Larryís Tale: Larrydel and Jennifera
By Emma Redmer
Cannon: between the 3rd and 4th seasons (epilogue)
Characters: Jennifer, Larry, Balki, Mary Anne, Mr. Gorpley, Mr. Twinkicetti, Lydia
Rating: G
Synopsis: A young man frees his sweetheart from a wicked warlockís castle with the help of a sympathetic shepherd, a witch, and her apprentice.
Disclaimer: Lorimar Productions, Miller-Boyett Productions, and Warner Bros. Television own Perfect Strangers.
Notes: This is the last in a series of four classic fairy tales featuring the Perfect Strangers characters.

Larrydel lived in the town of Chicagonia with his beloved girlfriend, Jennifera. They were inseparable, often going on picnics and taking walks together in the deep, dark woods on the outskirts of Chicagonia. They knew to avoid the Dark Castle, on the very edge of the town. The Warlock Gorpley, who abducted young maidens and imprisoned them in his castle, inhabited it.

One day, the two were returning from an evening picnic when they got lost in the woods. "If we go this way," Larrydel insisted, pulling his sweetheart along, "Iím sure weíll be out in no time."

Jennifera shivered. "I hope youíre right. I donít like this place, especially at night. It gives me the creeps."

Larrydel gulped and looked around. Nothing was familiar. Heíd never been this far into the deep, dark woods before, and heíd never been here at all this late. He looked around frantically, hoping to see a location he knew.

Jennifera saw the tall spires of the Dark Castle first, illuminated by moonlight. "Oh, God! Larrydel, weíve gone too far. Weíre near the castle, the one where the warlock lives!" She grabbed him by his shoulders and shook him. "How could you have done this? Heíll capture us and turn us into animals to sell to the circus, or throw us in his dungeon forever! They say humans who go in never come out alive...or human." She burst into tears and leaned on his shoulder.

Larrydel started to put his arm comfortingly around her, but he couldnít move. He tried to call out to his sweetheart, but his narrow lips were frozen. Jennifera frowned. "Larrydel, are you all right? You feel stiff." He wanted desperately to reply, but nothing worked. He couldnít bat an eyelid. Jennifera waved her hand in front of his face. "Larrydel, whatís wrong? Why canít you talk to me?" She glared at him. "This isnít funny! The warlock could find us any minute!"

The helpless young man watched in horror as a gold and silver hawk swooped overhead. He knew that the Warlock Gorpley often transformed into a bird of prey, the better to terrorize his victims. Jennifera screamed and ran in the opposite direction. The beautiful, shapely woman seemed to grow feathers before her sweetheartís eyes. Her legs grew delicate claws, and her arms became wings. Her face lengthened and became a beak, and she finally turned into a bird in a puff of golden dust. The tiny bird was no match for the huge hawk. It easily picked it up in its claws.

The hawk landed before the shocked, immobile youth. It turned into a tall, middle-aged man with silvery-gold hair and a perpetual sneer. He laughed mockingly at the horrified young man, waving a birdcage with a pretty, frightened gold bird in his face. "Well, well, another dimwit who was foolish enough to get lost in my woods." He waved his right hand over Larrydelís statue-like form. "Ok, idiot Chicagonia townsperson, youíre free to go."

The moment he felt his stiff limbs relax, Larrydel fell on his knees before the warlock. "Gorpley, please, let Jennifera go! I love her. My life is meaningless without her!" He grabbed the manís trousers. "If you have any decency in you, youíll turn her back into a human and let us go home to Chicagonia."

"I donít have any decency in me." Warlock Gorpley pulled his pants away from the groveling youth. "Youíre pathetic, do you know that?" Larrydel desperately reached for the cage, but Gorpley held it away from him. "Your beloved is mine now. If you get anywhere near my castle, youíll become a statue permanently, and no amount of magic will free you." He pointed his hand at an opening between two tall oaks. "Thereís the end of the woods. Why donít you use it, before you soak my good trousers?"

"I wonít leave her!" Larrydel sobbed. "Give her back to me, Gorpley!

"Suit yourself." Gorpley shrugged. "Iím going home. Donít you dare try to follow me, and donít send any of your friends from the town after me, or theyíll suffer the same fate as you." He vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving a weeping, heartbroken Larrydel in the woods.

He found his way back to Chicagonia, but couldnít bring himself to remain. There was too much that reminded him of Jennifera. He quit his job as a printerís apprentice and, lonely and despondent, wandered across the countryside. He finally found a job as a shepherd at the largest farm in the country of Mypos, many miles from Chicagonia.

Larrydel slept in the barn for the first few days after his arrival. Donald Twinkie, the farmís owner, claimed there was no room for him in the main house. "Sorry, kid," he told Larrydel brusquely, "but my poker buddies are in town, and I donít have a place for a loser like you."

A week after he came to Mypos, Larrydel sat amid his sheep in the meadow and counted them, only to find that there were eleven instead of the twelve he started with. He frantically searched for his lost sheep. It was Victoria, one of Mr. Twinkieís prize animals. Twinkie would fire him - or worse - if he didnít bring her home.

He finally discovered Victoria nose-to-nose with another sheep, this one larger and obviously male. A young man watched the two. He was a tall fellow with large, gentle, brandy-colored eyes and a huge, horse-like grin. Larrydel liked him instantly.

"Hello," he greeted. "The female sheep is part of my flock. Victoria wandered off, and I was very worried. Sheís one of Mr. Twinkieís favorites."

"Dimintri found her," the young man explained. "She looked very sad, so he decided to make her happy." He enveloped Larrydel in a huge hug. "Iím Balki Bartokomos. I work as a shepherd for my mama. We sell the wool to market. We donít make as much money as someone like Mr. Twinkie, but we do all right, and we have fun."

Larrydel arched one eyebrow. "You have fun? Iíve been doing this for a week, and I havenít had much fun."

"Of course I have fun, doín be ridiculous!" Balki smiled. "Why donít you stay with me? I will teach you how to be a good shepherd!"

"Well..." Larrydel thought it over. "Maybe for a few days. I could use a few pointers."

"For a few days" turned into a few weeks, then a few months. Balki became Larrydelís closest friend. The two spent their days together, tending to their respective flocks. Larrydel moved in with Balki and his formidable mama in their little hut on a hill overlooking Shepherdís Valley, a few miles from Twinkieís Farm.

As they tended their flocks one day, Balki asked his friend what brought him to Mypos. "You always look so unhappy whenever Victoria and Dimintri cuddle."

Larrydel sadly watched the sheep nuzzle each other. "I can tell theyíre in love, Balki. I used to be in love." He turned from his friend to hide the tears in his eyes. "I lost her."

Balki put his hand over his heart. "Oh, how sad! Poor Larrydel! What was her name?"

Larrydel gulped, trying hard not to sob. "Her name was....is Jennifera. I loved her more than anything. I was going to ask her to marry me someday." The young man watched enviously as the two sheep ambled off together. "The Warlock Gorpley captured us in the woods near his castle. He turned her into a bird and kept her, but he let me go." He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. "I wish heíd thrown us in his dungeon, or killed us. At least weíd be together!"

Balki grinned. "Is that all it is? My friend Mary Anne is the apprentice of a witch who lives in Shepherdís Valley." Larrydel frowned. "No, sheís a nice witch, not like the Warlock Gorpley. Witch Lydia might be able to help you find a way to get Jennifera back."

Larrydel sighed. "Iíll meet her, but only because I donít know how else to save Jennifera. Gorpley threatened to turn me into a statue forever if I ever returned to the castle."

The two men took their flocks back to Balkiís mamaís home. She agreed to look after the animals while the two friends visited the Witch Lydia.

Balki and Larry walked into the small village near Twinkieís Farm. A pretty young girl with fluffy blonde hair and large, sweet blue eyes swept the front stoop of a well-kept little house. The tall young shepherd pulled the girl in his arms.

"Mary Anne!" Larrydel watched enviously as Balki gave his friend a big hug. "How are you? How is Lydia?"

"Oh, weíre fine, Balki. Lydia is going to teach me how to put things away without moving them with my hands." Mary Anne giggled. "Where have you been? Iíve missed you! Youíve got to start coming to Shepherdís Valley more often. You spend too much time alone with the sheep in the hills."

"Iím not alone anymore, Mary Anne." He introduced Larrydel. "This is my friend Larrydel. He works for Mr. Twinkie, and he needs Miss Lydiaís help. The Warlock Gorpley turned his sweetheart into a bird and locked her up in his castle."

Mary Anne looked over Balkiís shoulder. "Hi, Larrydel! Iím sorry about your friend. Warlock Gorpley is considered a disgrace to decent witches and warlocks everywhere!" She stuck her head in the door. "Lydia, thereís someone here who needs your help! Lydia?"

Larrydel didnít know what he was expecting, but it wasnít a small, attractive red headed woman who carried a stick in a pocket on her apron. "Mary Anne, are you ready for your lesson? I have the old china ready. The last time I taught a student how to levitate items using the good china, my sixty four piece set became a three thousand piece set."

"Miss Lydia!" Balki leaned over the half-door and gave the woman a huge hug. It literally took her breath away. "How have you been?"

"Iíll be better when you put me down!" Balki dropped the gasping witch, and she opened the door. "How may I help you and your friend?"

"The Warlock Gorpley captured his girlfriend and locked her away in his castle," Balki explained.

"I love her and I really miss her," Larrydel added. "I want to rescue her, but Gorpley told me if I come back, Iíll be turned into a statue forever."

Miss Lydia smiled. "Oh, is that all?" She led the trio to the back of her home. "I have the perfect thing to get on Warlock Gorpleyís goat...get in his castle."

Balki raised his eyebrows. "Warlock Gorpley has goats in his castle, too? I didnít know he was running a farm."

"No, no, Balki." Lydia shook her head. "I meant, get on his nerves." The little witch sighed. "We used to be good friends a long time ago, but he dumped me. When I tried to date someone else, he turned him into a frog." She made a face. "I had warts on my mouth for a month after kissing that guy!"

The back of Lydiaís home was filled with some of the strangest and most beautiful flowers Larrydel ever saw. "These are my magic flowers," Lydia explained. She handed a large red bud to Larrydel. She waved her stick over the plant, which opened, revealing a glittering, pearl-like sphere. "If you hold these flowers while youíre on Gorpleyís land, no magic can touch you." She gave flowers to Balki and Mary Anne. "These flowers can break any spell, no matter how complicated. Theyíll free the love of your life and keep Gorpley from recasting the spell."

Larrydel clutched the flower in his hand. "Thank you so much, Lydia." He gave the diminutive woman a much gentler hug. "Is there anything I can do for you to repay your kindness?"

"You can repay me by showing up Gorpley." She grinned. "Tell him I sent the flowers, and if he ever turns one of my beaus into an amphibian again, Iíll be send him a whole bouquet." She put an arm on Mary Anneís shoulder. "Take Mary Anne with you. Sheís my best apprentice. Sheíll help you get past what the flowers canít." Mary Anne blushed at the praise.

Balki, Mary Anne, and Larrydel hastily waved good-bye to Lydia and hurried down the only street of the village. "Now that we have the flowers, we can go save your friend!" Balki insisted. "I canít wait to see the look on Warlock Gorpleyís face when we barge in his castle and show him a real magic act!"

"We canít just barge in there," Larrydel pointed out. "Gorpley will catch us and throw us in his dungeons before we get past the gate." He smiled. "What we need is a plan."

Balki rolled his eyes. Larrydel was always planning something. "And Iím sure you have the perfect one."

Larrydel shrugged. "I always have the perfect plan. They just arenít always executed perfectly." He put his arms around Balki and Mary Anne and drew them into a huddle. "Hereís what weíre going to do..."

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Larrydel shivered as he walked through the dark woods again. Heíd avoided them like the plague in the time following Jenniferaís abduction, but he had to stop running away. He had the power to release his beloved from the clutches of the wicked warlock.

As he neared the Dark Castle, he looked over his shoulder. Mary Anne and Balki remained behind, looking for Gorpleyís hawk form. They would distract Gorpley while he searched for Jennifera in the castle. His legs wanted to turn and run, but images of his beautiful, intelligent lover flashed through his mind.

The entrance to the castle was blocked by a massive, rusted iron gate. Larrydel tried to push it, but it was much too heavy and noisy. He managed to climb over it, but he was a disheveled mess when he did. He pulled the flower out of his coat pocket, hoping it was all right. The beautiful pearl glowed softly, and the smell was as spicy-sweet as ever.

The drawbridge presented more of a problem. There was no way he could climb over those spikes, and it was too heavy to open on his own. He found a lever by the entrance, but it was as rusted and heavy as the drawbridge, and he couldnít budge it.

He was nearly in despair when he remembered Lydiaís flower. Maybe it would cast some kind of spell over the lever. He pulled it out of his coat and waved it over the lever. It moved the moment the flower touched it, allowing the drawbridge to fall to the ground. The small, curly-haired shepherd quietly hurried across the bridge and into the forbidding edifice.

It seemed to take forever to find the bird room. He searched the castle high and low, and found no birds. He was ready to give up when he leaned against a wall and noticed a crack in it. The pearl in the flower glowed like the full moon. Larrydel ran his finger along the crack until he found a small hole. He pushed his finger in the hole and pulled, revealing a door in the crumbling wall.

The secret room contained thousands of birdcages. Small birds of every color and description fluttered, trying to free themselves. Larrydel gasped. How was he going to find his Jennifera? She could be any of them!

The gem in the flower lit up as he neared a cage with a beautiful golden bird. The bird leaned out of the cage, obviously trying to escape. Larrydel recognized the birdís plumage. He held the flower to the cage. It opened without a hitch, and the bird sprang out and landed on Larrydelís shoulder. It rubbed its beak against the young manís cheek, chirping happily.

"Hello, Jennifera," Larrydel said with a gentle smile. "Iím glad to see you, too. Iíve missed you terribly." He lowered the little avian creature to the ground. "The Witch Lydia gave me this flower. She said it will break almost any spell, including Gorpleyís."

The door flung open as Larrydel was about to wave the flower over Jennifera. He gently took the gold-colored bird in his cupped hands and hurried into a shadowy recess between two walls of cages. Gorpley held a large, struggling reddish-black bird with oddly patterned wings. Larrydel thought they looked like the Myposian peasant vest Balki wore that day.

"I canít believe your ditzy girlfriend didnít turn into a bird," Gorpley muttered as he shoved the creature into a cage. "I know who gave her those flowers! Oh, well, I have my revenge on Lydia. Her apprentice wonít be coming for lessons for a very long time. I cast my statue spell on her, and she wonít move until I say so." The bird banged against the cage, trying to break free. "You can pound your head against the bars until you have the mother of all headaches, but you wonít get out. The cages only open on my command." He laughed. "Oh, donít worry, you wonít be a jail bird for long. A traveling gypsy troupe offered me a hundred ducats for every bird I sell them. I told them Iíd bring my whole collection to their caravan tomorrow."

Larrydel gasped. Warlock Gorpley was going to sell all the maidens he transformed into birds, including Jennifera...and Balki! Balki must have lost his flower and fallen into the warlockís clutches. Larrydel hoped Mary Anne was all right. She must be in the woods somewhere, probably looking for the castle. Jennifera let out an angry hiss.

Larrydel gathered all the courage he could muster stepped out of the shadows. "Let the birds go, Gorpley!" he exclaimed. "Theyíre not animals you can barter and trade. Theyíre human beings, and you know it!" He waved the flower at Gorpley. "If you donít free my best friend and the other maidens, Iíll use this!"

Gorpley rolled his eyes. "Oh, Iím really scared." He frowned. "Wait a minute. How did you get past my curse? Youíre supposed to be making friends with the gargoyles on the towers right now."

He shoved the flower under Gorpleyís nose. "Your old friend Witch Lydia gave this to me. I canít be hurt by any of your magic as long as I have this."

Gorpley raised one hand. "Well, weíll just have to take it away from you, wonít we?" He waved his right hand, gesturing at the flower, but it didnít move. "Flower, come!" He waved his hand again. Once more, nothing happened. He shot lighting out of his fingers. It went around Larrydel. He created a windstorm. The only things he budged were a couple of feathers.

Larrydel grinned. "You can cast every enchantment you know, Gorpley, but it wonít work." He pushed past the grumbling warlock. "Excuse me, but I have a best friend to rescue." Jennifera stuck her tiny tongue out at the enchanter.

Larrydel succeeded in opening Balkiís cage before Gorpley pushed him against the wall. "If I canít use magic to get the flower from you, boy, Iíll use force!" He held Larrydel with one hand and reached for the glowing flora with the other.

Jennifera jumped on Gorpleyís head and pulled at his hair. "Ow!" The tall warlock swatted at the bird. "What are you trying to do, make me go bald?"

The door to the not-so-secret room burst open again. Mary Anne rushed in. Her dress was tattered and torn, but her flower remained in one piece and glowed as brightly as Larrydel. She held a second flower in the sash of her dress. "Gorpley, let Balki go! Your spell didnít work on me, because I have the flowerís protection. I followed you to the castle." She shrugged. "Well, I mostly followed you. I got stuck in some bramble bushes. Itís dark in that forest!"

She pointed the flower at Gorpley. "Letís see how you like being turned into an animal!" She squeaked some odd words. A puff of smoke surrounded the warlock. When the smoke cleared, the tall warlock had long, thin arms and legs, and a long, scaly tail that rattled when it moved. He stuck his forked tongue at the apprentice.

"Nice job, baby cakes," Gorpley sneered. "As you can see, it only half-worked."

"Darn!" Mary Anne grumbled. "Thatís one of my best spells."

The black bird flew past Gorpley as he attempted to grab him and landed on the floor by Mary Anne. She waved the flower over him. A bright light consumed the room. When the light subsided, Balki stood in the birdís place. "Mary Anne, you have saved me! I lost my flower when Warlock Gorpley the hawk chased us. He grabbed me and turned me into a moving feather pillow." He threw his arms around his girlfriend, who gave him the biggest kiss she could muster.

Gorpley slithered over to Larrydel and his sweetheart as the young man attempted to wave the flower over her. "Oh no, you donít!" he hissed. "I may have lost the Mypiot, but Iím not losing that one!"

Larrydel avoided him. "Balki, Mary Anne, open the cages!" He ran down the line, opening every single cage he could reach. Balki and Mary Anne did the same. Gorpley tried to get the flowers out of their hands, but to no avail. Jennifera landed on him and plucked his hair again.

Birds of all kinds soared around the room. The trio waved their flowers over them. Each one turned into a lovely young woman. The women thanked the trio and darted out of the room and back to their homes.

Gorpley finally succeeded in plucking Jennifera out of his hair. He clutched the little bird with his scaly hands. "Give me those flowers," he demanded, "or Iíll sell your feathered girlfriend to the gypsies."

Larrydel raised his eyebrows. "We could sell you to the gypsies. Youíd make a wonderful sideshow attraction." Balki and Mary Anne snickered.

"I can turn myself into a human anytime," he insisted. "What can you three do to me? You two idiots donít know magic, and the bimbo doesnít know enough to perform a card trick!"

"Thatís where youíre wrong." Larrydel nodded at the other two. "When I give the signal, wave the flowers over him." The warlock slithered a little closer, ignoring Jennifera pecking at his scales.

"NOW!" The trio jumped at the half-snake creature. He threw his hand up to avoid them. Jennifera flew to Larrydelís shoulder as a bright light surrounded the warlock. When it vanished, the hawk squawked and flapped. The creature retained its snake-like tail and forked tongue, and there were scales in many places feathers should have been. It took all three of them to shove the hawk-snake into one of the cages.

Larrydel finally turned to the gold bird as it fluttered to the floor. "Are you ready, honey?" The bird nodded vigorously. The young man waved the flower over the golden creature. She was consumed by the pearlís light. When it dimmed, his beloved Jennifera stood before him, as beautiful as ever.

Jennifera frowned. "What took you so long?"

Larrydel shrugged helplessly. "I didnít know how to get you back. Gorpley wouldnít let me in the castle. We went to the Witch Lydia to get these flowers."

Jennifera nodded at Mary Anne and Balki. "Thank you both for helping to rescue me."

Mary Anne shook her hand, but Balki embraced her, much to Larrydelís annoyance. "Youíre very welcome, Jennifera! Itís nice to finally meet you! Iím Balki, a shepherd from Mypos, and this is Lydiaís apprentice, Mary Anne."

Larrydel took his sweetheartís hands. "Jen, Iím sorry I took so long." He looked away. "Youíll probably never want to marry me now."

Jennifera put her arms around him and kissed him passionately. "Does this answer your question?"

Larrydel grinned dazedly. "Better late than never!" He kissed her back.

Larrydel and Jennifera returned to Chicagonia and married several months later. Balki and Mary Anne went home to Mypos, where they also wed. They gave the cage with the hawk-snake Warlock Gorpley to Lydia as thanks for the flowers. She didnít sell him to gypsies, but kept him in her home instead as a pet. Mama Bartokomos presided over the weddings, and even Mr. Twinkie sent the couples his best cheap handkerchiefs.

Larrydel and Jennifera never again ventured into the dark woods. They were still spooky and magical, even if their ruler was gone.

~*~*~*~*~*~

"You see, Cousin?" Balki insisted. "You do know a good story!"

"Thatís one of my favorite Grimmís Fairy Tales," Jennifer added.

"Mine, too," Larry admitted. "Mom used to read it to me before bedtime. Billy would want to hear action stories, but Iíd always request a fairy tale."

"I liked being able to do magic," Mary Anne said. "Iíd be able to stop this storm."

Balki stood and went to the kitchen window. "Wow! Mary Anne, you are good! The storm is over. Itís not raining anymore, and the clouds arenít arguing with each other."

The other three joined him at the window. Sure enough, the sky was now clear, and filled with a thousand beautiful stars. Raindrops ran off the fire escape and down to the street below them. The world smelled newly washed, like it was just pulled out of the drier.

The four leaned out the window, looking at the now-gorgeous night. "I have an idea," Larry said with a smile. "Why donít we go out for a late snack and enjoy this beautiful evening?"

"Sounds good to me," Jennifer added. She stretched her long limbs. "I think Iíve been sitting too long. Iím starting to feel a bit stiff. A walk would probably do all of us some good."

"Maybe we could go to the park afterwards and look at the stars," Balki exclaimed. "In Mypos, the stars are said to be the spirits of all the shepherds who were called to Angelika, the goddess of the moon, and to her papa, Father Sky." He smiled, pointing to a few fleecy, navy-blue clouds lingering on the horizon. "The clouds are the sheep Angelika and her shepherds tend to. Itís a very great honor for a dead shepherd to tend to Angelika and Father Skyís flock."

Mary Anne sighed. "What a nice legend, Balki!" She leaned on the window frame. "I guess thatís it for all of us telling stories, though."

"We should get together and tell stories more often," Balki insisted. "I liked Cousin Larryís story, even if he did turn me into a bird."

Larry grinned. "Thanks, Balki. I liked your story. Youíre really a good yarn-spinner."

"Itís not hard, cousin. You just wrap the yarn around and around and around the spinning wheel..."

Larry shook his head. "No, Balki. I mean, youíre good at telling stories."

"Itís a Myposian tradition, Cousin," Balki explained. "Some Myposians travel from town to town telling stories. Theyíre kind of like walking, talking movie cameras."

Jennifer rubbed her arms. "Iím going to go upstairs and get a sweater. Itís getting chilly. Mary Anne, do you want anything?"

Mary Anne shrugged. "Iíll go with you. I think I left a pot of tea boiling up there."

Jennifer frowned. "I thought you turned that off before we left!"

"So did I." The two women walked out the door, arguing over leaving things on all the way. Larry and Balki reached for their own jackets out of the closet.

"Do you really think Iím a good story-teller, Balki?" Larry asked.

"Of course you are, Cousin," Balki insisted. "Donít be ridiculous!" He put his arm around his skeptical roommate. "With a little work, you may even be as good as me someday."

Larry sighed and went upstairs to meet the girls, Balki trailing behind.