Written By: Lauren
Cannon: Few weeks after the “Snow Way To Treat A Lady” two-parter.
Genre: Comedy/Action/Drama... all of the above.
Rating: PG (beware the evil villain!)
* * * * *
The door to the apartment opened and Larry came in, jacket draped over one arm and carrying some envelopes. “Balki? Mail’s here,” he announced. His Myposian cousin didn’t come bounding into the living room. He shrugged, figuring Balki hadn’t gotten home yet from another day of overtime at Ritz discount. He hadn’t seen Balki all afternoon and he was on a different shift than Larry, technically he should’ve been home already.
Larry tossed his jacket at the coat rack attached to the closet door, but the jacket fell to the floor. He shook his head, then went over, picked up the jacket, and hung it directly on a hook. He turned, paused, and looked back at the jacket, his brow arching slightly as if to threaten the jacket to stay hung up.
Satisfied that it would stay put, he crossed to the couch and sat down to sort through the mail. He pulled out a rather large envelope. The return address claimed it’d been sent from Mypos. The mailing address only had Balki’s name on it. Larry frowned, but placed the envelope on the coffee table and went through the rest of the mail. “Junk.” He flopped the pile on the table and leaned back on the couch, propping his feet on the coffee table. For no reason, he could hear how his mom would admonish him and his siblings for putting their feet on the furniture while wearing shoes.
Larry sighed and glanced back at the phone by the door. He considered calling down to Ritz to find out when Balki would be getting out... except he’d told Twinkie that he wasn’t feeling well. He didn’t mind so much the lost pay to gain a little time to himself. For that matter, he didn’t really feel right anyway. Something was nagging at him and it wasn’t doing anything good for his stomach. He should’ve retrieved the bottle of Maalox from the fridge before he sat down. Now, he just didn’t feel like getting up.
His eyes landed on Balki’s envelope again. He really wanted to know what it was. He briefly wondered if Balki would believe him if he’d told him it came already opened. Probably not. Balki had been there only a year and could already see right through Larry. There was no way he was going to be able to find out what’s in that envelope.
Larry rested his head back against the couch and stared at the ceiling. A few ideas came to mind as to the contents of the envelope. He was becoming obsessed with it. Maybe Balki had to go back to Mypos. Maybe there were pictures in it. Maybe... the maybes were giving Larry a headache. His eyes closed and the thoughts slowly wound down until he fell asleep.
* * * * *
“Cousin Larry?” The voice was accompanied by a shake.
Larry’s eyes opened and settled on Balki, who was seated next to him, envelope on his lap. “Must’ve fell asleep,” he muttered.
“This came today?” Balki asked, referring to the envelope.
“Yeah... drove me nuts wondering what’s in it. What is in it, anyway?” Larry sat up more.
Balki pulled a slip of paper from it and handed it to him. “King Ferdinand wants to have a Vice King. Someone to actually do everything, while he looks good.”
Larry nodded. “So, what does that have to do with you?”
“King Ferdinand wants me to be his Vice King.” He pointed at the paper Larry held.
“What?” He glanced over the paper. “See attached King Quiz?” Larry gave Balki a questioning look. “There’s a quiz?”
“Of course there is, do’n be ridiculous! They do’n just make anyone royalty. They have to be in line for royalty, pass the quiz, pass the written exam, give a speech in front of the entire island, and a couple other little things. It’s nothing, really,” Balki explained.
“And, just, where are you in line for being royalty, anyway? One, two...?” Larry asked.
“Nine hundred and eighty-sixth.”
Larry’s eyes went wide. “Nine hundred?!”
“And eighty-sixth,” Balki corrected.
“You mean there’s nine hundred and eighty-five in line ahead of you and they want you, but none of them?”
“Maybe they didn’t pass the test.” Balki shrugged.
“But that would take forever to go through testing that many people,” Larry argued.
“Cousin, I do’n know. They want Balki for a reason, so I’m going to sharpen my number two pencil, put it behind my ear, and fill out my quiz with a black ink pen. Then I’m going to mail it back to Mypos tomorrow.”
Larry held up his hands in a surrender. “Okay, Balki. I’m not stopping you, I just don’t understand how they decided on you.” He sighed. “I still don’t feel well and now I have a headache on top of it. I’m going to bed.” He stood.
“Good night, Cousin Larry,” Balki called after him.
“Night, Balki,” Larry returned, without looking back. He went into his room and closed the door.
* * * * *
It was a restless sleep. He couldn’t stop thinking about that envelope. How it was delivered, yet it only had “Balki Bartokomous” as the address. He rolled over. For that matter, he didn’t remember a postmark. No postmark...?
Larry’s eyes popped open, then squinted against the offending sunlight coming in through a break in the blinds. He took a quick look at his clock. 7:54am. He sighed. Balki had to be at Ritz for seven to open. He frowned, only Twinkie would have Balki work late one night only to open the store the next morning. He rubbed a hand over his face, that feeling from yesterday was returning. The only difference now was that he was sure that part of the queasy feeling was caused by the envelope.
Grudgingly, Larry decided to get up and take another look at the envelope. He shuffled his way into the living room to glance at the coffee table, then the kitchen table, which is where he spotted it. Larry sat and opened the envelope, sliding all its contents onto the table. The letter, the quiz, and that was it. Maybe they don’t use return envelopes. He looked over the letter first, reading the whole thing this time. It looked legitimate...
His stomach grumbled. He was seriously considering calling Twinkie and telling him he wouldn’t be in today. He put the letter down and picked up the quiz. It was already filled out. Larry’s brow arched.
But he dropped the quiz on the table when he heard a knock at the door. He turned in his chair to glance at the door. Balki wouldn’t knock. He couldn’t think of anyone who would stop by this early. Another knock. Larry got up and went to the door. He paused a moment before opening it. As soon as he turned the knob to open it, he knew he should’ve asked who it was first.
* * * * *
Balki leaned on the counter top next to the register. He was bored and wondering where Larry was. He was never late and, as far as Balki knew, he hadn’t called in. He watched as Twinkacetti came out of his office like a bat out of hell.
“Turnip, where’s the idiot?” Twinkie stopped at the other side of the counter, an irritated look on his face.
“I do’n know. I’ll call,” Balki said.
“You do that, and tell him I’m docking his pay for the time he’s missed.” Twinkie turned to leave and got half way across the room before turning around. Balki had the receiver in his hand. “Oh, and, Turnip, you just made him miss more time.” He went back to his office.
Balki scrambled to dial the phone number and waited as it rang. Maybe Cousin Larry overslept. The fifth ring and he still didn’t answer. Sixth... Balki hung up the receiver and went to the store’s door. He stepped out and looked around. He went back inside and leaned on the counter again, thinking that Larry was still in the building on his way.
After a few minutes, Balki went out the door to look again. Still no Larry. He went running back into the store and over to Twinkie’s office. He pounded the door and announced, “I’m going to find Cousin Larry.”
He was half way back to the door when Twinkacetti came out of his office. “I’m docking your pay, too!”
Balki ran out the door and through the entrance to get to the apartments. He took the stairs two at a time making his way to their apartment. He skidded to a stop in front of the door and leaned down to pick up an envelope wedged partly under the door. He opened the envelope and read the note inside. “Cousin!”
* * * * *
A little while later in the apartment, Balki explained what he could to the girls.
“This is terrible, Balki!” Jennifer said. “Why would this guy kidnap Larry? You’re the one who’s wanted for royalty.”
“I do’n know,” Balki admitted, glancing down at the note. “I do’n even know who this could be.”
“Maybe it’s whoever’s nine-hundred and eighty-fifth?” Mary Anne suggested.
“It could’n be him because he moved to Sceptos,” Balki said. It took a few moments to dawn on him. “Bobasticky! Pardon my Myposian, but it is him!”
“Who him?” Mary Anne asked.
“Eriki Paslimous. He’s nine-hundred and eighty-fifth and had moved to Sceptos,” Balki repeated. “I never believed he was Myposian, anyway.
“And,” Jennifer began to get their attention, “obviously this guy has a problem with you becoming the Vice King. Do you know anything else about him? He won’t hurt Larry, will he?”
“Eriki was in my sheepherding class. Once he actually had brought in a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Balki recalled. “He picked on everyone, just because he was held back and older than the rest of the class.”
“Sounds like a typically bully to me,” Jen concluded.
“How do we find him?” Mary Anne asked.
“Maybe we could check the hotels,” Jennifer offered.
“Unless he’s using an alias,” Mary Anne said. Jennifer and Balki gave her a look. She shrugged. “I’m a ‘Dragnet’ fan.”
* * * * *
“I don’t understand...”
Eriki looked up from his Vice King quiz and across the office to the smaller man seated in a chair against the wall. “What is it you don’t understand?”
“Well, your lack of accent, for one thing,” the smaller man said, attempting to gesture with his hands, despite his wrists tied together. “And why you would do this if you’re already rich, you have several profitable businesses--”
“Because,” Eriki interrupted, “despite my businesses, I have no power. I have tried several times to open more businesses in Mypos, along with the chains already in Sceptos, and they refuse me.”
The smaller man rolled his eyes. “Certainly they have to have a good reason for refusing.” He paused, thinking. “If they didn’t before, they can use kidnapping for a reason!” Larry finally snapped at the Sceptosian.
Eriki gave him a glare. “I knew I should have found something to use as a gag for you.”
Larry’s brow arched. “That wouldn’t be a very good idea. I haven’t exactly felt all that well the last few days...” He trailed off the thought, but gave the man a smirk.
He understood. “I have no intentions of cleaning up.” Eriki tapped his pencil on the quiz resting on the desk in front of him.
“What is this place, anyway?” Larry asked. “Do you own this?”
“My brother owns this complex.”
Let’s try this again... “Why do this? Balki comes after you in line. Do you have that little faith in yourself about passing that quiz?”
Eriki stood. “I am not well-liked in Mypos. This should be obvious in my lack of businesses in Mypos. I was also something of a... bully when I was younger. Balki stands a better chance than I, and I believe I will simply be passed over for Balki.”
“But, who says that Balki wants to be Vice King? He would have to move back to Mypos. I don’t think he’d...” Larry let the thought end. He hadn’t considered what would happen if Balki was accepted as the Vice King. He would lose his cousin and best friend. He let his head droop a little.
“I believe Balki wants to be Vice King. It would mean great things for himself and his mama,” Eriki said. “This way, Balki will not submit his quiz and I will be chosen as Vice King.”
Larry’s head shot up. “What about anyone else who submits a quiz? Maybe one of them would be chosen.”
Eriki gave him a look that sent a chill down his spine. “I highly doubt that, little man.”
* * * * *
“Okay, well, thank you anyway,” Jennifer said, then hung up the phone. “I’m getting nowhere fast with calling the hotels.”
“He’s probably hiding out in some abandoned warehouse,” Mary Anne offered.
Jen gave her a look. “You couldn’t have suggested that before I wasted an hour
Mary Anne shrugged. “I thought maybe we’d be lucky with one of the hotels.”
“I hope Larry’s okay,” Jennifer said. “After this is over, I’ll gladly forgive him for getting us nearly buried alive a few weeks ago.”
“I wish Balki would get here,” Mary Anne said.
“Bringing Larry with him,” Jen concluded. She rested her chin in her palms, leaning on the table.
* * * * *
Several hours later, at the complex. The entire building is dark except for one light illuminating the office. The small desk lamp sat on the desk, shedding light only on the desk and offering the faintest glow to the rest of the room.
Larry remained seated in the chair, slumped over from sleep. At first, he had fought the threatening sleep. It figured the lack of sleep would catch up to him when he didn’t want to sleep.
Other than a few threats from Eriki, no harm had come to Larry... yet. He hoped it remained that way, but his dreams weren’t staying on the positive end of the spectrum. His rolled rolled to the other side caused by the dream he was having. Finally, it got the best of him, and he woke with such a jolt that he almost fell off the chair.
Larry was breathing heavily as he glanced around the room. He was alone, which calmed him a little. He took note of the small lamp that had been left on. He wondered why Eriki would leave it on. He shook his head. The dream lingered, despite that he didn’t remember much of it now.
Suddenly, the idea came to him. He glanced over at the closed door, then, on unsteady feet, he stood and went over to the door. He swallowed hard and hoped it was unlocked. He grasped the knob in both hands and tried turning it. It wouldn’t budge. Larry tried the opposite direction. Nothing. He thumped his forehead against the door.
He remained like that for a few minutes, trying to clear his thoughts and think of some other way to get out of this mess. Larry mentally cursed not being very good under pressure. And this situation was causing alot of pressure.
But, just as quickly as the first idea came, another entered his mind. He stood up straight and went over to the desk. He sat in the plush chair and tried a few drawers. The center drawer was locked. Larry frowned. There was probably something useful in there. He tried the drawers on the right and found papers, mostly invoices, receipts, and other such forms. He tried the ones on the left, the top one providing a pair of scissors.
“Yes!” Larry let go of the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and tried to situate the scissors between his knees so he could cut the rope around his wrists. He frowned at the dull scissors. It would take forever at this rate, but he had to try.
Moments later, he noticed a flash of light from the hall outside the office. Night security! And Larry knew it wouldn’t be the type of security who’d actually help him. They probably had orders of ‘shoot to kill.’ He hastily grabbed the scissors in one hand and made his way back to the chair. Tucking the scissors between the arm and the cushion, he slumped down once more, pretending to be asleep.
The flashlight beam shown through the wavy glass window in the door and Larry stared at the spot on his leg where the beam landed. He held his breath, willing the security guard to understand he wasn’t going anywhere soon and to move on down the hall.
The beam left his leg and traveled up the side of the chair. Larry figured the guard was just toying with him. It made him angry, but there was nothing he could do. He was thankful that he’d decided to face the opposite direction of the door because the beam landed on the back of his head, showing a shadow on the wall.
Then Larry thought he heard a gasp. He couldn’t have heard that right. The door knob was tried, but it still didn’t open.
“Try this.” He heard a female voice whisper. He was hearing things. But, then he listened as someone seemed to be picking the lock.
After a few minutes, the door opened. Larry shut his eyes.
One person dressed in black, but with white hood ties came in first, followed by two similarly dressed people just a bit shorter than the first. The first passed along the flashlight to the second, then knelt by the chair. They tapped Larry on the shoulder. He didn’t respond.
The tapping became a poking. “Cousin?”
His eyes popped open, and he turned his head so fast, he made himself dizzy. “Balki?!”
The Mypiot pushed his hood back. “Last I knew it was me.”
Larry rolled his eyes at the lighthearted comment so wrongly placed. He glanced at the two behind him. “Jennifer? Mary Anne?” The ladies pushed their hoods back a little bit. “How did you find me?”
“Thank Mary Anne. She was the one to suggest checking abandoned warehouses,” Jennifer said.
“But this one isn’t abandoned,” Mary Anne argued.
“Not completely.” The three in black turned as the overhead light came on, revealing Eriki in the doorway, now holding a gun. “I had a feeling you would show, Balki, although I didn’t expect you to bring friends.”
“Eriki!” Balki said, surprised. “What happened to your accent?”
Eriki grinned at this. “That hardly seems to matter at this moment, don’t you think?” He paused, taking a step inside. “I would suggest, Balki, that, if you wish no harm to come to you or your friends, you should not mail your quiz back to King Ferdinand.”
Balki swallowed. “But I already have this afternoon.”
The grin remained and Eriki moved closer, now directly next to Larry’s chair. He almost seemed to have forgotten he was sitting there. “Then you leave me no choice.” He took the safety off the gun.
Larry took the opportunity and kicked one of Eriki’s legs out from under him, causing him to fall back, but as he fell, one shot rang out, hitting the overhead light. The room plunged into darkness and was promptly followed by another shot, then a *thump*, and a *thud*.
* * * * *
Two days later at the guys’ apartment, the door opened and the guys came in. Balki held onto Larry as though he was holding him up.
Larry rolled his eyes. “Would you let go of me, please?”
Balki backed off. “Okay, but are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine, really.” He sighed. “You were there, the doctor said it was only a flesh wound. It doesn’t even look that bad.” Larry motioned to his right leg.
“But, Cousin, that was because of me.”
“No, Balki, it wasn’t your fault. I knew the risk I was taking. I’m glad I did it, and that it took a whole two minutes before I fainted after realizing that I could’ve been killed.”
“Cousin, what I mean is I never sent my quiz to King Ferdinand.”
“What? You didn’t send it? Why not?”
Balki shrugged. “As much as I love Mypos, I have too much to leave behind here. I could’ve lost my best friend because of it.”
Larry’s brow arched, then he smiled. “That means alot, Balki, thank you.”
The phone rang. Larry picked it up. “Hello? Mr. Twinkacetti! But I-- We were-- He was-- Uh, bye.” He heard dial tone over the last part. “That was Twinkie. He called to let us know we’ve each been docked three days pay and that we have to work the next two weekends to make up for it.”
“Well, Cousin, atleast things are back to normal,” Balki offered.
Larry gave him a withering glare, then rolled his eyes to the ceiling.