It was, all in all, not an auspicious start to the weekend.
“We’re going to regret this, you know,” Tom commented to his partner. “I really don’t think this is a good idea.”
“Oh, come on, Tom, how bad can it be? And anyway we haven’t had a chance to see Pirates of Penzance in ages!”
“How bad can it be? Once Peach here gets a listen to it we’ll never here the end of ‘I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General’.”
“I’ll make popcorn and hot chocolate,” Carl wheedled.
“I still think we’re going to regret this,” Tom replied, shaking his head, but he sat down next to Carl on the couch as the orchestra began the overture.
Five hours later, as Peach was loudly singing ‘For I am a Pirate King’ for the twelfth time, Carl was inclined to agree with him.
“Stupid, stupid, bird,” Carl grumbled into the pillow.
“This is all your fault.”
“And you’re not going to let me forget it, are you?”
“Not on your life,” Tom responded, and rolled over, taking most of the blanket with him.
“You can have some back as soon as you make Peach shut up.”
With a few mumbled words that were definitely not in the dictionary, Carl got up and left the bed room. There were heated words and indignant squawking, but when Carl returned five minutes later the house was silent.
“Whad’ya say to her?” Tom questioned sleepily, scooching over to let Carl back in to bed.
“Oh, I had a few choice words with her,” Carl replied grimly. “And I threatened to sock her in the beak if she didn’t stay quiet until at least nine o’clock tomorrow morning.”
Carl said nothing but resolutely tugged the blankets back over himself.
A few minutes later, snores at two different pitches broke the silence of the night.
Tom awoke the next morning to the smell of eggs and cheese. Rubbing his eyes, he saw that the clock read almost a quarter to ten. Slipping on a blue and green stripped bathrobe, he wandered out into the kitchen.
“ ‘Morning Carl. The omelets smell delicious.”
Tom slid in behind Carl and turning him by the shoulders gave him a quick kiss.
“You also kept Peach quiet for three quarters of an hour longer than your originally planned,” Tom remarked. “I’m very impressed.”
“How do you know it was Carl who made me?” Peach demanded, sounding indignant. “Maybe I was quiet all on my own.”
“Yeah right. Like that would ever happen. What’d he bribe you with? An extra handful of peanuts?”
“Two, actually,” Carl cut in.
“Well, I appreciate it.”
“Am I forgiven then?”
“Mmm. I’ll tell you after I’ve tried breakfast” Tom teased.
“Oh I see how it is,” Carl grinned. “You only love me for my omelets,”
“Not only because of them, although I have to say, they are a pretty big factor…”
“So what have you got today?” Carl asked, bringing two plates over to the table.
“Gotta get a draft of the novel to my editor,” Tom replied, rummaging in the fridge. “Don’t we have any orange juice?”
“Behind the lemonade”
“Right, thanks. What are you up to today?”
“Grand Central is having a few issues, they want me to come take a look at it. I probably won’t be home until dinner-time.”
“Oh false one!/You have deceived me!” Peach sang out.
“And there’s the end of our peace and quiet. Maybe I’ll go read through the draft at the library.” Tom drained his glass of juice and took his dishes over to the sink.
“Shoot,” Carl glanced at his watch. “I gotta go. Any words of wisdom, Peach?”
“Don’t fear the incoming darkness. Trust the children. Wait for the fire’s return.”
Carl frowned slightly. “Thanks.”
He kissed Tom, grabbed his hat and coat and disappeared with a small pop.
Tom and Peach eyed each other.
“You got anything for me, Peach?”
“Faiiiiiithless Thomas, to deceive me/I who trusted so”
“That’s it, I’m never giving you any peanuts again. Ever.”
“Fine, Fine. Don’t look up.”
“Yes, that’s it. I can’t control prophecy. I’m sorry if it doesn’t live up to your expectations!”
“Alright, I’m going to the coffee shop. Don’t tear the house apart while I’m gone.”
“Would I do that?”
Tom gave her a glare that rivaled one of Carl’s.
“Ye of little faith! Faithless—“
“I swear if you start that again—“
“Fine, go. Clearly no one in this house appreciates the masters as I do.”
Tom did not even bother to try to suppress his snort of disbelief.
The short walk to the coffee shop was enjoyable, as the day was lovely and clear. The coffee shop itself was a pleasant place, not to far from his and Carl’s house, with huge, squishy armchairs perfect for reading in. He ordered a cup of hot chocolate and a blueberry scone, and sank down in a large tan armchair to look over his novel.
Tom was on page 257 when the sun went out, or more accurately, eight minutes after the sun had gone out. Ignoring the panic and confusion of other patrons, he threw some money down on the table, grabbed his manuscript and sprinted the three blocks back to the house.
As soon as he entered the house he grabbed a flashlight and one of the volumes of his manual. There was a message from Carl, marked URGENT.
“Tom!” Peach cried. She seemed relieved to see him.
“Yeah Peach, just a minute.”
Tom flipped open the manual and took a look at the message.
Nita and Kit on Ordeal, it read.
There could only be one reason why Carl would send that message.
Tom swore colorfully.
Peach flew over, perched on his shoulder, and with uncharacteristic gentleness rubbed her head against his neck.
He reached up and stroked her feathers with two fingers.
“I hate this part,” he muttered.