steps. “It’s whatever it was you did before in the shower. I still can’t feel my legs,” he said with a smile.
Laughing, she said, “Don’t worry, after we get home tonight, you won’t need to be walking anywhere for a couple of days. And if you thought that shower thing was good, baby, you ain’t seen, or felt, nothing yet.”
Fry grabbed her around the waist and pulled her close to kiss her. He whispered, “Why are we doing this when we could be at home doing those things that I haven’t seen yet?”
“Because,” she said, kissing him with each of her points, “one, I told my parents we’d meet them here, two, I’m hungry, and three, shut up and be patient. Good things come to those who wait.”
“Oh, I hate waiting,” he said, with a mock pout.
With a teasing smile, Leela said, “Fry, this is a special occasion. We’re going out for dinner for the first time as a couple with my parents.”
“And,” he said, not understanding where she was going.
“And,” she whispered as she leaned in to nibble on his ear, “I’m wearing a new ‘special occasion’ dress.”
“And,” he said, still not really understanding what she meant.
“And,” she said as she stood back, her hands on his shoulders, “What do I usually wear with my ‘special occasion dresses?’” She could see the light was starting to go on in his brain, but she thought it needed another little nudge. “Or, should I say, what don’t I wear…” Bingo, she thought as his eyes went wide.
“You’ll just have to wait and see, Mr. Fry. But only if you’re patient.” She left him there gaping at her backside as she kept walking to the restaurant. Knowing he was watching, she teased him even more by swishing her hips back and forth much further than she normally would. Looking back over her shoulder, she laughed, seeing that what she said and how she was walking had had the desired effect on Fry.
His eyes were almost completely bugged out of his head, his jaw was hanging wide open, and she was sure she caught a glint of light off the drool running out of the side of his mouth. She turned around and kept walking, her high heels clicking on the concrete as he tried to pull himself together. “Hey Leela, wait up,” he yelled, running after her.
“This side of owl in sewage gravy tastes suspiciously like mystery meatloaf,” Fry said as he poked at the dish. “How many stars did this place get?”
“Three, allegedly,” Leela replied, poking at her tentacle surprise, that looked and tasted suspiciously like Calamari Alfredo.
There were very few other people in the restaurant, but the Turanga’s appeared to be the only mutants. The staff appeared to be mutant, but they could have been aliens for all anyone knew. After all, Leela thought, I was an alien for almost 30 years before I discovered that I was a mutant. No one knew, other than the actual sewer mutants and they were never asked, who was and who wasn’t an alien. After the Devolution Revolution a few years earlier, more mutants were seen on the surface, but there were also some undocumented aliens that tried to pass themselves off as mutants. These fake mutants rocked the already shaky human-mutant human relationship.
Fry and the Turangas ordered what was billed as ‘authentic mutant cuisine,’ but what they got appeared to be far from that. In fact, it looked and tasted suspiciously like regular cuisine, just with sewer-related names.
“I told you that there’s no such thing as ‘mutant food,’ Philip,” Munda said. “We eat the same things you do.”
“Especially the same crummy pot roast,” Morris said. “Am I right?” Munda and Leela glared at him, causing him to quickly look back down at his plate. Fry, still thinking of Leela wandering around in public with an unfurnished basement, continued to poke at his dinner.
“Anyway,” her mother said, still glaring at Morris, “all of this alleged ‘mutant food’ is really just normal surface people food with trashy names. I mean, this owl tart probably doesn’t even have real owl in it.”
“Hey, you shut-a you face-a,” a man’s voice yelled from out of the kitchen. “I’m-a real-a mutant-a, and these are-a real mutant-a recipes. Just-a like-a me momma use-ed to make-a.” The chef came out from the kitchen, revealing himself to be a writhing mess of green tentacles, with a giant mouth, filled with large teeth, and a large, bushy mustache. Some of the tentacles over the mouth had eyes, and they were all focused on an oblivious Fry, who sat facing the kitchen.
“Where are you from,” Munda said, standing up and turning to face the angry chef. Squinting her eye at him, she continued, “You know, you don’t look or sound like any kind of mutant that I’ve seen or even heard of around the sewers before, and I’ve been in sewers all over the world. In fact, with that fake accent and mustache, and all of those tentacles, I’d say you’re not a mutant at all. I’d say,” Munda began, then grunted and growled something at him, which stopped his advance and forced him to start backing away from the table.
“Easy lady. I don’t want no trouble in my place,” he said, his eyes wide and his phony accent gone, and replaced with a more real sounding Boston accent. “I’m just trying to make a buck here.”
“Make a buck at the expense of mutants, you mean,” Munda said.
“You’re a fraud,” Leela said, throwing down her napkin. “This whole authentic mutant thing you’re trying to pull is just a cover for your crummy food. The only reason you got three stars is because the critic thought he was eating ‘authentic mutant,’ so he graded on a curve.”
“Hey, hey, watch what you’re calling who here, lady. I worked very hard to get where I am. You know how many of those bozos at culinary school wanted to throw me into the pot? Every single damn one of them, that’s who. And I don’t need no one-eyed freak and her sewer fever having human coming in here and callin’ me no names.”
“Hey,” Fry and Leela yelled, but Leela yelled it louder.
“Look, you overgrown Venus flytrap, I don’t know who you think you’re dealing with, but calling me a freak is a one-way ticket to getting your compost lovin’ ass kicked.”
“Compost? Compost? You’re pushin’ yer luck, freak.”
“Leela, don’t,” Munda began, but Morris grabbed her hand.
“Wait, honey,” he said. “I want to see where this is going to go.”
“Oh, it’s going to go somewhere good,” Fry said. “I do love watching my woman work,” he said, opening a sugar packet and swallowing the contents down. “Kick his ass, Leela!”
“You talkin’ to me, one eye,” the chef said. “You talkin’ to me? That’s it! Yer in for a wicked beat down now, ya freak.”
As they walked back to the Transit Tube, Fry was feeling mixed. On one hand, they tried to do something nice for Leela’s parents, and ended up getting conned by newspaper hype. On the other hand, Leela kicked a plant’s ass (he wondered to himself if a plant alien actually had an ass), and there was promise of a day and two nights worth of snu-snu ahead when they got home. And Leela was always more enthusiastic with their snu-snu when she got to beat someone up first.
“Well,” he said, “that could have gone better.”
“The jerkwad deserved it. And I don’t care if we can’t eat at that dump again. Word will spread among the mutants that that place is bogus and he was just an alien passing himself off as one of us. Imagine the nerve.”
“At least he didn’t press charges,” Fry said. “Wasn’t it your idea to take them out to dinner? And that got all bunked up by a jerkwad of an alien.”
“Yeah, I know. But at least dad had a good time while I was kicking that guy’s ass. I don’t know about mom, though. We’ll have to make it up to her and take her out somewhere nice in space some time.”
“Yeah, she was upset,” he said, “But,” putting his arm around her and hugging her, he said, “I think she was proud, too. Proud of how you stood up for mutant-kind. And so was I.”
As they approached the Tube, a large shape leapt out of a nearby alleyway, flailing its arms and screaming at the top of its lungs. Fry screeched and jumped behind Leela. Leela, still keyed up from beating that plant, calmly kicked it in the groin and followed up with a knee in the face. As it writhed on the ground, Fry recognized it as the mutant he’d talked to that morning.
“Hey,” he said. “You took my advice and showered off all that funk. You sure scared me, I tell ya.”
“You really are pathetic,” she said, stepping over the injured mutant. “Not scary, either. I just beat the crap out of a guy ten times scarier than you.”
“Aw, that wasn’t nice, Leela. Now he’s ugly, and you’ve hurt his feelings.”
She just shrugged her shoulders and made a noncommittal noise. “Come on, Fry. You know what ass kicking does to me,” she said as she went in head first.
Fry just swallowed, knowing he was going into the Tube next and would be looking up at her the whole way back to her place. “Sorry buddy,” he said. “I’d love to help, but my lady just entered the Tube ahead of me in a skirt, and she’s not wearing underpants. A guy’s got to have his priorities. Keep trying, though.”
It just gurgled at him, one hand clutching at its groin, the other feeling at its nose.