There were few joys in life that could compare to the thrill of adventure, of stealing a victory from the jaws of defeat at the last possible moment, of securing priceless treasure right in front of your most hated and ruthless villains. Scrooge McDuck, adventurer extraordinaire thrived on that thrill and with his family now with him, adventuring got better all the time.
But alas, there downsides to trekking halfway across the world, to exploring long lost tombs, to doing battle with your most hate and ruthless villains: it left you exhausted, aching, and wanting nothing more than a hot meal.
Their little excursion into France in search of a lost army rumored to have a magical chalice was wild. The dead rose from the graves, sword fighting ensued, and many zombies were put back into their graves but Scrooge and his family had the chalice and left Glomgold far behind in France. They had only just gotten back in and as a new dawn broke over the city of Duckburg, Scrooge was already thinking of how to celebrate his family’s latest find.
In the limo, with his family piled inside, Scrooge asked his dedicated housekeeper, “Beakley, we’ll need eight stacks of five pancakes, two pots of coffee, a few dozen cups of tea –“
“Oh no!” Mrs. Beakley shook her head, letting loose her hair. “It’s Saturday.”
“So?” Scrooge asked, not understanding the significance of the day.
“It’s my day off and more importantly, I have no earthly desire to cook a full meal for eight people,” she responded wearily.
“Uncle Scrooge?” Dewey groaned. “I’m hungry.”
“Me too,” frowned Huey, resting against Donald who in return wrapped his arm around his eldest nephew.
“I’m so hungry I could eat…a lot,” murmured Louie whose eyes started to close. Sleep had taken in moments.
“I’m tired too,” said Webby, taking her cues from Louie, curled up next to Scrooge and fell asleep moments later.
Donald looked to his uncle and gave a look that plainly said: I’m not cooking either. Let’s go out to eat.
Scrooge gave a half-hearted grumble. Naturally, he would have preferred to dine on Donald or Beakley’s cooking but seeing as how both were exhausted, Scrooge knew when he was beaten. He tapped on the divider and said to Launchpad, “I don’t suppose you know a place that’s opened at this hour, eh, McQuack?”
The crash-prone pilot hummed in thought but snapped his fingers with his epiphany. “I know just the place!”
He sharply turned left and sped to the edge of Duckburg. The neighborhood was far from respectable. Trash littered the streets and there were more than a few broken windows boarded up with planks of wood. With one glance to the outside, Beakley’s well-trained sense were on high alert.
“Launchpad, where exactly have you brought us?” she asked as they drove past a block that was cordoned off by police tape.
“Relax, Mrs. B,” Launchpad replied cheerfully. “This is my old neighborhood. Ah, it hasn’t changed a bit!”
“You used to live here?” Donald asked, his grip on his nephews unwavering in the face of such destitution.
“Yeah, when I was a kid. Had to move once I graduated high school. Did you know that it’s NOT okay to build or to test planes in a city? Crazy! So I moved out to the country.”
“Huh…cool story LP,” said Dewey, climbing over to the passenger side. “So where are we eating?”
“The Sunrise Diner!” answered Launchpad happily. “Me and my friends used to eat there all the time after we-“
“Stayed out all night? Partied hard? Ran rampant in the streets?” asked Dewey excitedly.
Launchpad laughed and patted Dewey’s head. “Nah, we used to hang out in the junkyard looking for scraps to build with. I wasn’t much of a punk but Johnny was. He used to run this part of town!”
“Didn’t know that you used to hang with the criminal element,” said Beakley, growing more uneasy the deeper Launchpad took them into the indigent neighborhood.
“Eh, that was years ago,” Launchpad shrugged. “Johnny’s not much of a punk anymore. He’s mellowed out. He runs the local garage.”
In a few moments, the weary adventurers were in the parking lot of the Sunrise Diner. Launchpad opened the limo doors. The children ran out, their exhaustion temporarily forgotten in the wake of food. The adults followed behind with none of the speed of the children. Upon entering the diner, they were greeted by the smell of grease and burnt toast. Launchpad took a deep breath in.
“Ah, well what do you know? It even smells the same!”
“Launchpad McQuack!” exclaimed a breathy voice.
At once, the large group saw a woman with blue come-hither eyes, hair like spun gold, and sporting a statuesque figure running towards them. She wore a teal uniform with polka dot trim around the skirt. The woman all but jumped into Launchpad’s arm and planted a kiss squarely on his cheek.
“I didn’t know you were in town!” the woman exclaimed happily. “You should have called!”
“I know, I’m sorry,” he apologized. “It was a spur of the moment thing.”
“Friendly service,” whispered Beakley to Scrooge while Launchpad was distracted by the waitress.
“Be nice, Beakley,” Scrooge yawned. “Eh, Launchpad? Breakfast?”
“Oh yeah! Hey, can we have a booth?”
“For you, LP, anything you want,” she answered sweetly. “I’ll place you in my section. We need to catch up.”
She led the group to a corner booth. As fast as lightning, she placed the menus, glassware, and silverware on the table. “Can I get you started with coffee, tea, water?”
A flurry of orders came at her but she remained steady as Gibraltar. With the same speed, she jotted down their drink orders and smiled. “Alright, I’ll get started on your drink orders. It’s great to see you again, LP.” She kissed him again and sashayed off to the kitchen.
“Girlfriend?” Donald asked.
“Who? Gandra? Nah, she’s engaged to be engaged to Johnny. They’ve been together since…well, forever. Besides, she’s more like a little sister to me.”
Moments later, Gandra returned with their drinks and no sooner had she placed them on the table, did the front door of the diner burst open by one royally pissed off Flintheart Glomgold. The Scotsman stomped over to Scrooge’s table and shouted at the top of his lungs, “YOU MAY HAVE WON THIS ROUND SCROOGE BUT IT’S NOT OVER!”
“I’m trying to have breakfast with my family, Glomgold. What is it?” Scrooge snapped.
“GIVE ME THE CHALICE! IT’S RIGHTFULLY MINE!”
“Uh, no. It’s rightfully mine. I got there first. So finders keepers, me, and losers, that would be you, weepers.”
Gandra nervously held her pad and pen. “Um, sir? Can I seat you to a table?” she asked.
Glomgold did take a seat in the booth in front of Scrooge. Unknown to Gandra, the two Scotsmen entered into on their petty contests at which she would be at the epicenter of. As Gandra started to serve Scrooge and his family, Glomgold shouted, “Oi! Waitress, I need a refill!”
“Be with you in a minute, sugar!” Gandra dutifully answered.
But the second she went to Glomgold’s table, Scrooge would say, “We could use some more napkins!”
Things did not improve when the food arrived. Whatever Scrooge ordered, Glomgold ordered double of and whenever Glomgold had Gandra at his table, Scrooge would call her over back to his. The contest grew out of control. More food, more drinks, more napkins, more questions about the diner, more of everything. It was a contest of excess and neither Scrooge nor Glomgold were determined to lose.
For two hour and thirty minutes, the contest, now more like a war, waged on. The empty dishes were stacked high, the napkins were crumbled and stained, and the drinks had been refilled more times than Gandra could remember but nevertheless, Gandra remained steadfast. No order threw her off, no demand could shake her, and she was at the table in a heartbeat. She was exhausted and her feet ached terribly but it was ending and finally, Scrooge called for the check.
Gandra, still at Glomgold’s table and picking up as many plates as her tired arms could carry, nodded and replied with a tired, “Yes, sir.”
She left to put the dishes in the kitchen and when she came back, her attention was on Scrooge and his family. Scrooge smugly grinned at Glomgold. He had won. But if there was one thing that Glomgold was, it was the fact that he was a sore loser. He picked up his glass and dropped it to the floor. Gandra jumped from the sudden noise and when she saw the mess, she gasped, “I’ll get a broom and clean that right up.”
She darted back to the kitchen but Glomgold wasn’t done yet. He declared as loudly as he could, “WHAT ROTTEN SERVICE!”
Gandra jumped again. “I-I’m sorry, sir?”
“Are you deaf? I said what rotten service! You leave dirty dishes on MY table?”
“I-I’m s-sorry,” Gandra stammered.
“Do you know how long I was waiting?”
“I’m not paying for my substandard service! Do you know who I am? Flintheart Glomgold!”
“Sir, please, I-“
“And you can forget about a tip!” he shouted, shoving the dishes off his table and onto Gandra and the floor. He stormed out of the restaurant with the owner following close behind, apologizing for every little “mistake” that was made for his service. Gandra, covered in foodstuffs, numbly stood up. She calmly walked back to Scrooge’s table and handed him the check. “Here you are, Mr. McDuck,” she said in a still, small voice. “Um, if you need anything else,” she tried to hold back her tears. “I’m sorry,” she whimpered.
“I need to…”
She dashed off to the bathroom to cry. Launchpad stood up immediately and followed after her. “Gandra? Hey, wait up!”
Scrooge sunk into the vinyl seating, feeling terribly guilty. The stern looks from Beakley, Donald, and the children compounded the guilt ten-fold. Getting the better of Glomgold was a guaranteed fun time for all but this time, his fun had a casualty. He scooted out of the booth, holding his hands up in self-defense and said, “I’ll fix this.”
“You better,” said Donald, getting out his wallet to leave a tip.
Seeing money always inspired Scrooge and this time, it gave him what would undoubtedly be the best way to make up for his and Glomgold’s long-running rivalry. Scrooge went to the back of the restaurant. Launchpad was standing in front of the women’s bathroom, desperately pleading with Gandra to come out.
“You shouldn’t listen to that guy, Gandra. He’s a jerk! A billion dollar jerk.”
Soft whimpers and sobs could be heard from outside the bathroom door. Inside, Gandra was busy wiping away her tears and picking bacon bits out of her hair. Rude customers were a part of life when you worked in food service but Glomgold had been cruel. Mascara ran down Gandra’s face and her eyes were red and puffy. She grabbed her trusty make-up kit and with the speed that he had garnered over years of perfecting her makeup routine, restored her face to the bright and clean state that her customers expected of her. Her makeup was flawless, her hair was perfect, and excluding that her eyes were puffy and red, no one would be able to tell that she had been crying. If anyone did ask, she would blame it on allergies.
“Is he gone?” she asked.
“Glomgold? Yeah, he’s gone.”
She opened the door, peeking out slightly, and immediately hugged Launchpad. “I hate it when people yell…” she sighed.
Launchpad returned the hug. “Hey, it’s okay. You really shouldn’t pay any attention to what he says. Glomgold is a jerk. You can ask anyone and they’ll tell you –“
“-That Flintheart Glomgold is a second rate-adventurer, a second-rate businessman, and a second-rate person with no sense of style, decorum, or taste in bagpipe music,” finished Scrooge, glowering at the mere thought of the man who claimed to be a better Scotsman than him. “Scrooge McDuck,” he said sticking out his hand.
Gandra nervously looked to Launchpad who gave an encouraging smile signaling that unlike Glomgold, Scrooge wouldn’t shout at her. Gandra shook Scrooge’s hand and straightened out her uniform. “I-It’s nice to meet you, sir.”
“I’m sorry about…everything. You see, Glomgold and I,’ The more Scrooge thought about explaining his rivalry with Glomgold and it’s unfortunate effect on Gandra, the stupider it seemed. “Actually, it’s not that important. What’s important is that his behavior and mine was unacceptable.”
“Its fine, Mr. McDuck,” Gandra started to say but Scrooge held up his hand and shook his head.
“No, it is not ‘fine’. While I can’t speak for Glomgold, I’m better than how I behaved today. So…do you want a job?”
“What?” Gandra gasped.
“A job,” Scrooge repeated. “Working for me. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders, you’re quick on your feet, and you’ve got a fine memory. You’d be great.”
“As your maid?” she hazard a guess.
“Don’t be daft. I don’t need a maid, I need a secretary.”
“Your secretary? But I-I don’t know anything about business o-or –“
“Bah. You can learn. So, what do you say?” Scrooge said, leaning on his cane. Gandra stuttered and stammered and Scrooge spoke once more. “If I know Glomgold and unfortunately I do, he’s running his mouth and he will convince your boss to have you fired.”
Gandra’s protests came to a quiet halt. “H-He wouldn’t! I-I’ve worked here since I was sixteen! I’m a good employee! I-I’ve never had a complaint.”
“Ah, you’ve never had a complaint until Glomgold came. Tell you what, lass, if you do get fired you can come work for me. No questions asked, no references needed. And if by some miracle, you do keep your job, I’ll pay you triple what you’re making in this place.”
“Pay?” she asked, her mind in a daze. People didn’t offer her jobs. They offered her “modeling opportunities” and “chances to make some real money” if she didn’t object to nudity.
“Aye. What do you say, lass? If you want the job, report to McDuck Manor bright and early. If not, we’ll come to some other arrangement.”
“I…I um, yes…”
Her mind was in a fog. Her? Working for Scrooge McDuck? It seemed like a joke.
When she was sixteen, Gandra Dee landed her first and only job at the Sunrise Diner. The hours were long and the pay wasn’t great but it was her job and she was grateful for it. It allowed her to pay for her school supplies, her food, and to help out with the piling household bills. Working at the Sunrise diner was the single spot of stability in her life.
And now, it was gone.
Scrooge was right. Glomgold had made such a fuss to her boss about her behavior and the way that she served his table, that her boss fired her after her shift.
“Try to understand, Gandra,” he helplessly explained. “It’s bad for business and well….”
And that was that. She was out of a job. She cried privately in the bathroom and when she fixed her makeup for the second time that day, Gandra started the three block walk back to her apartment that she shared with her boyfriend, Johnny, and her father. They lived on the first floor of their building complex. No dizzying heights for her to suffer through. Fumbling for her keys, Gandra wondered what she would say to her family.
Johnny’s garage didn’t bring in much money and her father? He hadn’t held a steady job since she was eight. They depended on her meager wages to carry them through. Gandra shuddered at telling them that she had lost her job but they deserved to know the truth. She opened the door to her home and was greeted at once by the putrid smell of cigarettes and stale air. In the living room, Johnny and her father were smoking heavily. The windows were shut up tight.
“Guys,” she coughed and gagged. “You promised me that if you were going to smoke, that you were going to open up the windows.”
“You open up the windows,” came her father’s surly reply in a way of greeting. Johnny was different. He got off from the faded and squishy sofa and kissed Gandra. “Hey, babe. How’d you do on tips tonight?”
“I made 150 in tips,” Gandra said, holding up the bills that made up her final shift at the diner. “And-“
Johnny swiftly snatched her cash from her hands and whooped, “Woo-Hoo! Gas and parts money!”
“Babe, babe, babe!” Gandra cautioned before he got his hopes too high, “Don’t spend the money. It…”
“It what?” Johnny asked.
“I…I lost my job,” she said just above a whisper.
“WHAT?” her father and Johnny exclaimed.
“How could you lose your job?!” shouted her father, looking as though he was on the verge of having a stroke.
“It’s a long story,” she sighed, not wanting to speak about the disastrous service out of fear that she would start crying again. Tears already were pricking at her eyes. “But it doesn’t matter, I think…I think I have another job.”
“What do you mean, ‘you think’?” Johnny asked. “Either you’ve got a job or you don’t.” He then made a face. “This isn’t one those ‘modeling’ jobs, is it?”
“No!” Gandra blushed. “No, it isn’t. I-I’m going to work for Scrooge McDuck.”
There was a brief moment of silence followed by uproarious laughter from her father and Johnny.
“Work for McDuck?!” Johnny was doubled over on the floor from the idea.
“I thought the miserable miser was dead!” her father howled. “You! Working for McDuck! HA! What would you be doing?”
“I’d be his secretary,” Gandra answered quietly.
The laughter, somehow, got louder and Gandra felt herself starting to blush.
“A-And what do you know about secretary stuff?” Johnny managed to ask between his guffaws.
“He’d said that I would learn…you know…in time?” she weakly offered.
Her father gave her a pitiful look and shook his head. “That’s code for you’re going to be eye-candy.”
“No, it wasn’t! H-He was very genuine a-and Mr. McDuck said that-“
Johnny scoffed. “Babe, the man’s got how much money? He’s got how many people running around at his beck and call and he picks you as his secretary? Please! Anyone with a brain and can see what’s going on!”
“Except for her!” her father cruelly laughed. “You made the mistake of thinking that she’s got a brain!”
Gandra choked back her sobs. It was one thing to e belittled by customers but by her own family was too much.
“Why do you have s-say things like that?” she sobbed.
“Because it’s true.” Johnny put his arm around her and kissed her. “Gandra, babe, you gotta look it from our point of view,” he said as he showered her with affection. “The dude is rich. He’s got more money than anyone has any right to own, right?”
“I guess so,” Gandra sniffled.
"So he goes out slumming, finds you, and just happens to offer you a job? Babe, I love you but you're a waitress, and rich guys like McDuck don't give high-paying jobs to waitresses without wanting something extra. He collects pretty things; he's probably aiming to make you part of his collection."”
“Come on, babe, think hard about this. Why would McDuck want you? Besides your looks, you don’t have a lot going for you. You barely graduated high school and you’ve never set foot on a college campus!”
“I could have gone to college!” she started to protest. “I had-“
“You had what?” Her father interrupted, a cold sneer was present on his face. “That scholarship? To that out of state school? You wouldn’t have survived. You couldn’t get on the plane to get there in the first place!”
“S-Stop! Stop it! Right now! So I wasn’t cut out for college and yeah, maybe I have only worked one job my entire life b-but Scrooge McDuck…he seemed sincere and tomorrow morning, I’m going to McDuck Manor and I’m going to be his secretary!”
“Wearing what? Your waiter uniform?” her father asked.
“I’ll buy a dress,” Gandra said, “Johnny, give me my tips.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Gandra, sweetheart. You told me not to spend the money on important things like gas and parts but you want to spend it on something as stupid as new clothes?”
“You want me to save our money, right?”
“And you don’t know for sure if McDuck was being serious if he offered you that job, right?”
Suddenly, Gandra wasn’t sure if Scrooge was sincere. He didn’t strike her as the type of person who would get someone’s hopes up but then again rich people were fickle people. Glomgold had thrown a fit because she’d left dishes on his table, who was to say that Scrooge wasn’t the type to jokingly offer people jobs? The more Gandra thought of it the more likely it seemed. Scrooge was awfully rich. He could afford the best of the best and she was hardly the best.
That night, Gandra could hardly sleep. Faced with unemployment and the uncertainty of whether she actually did have a job, Gandra spent her night drifting in and out of dreams of poverty and whether she could afford to pay next week’s rent or keep the lights on.
Somewhere in the middle of the night, Gandra slipped out of her bed and she went to her closet. She didn’t have much in the way of clothes. Jeans, some t-shirts, and a few sweaters but nothing that suitable for a young professional.
There was nothing she could wear…except…Gandra dug out a small box underneath her bed. In the untidy scribblings of her eight-year-old self she had written the word: Momma’s. Her mother was long deceased but surely, her mother of all people wouldn’t mind if she borrowed her clothes to give her a better shot at life.
Her mother’s things were a time warp back to the late 80s and early 90s. The only wearable thing that wouldn’t catch too much attention was a blue blazer and skirt combo with a gold belt. The blazer’s shoulder pads made Gandra feel like she was about to play a game of football.
“Beggars can’t be chooser,” she reasoned quietly to herself as she dawned her mother’s clothing. Her mother’s scent was still there and a single whiff brought Gandra back to her to her childhood. She remembered warm summer days, motor oil, and idyllic time spent with her mother in the junkyard looking for scraps and building machines. A pang of homesickness coursed through Gandra. Living in the trailer park was far from glamorous but she missed it nonetheless.
She took a look at herself in the mirror. She guessed she looked acceptable enough to be Scrooge McDuck’s secretary. Fear and paranoia plagued Gandra’s mind. What if Scrooge was joking? She would go to the home of the richest man in the world and make a complete ass of herself. Just as Gandra was about to put back her mother’s clothes, she heard a familiar motorcycle’s horn honk loudly outside her apartment. She ran outside and saw Launchpad revving the engine.
“Hiya Gandra!” LP smiled brightly at her.
“What are you doing here?”
“Thought I would take you to work. You know, with it being your first day and all.”
“Are you serious?” Gandra gasped. “I…I really do have a job?”
“Yeah! Mr. McDuck’s been talking nonstop about how he’s been needing a secretary. You’re gonna do great. Hop on, Gandra and let’s go!”
He tossed her a helmet and without a moment’s hesitation, Gandra jumped onto the back of the motorcycle and rode off with Launchpad. She was on her way to McDuck Manor.
For most, being driven by Launchpad was like flirting with death. Gandra wasn’t one of those people. She knew Launchpad since they were children. She’d seen him suffer the worst of crashes and on one notable occasion, she’d actually been with him when his plane went down. She’s survived but swore to never set foot in a place again. Heights were too much for her but she could handle LP’s driving skills fine. They spend through the empty streets of Duckburg. The city was still asleep and as they got closer to McDuck Manor, Gandra got butterflies. She had a job with THE richest duck in Duckburg. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized that she knew nothing about him. She knew little pieces about him like how he was fabulously wealthy, how he’d traveled the world and then some, and he went on grand adventures but she didn’t know anything else. He seemed kind enough but Johnny and her father did have a knack about being right about people. What if they were right about Scrooge McDuck?
“What’s Mr. McDuck like?” Gandra asked over the roar of the engine.
“He’s a good guy! One of the best guys I’ve ever worked for!”
That was quite the statement. Launchpad had worked for more people than Gandra could remember.
“But what is he like? Does he…does he treat people right?”
“Oh yeah! One time, we crashed and Mr. McD paid for the damages and we stayed for hotdogs. He’s a good guy.”
That made her feel better but once they reached McDuck Manor, Gandra’s fear went wild. The Manor was imposing. It stood high on the hill and made Gandra feel as though she was the size of an ant. She and Launchpad pulled into the garage. They crashed of course but Gandra was no worse. If anything, the crash helped her get her wits about her. She didn’t know what to expect from Scrooge so she assumed that today would be nothing but crashes.
“Are you ready to start your first day?”
“I guess…” Gandra replied nervously.
Launchpad held the door open for her and Gandra officially set foot inside McDuck Manor. Her stomach did somersaults. This was it. She was doing this. She would do her very best at her job. She would make no mistakes, she would succeed. But no sooner had Gandra take her first few steps inside did she hear the strict voice of Mrs. Beakley. She hid behind LP.
“Launchpad,” she scolded. “You know there’s no crashing until after eight.”
“Sorry, Mrs. B.,” LP sincerely apologized. “But I had to pick up Gandra.”
LP stood aside and left Gandra in front of Mrs. Beakley. The housekeeper raised one eyebrow. Gandra felt her very being dissected by Beakley’s well-trained eye. She felt like there was nothing that she could keep hidden from Mrs. Beakley and Mrs. Beakley knew it.
“I see…the waitress from the diner. How do you do Ms.?”
“Dee. Gandra Dee.” She curtsied for good measure. It felt like the right thing to do.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” said Mrs. Beakley. “Mr. McDuck is currently getting ready for work. If you like, you may wait for him in the kitchen.”
“Yes, mam’,” Gandra nodded and bowed.
“Mrs. Beakley is fine, Ms. Dee,” corrected Beakley.
“Yes, ma-, I mean Mrs. Beakley,” Gandra stuttered.
“Launchpad, show her to the kitchen. I don’t want her getting lost.”
“Gotcha, Mrs. B.!”
When Mrs. Beakley took her leave, Gandra shivered. “She’s scary.”
“Mrs. B.? Nah, she’s the sweetest lady ever.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, she’s great. She’s got this place lockdown tight. Nothing happens without Mrs. B knowing.”
Gandra had no doubt that it was true. Mrs. Beakley seemed to be the type of woman who knew exactly what was happening before it even happened. Although Gandra and LP were far away from the watchful gaze of Mrs. Beakley, Gandra could swear that she could still feel eyes on her. She looked around but didn’t see a single camera. Perhaps it was the tall portraits of past members of the McDuck family. Their eyes glared down and Gandra felt a chill go down her spine.
“Is this place haunted?”
“Hmmm, don’t think so.”
It wasn’t a yes and it wasn’t a no and all it did was made Gandra jumpy. The manor was big, the halls were winding, and Mrs. Beakley was….Gandra didn’t know the word for it but she was sure that the woman had killed at least one person. Mrs. Beakley was not someone to trifle with. Gandra and Launchpad entered the kitchen but Scrooge was nowhere to be seen.
“Wow…this place is bigger than my apartment.”
“You should see the rest of the house,” said Launchpad, helping himself to a cup of coffee. “I’ve been here for five years and there’s rooms that I haven’t been in.”
“Do a lot of people live here?”
“Not at first, no,” Launchpad answered. “When I got here. It was just Scrooge, Mrs. B, lil Webby, and oh, yeah, Mr. Duckworth.” A sad look passed over Launchpad’s face. “Mr. Duckworth passed on a couple years ago. He had a heart attack and died in his sleep. It tore Scrooge up real bad.”
“Oh…I’m so sorry.”
“He’s gotten better. He used to keep to himself a lot from what Mrs. B told me but now he’s got Donald and the kids. He’s happier now.”
Gandra felt a little better. Happy people were better people and less likely to be mean. She wondered how her first was going to be like. When she worked at the Sunrise Diner, it was slow. She shadowed other experienced servers and spent most of her time working the register until she got the green light to go out on the floor. However, she wasn’t at the Sunrise Diner anymore. She was working for Scrooge now and Scrooge was synonymous with chaos and a set schedule and training wasn’t a guarantee. Scrooge McDuck, trillionaire, adventurer, and living legend, burst into the kitchen and shouted, “Launchpad! I need to go to the Money Bin! On the double!”
He brushed past Gandra like she was invisible. In fact, he wasn’t sure that he actually saw her. Launchpad jumped into action and ran with Scrooge to the garage. Gandra followed right behind. It wasn’t easy running in high heels but she managed. In the garage, Launchpad had already started the engine and Scrooge was inside the limo. Gandra dove inside just as LP’s was pulling the car out at full speed.
“Who in Dismal Downs are you?” he snapped, wondering who the hell had just caught a ride with him.
“I-uh, um I-I’m Gandra Dee.”
“Gandra Dee, Mr. McD.,” said LP, rolling down the partition. “Your secretary.”
“Oh, OH! Hello!” he shook her hand. “Didn’t expect to see you so bright and early.”
She smiled nervously. “It’s a pleasure to formally meet you, sir.”
“I hope you’re ready for your first day, Ms. Dee.”
“Me too, sir. Me too…”
Gandra does paperwork and meets a few bin workers.
As Gandra drove with Scrooge and Launchpad to the Money Bin, she waited patiently for Scrooge to explain to her what her duties would be. She expected lists a mile high, a detailed task list, and an itinerary with every piece of Scrooge’s day written down. Gandra received none of that. The closer they got to the Money Bin, Scrooge hadn’t said a word to her about her job. Fear started to sink in.
Johnny and her father were right. Scrooge hadn’t really wanted her to be his secretary. He just wanted something pretty to look at around the office. Gandra wondered if it was too late to back out of the job. She didn’t want to be some rich man’s office ornament. She would find another job, a better job where she….Gandra sighed. Who was she trying to fool? Her father and Johnny were right. She didn’t have much going for her in the brains department. She didn’t look forward to returning home and telling her father and Johnny that they were right.
Lost in her own thoughts, Gandra didn’t even realize that they were at the Money Bin until Launchpad crashed into the garage wall.
“We’re here!” Launchpad announced.
“Psst!” Launchpad loudly whispered. “Mr. McD.” He nudged his employer and nodded over to Gandra.
Scrooge gasped and shook his head. “Sorry about that Ms. Dee. I forgot about you.”
“It’s okay,” Gandra replied even though it wasn’t.
“You see, I’ve never had a secretary. I’ve had butlers and housekeepers but not someone to help me keep track of my life. So this will a bit of a learning experience for both of us.”
She felt better about her job now but if Scrooge never had a secretary then it was likely that he didn’t have anything set up for her to do. So, in a way, she would be his office ornament until he had a need for her. Gandra inwardly groaned. What was she to do? She needed a job and even a job that made her nothing but part of a rich man’s collection was better than nothing. She would be able to pay her bills and to keep a roof over her family’s head.
And she supposed that while she worked for him she could save up her money, develop a nest egg of sorts and then she could find another job. It wouldn’t be waitressing or being a pretty thing but she would find something. She would have to. Anything was better than being office eye candy.
As Launchpad opened the car doors for Scrooge and Gandra, his employer once more seemed to forget that she was there again.
“Mr. McDuck, I must ask, what am I to do?”
“Do?” Scrooge asked. “Secretary things I imagine. File papers, keep up with appointments, keep the office tidy….”
It became painfully apparent that Scrooge was simply randomly listing things that he thought a secretary did. He didn’t really a clue. Gandra tried not to be put out but when they reached the elevator, she held back. Launchpad held her hand and with his support, she was able to get into the elevator and ascend the ridiculous number of stairs that the Money Bin had. When the elevator opened, Gandra was the first to leave. Launchpad was a dear support but tiny spaces and heights and her did not get along. The room she was now in was a large wide opened space with floor to ceiling windows. Excluding the desk and a few sitting chairs, the office was rather empty. Across the room to the right was another set of doors, elegant and stately.
“My office is right through those doors,” Scrooge said, pointing to them with his cane. “But this is your office. You are the last line of defense inside the money bin against anyone who may try to sell me anything, bother me, and kill me.”
“Eh, I didn’t get where I am today by not stepping on a few people’s toes.”
“Then you should call the police or hire a bodyguard!”
“Bah, the police are generally useless to when it comes to the enemies that I’ve made and as for a bodyguard, dear Mrs. Beakley is more than capable at handling them.”
“Yes but being the LAST line of defense?” Gandra panicked. “I’m sorry to tell this to you, Mr. McDuck but I am in no way capable of fighting anyone! I can’t swat a fly without feeling bad!”
“It was a joke, Ms. Dee. I don’t expect you to come rushing to my aid. I can take care of myself.”
“Then what is Mrs. Beakley?” she asked.
“A dear friend whose company I don’t dare to go without.”
“She also makes really good cookies too,” added Launchpad.
“Aye, that she does,” agreed Scrooge quite seriously. “But we’re getting off topic. Your hiring papers are on your desk. Fill them out and then I’ll speak to you later.”
And that was her morning. She was shut up in her office, filling out the papers to make her an official Money Bin employee. It didn’t take her long maybe an hour or two but when she was done, Gandra found herself utterly bored.
“I should have brought a book,” Gandra sighed.
She waited another hour or so for Scrooge to come back and need her for something but roughly thirty minutes in, she could hear him talking – really shouting - on the phone about a business deal that apparently went south. She wondered if it was rude to go inside and ask him if he was alright but upon hearing things crash about and what could only be described as a mad fit of anger from Scrooge, Gandra decided against it.
With nothing to do, she started to play with the papers on her desk. She turned the blanks into airplanes. Her folds were precise and the wings were crisp. She launched her aircraft and watched it soar through the room. A lifetime ago, Gandra would have been designing planes, robotics, and whatever came to her mind but instead, here she was, watching her dreams come alive in the form of paper airplanes.
Well paper airplanes were fine and so was the occasional daydream but waiting was tortuous. After the third hour of waiting and doing nothing, Gandra rose from her desk and collected her employee papers. The least she could do was to bring them to whomever was in charge of the employee files. She wrote a note for Scrooge and left the office with her papers in hand.
When she reached the elevator, Gandra took a deep breath and stepped inside. She pressed the down button for the final floor and down she went. But when the doors opened, Gandra didn’t find herself in the HR department but in an underwater lab. Stunning machines of every shape and size were humming quietly in the background while the bubbling of chemicals could be heard from a flight of stairs in the middle of the room. Gandra cautiously stepped forward into the lab.
“Oh my gosh…”
The technology was beautiful. It had been so long since she had set foot into a proper lab. The things she could create and - “WHO ARE YOU?!” a voice shouted and then before Gandra had a chance to speak, “MANNY! DISPOSE OF HER VIOLENTLY!”
A horse with the head of Scrooge descended upon her and roughly grabbed her. She screamed and kicked and fought to get out of the horse’s grasp. She squirmed out of her jacket and fell onto the floor.
“I’M MR. MCDUCK’S SECRETARY!” Gandra shouted, holding her papers up in defense. “I GOT LOST! I’M SORRY!”
“A likely story,” said the voice who finally made himself known. A rooster wearing a hat, a pink bowtie and a green shirt under a brown vest looked down upon her with disdain. “Who sent you? Beaks?”
“Beaks? I don’t know anyone by the name of-“ her mind finally clicked. “You’re Dr. Gyro Gearloose! Inventor of Bulb Tech!”
Gyro scoffed. “Of course I am. What are you doing here?”
“I…I…I was just trying to find the HR department. My papers, I thought I would turn them in and I got lost. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude.”
“Uh-huh, like I would ever believe a story like that. Manny, get rid of her. Torpedo her out of the lab.”
But Manny didn’t make a move to torpedo Gandra out of the lab. Instead, he was looking at her paperwork. Manny must have found it compelling enough not to kill her because in a few short minutes, he stomped his foot four times on the ground.
“Are you sure?” Gyro asked, crossing his arms.
Manny stomped on the ground eight times and Gyro heaved a heavy sigh. “Okay, okay, okay, I believe you. We won’t torpedo you.”
“Thank goodness,” Gandra sighed.
“So, Mr. McDuck hired you to be his secretary, huh?” Gyro looked her up and down.
“Why, yes. I’m sorry, I didn’t meant to invade your lab. I was just trying to find the HR department….”
Gyro rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah, paperwork, that’s what interns are for. INTERN!”
A brown feathered duck with a wild mess of hair came running at the call. “Yes, Dr. Gearloose?” The intern stopped short of Gyro and Gandra. “I-Oh….”
“This is Fenton,” Gyro said, grabbing Gandra’s papers and shoving them to Fenton’s chest. “Deliver these to HR on the double!”
“Wait! I’ll catch the ride up with you,” Gandra said.
“Great!” Fenton squeaked.
“It was nice meeting you Dr. Gearloose.”
“Ugh, call me Gyro. I don’t need to be called Doctor all the time. I know I’m brilliant.”
“Yes Doc- I mean, Gyro,” she smiled nervously. “It was nice meeting you. I’ll see you around the bin, I guess?”
“Hardly. I stay in my lab. I only leave to see Scrooge. Be sure to put me on his calendar. I want first stop in his meeting book.”
“Oh, yes. I will. Goodbye.”
Gandra jumped into the elevator with Fenton. Between meeting Gyro and her fear of heights, Gandra completely forgot about Fenton next to her.
“So…your name is Gandra, huh?” Fenton awkwardly said.
“Yes,” Gandra answered, keeping her eyes on the door.
“Mine’s Fenton,” he said
“I know. We just met.”
“Yeah! Yeah…so…yeah, uh, you’re Mr. McDuck’s secretary?”
“Yes.” She kept her answers short and sweet. The less talking she did, the better she could focus on the doors. The doors were safe. She could escape if she needed to. If the elevator failed, she could force the doors open and jump to safety.
“That’s cool! I’m Dr. Gearloose’ intern. You’re going to love working at the Money Bin. Everyone’s really nice an-and Mr. McDuck is brilliant! He –“
The elevator doors opened to Gandra’s and Scrooge’s floor. She ran to her desk and hit the close button as she left. The elevator doors shut behind her and Fenton, utterly smitten, slid to the elevator floor as it went down.
“Gandra Dee…” he sighed. “Wow…”
Gandra's day get interesting when she meets the Board of Directors.
Steady publishing schedule?
I haven't heard that name in years.
Nearly getting torpedoed out of Gyro’s lab was the most exciting thing that happened to Gandra. Scrooge never called her in or needed her so for the rest of the day she spent it at her desk. Sometimes, she would hear the odd explosion or the marvelous clinking of coins but mainly, there was silence.
Painful, boring silence.
She languished. When she waitressed, it was rare that she would have a moment to rest or relax but working for Scrooge, there was nothing. She didn’t even have the opportunity to answer the phone for there wasn’t one at her desk. She had absolutely nothing to do. She walked around her spacious office but she avoided going near the windows. Twice, she cleaned her desk just to have something to do. At three, a page came through the intercom system from security.
“The Board of Directors are here to see Mr. McDuck.”
Gandra paused but answered, “Send them up?”
A trio of well dressed buzzards in business suits entered her office. Their eyes narrowed once they saw her.
“Who are you?” one of them asked.
“What are you doing here?”
“What is your purpose?”
“Um…I’m Gandra Dee,” she said, flustered. “I work here and my purpose is to help Mr. McDuck?”
“Are you an assassin?”
“Are you a spy?”
“Are you some maniac like Dr. Gearloose or Ms. Quackfaster?”
“I’m not an assassin or a spy or…did you say maniac?”
“What is your job title?” They asked in unison.
“I’m Mr. McDuck’s secretary.”
Their eyes lit up with intrigue. “We weren’t aware that Mr. McDuck hired a secretary. Did he inform you of your duties.”
“N-No, not really. I just started. Today’s my first day.”
The vulture with the thick black eyebrows smiled at her. “Then let us be the first to welcome you to the Money Bin. It’s truly a privilege to be one of the lucky few who ever get to set foot inside.”
“Have you seen much of the Money Bin?”
“No. Not yet. I’ve been stuck here. I did see Gyro’s lab and –“
The buzzards shook their heads. She hated that they were perfectly in sync. It was unnerving the way they knew just how to move. “Dr. Gearloose is a loose cannon. I’d avoid him. The man isn’t known for
being safe or sane.”
“Gyro is a little…unconventional but he seems fine,” Gandra gently protested.
“Looks can be deceiving. Take Mr. McDuck for example.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“In his prime, Mr. McDuck was once the world’s greatest adventurer. Now, he’s simply a business man.”
“That’s odd, I was under the impression that Mr. McDuck still-“
“He doesn’t.” the buzzards said with an air of finality.
“Let us assure you, Ms. Dee that Mr. McDuck is retired.”
“Has he set you up with your work to assist him?” one of the buzzards asked.
“Oh, no. No, he hasn’t but he’s very busy and truth be told, I think…I think he’s forgotten that I’m here.”
“In that case, WE will prepare your desk and day. If you are to be an asset to Mr. McDuck, you can’t be working with nothing.”
“You’re more than welcome,” the taller buzzard said. “Take break and when you return, your desk with be ready for you but Ms. Dee?”
“We advise you to refrain from speaking about adventure in Mr. McDuck’s presence. It…riles him up and distracts him. It’s difficult to conduct business when your company’s founder is thinking of
treasure or whatever runs through his mind. Do you understand?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Good. Please be a dear and let Mr. McDuck know that were here.”
Gandra turned her back to the buzzards and went to Scrooge’s office. She knocked twice on the door and was met with Scottish curses. Scrooge threw the door open and shouted, “Curse me kilts! What is it?”
“It…it’s the Board of Directors to see you, sir,” Gandra answered shyly, stepping aside to show Scrooge the board.
Scrooge broke into a large smile. “It’s about time! Have you seen the numbers from this quarter? They’re dismal!”
The Board of Directors shuffled inside Scrooge’s office but not before telling Gandra to take her break. Without anything else to do, she did. Taking the elevator down was easier than going up. She stepped inside and took a deep breath. She placed herself anywhere but on the elevator. When it reached the bottom lobby floor, Gandra decided that taking a walk along the Money Bin’s shore would be the best. Anything to be far away from the heights of the business where she now worked. As she stood on the shore, Gandra looked back to the intimidating structure that was the Money Bin and she shook her head.
“What did I get myself into?”
The waves lapped onto the shore. Gandra dug her feet into the sand and breathed. As far as she could tell, Scrooge was intent on having her as his secretary and she didn’t doubt that the Board of Directors would have everything set up for her when she returned.
“I’m already here. I’ve got the job,” she took in a deep breath. “I need this job.”
No one else was going to provide for her or her family. Whether she liked it or not, it was up to her. Never in a million years would she ever have an opportunity like this again. She would be a fool not to take it and for the first time in her life, Gandra Dee was tired of feeling like a fool or an idiot.
She marched back into the Money Bin and went back to work.
When she returned to her desk, there was a laptop, a stack of files, a cell phone, a tablet. and daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly to do list. The Board of Directors had stacked Scrooge’s calendar to the brim with meetings, public events, and endless reports to review. On top of her laptop, there was a hand-written from the Board of Directors.
Please review your to do list and the files. If you are to make yourself useful, you must know proper Money Bin procedure.
The files were large and heavy but Gandra was undeterred. She would be useful. For the rest of the day, she read of the manuals and files. A large portion of it regarded security at the Money Bin. While one had to be mad to try to infiltrate the Money Bin, there were those who would gladly attempt to do so. The security manual came with a list of Scrooge’s worst enemies and their crimes.
Backstabbing both physical and metaphorical.
The list went on and on and the crimes got worse the further that Gandra read. Scrooge’s enemies varied. Glomgold was partial to murder and theft but wasn’t one to say no to torture. The Beagle Boys were the worst kind of thugs – they saw their target and who pursue relentlessly. They never wavered in the face of defeat after defeat. They would always come back. There were magical foes of dark origin like Magica De Spell who’s seemingly charming photo in her file hinted that if given the chance she would strike.
“Hey Gandra, are you ready to go?”
She yelped and looked up from the files. “Oh Launchpad! You scared me!”
“Sorry about that.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Came to drive you and Mr. McD home.”
“It’s five p.m. already?”
“Actually, it’s seven.”
“Seven!” Gandra gasped. “I should have been home an hour ago!” She rushed about and grabbed her laptop and tablet and cell phone. She carried the files in her arms and struggled slightly with the weight.
“Hold on, I still have to get Mr. McD.”
“Do you usually get him?”
“Oh, yes! Mr. McDuck. I think he’s still having a meeting with the Board of Directors and –“
The soothing clinking of coins gave clue that Scrooge was not in the meeting with the Board of Directors.
“Ah, he’s in the bin,” Launchpad said, shaking his head. “Must have been a bad meeting.”
“He’s in the bin?” Gandra questioned.
“He likes to swim when he’s upset,” said Launchpad with a shrug. “It’s his thing.”
“He actually swims through his money? I thought that was a myth!” she gasped.
“He does it all the time. Come on.”
Launchpad brought her to vault and inside, was Scrooge McDuck swimming through his wealth. He cut through the coins like a shark in water.
“That’s amazing,” Gandra gasped. “He’s amazing!”
“He is, isn’t he? Hey! Mr. McD! Time to go home!”
The eccentric multi-trillionaire rose from his coins, looking sullen, and dove back in. When he came back up, spitting out rare and priceless coins, he seemed a bit better. Scaling the ladder, Scrooge could be heard grumbling, “Poor image, poor profit margins…I hate it….”
“Is everything alright Mr. McD?” Launchpad asked.
“Dismal day, McQuack,” Scrooge groaned, shaking the coins off of his person. “A dismal day indeed.”
“What happened?” Gandra dared to ask.
“The better question to ask is what didn’t happen.”
“That bad huh?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Launchpad, Scrooge, and Gandra walked in silence to the car. Gandra struggled with asking the question she was most eager to have an answer to: How safe was the Money Bin? The files in her arms shed some light on the numerous people who wanted Scrooge to suffer or die.
“I…I couldn’t help but notice that you seem to have a lot of people who want you, well…dead.”
“Aye. It comes with the territory,” Scrooge shrugged.
“Be that as it may, I’m scared. Do people often come to the Money Bin to kill you?”
“There have been attempts but just that attempts. No one’s ever broken in. I’d wager that the Money Bin is the safest place in the world. You don’t have to worry about danger of the lethal kind.”
“And what danger do I have to worry about?”
“The financial kind! This quarter’s numbers are pathetic! And the board was talking about my public image being worse from before? What is that! Those greedy fishermen took my hard-earned fortune! I
was pilfered by my worst enemies and others and my image is still bad?!”
“Well, people aren’t likely to buy products from a company that does negative things, right?”
“Wasn’t there a dragon flying around the city a month or two ago?”
“And there was that monster in the ports?”
“It took Glomgold. It’s not like anyone got hurt.”
“And that beanstalk?”
“It missed the orphanage!”
“And that interview you gave two weeks ago was…pretty bad too…”
Scrooge sputtered. “That interview was taken completely out of context! That reporter was bought off by Glomgold! I know she was! I was purposefully set up!”
“Still, Mr. McDuck, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to do something nice for the public?”
“That nice sounds like a donation. I already pay for all of my damages and I invest in the city! What more could they want from me?”
“I don’t know Mr. McDuck but you’re smart. You’ll figure something out.”
Scrooge sulked in silence the rest of the way to the manor.
She took a deep breath and entered her small apartment. At once she was descended by her father and Johnny with questions of “Where were you?”, “Do you know what time it is?”, “Scared us half to death!”, “You were gone!”, “Didn’t leave a note!”, “Left us to fend for ourselves!”
Johnny grabbed Gandra by her shoulders and shouted, “Where the hell were you?”
“I was at work!” she gasped.
“Work? Where?” her father slurred. “You don’t work. You’re unemployed.”
“That’s not true. I have a very nice job working for Mr. McDuck. See? I’ve got an official Money Bin laptop and a tablet and a phone and I even have access to Mr. McDuck’s schedule and everything!”
“You’re seriously going to work for Scrooge? What did you do? Pose on his desk while he wrote out checks?” her father teased.
“No!” Gandra blushed. “I didn’t do anything like that! Mr. McDuck was a perfect gentleman.”
Johnny shook his head. “Sure. That’s how it starts but watch, he’ll change. Gandra, you gotta listen to us. I know guys. I know how they think. Do you every red-blooded man who sees you isn’t thinking about having you around his arms?”
“No, no. I refuse to believe it. This job is not like that.”
“Are you sure?”
She wasn’t. “I…I don’t think-“
“Exactly! You don’t think! You never think! When are you going to start using your brain for once?”
“I’m trying!” Gandra exclaimed. “I’m trying!”
“It doesn’t look like you’re trying at all,” her father said, digging into her.
“I am! I’ve got a job, don’t I?”
“Yeah, working for someone who values money over lives.”
As Gandra woke the next morning, there was one thought that ran through her mind: If she was going to stay and be Scrooge’s assistant and do a good job at it, she needed to get serious about it. She couldn’t afford to make mistakes or have any slips ups. When it came to working for Scrooge McDuck, perfection was needed at every moment.
Her father and Johnny might have been right that she didn’t have much in the way of brains but she was quick on her feet and her memory was second to none. She could take dictation and run in heels. How many other secretaries could do that?
Armed with her pen and notepad, Gandra prepared herself to take on the day. She memorized Scrooge’s schedule. Every hour of the day was filled with important meetings and business deals with no time for rest or relaxation. She would be with Scrooge every step of the way.
“Wish me luck!” Gandra said as she headed out the door.
“Luck?” he father snorted. “For what?”
“You’re going to go back?” Johnny asked, tearing his gaze away from the television.
“I have to. Who else is going to pay the bills?”
“What was that?” her father snapped.
Gandra groaned. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Got it,” Gandra mumbled, “Bye dad, bye Johnny…”
She rushed out of the apartment before they could see her cry. Johnny followed her out.
“Gandra, Gandra, wait up.”
“Johnny, don’t,” she sniffled.
“Don’t what? Take care of my best girl?” he held her softly and kissed her forehead. “What’s wrong?”
“Johnny…” Gandra sighed, “Why does he say stuff like that to me?”
“Cause it’s the truth, babe.” Johnny freely answered. “Hey, don’t give me that look. Your old man did a good job raising you and you were out of line.”
“What do you expect? You just told him that he wasn’t worth anything. You can’t do that to people, especially your old man, Gandra. Know your place.”
What Johnny said to her weighed heavily on Gandra’s mind as Launchpad drove her to work. Know her place…know her place. She didn’t know what her place was but if Johnny thought that she was out of line, well, then she was wrong. She needed to apologize but at the moment, she had to focus on work. Her first day was a blow off day, she hadn’t done any real work so today was her real day. She would have to do her best. When Launchpad came to pick her up, she prepared herself for another day working at the Money Bin. As they arrived at McDuck Manor, Gandra held her notepad and laptop and cell phone close to her. Whatever was going to happen today, she would be ready.
She knew Scrooge’s schedule like the back of her hand but unfortunately, she did not know the Manor well. As Launchpad was needed to deal with a flat that the limo had, Gandra went inside and became lost. The many halls and doors were like a maze. She found herself doubting the layout that she recalled from yesterday.
“It was a right here and then a left?”
No, it was none of those. Gandra wandered through the halls of McDuck Manor, hopelessly lost, until she came across a door that looked a little familiar to her. She entered and instead of the kitchen, she found herself in what looked like to be in a library/bedroom. Whoever slept here and made this room their own, Gandra guessed that it was a young girl. But that was beside the point. This was not the room that she needed or required. Gandra shut the door behind her and as she was leaving, down the hall, she saw a young girl wearing pink and purple shirt and skirt.
“Oh, hello there sweetie,” Gandra smiled. “I’m a little lost. Can you help me? I’m looking for Scrooge McDuck.”
“Who sent you?” the young girl asked, taking a defensive stance.
“Was it the Beagle Boys? Glomgold?”
“Beagle Boys? Oh, no, I’m lost.”
“A likely story!” The young girl shouted. She went running towards Gandra and jumped high in the air. Gandra wasn’t prepared for the kick that the girl delivered. The impact was precise and painful. At once the air was knocked out of her. Struggling to breathe and scared for her life, Gandra was forced to run. She escaped down the hall with the deadly little girl following right behind her. The tiny assassin jumped across the walls and when she was right above Gandra, she struck. Her kick this time was directed at Gandra’s knee, knocking it outward.
Gandra tripped and fell to the ground. The young girl once more took a defensive stand. Her eyes were narrowed and fire burned brightly in them. She charged once more, ready to strike Gandra with everything she had. The final blow never came. Mrs. Beakley caught the girl in midair and in a tone that was dripping with praise and scolding, she asked, “What did I say about practicing your flying kicks on company, Webbigail?”
“Oh…she’s company?” the deadly girl smiled awkwardly and wriggling out of Mrs. Beakley’s grasp, she rushed over to help Gandra up.
“I’m sorry,” Webby apologized. “I didn’t know we were having company over.”
Gandra, unable to speak, gave a thumbs up. Webbigail seemed sincere.
“I’ll get you some water if you want some.”
“That…would…be nice…” rasped Gandra who struggled to stay up.
“Let’s get you to the kitchen, shall we?” said Mrs. Beakley, helping Gandra along.
Once she was at the kitchen, Gandra all but collapsed into a seat at the counter. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to move. Her second day on the job and she was taken out of commission by a child. Still, Webby was absolutely apologetic about the whole misunderstanding.
“I never would have attacked if I had known who you were! I didn’t know Mr. McDuck had a secretary.”
“She started yesterday,” Mrs. Beakley said, informing her granddaughter. “Could you let everyone else in the manor know?”
Gandra placed her hand over her heart. Her chest ached. “Where….does a…little girl…learn those…moves?” she wheezed.
“From me, of course,” answered Mrs. Beakley proudly.
“You taught her those moves?” Gandra gasped. “Why?”
“You really don’t know, do you?” asked Mrs. Beakley. “Mr. McDuck has enemies, I have enemies, and –“
“And what? The kid does too?”
Mrs. Beakley rolled her eyes. “Not presently but one day she will and I intend to give her the tools to be able to protect herself.”
“That’s crazy!” she coughed.
“That’s life,” Mrs. Beakley replied. “Mr. McDuck has a knack for making enemies and I try to stop them.”
“So, you’re really his bodyguard?”
“Hmm, I don’t like that term. I prefer to be called a housekeeper.”
“Because I keep the trash out of the manor.”
There was a hint of a smile, an inside joke that Gandra missed but what she did understand was that Mrs. Beakley had taught her granddaughter well and that Gandra did not stand a chance against her.
“You know, this is the third time that someone has accused me of being a spy or an assassin or wanting to harm him. Yesterday, he told me that I was the last line of defense against anyone who may try to kill him.”
Mrs. Beakley laughed. “You? The last line? If you can’t properly block a flying kick then how can you be expected to save lives?”
“I suppose that you would be the expert on that?”
“Since you can joke, I will clear you for work today. I don’t think that Webbigail cracked your sternum but if you feel short of breath, come back here, understood?”
“Understood,” Gandra groaned, her chest still aching. Part of her wanted to go back home and climb back into bed but it would look bad to call in sick on her second day. And so, Gandra waited for Scrooge and accompanied him to the Money Bin.
During the ride to the Bin, she showed him his schedule, his meetings, and the notes that the Board had made and points that they wanted to discuss but Scrooge turned his beak up to the idea of reviewing notes and attending meetings.
“Eh, we’re not doing that today.”
“But sir! Your schedule!”
“Learn to roll with the punches, Ms. Dee!” said Scrooge.
And she would have to if she wanted to keep her job.
“We have more important things to do today!”
Working for Scrooge required her to be able to keep to his schedule and to be utterly flexible. The man could be dead-set on finding some long lost treasure and have Gandra calling commercial scuba suppliers but in an instant he would change his mind, declaring, “It’s a bauble! Nowhere near worth the cost of going after it!”
Gandra failed to see how a diamond bigger than her head could not be worth the cost of retrieving it from the ocean but it wasn’t her decision to make. Scrooge was the billionaire, not her. And yet, as she watched the excess of money go in and out of the Bin ($25,000 spent on reinforcing the entry doors, a million spent on security, and Gandra wasn’t sure what to make of the bill for magical defenses.) she wondered why Scrooge, the world’s most infamous penny-pincher, spent money so freely on expenses that she couldn’t imagine justifying.
“These bills…they’re enormous.”
Scrooge peered over the invoices and shook his head. “No. They’re right.”
“But all this money! I mean, is it worth it?”
“Worth it? Ms. Dee we’re talking about protecting my greatest treasure: my money! I didn’t work from a shoeshine, to working on a steamboat, to ranching cattle and oil, and freezing my feathers off in the Klondike just so some Beagle Boy can come in and take it all away!”
“But if security is such a concern, why not invest your money in schools or libraries? I saw that Glomgold opened up a museum –“
“Pfft! To himself! That ninny spent six million to put an eyesore in the middle of the city so that when everyone looks at it, they see and think of the name ‘Flintheart Glomgold’!”
Gandra thought of the Money Bin and it’s location, and how it was almost impossible to not see it everyday but she decided not to bring that up.
“It would be harder to steal. I don’t think even the smartest thief could steal an entire building.”
“First, just because it hasn’t been done yet doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Secondly, if I put all my money into other buildings, how would I swim in it?”
It made sense to Scrooge but not to Gandra. She and Scrooge went over the expense reports and confirming that all the purchases were in fact made by Scrooge. She poured over the numbers, jotting them down in nice and neat rows. The money piled up and the expenses grew to titanic proportions. It was more money than Gandra ever saw. Eventually Scrooge moved the review into the famous vault. The coins and jewels glittered as Scrooge swam through them all.
“A million towards mechanical defense?”
“Aye, part of Gyro’s budget. You know, I got this coin in the Amazon? Part of a lost treasure!” he kissed the coin and dove back under.
“Sir, the expense reports?”
“In a moment.”
It took them the rest of the day to finish the reports. When Gandra returned home, Johnny was gone to his garage and her father was asleep. Exhausted, Gandra resolved that she would apologize to her father tomorrow morning. The apology never came. Once the alarm went off, Gandra got dressed and caught a ride with Launchpad.
“Thanks for picking me up!”
“No problem! I like taking a ride down memory lane!”
On her third day, things were a fair bit different. Mainly when Gandra arrived at the Money Bin, one of Gyro’s robots had gone rogue. It smashed it’s way through the bin, destroying everything in it’s way. Gandra hid in a utility closet until Scrooge brought the rampaging robots to a halt. The robot died in front of the closet that she was in and she was unable to open the door. For the next eight hours, Gandra was stuck in the tiny closet until the robot was removed.
“At least it’s not the elevator…” she said, counting her blessings.
On the fourth day, Gandra never made it to the Money Bin for when she arrived at the manor, she found it under attack from a soul sucking demon. Scrooge couldn’t be bothered to go to the Bin while his home was under attack so Gandra was put into the library, doing research on how to combat ancient Japanese demons.
The fifth day of working for Scrooge McDuck had her out to sea, where Donald was testing out his houseboat only to have it fall under attack from the Kraken in the ports along with every other ship. Scrooge, to whom most if not all the captains in the Duckburg ports paid rent to, was determined to see the foul beast captured and contained before it destroyed his customer’s business. It was Gandra’s job to document the damage for their insurance claims.
That’s what it was like working for Scrooge McDuck. It was always something. Whether it was demons wanting souls of a cranky Kraken that didn’t belong in salt water, there was always some pressing dilemma or pending disaster. It was rough working for Scrooge but along the way, Gandra learned three things:
- Expect the unexpected
- Heels were fine when standing and taking orders but not from running away from monstrous beasts.
- She could never be prepared for whatever was going happen.
Over the course of the first two weeks, Gandra rarely got any rest. She was constantly on the go, trying her best to keep up with Scrooge who seemed to have an endless source of energy. When she did get a chance to rest, she went straight to her bed and slept. It wasn’t until pay day came that Gandra felt revitalized. She screamed when she saw the amount deposited into her bank.
“What is it!?” Scrooge shouted as he came running out of his office. “Are we under attack?!”
“No! It’s my pay check!” Gandra gasped. “I…it’s wrong!”
Scrooge shook his head. “I know I did your pay right. I didn’t miss a thing.”
“I’ve never had that much money before in my life….” She murmured.
“It’s only your bi-weekly.”
Gandra calculated her salary. “Oh my gosh, I’m making 60,000 a year!” she screamed giddily. She nearly cried. “Oh my gosh…oh my gosh…”
“Are you…are you okay?” Scrooge asked.
“I’m great! I-I…I’m taking an early lunch! I’ll be right back, Mr. McDuck!”
With LP’s permission, she took his motorcycle and raced back home. At this time of day, she knew where Johnny would be: his garage. She pulled into the driveway and leapt off the bike.
“JOHNNY!” she screamed.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!” Gandra jumped into his arms and was spun around by him. “Where’s the fire?”
“In my pocket! Look at this check!” she laughed. “Have you ever seen this much money before at once?”
“Where did you get this much?”
“It’s my paycheck, baby! HA! Do you know what this means? We can move out of my dad’s apartment! We can pay our bills! No more living from paycheck to paycheck! Oh, Johnny,” she hugged him, “I’m so happy! Just think of it, in a couple of months, we could have enough for a down payment on a house! Can you see it? Us! Homeowners! I want a little place, in some nice development, far away from skid row.”
“A house?” Johnny said.
“We could buy the house later! After our wedding! We can make it official now! Isn’t this great, Johnny?”
“Great? No. No, it isn’t. What’s wrong with the life that we have now?” he asked.
“What’s wrong? Honey, three weeks ago, we had bill collectors at our door. I had to choose between keeping the lights on or paying rent! That’s what’s wrong! I don’t like being poor, baby. It’s hard.”
“What? Like it’s my fault that we don’t have money?” Johnny growled.
“I didn’t say that. I’m just saying life can be easier now.”
“Is life easier or did you just decide that you’re too good for us now? You spend two weeks uptown, rubbing elbows with the rich and the famous and suddenly this-“ he motioned to the garage and himself. “It’s not good enough for you!”
“It is good enough but-“
“But yeah,” Johnny spat. “One paycheck and you’re different.”
“I’m not different! I’m still the same Gandra! And I still want to marry you and I still want the home with the white picket fence with a backyard and a place for lil chicks of our own. Don’t you want that too?”
“I do but not with someone who thinks she’s better than me.”
Life goes to hell but Launchpad is a safety net.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Gandra was stunned senseless. She heard the words that came from Johnny’s mouth but she couldn’t believe it. She and Johnny were an item, a pair! They were as inseparable as Scrooge and his wealth.
“Johnny, baby, what are you saying?”
“What am I saying? Geez, you really are an idiot. Get it through your thick skull, you moron! You and me are no longer a thing!”
“But Johnny!” she gasped. “We…we’ve…you and me, you love me, don’t you?”
He merely shook his head at her and left. He stepped inside his garage and locked the door. Gandra spent more time than she liked, pounding on the door, saying Johnny’s name like a prayer, asking and desperately begging for answer. She couldn’t comprehend a life without him. The thought of not being with Johnny was unfathomable. She couldn’t remember a time in her life where she wasn’t with him.
And now Gandra didn’t know what to do with herself. Her life as she knew it was over.
In a daze, she returned to the Money Bin. The elation she felt an hour or so ago had grown cold in her heart. She moved through the large building. Not once did she feel fear when she was in the elevator or viewed the dizzying heights outside. She was too numb to feel anything. Even when Scrooge came storming in, proclaiming of a scheme of Glomgold’s, she didn’t flinch or fluster. She grabbed her pen and pad and went to work.
Through the rest of the day, Gandra remained in a fog. It wasn’t until the day was out, that some semblance of emotion returned to her. She was meant to return home, to where she and Johnny once shared a bed. Would he be at the apartment? It was his home as much as it was her’s. Gandra dreaded coming home. What would she say to Johnny if he was there? Where would he sleep? Would he insist on taking the bed? If so, where would she sleep?
She supposed that she could take the sofa and sleep there for the night but that was where her father liked to crash. Gandra fretted. In a one-bedroom apartment, sleeping space was scarce. Surely, her father would be sympathetic to her in her time of need. Then again, she could easily imagine the lecture she would get.
“Johnny’s a great guy!” her father would say. “How could you ruin the one decent relationship you’ve ever had?”
Gandra sniffled. Going home would be hell. She couldn’t go through with it. Home was not a safe place.
“Gandra? Hey Gandra? You okay?” a large hand touched her shoulder.
She gasped and looked up. There was Launchpad with concern plain upon his face. “You okay? You look out of it.”
“I’m…” She wanted to say that she was okay but she couldn’t bring herself to. Gandra pondered telling Launchpad what had happened. Launchpad was a safe person. He’d never said that she was stupid or spoke down to her. If she couldn’t talk to Launchpad then who could she talk to?
“Is everything okay?” he asked softly.
She shook her head. “I’m not okay…”
“Are you hurt? Cause I know first aid! Show me where it hurts and I’ll fix it.”
Gandra shook her head again. “I…I…I can’t go home,” she whimpered.
“Oh…well then you’re coming home with me!”
Gandra’s head shot up. “What?”
“You can crash at the King of Crashes home!” he laughed. “Get it? Cause I crash a lot and –“
“You’d let me stay with you?” she nearly wailed.
“Of course!” he grinned. “We’re friends, aren’t we?”
“Yeah but –“
Launchpad defiantly shook his head. “No buts about it. Give me thirty minutes and I’ll be ready to go.”
She didn’t have a chance to protest. Launchpad was gone in the blink of an eye and she was left wondering what had just happened. Did Launchpad really insist that he stay at his place? It felt surreal but it was an immense relief. She didn’t have to go home tonight.
What of tomorrow?
Her clothes were at the apartment. So was her toothbrush, her life savings, the photos of her family and mother…her entire life was still at her apartment. She had nothing but the clothes on her back. She wouldn’t be able to stay at Launchpad’s place forever and then what? What was she meant to do? She couldn’t come to work in the same clothes day in and day out. Anxiety and stress filled Gandra from head to toe.
How had her life come apart so fast?
All she wanted was the simple things in life: a partner who loved her and a home that was her own. Now, she didn’t have either. How long was it before what little stability in her life was gone as well? She liked her job. Sure, it wasn’t what she expected when she signed up to be Scrooge’s secretary but it paid well and the people were nice. She didn’t want to lose it as well.
“I’m back!” Launchpad exclaimed, making Gandra jump.
“So soon? It’s only been –“ she looked at the clock on the wall. It was nearly six. When had Launchpad said he would be going? Five something?
“I know, I took longer than 30 minutes,” he said sheepishly. “Sorry about that. I didn’t expect the place to be so messy. You ready to go?”
“Uh, sure, yeah, just let me grab my purse.”
In recent years, Gandra hadn’t spent much time with her old friends. Working at the diner and her family kept her fairly busy. Things like a social life took a nose dive. She was ashamed to admit that she didn’t know where Launchpad was living now. So, when he pulled up to the garage of McDuck Manor, Gandra was more than a little confused.
“W-What are we doing here?”
“Sorry, meant to tell you this is where I’ve been crashing.”
“You live at Mr. McDuck’s place?”
The pilot shrugged. “I’ve got a house out in the country but I share it with my roommate and his kid. They’re both great people but, eh, DW is paranoid when I bring new people around.”
“I’m sorry,” she apologized.
“Why?” Launchpad asked. “You didn’t do anything.”
“I-I, I’m the reason you can’t go home.”
“Gandra, this is my home. My house out in the country with DW and Gos is my home too and I’ve spent lots of nights at the old barn with my planes. I have lots of homes.”
“Yeah but, it’s my fault.”
“No it’s not,” Launchpad said and after a moment he added, “I don’t know what’s wrong or what you’re going through but I know it must be difficult if it’s made you sad and you feel like you can’t go home. You don’t have to tell me what’s wrong but if you ever need a place to crash or someone to pick you up at night, you can call me and I will be there.”
Gandra sniffled and the tears came. “Thank you, Launchpad.”
LP is the most supportive person ever and nothing can convince me otherwise.
Launchpad is supportive, Beakley suspects things, and Gandra's self esteem somehow gets smaller.
My deepest apologizes to anyone who was waiting for me to update. I've been busy with work and on my second novel. Thankfully, the novel is done and going into the editing process so now I should have more free time for my fanfics. I hope you all will enjoy chapter eight.
The smell of sweat, motor oil, and stale fast food brought back memories of her childhood. Gandra attributed it the bygone days of spending her summers in the dump and the garages that her mother worked for. The sight of Launchpad’s crash pad reminded her of her mother’s garage too. The stains, the beat up couch, and the engine on the coffee table made her feel cozy and homesick. She missed her mother and how she would brush her hair when she was upset.
Eight years wasn’t enough time to spend with one person. Tragically enough, she couldn’t remember much about her mother. She recalled golden hair, a soft voice, and dirty fingers and black stains. She remembered the day her mother died. How she screamed and then suddenly she was gone. It made her heart ache. If it weren’t for the photos that she kept, she wouldn’t have remembered what her mother even looked like.
Oh…her mother’s photos…they were still at the apartment. She would have to go back for them. But the idea of facing her father, seeing Johnny, it was too much to think of.
“Sorry about the mess!” Launchpad said as he hurriedly shoved some trash under the couch. “I uh, I’ll clean it up!”
“It’s okay. It’s fine. It’s really fine, LP. Thanks for letting me stay.”
“Ah, it’s no problem,” he grinned. “What are friends for?”
She smiled sadly. “I’m sorry about all of this.”
“Gandra, it’s fine. You don’t need to apologize.”
“I know, I know but I…I need to.”
Launchpad shook his head. “Not with me you don’t. We’re friends. Remember that time when we were second grade? And I busted my head open jumping Dead Man’s Gulch?”
“Yeah, you stayed with me until the paramedics came. You don’t have to keep apologizing or acting like you’re some burden. You’re my friend! And I love you.”
Gandra burst into fresh tears. Launchpad was taken aback by the sudden outburst but when she ran and cried into him, he didn’t flinch or push her away. He stayed exactly where he stood and hugged her until she had cried all she could.
“Johnny broke up with me,” she wailed.
“He did WHAT?!”
“I know,” Gandra sobbed. “I’ve ruined my relationship with him. I can’t believe I lost him! It’s all my fault! It’s all my fault!”
“Why would Johnny do something so stupid like break up with you? He did hit his head?”
“What?” she sniffled.
“Did he come down with a case of stupid?” Launchpad asked seriously.
“I don’t…I…I’m not enough,” Gandra cried.
He held onto her as long as she needed. “You are enough,” he repeated. “You are enough.”
And that’s how they spent the night, on the floor of the garage with Gandra crying until she fell asleep.
When morning came, Gandra woke up on an old mattress with a blanket draped over her. Nauseas came over her and her head was pounding. She held the blanket over her and buried her face into the pillow. What had happened yesterday?
With painful clarity, she recalled that Johnny dumped her.
Gandra wailed into her pillow until her body couldn’t handle it anymore. Her cry-fest was stopped by the arrival of Launchpad.
“Hey…” he whispered softly. “How you feeling?”
Gandra shook her head. “I feel sick.”
He sat down on the mattress with her. “Yeah, you were kind of a mess last night.”
She grimaced. “I’m sorry that you had to see that. I’m not like that, I swear.”
“Gandra, it’s okay. You’re allowed to feel sad.”
“This feels worse than sadness.”
“Trust me, I’ve been through some pretty bad break-ups, you’re gonna feel that way for a while.”
She whined. “I don’t wanna feel this way. I wanna feel good about myself…I want to be with Johnny.”
Launchpad rubbed the back of his neck. “This is my advice and feel free to ignore it but maybe, you should spend sometime to yourself. Take today off. I’ll talk to Mr. McDuck.”
“Take the day off?” Gandra shook her head and immediately regretted it. “But what would I do with myself?”
“I don’t know,” Launchpad answered thoughtfully. “But you’re smart. You’ll think of something.”
Deep down, she knew that she wasn’t in any condition to go to work. She couldn’t think, she felt awful, and the lack of clean clothes and her overall appearance would have people talking. Launchpad gave her a hug.
“You’re going to be fine. I’ve got my cell phone on me if you need anything.”
“I’m sorry about all of this.”
He didn’t scold her for apologizing. He stayed with her until it was time to go. Somehow, she felt worse when he was gone. She hated to be alone. The dominating silence, the horror of being alone with her thoughts…All Gandra could think about was how she had lost the only man in her life who ever loved her.
“What am I going to do?”
Johnny was her life. She had loved him since she old enough to doodle J&G in her diary. She dreamed about being with him, marrying him, and spending the rest of her life with Johnny. Now that he was gone, what was she going to do with her life? Who would want her now?
Gandra wallowed in a whirlpool of sorrow, fear, and anxiety until it slowly started to drive her crazy. She didn’t feel good emotionally or physically. While there wasn’t much she could do about her emotional state, she knew that washing her face would bring some relief.
Weakly, Gandra wandered out of the garage and into the main house. She looked for the bathroom but just like the first time she came to McDuck Manor, she was lost. Gandra walked close to an hour looking for the bathroom but instead of finding the facilities, she found Mrs. Beakley vacuuming.
“What are you doing here?”
“I was…um, I can explain…I-“
Mrs. Beakley hadn’t survived in life by not being perceptive. She took note of Gandra’s exhausted state, her puffy red eyes, and her shaky self.
“Bad break-up?” she guessed.
Gandra started to whimper. She tried not to cry. Mrs. Beakley was an intimidating woman and she didn’t want to cry in front of her. But it didn’t matter what Gandra wanted. She cried nonetheless. Her sobs wracked her body and echoed through the halls of the manor. Mrs. Beakley put down the broom and patted Gandra on the back. Tears weren’t something that Beakley dealt with on a daily basis but she knew distress when she saw it.
“There, there…chin up, eh? How about I make you a cup of tea?”
In the kitchen, Gandra sat with a cup of lemon tea between her hands and an ice pack on her head. She sighed and sniffled. Mrs. Beakley sat down next to her and gave her a knowing look. Gandra felt small and worthless.
“I…” she started to speak but shook her head. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled.
“For what?” Mrs. Beakley asked.
Gandra listlessly shrugged. “Everything…”
“That’s a lot to apologize for.”
“I keep messing up. I can’t do anything right.”
“Is that you talking or your headache?”
“It’s both,” she whimpered. “I can’t do anything right. I lost my job, I lost my boyfriend, how much longer until Mr. McDuck fires me?
Beakley snorted and laughed. “Scrooge does not suffer fools lightly. Your job is safe.”
“But for how long?” Gandra fretted. “Johnny and dad were right! I’m not, I’m not cut out for this! I…I…” She started to cry again.
“If you keep your tears up, you’ll make yourself sick.”
“I’m already sick.”
“Sicker,” Beakley corrected. “Do you have a safe place to stay?”
“I…” Gandra tried to think. Launchpad had offered his place to her. Still, all of her things were at her apartment. Her entire life was at her apartment. “My home. I have an apartment in Saint Canard with my father and my…” Johnny wasn’t her boyfriend anymore. He was her ex and that thought killed her. “Just my father…”
“I see,” Beakley nodded. “If you need something, clothes, the essentials, or transportation, I can –“
“No! No, you’ve done enough for me, really. Thank you. I should, um, I should be getting back to my home. My father will worry and I need to take my things and I haven’t been back home in forever….”
Gandra rambled like this for some time until Mrs. Beakley gently raised her hands and said, “If you must return home, at least let me drive you there.”
She meekly nodded and replied, “Okay…”
The drive back to her apartment was awkward. Mrs. Beakley didn’t say a word to her for which Gandra was thankful of but at the same time, she felt as though the older woman was judging her.
“I’m not,” said Mrs. Beakley suddenly.
Gandra sank into the seat car. “I didn’t mean –“
“It’s quite alright. I know exactly what you meant. I do not judge a person for tears or having bad days. Everyone has a bad day or week or even a life.”
But as they entered into the same downtrodden neighborhood that gave Beakley pause, she found herself again asking, “Are you sure that this is a safe place?”
She nodded. “I’ve lived here since I was sixteen. It’s plenty safe.”
“A bit odd to stay in the same place for so long.”
“I, um, I can’t really afford to move anywhere else. I mean, I can now but…I don’t know…this place holds a lot of memories for me.”
They went up to her apartment but Gandra froze before the door. This was her home. She wasn’t lying when she said that it held a lot of memories for her. It was here that her few measly paychecks earned a roof over her and her family’s head, that she earned her acceptance letter to St. Anatidae University, where Johnny had proposed to go steady when they could afford it.
The minute Johnny entered her thoughts, Gandra was nearly brought to tears again. She stopped herself successfully this time. Crying in front of Mrs. Beakley was hard enough. She wouldn’t do it a second time. Searching for her keys in her purse, Gandra tried to muster up what little courage she had.
It would turn out that she wouldn’t need her keys. After a few seconds of looking for them, her father swung the door wide open and cried, “GANDRA! MY LITTLE GIRL!”
He brought her into a back breaking hug. Gandra couldn’t breathe for a moment. When he released her, he held onto her tight as though she was a glass doll ready to break.
“Where have you been!? No call! No text! No nothing! I don’t hear a word from you and you come home looking disgusting! What happened?”
Gandra made a genuine effort to speak but the words died. “I’m sorry.”
“Tell me where you were!”
“She was with me,” answered Mrs. Beakley.
“And who are you?” he snapped.
Mrs. Beakley was not a woman whom you could snap at. She towered over Mr. Dee and said in the same tone of voice that had dealt with terrorists, assassins, and when she was scolding Scrooge, “I am Mrs. Beakley. Scrooge McDuck’s housekeeper.”
It had the desired effect. Mr. Dee seemed to shrink under Beakley’s presence. It didn’t last long though. “And why was she with you?”
It wasn’t her place nor her practice to spread other people’s business. Beakley kept her information close to her chest. “Your daughter was not feeling well. She stayed the night at McDuck Manor.”
“SHE DID WHAT?” he roared. “She’s got a boyfriend and that McDuck thinks he can have her over when he wants her! Gandra! Did he do anything to you?”
“Mr. McDuck had other business to attend to,” growled Mrs. Beakley, barely restraining her rage. “He didn’t come home until early this morning. He and Gandra didn’t speak to each other.”
“Of course, he did,” Mr. Dee nodded, not believing Mrs. Beakley at all. “Well, thank you for brining my little girl home,” he started to push Gandra inside, “Have a good day, Mrs. Beakley.”
And then he slammed the door in her face without another word.
Once inside, the interrogation began. Her father sat her down on the couch and commanded, “Spill it. I want to know everything.”
“Nothing happened,” Gandra wearily explained.
“A likely story! I know what McDuck’s kind of men are like! They think they can have anything or anyone in the world because they’ve got the money to pay for it all. Now, what did he do?”
“DAD!” Gandra shouted. “Mr. McDuck isn’t like that! I didn’t spend the night with him. He didn’t even know that I was in his house.”
“Then who did you spend the night with?” he demanded to know.
“Launchpad? That idiot is still alive?”
“Yes he is still alive. I wish you wouldn’t talk about him that way.”
“Launchpad or McDuck?”
“Both! They’ve been nothing but kind to me.”
Her father scoffed. “Sure, yeah, that’s how it starts. They treat you nice, compliment you, tell you that you’re the light of their life, and then they start to want more and more until you’ve given them everything that you’ve got. I’m telling you this as your father and as a guy. Men have got one thing on their mind and it’s se-“
“I really don’t want to hear this.” Gandra squirmed.
“You’re gonna hear it, young lady! You don’t know the first thing about relationships. Guys are out there just waiting to take advantage of you! Why, if you didn’t have Johnny, you’d get picked up by some guy and then who knows what would happen to you?”
“Actually, dad…I um,” Gandra winced. “I don’t…I…Johnny and I aren’t together anymore.”
“When did that happen?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Her father was flabbergasted. “How could you screw up the ONE relationship you had?!”
“Dad, please,” she all but begged. “I really don’t want to talk about it.”
“Geez…I can’t believe you. How did you ruin things with Johnny?”
“I don’t know,” she mumbled. “But I did.”
Mrs. Bentina Beakley was not happy.
And when she wasn’t happy, it was a problem. She saw the way Gandra cried and shook. Break-ups were bad but how Gandra reacted, the pure despair that she radiated, Mrs. Beakley knew that the young woman was taking it much worse than the average person.
Not to mention the way her father acted…
It was common for the next generation to stay at home but the way that he grilled her made Mrs. Beakley worry. But families were complicated. She knew that better than anyone. After all, Scrooge didn’t talk to Donald and the boys didn’t even know that they were related to Scrooge until a few months ago. Perhaps Mr. Dee was simply overprotective of his little girl. As far as Mrs. Beakley could find, Gandra was an only child and the Dee family had its share of misfortune.
Tragedy seemed to follow Gandra wherever she went.
When she was eight, her mother died. When she was ten, she bounced around from homeless shelters with her father. Then there was that plane crash as well…
All in all, Gandra Dee did not have a pleasant life.
Still, an unpleasant upbringing and crying at the drop of a hat was no way to live. What Gandra needed, in Mrs. Beakley’s humble opinion, was a change of pace. Her old life was stifling. Young ladies needed to know how to walk, talk, snap a man’s neck, and how to stand up for themselves. Those were just facts of life. Now, one look at Gandra and it was obvious that she knew none of those essential skills.
She thought carefully on how to pursue this idea of her’s. Mrs. Beakley doubted that Gandra would willingly come to her for life advice. Maybe if she was desperate…oh but a girl like Gandra, after what she had gone through…getting to that level of desperation would be a long time. People like her, it was like putting them in slowly boiling water. They didn’t know how bad it was until it was too late.
What to do? What to do?
Gandra needed help and she needed a spine. Doing both was a hard task and unfortunately it all came down to Gandra accepting it. Mrs. Beakley knew people like Gandra and they almost never accepted help. Better the devil they knew than the devil they didn’t know.
Well, she might not be able to help much once the day was over but Mrs. Beakley could interfere during work hours. All she needed was help from Scrooge. When she found the multi-billionaire, he was in his own little world, counting his coins.
“Scrooge, we need to talk?”
“About family, enemies, or dinner?” Scrooge replied, not really paying attention.
He looked up from his mountain of gold coins and moaned, “I’ve already stopped working 16 hour days, Beakley! What more do you want me to do?”
“It’s not about how much you’re working, Scrooge. I want Ms. Dee out of the office.”
“What!” Scrooge squawked. “I brought her on a month ago and you want me to fire her? You’re always going on how I need a secretary and she’s-“
“I misspoke. How is Gandra at work?”
He shrugged. “Quiet. Nary says a word unless spoken to. Excellent typist. She’s quick on her feet and…
“Does she speak about her private life?”
“We don’t exactly share, Beakley. She gets in the car, she tells me what’s on my calendar, I ignore it, and I do what I want.”
“Does she stay in the office? Does she ever go on break?”
Scrooge mumbled and pretended to focus on the coin he had in his hand. “Well, the thing is…um, maybe?”
“It’s not healthy for her to spend every hour in the office. I want her to get out and meet some new people.”
Scrooge raised an eyebrow at his ever loyal, ever vigilant Mrs. Beakley. “Is there something that I should know, Bentina?”
“She needs friends. She’s…sad.”
“And she told you this?” he asked.
“No. Not in so many words…”
That was enough for Scrooge. “Alright, I’ll send her out tomorrow.”
The next day, around noon, Gandra didn’t understand why Scrooge made such a fuss at having her out of the office.
“Go!” he said shooing her. “Go have lunch out of the office!”
“But Mr. McDuck, why?” She skidded to a halt as he pushed her out.
“Because I’ve got a splitting headache! And I want peace and quiet and I can’t have that with how loud you type.”
“I can type quietly,” she reverently pleaded. “I really can.”
He shook his head. “Nope! Out of the office!” Scrooge gave her one final push and she was out the door. It slammed behind her. Gandra stood outside of the famed doors of Scrooge. She almost started to cry. Was she really typing so loud that she caused Scrooge to have headaches? Gandra fretted and she whimpered. It would be just her luck that she caused headaches. It wouldn’t be long until he fired her for being a nuisance.
What would she do for a job then?
Who else would hire her? After that fiasco with Glomgold, getting a job from Scrooge was pure luck. Gandra dreaded the idea of losing another job, especially when this one paid so well. She would never find another job like this in a million years. It would be back to the diners for certain.
As she stepped into the elevator, Gandra barely felt a prick of fear. The idea of once more being out of a job stifled any fear she may have felt going down. When the elevator opened on the cafeteria floor, Gandra worried about her financial future. If Scrooge let her go, would he blacklist her like Glomgold? She didn’t think so but Scrooge was such a strange person.
He got a minimum of twenty death threats in the mail.
He swam his gold and jewels instead of flaunting them like Glomgold.
He spent a fortune on magical defenses.
Maybe he wouldn’t blacklist her but she couldn’t count on him giving her a recommendation. Anyone who was fired by Scrooge McDuck didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell in having a glowing recommendation.
Inside the cafeteria, studying the latest blueprints to the Gizmoduck suit, were Fenton and Gyro.
“If you’re going to wear the suit, you need to have better control over what you do, think, and say. The suit is still highly unstable. One wrong phrase or motion could anhilate an entire city.”
“Can I just say that I’m really sorry about the whole finger gun lasers?” said Fenton sheepishly. “I had no idea that they would be so strong.”
“Which is why you need to start slow. You may be Duckburg’s hero but if you screw up, a lot of people could get hurt or die.”
“I completely understand!” he saluted. “I won’t let you down! Nothing will distract me from –“
At that moment, across the crowded room, Fenton saw Gandra. He forget everything he was saying and could only stare and gasp and think of how wonderful life was at that moment.
“Fenton? Fenton! Intern!” Gyro snapped his fingers in front of Fenton’s face. The love struck intern gasped and sat down at the table. He covered his face and said to Gyro, “Don’t look! She’s here!”
“Who?” aske Gyro who turned around to look.
“I said don’t turn around! Oh dios mio, di-did she see me?”
“She’s picking out her lunch. I think you’re fine. Now will you focus!? If you don’t learn the suit inside and out, we could all die!”
“Wait! Is she looking at me?” Fenton gasped, completely distracted. “No, wait, I think she’s looking for a place to sit. She is! Hey! Gandra!” he waved her down. “Hey! Over here!”
Fenton’s enthusiasm caused people to stop and stare at the seldom seen assistant of Scrooge McDuck. She quickly walked over to the table. “What are you guys doing here?”
“We’re here because a certain somebody flooded the lab again,” Gyro growled.
“It was an honest mistake,” Fenton answered “I’m still getting an handle on the finger gun lasers.”
“Finger gun lasers?” Gandra asked.
“Buh-bah-buh- BAH! Zip it, Crackshell. That’s top secret information.”
“Ignore him!” Gyro commanded. “He’s an idiot.”
“You guys are busy. Um, I’m gonna go find a place to sit.”
“You can sit with us!” Fenton offered. He shoved his blueprints and schematics to the floor and made room for her at the table.
“Thanks.” She put down her tray and saw that neither Gyro nor Fenton had trays. “Are you guys eating or…?”
“I brought my lunch,” answered Fenton, holding up his lunchbox with pride. “I wonder what mama packed today!”
“Your mother still packs your lunch?” asked Gandra.
“I still live at home. It’s just me and mama and since I took this job we don’t get to spend a lot of time together. So, she packs my lunch and I make her dinner.”
“That’s sweet of you.” Fenton was giddy at being called sweet. “I live at home with my dad. We don’t…um, we talk after work.”
They both looked expectantly at Gyro. The brilliant sighed and said, “I don’t live with my parents. I live with Little Bulb.”
He held his tiny assistant up for all to see. Gandra gushed at Little Bulb.
“He’s so cute! Aww…Can I hold him?”
“You may not,” answered Gyro. “Little Bulb is not a toy nor a pet. Besides, it’s lunch time and he has to charge.” He took Little Bulb and plugged him into the wall but not before he tied a tiny bib around his invention’s neck. “So, Gandra, I don’t see you eat in the cafeteria. What brought you here?”
“Oh! Um, Mr. McDuck insisted. I don’t usually leave the office but this time…he pretty much kicked me out.”
“That’s great!” grinned Fenton. “No-Not that he kicked you out or anything but now you can eat lunch with us! We’re lots of fun.”
For two people who claimed to be fun, there certainly seemed to be a wide berth around their table. “Does anyone else sit with you?”
Fenton nervously laughed. “W-We’ve got kind of a not so good reputation.”
“Of unrecognized brilliant genius!” claimed Gyro. “Seriously, you put tin foil in the microwave three times and everyone looks at you like you’re going to explode.”
Fenton’s nervous laughter reached fever pitch. “It was actually six times, Gyro.”
“Whatever. It was for science!”
“What kind of science includes blowing up the microwave?”
“I was testing out which of my personally created foil could survive being put in the microwave.”
It was Fenton’s turn to sigh. “He always forgets to take off the foil when he heats up his food. We have the fire department on speed dial.”
“Like it’s my fault the world hasn’t invented microwave safe foil yet?”
Gandra pushed her lukewarm macaroni around on her tray. “I’m sure you’ll get it any day now.”
Gyro scoffed. “I’ve already done it but it causes power outages.”
“Oh, well um, maybe you could um…what kind of system are you using? Is it residential or made for more commercial properties? You could be overpowering the system. You might have to move onto a super cap if it’s causing outages.”
“You studied energy storage?” Fenton asked.
“Oh no, I’ve picked up a book or two but I’ve never really…studied it. Um, I would be careful if I were you. Messing with electricity is dangerous. Everyone knows what happened to Sputterspark.”
Gyro became grim at the mention of Elmo Sputterspark. “That was a tragedy but it was done in an insecure space and on highly experimental tech. We have safeguards in place to ensure that if anything does go wrong, it’s done in a contained space.”
“Don’t worry, Gandra,” Fenton tried to comfort her. “We know what we’re doing.”
“If you say so,” she murmured.
“I do! You know what? You should come down to the lab! It would be great! You could see everything that Gyro and I are doing and –“
“NO!” Gyro shouted. “Heh, sorry, but after some security slip ups we have to be extra careful on who we let in.”
“I understand. I’d probably get in the way.”
Love vs. Money
When Gandra was nine, she found her mother’s stash of romances novels. The pages were worn and yellowed with age, the ink was faded, and parts of the cover were gone but those novels meant the world to her mother. Inside the margins, she had written what she thought of the love interests and the romance.
Charles is sooo handsome! He makes me swoon!
How romantic! A rescue romance!
Nicholas is dashing and brooding. He’s the right mix of mystery and a complete softy!
I wish I was a princess and my prince would take me away.
The plots varied but the overall structure was clear: girl is living a miserable life, a tall, dark, and handsome man rescues her from her woes, she rescues him from the demons that haunt his life, and together they lived happily ever after.
Growing up, Gandra waited and waited for that man and she found him in Johnny. Sure, he didn’t have the suave or romantic style like the men in her mother’s books, and maybe he was a little rough around the corners but when she was crying, he would make it all better.
He loved her for who she was.
She loved him because he loved her.
It was truly an amazing thing to have someone by her side who looked beyond all her faults and would say without fail each and every morning, “I love you.”
As far as Gandra was concerned, those three little words were the most powerful words in the world.
I love you!
I love you!
I love you!
But now, all the I love you’s were gone. Johnny was gone. He didn’t want her anymore. So when she came hom from work that day and found him back in her apartment, her heart soared with the possibility that he was back. But it wasn’t to be. He was packing up his things. When he saw her, Johnny said, “Didn’t think you would be home so early.”
“Mr. McDuck had an appointment with his research and development team. I’m not allowed in the lab.”
Johnny scoffed, “Probably cause you’re not smart enough.”
“No, actually, it’s a security issue. I don’t have clearance…yet.”
Gandra crossed the living room into the kitchen. She watched him grab his things in a haphazard manner and shove them all in brown boxes.
“If you need any help,” Gandra started to offer.
“What? You think that I don’t know how to pack a box? You think that I’m stupid or something?”
“No, Johnny of course I don’t.”
“Yeah, right. I can see it in your eyes, Miss Uptown Girl. You really have changed workin’ for McDuck. Everyday people like me are too stupid to be in your presence, right? We can’t do anything without the high and mighty descending from on high to give us poor idiots a helping hand, huh?”
“I don’t want to get into it with you. Let’s not fight.”
“Who’s fightin’? I’m stating facts. You think you’re too good for me.”
“No, I don’t!” she pleaded. “Johnny, I love you. I love you more than anything in the world!” she ran to him and held onto him as though he was the only thing keeping her alive. “Please, please, please, don’t leave me.”
Johnny ran his fingers through her long golden hair and hushed her sobs. “It’s okay, it’s okay, I’m here.”
“Please don’t leave me, Johnny. I love you,” she sniffled.
“You really love me?”
“Yes!” Gandra cried. “With all my heart!”
“Then prove it. If you love me as much as you say you do, quit your job.”
The demand hit Gandra like a classic Launchpad crash. “Johnny, I…I can’t! I need the money. I really need it. I don’t want to be poor anymore.”
“What’s more important? Love or money?”
“I…I don’t know,” she whined. “Can’t we have both?”
“It’s me or nothing. How badly do you want me?”
“More than the world…” she murmured. “More than anything.”
“Then pick me. Look, because I’m such a nice guy, I’ll let you sleep on it. If you want me you’ll pick me. Because I love you and you want to be loved, right?”
She whimpered and nodded, tears streaming down her face. Johnny grinned and kissed her on her forehead.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Gandra.”
That night, Gandra didn’t sleep at all. She was so close to getting Johnny back that the anticipation was killing her! He was the love of her life. He loved her. She loved him. They were a match made in heaven. Yet, there she was, unable to come to a decision. She loved Johnny more than anything. So, why was it so hard to say yes? It should have been easy – a complete no-brainer – but she couldn’t do it. Something was holding her back.
It was her job.
It was the money.
It was the safety in knowing she would never have another overdue bill in the mail, an overdraft fee, a pissed off landlord at her door, wondering how she was going to get through the week without incurring more debt….
Money was wonderful. Oh it was so wonderful. She understood why Scrooge was so obsessed with his money. If she could do it, she would swim in it too.
Going into work that morning was one of the hardest things Gandra ever had to do. She couldn’t concentrate on a single thing except for the matter at hand. Through the morning rush, her mind drifted from Scrooge’s reports to the idea that she would have to give up everything for Johnny. It was love. Wasn’t it worth it? Of course it was! But she couldn’t find it in herself to call him and say, “I pick you over the money.” When noon came, Gandra practically bolted from her desk. She needed a break.
“Gandra? Where are you going?” Scrooge asked, startled by how fast she moved.
“I’m going to have lunch with Gyro and Fenton. Is that okay?”
“Oh, you are? Why that’s great lass! I’ll see you in an hour.”
As soon as she was gone, Scrooge called Beakley. The report was short and sweet.
“Yes, she left of her own accord. I didn’t have to fake a headache or anything. No, no, I’m sure that this is a good thing. Beakley, I don’t think she’s dependent on them and – I thought you wanted her to make new friends? Alright, alright, Gyro is a little unorthodox and Fenton is excitable but they’re both good people. She’ll fit in fine. If not, I’ll intervene. I promise.”
The cafeteria was crowded and noisy but alone on their table was Fenton and Gyro and Gandra ran to them.
“Gandra!” Fenton smiled. “You’re back an- Is everything okay? You look sad.” He frowned. “Are you okay?
“It’s just this…um, can I ask you guys a question? What’s more important, love or money?”
“Money, duh,” answered Gyro on the spot. “Money allows funding. Love is a series of chemical reactions going off in your brain which can be replicated in the lab providing we have more funding.”
“Don’t listen to Gyro. Love is more important,” Fenton insisted.
“You think so?”
“Yeah! Love can endure but money might not always be around.”
“Which would make it important to have money!” added Gyro.
“You can earn money later!” Fenton argued.
“So can love! There’s not a shelf life on love!”
They argued for the rest of lunch. Gandra was unsure of what to think. They both had good points but hadn’t decided what was more important. When Gandra returned from her lunch break, still confused as ever, she decided that the best person to ask on this delicate matter was the man who had everything: Scrooge McDuck. He did have three cubic acres of wealth and an adoring family. If anyone would know the answer, it would be him.
“Mr. McDuck? May I ask you a personal questions?”
“If you must,” he answered, reviewing the day’s reports.
“What’s more important? Love or money?
Scrooge groaned. “Ending the day with questions like this?”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to-“
“No, it’s a good question but a hard one,” he mused. “Money versus love…it’s an old question.”
“Which do you think matters more?” Gandra pressed.
“Hmm, I can’t really say. It’s comparing apples to oranges. Money, wealth, financial stability, whatever you want to call it is important. Without money, you can’t feed yourself, get clothes, house your family, get the kids to the doctor when they’re sick but without love, life is a very cold and lonely place. I’ve gone through life without money and love at different times and I do not recommend giving one up for the other.”
“But if you had to?”
“You can’t put a price on love or the kind of peace you get going to sleep knowing you’re financially stable and don’t have to worry about bills.”
“So it comes down to which one stresses me out more?” she asked.
“Love doesn’t pay the bills and money can’t buy you love,” Scrooge surmised. “But what kind of callous person would give up love for something as materialistic as cold hard cash?”
“The answer is the woman who’s ever managed to successfully stab me in the back.”
“It’s how we show affection. The challenge, the backstabbing, the near death experiences. If we’re not do the tango over boiling liquid gold, then where’s the romance?”
Gandra shivered. “That’s intense…isn’t it?”
“Well how do you show love to your significant other?”
“Hm, Johnny and me, we…well we um…uh…”
Scrooge frowned. “Surely, you must do something together? Cook dinner? Go for walks? Tell each other horrible jokes?”
What did she do with Johnny? Before she took on this job, the hours at the diner kept her so busy that she didn’t have time for other things. She had money to earn. But even before the job, when they were young, they hadn’t really done anything either. He allowed her to accompany him where he went. She didn’t have many friends and so when he welcomed her with open arms and let her join his circle of friends, it meant the world to her.
He accepted her without question.
He said that he loved her.
He must have loved her. Otherwise, why would he ask her to prove her love? People didn’t ask for that for no reason…right?
“How does he show you love?”
“We don’t really do anything together. We’re just together.”
Scrooge thought about what she said and nodded, “I see.”
“He’s a great guy!” Gandra defended. “He makes me happy.”
“If he makes you happy then there’s not much of a point in discussing money, is there?”
Scrooge had a point but it wasn’t what she wanted to hear. The rest of the day passed without much trouble. Scrooge was swimming through his cash and Gandra was correcting timesheets. She wasn’t any closer to coming up with a decision. Her mind raged between everything everyone had told her and her own heart’s feelings towards the matter. It was a welcomed relief when a ten before five, Fenton showed up at her office.
“Gandra! Hey Gandra!” he beamed
“Hi Fenton. Here to see Mr. McDuck?”
“Nope!” he grinned. “I’m here to see you. So, remember yesterday how you were talking about needing a super cap for his microwave foil invention?”
“Okay, so Gyro and I didn’t have one that could handle the power – we had to jerry-rig one, it’s not perfect but it works – and anyways! IT WORKED! It actually worked!” He held out a small bowl of popcorn to her. “Look!” The popcorn was slightly burnt but it smelled decent enough. “I’ve brought you the spoils of a successful project.”
“Thanks.” She helped herself to some slightly burnt popcorn.
“We’ve also put you on the patent.”
“Patent for what?” she asked.
“The GGF – 1 super capacitor.”
“It’s you, Gyro, and me! It was your idea! It’s only fair that you get credit for it. Actually, if you could swing by the lab tomorrow, I’d love to get your opinion on some other projects we’ve got. A fresh set of eyes can make difference.”
“You…want me…in the lab?”
“Yeah, you’re smart. It’ll be fun!”
“Fenton, I haven’t been in a lab since high school. I…I’ll make mistakes.”
“Gyro kept blowing up microwaves, built a robot that turned “evil” more times than I can remember, and I’ve flooded the lab twice, shot off a rocket once at a helicopter on accident, and that’s just what’s happened these last couple of weeks. You’re not gonna out mistake us! We’re professionals! And we….what’s wrong? You have that look on your face again.”
“Yeah, it’s a sad look. What’ wrong?”
“I…um…so my boyfriend and I are going through a rough patch right now. We’ve been together forever but we can’t seem to get past this issue.”
“Oh! I…I’m sorry.”
“Thank you,” she smiled. “And I can’t figure out if money is more important than love. I…” she sighed in frustration. “They’re both important. Do you still think that love is more important than money?”
“Yes,” answered Fenton without a second thought although it pained him. “Love is a many splendored thing, love lifts us up, and all you need is love! I’ve got more if you want.”
“I think I’m good,” Gandra lightly laughed. “Thank you.”
“I’m glad that I could help. Love is worth it. It’s always worth it, Gandra. And I hope things get better with you and Johnny.”
Gandra loses her cool.
When she returned home that evening, Gandra was on pins and needles. She had to give Johnny an answer to the most important question of her life: what was worth more to her? Money or his love? She had asked everyone whom she could ask. Each person had excellent points, they gave great advice but none had to go and face Johnny and tell him.
She didn’t know what she was going to say.
How could she ever survive without his love? She didn’t know if it was possible. It certainly didn’t seem possible. Oh, if he left her, she would fall apart. She went through it once and it felt like death. She couldn’t lose him, she just couldn’t.
But the money…oh the money was nice. It was amazing. And despite it all, she couldn’t see herself giving it up. Being broke was awful. Having financial stability was wonderful. She hated that she couldn’t have both. Why couldn’t she have love and money?
Gandra thought of Scrooge.
Practically everyone in the world knew how he made his fortune from nothing. It cost him greatly in the form of his family’s love but he got them back. There was no telling that she would ever get Johnny back if she said no. Maybe Johnny would understand…he would get it. He was a smart guy. He just had to understand.
Climbing the stairs to her humble apartment, Gandra thought she knew what she was going to say. She had it all planned in her mind. She would be cool and to the point. With her speech, Johnny would understand everything and they would live happily ever after. But once she opened the door and saw him on the couch, smoking on her father’s cigars, staring blankly at the television set, her mind blanked on her.
“About time you got home,” he grunted, getting up.
“How was your day?” she asked.
“Slow. How was yours?”
“It was…um…I made it on a patent.”
“A patent. I made something important. Something that will benefit people.”
He snorted and laughed. “You?”
“It’s true! I did! I helped create a super cap and-“
“It’s for energy storage. Gyro’s experiment kept frying everything and,” she shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. Johnny, I did something good. I helped people. Aren’t you proud of that?”
“What did you really do? Take notes? Get the real scientists coffee? Oh, come on Gandra! You barely graduated high school. Do you really expect me to believe that you make a damn thing like a super computer?”
“It’s a super capacitor and yes, I do! Johnny, please, I need to know that you’re proud of me and that you know that I can do this. I made it onto a patent! That will provide money for us and our future. Don’t you love that?”
“What? That you think you’re good for me? I’m supposed to love that?”
“No, I’m not like that!” she protested. “Johnny, I know that this is hard but I need money. I want to have money and I want you. Baby, I love you. I love you so much and I want to be able to have the life that we always dreamed of. I want to marry you, I want to have kids and have a house with a white picket fence and…” Gandra wiped away her tears. “And I love you so damn much that it hurts. When I see you, I know happiness and to lose you…I….I know that it would kill me. Please, baby, I’m begging you let me have both.”
Johnny’s eyes became misty and Gandra thought that she finally got through to him but it was all fake.
“No,” he said feigning tears. “I thought you loved me. You wouldn’t do this if you loved me.”
“No, I do! I love you! I love you, Johnny!”
“Then quit your job and stay with me. It’s not that hard of a choice, Gandra! ? I’m offering you my love! LOVE! And it’s not enough for you? Man, how stupid do you have to be?”
Stupid. She was always stupid. Johnny told her that she was stupid. Her father told her that she was stupid. She was told that she was so stupid for so long and so often that Gandra believed it without a doubt. But her name was going on a patent…and by that logic, she couldn’t be stupid. Hell, she helped create a super capacitor. Stupid people couldn’t do something like that.
The more Gandra thought of it, the more things started to make less sense. Scrooge McDuck wouldn’t hire stupid people. Maybe bizarre and eccentric but never stupid. Scrooge didn’t think that she was stupid, Launchpad never said a harsh word to her either, and Fenton wanted her opinion! He wanted her in the lab! Stupid people weren’t allowed inside labs!
And so, Gandra came to one startling conclusion: that she wasn’t stupid.
“I’m….I’m not stupid…” she said, barely above a whisper.
“I’m sorry,” Johnny snapped, towering over her. “Did you say something?” he pushed her. “DID YOU SAY SOMETHING!”
She hated when he lorded over her. She hated when he pushed her or shouted. She hated feeling small and worthless and scared. Suddenly, fear gave way to something new: anger.
“…get…out…” she muttered.
“I said, Get Out! GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!” she picked up a lamp and threw it with near perfect precision at Johnny. It missed but it put the fear in him. “GET OUT! She screamed. “GET OUT!”
“ARE YOU CRAZY?! YOU COULD HAVE KILLED ME!”
“GET THE FUCK OUT!” She went for the television and swore that this time she wouldn’t miss. Johnny, however, was smart and heeded Gandra’s warning before she could toss it. He was out of the apartment before the television set hit the ground.
Anger coursing through her veins like burning lava, Gandra continued to destroy. She grabbed anything that reminded her of Johnny and she burned it on the stove. The photos, the love cards, anything and everything that carried Johnny’s memory went up in smoke.
Never before did it feel so good to watch everything turn to ash.
There was a chill in the air when Gandra arrived for work the next morning. The Money Bin Workers knew who she was on sight and had gathered the opinion that she was a gentle if not anxious individual. But when most heard her heels clicking down the halls and went to greet her, the timid woman was gone and in her place was an ice queen. She did not smile, greet, or display any semblance of warmth. It was as though she was carved from ice and born without a heart.
Even Scrooge who had suffered through the Klondike’s bitter winters thought that Gandra’s overall demeanor was brutal. She never said a cross word to anyone or performed the slightest action that she was upset but no one dared to approach her. For most of the day, Gandra was given a wide berth. Word traveled to avoid her and eventually, it reached the ears of Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera.
“Haven’t you seen her?” spoke a worker with a shiver, “She’s so….you know.”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen her all day. I’ve been stuck in the lab. What’s wrong?”
“No one’s asked. She’s got this nasty vibe going on. A real “speak to me and I will stab you” vibe.”
“Gandra’s not like that. She’s nice!”
When he defended her, they shook their heads and laughed. “You’re just saying that because you think she’s pretty.”
Fenton blushed. “Has anyone asked WHY she’s upset?”
“And risk getting stabbed by her? No thanks.”
Everyone else was content to let Gandra simmer in her rage but Fenton scowled and strode to see her. When he was upset he hated to be alone. He couldn’t imagine that someone as nice as Gandra would isolate herself. He took the first elevator up to her office. As he arrived, he could feel it. The nearly suffocating aura of anger that surrounded her. Ah but what was anger when his friend was obviously upset? Without a second thought, he went inside. Gandra was furiously typing away unaware that anyone had invaded the office.
“Heeeeeey,” he whispered.
Her head shot up at the idiot who dared to disturb her. When she saw that it was Fenton her gaze softened ever so slightly.
“What do you want?” she curtly asked.
Fenton had a brilliant speech mentally prepared. He would be charming and wipe that scowl off her face but anger in her eyes made him nervous. He forgot everything he was going to say and instead word vomited the following: “You looked sad and I thought I would ask if you wanted to spend some time in the lab but if you don’t that’s okay. I just thought that maybe you would like some company but if you don’t I can…I don’t know you just looked really sad and everyone’s been giving you these looks like you’re about to explode and do you want to come down to the lab?”
Her lower lip quivered but she remained resolute. “You still want me in the lab?”
“If you still want to…I mean no pressure!”
“Yeah, I’d like that. Come on, let’s go.”
She rose from her desk, her hard-heartedness fading with each step she took with her cold façade faded. The grim look on her face stayed. Fenton’s mind worked overtime to remedy this. Would a joke work? Should he compliment her on her dress? No, she always look amazing. There was no use in stating the obvious.
“So….how are you doing?” she asked, breaking the ice first.
“Uh, good! Good! Great, actually. Gyro and I have got this little thermal engine in the works.”
“Yeah? How’s that going?”
“Not so good. It spontaneously combusted.”
“Yep. Melted right through the floor.”
“Not really. We had a feeling that it might do that.”
“Uh-huh cause the other three before it did the same thing. I don’t know where we’re going wrong.”
She nodded. “And the engines melt so you can’t see the remains.”
“You’ve got it! Do you think you can help us? I’d love to get your opinion on it.”
Gandra scoffed. “I don’t think I’m going to be much help, Fenton.”
“Why not? You’re smart! After that stunt you pulled with the microwaves I think you’ll do amazing! Granted that thermal energy is a horse of a different color but you can do it!”
“No, Fenton,” she shook her head. “I’m not…I’m…” she placed her hand over her heart. “I’m angry.”
“What? No! I’m angry. Very angry. Like “I want to punch things” angry and….” She balled her hands into fists. Johnny’s smug face flashed in her mind. She saw red. Gandra thought of punching Johnny until his face resembled a piece of putty. It was a lovely daydream but to Fenton who saw the rage burning in her eyes was instantly worried.
“Do you wanna talk about it?”
She shook her violent dream from her head and answered, “No. I don’t want to.”
“Okay then. If you don’t wanna talk about it, then do you want to wanna talk about science?”
Gandra remained silent but gave no indication that she was opposed to the topic. “I love robotics!” said Fenton enthusiastically. “What about you?”
“I like robotics. When I was a little girl, I used to be in a robot club with LP and a couple of other friends. Oh, I had the cutest little bot. It was a black quadrupedal with a smiley face painted on it and it had flames on it’s sides. I thought I the flames would make it go faster for some reason. I called him Sparky.”
Fenton laughed. “That’s adorable. Why a quadrupedal? You strike me as a bipedal robot maker like Gyro.”
“The dump’s basic layout made it too difficult for a bipedal robot to handle. With my little Sparky, I could change out his hydraulics to surpass steep climbs, unsteady footing or anything! Plus, I had him to where he could carry anything I needed. He saved me a couple of trips for supplies.”
“I’d love to see him. Where is he?”
“Oh, I don’t, um I don’t have him. Not anymore. After mom died, I just kinda…stopped and I got rid of him…”
Fenton wanted to punch himself. Somehow, he managed to incite anger and bring up her dead mother in one conversation. “I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s not your fault.”
“Can we not talk about it?”
Fenton nodded and sighed. “Sure, Gandra. Whatever you want.”
The silence was just as suffocating as the anger but the lab proved to be the much needed break for Gandra. Upon entering, seeing the glimmering machines and the beauty of the beakers, an ease like no other settled over her. The deep seated anger took it’s leave and Gandra, the scientist, stepped into the spotlight after a far too long absence. She rolled up her sleeves as Fenton led the way to the thermal engine and asked, “So, what am I looking at?”
The machine was a jumble of parts and pieces. Steam shot out of several small chimney like exits and it whistled like a tea kettle.
“Seriously, what am I looking at? Is it a steam engine?”
“Aesthetically, yes. Mr. McDuck does have a fondness for the old school look. We were trying to incorporate that with the overall function of the design.”
“It fits,” she shrugged. “But what’s it’s purpose? Is it for a train?”
“If we can ever get it to work,” he sighed. “Gyro’s model for a sound powered monorail got derailed. We couldn’t find a way to get soundproofing around the train to stop outside sources from increasing the speed and then the Board discovered how expensive it would be to soundproof the inside to prevent that disturbance and….we never stood a chance. So, it’s back to the drawing board. We went back to the original steam engine and thought “How can we improve this?” Besides, not having it explode,” he added with a nervous laugh.
She walked around the strange engine. She hummed and every so often she would open her mouth to say something but then shake her golden locks as if the idea she had was preposterous. Finally, she spoke, “Can I see the schematics?”
He rushed to give her the schematics. She spread them out on the table and carefully reviewed them.
“I don’t understand,” she muttered.
“What?” asked Fenton.
“What you’re trying to accomplish. I…I mean, this is meant to be a take on old school steam engines, right? But you’ve built it so tiny…the amount of energy you’re wanting to do, the second heat reservoir never gets a chance to recover. The system is out of equilibrium. You’re never going to get it to balance out.” She ran her hands through her hair. “Fenton, you’re breaking the law of thermodynamics.”
“Only the second one,” he said helpfully.
“If you know that and I know that then why? Your design isn’t working. You’ll have to make the engine bigger or set a limit to how much you’re pumping into it. Otherwise you’re going to get another meltdown.”
“The Board wants to see something smaller. Mark Beaks claims to have found a better way to do it. Smart Tech that is not only capable of transporting multiple people safely from point A to point B but he’s done it with half the cost, half of the –“
She nodded, “Yeah, half of the everything. I thought he found out how to do self-driving tech when he invented the B.U.D.D.Y. system?”
“THAT HACK COULDN’T PROGRAM A MICROWAVE!” shouted Gyro from deep in the lab.
The mere mention of his most hated foe brought Gyro storming to the top of the lab with Lil Bulb barely hanging on to his shoulder. “THAT MAN IS AN IDIOT! HE CALLS HIMSELF A PIONEER BUT HE’S A HACK! I WOULDN’T BE SURPRISED IF HE STOLE IT!”
Gyro ranted and raved. He was in such a state that as he turned and paced, Lil Bulb flew off his shoulder. Gandra barely caught the small bot in time. “Uh, sir? You’ve dropped your robot.”
Gyro stopped for a moment and snatched Lil Bulb away. “He’s not a robot! He’s my baby.” He carefully held Lil Bulb in his hands and whispered, “Daddy’s sorry.”
“That’s cute,” she laughed.
“I don’t need your patronization, Gandra,” Gyro snapped.
“I wasn’t being patronizing I um…”
“Gandra used to build robots!” said Fenton, rushing to help.
“You used to build robots?”
“Well, I had one robot and a couple of others. They weren’t anywhere near as sophisticated as your Bulb Tech.”
“Nothing is as sophisticated as Lil Bulb,” Gyro stated proudly. “So, where is he?”
“Your creation! Where is he or is it a she? Or they? Is a multiple kind of creation and –“
“I got rid of Sparky when I was little. I don’t have him anymore.”
“Monster!” Gyro cried. He held Lil Bulb close to his chest as though Gandra would smash him to the ground.
“I’m not a monster. I grew out of robots.”
“One does not grow out of robots,” Gyro said primly. He placed Lil Bulb back on his shoulder.
Gandra had to admit that seeing Gyro with Lil Bulb did make her miss Sparky. It had been years since she thought of her precious bot and now that he was present in her mind, the anger that dominated her thoughts gave way to something new: science and creation. She grabbed a pencil from Gyro and went to work on the schematics.
“HEY!” Gyro rushed to stop her from scribbling over his designs.
She put up her hand, still at work, barely batting an eye at his attempts to stop her. “Shut up. I’m working.”
“You’re ruining it!” he whined.
“You guys ruined the first three. It’s my turn.”
“No, you can’t keep violating Carnot’s law without consequences. The second heat reservoir needs to be bigger.”
“We can’t change the size of the engine. The Board wants it to be more compact. They want to compete with…” Gyro shuddered. “Beaks.”
“Okay, you don’t change the engine then you get rid of these three chimney…things and in their place, you expand the reservoir and to keep the exhaust ports, instead making them long and thin, you can make them fat and wide. That should allow for everything to keep in balance. So…you guys wanna give it a go?”
Gyro looked at the new designs and muttered, “It’ll take a couple of hours to make the necessary adjustments.”
“I can make time in Mr. McDuck’s schedule for you two to demonstrate. Just tell me the time and I’ll make it happen.”
“You mean for us to demonstrate,” said Fenton.
“He’s right,” Gyro said, crossing his arms. “You put your mark on the schematics, you’re apart of the demo. The question we need to know is when are you ready?”
“I’ll be there. I’ll see you guys tomorrow morning at nine sharp, okay?”
“That works for us!” grinned Fenton.
“Make sure to put in a good word for us with Mr. McDuck. This project needs all the help it can get if we’re ever going to get the Board’s approval.”
It didn’t hit Gandra fully that she was going to help present an invention to Scrooge McDuck and the board until she was home. A tidal wave of emotion overcame her.
An actual invention presentation! She hadn’t done anything like that in years! She screamed into her hands. She was going to do this! She was going to present an invention! Something that she worked hard on and…and….
“I don’t have a thing to wear!” she wailed.
Much like Cinderella, Gandra’s did have much. Her clothes were rags. She wore the same outfit day in and day out. It wasn’t that Gandra didn’t want nicer clothes but the idea of saving up her money and getting a better place appealed to her more than having a new wardrobe. It wasn’t late. There was still time for her to find something that said: I’m a professional scientist.
What looked good and professional?
Her mind went to blue. It was her mother’s color and now her’s but after wearing the same color for so long the idea that she should wear something different. She needed to look serious if she was going to help present anything to the board.
Black was a good color, she thought. Ah, but she didn’t have a black dress.
Well…she had been paid and her bills were paid. There was some money left over for a new dress. Besides, she hadn’t bought new clothes in ages and it would only be one dress. Gandra decided right there and then that she would go out and get something new. Grabbing her purse, Gandra was about to run right out but before she could cross the threshold, Gandra was met face to face with her father. He looked awful as though he hadn’t slept in days. He reeked of cigarettes and booze. It made her dizzy and little bit sick.
“Gandra?” he was dazed as hell. “W-What’s you doing here?”
“I’m not. I’m heading out. Where have you been?”
He scoffed and stormed his way inside, “I was out. I got myself a job.”
Her father gave her a sour look. “Yeah, I did. Me and the new boss went out celebrat- WHERE’S THE TELEVISION?!”
“There was an accident but –“
“What the fuck happened to the tv?”
“Johnny and I had a fight and….” She tottered off and shrugged her shoulders. There was no good way to say it so she said it quickly. “I threw it at him.”
“YOU DID WHAT?”
“I’m glad I did,” she said, crossing her arms. “Johnny’s out of the apartment. He’s not coming back.”
“He loved you, you stupid idiot!”
“If that’s love then I don’t want it,” Gandra growled standing her ground. “I don’t love Johnny. You know what he told me? That if I loved him that I should give up my job to prove it to him.” She shook her head furiously. “I love my job! I love working on inventions! I love science! I love all of it more than I love Johnny. My work gives me more than he ever could. I get paid and –“
“So McDuck pays you and you’re willing to throw away everything?!”
“I had nothing with Johnny!” she screamed. “I have a future with McDuck! I can’t believe that you can’t see that!”
“You’ve become a snob,” he said with disgust. “Just like McDuck.”
“If I have then it’s for the better.” And without another word, Gandra left the apartment.
Shopping wasn’t as nearly as much fun as she had hoped. Her fight with her father weighed heavily on her mind. She wasn’t really a snob, was she? When she thought of people who were snobs she thought of people like Glomgold, not McDuck. She didn’t think that she was better than anyone like Glomgold did or the way that some of the upper crust acted. Scrooge didn’t strike her as a snob either. He didn’t look down on her or anyone.
Was she a snob? She did like the money. No, she loved the money. She loved the fact that all the bills were paid and that she had a better job now. Gandra decided that if all of that made her snob, then she was fine with it. She didn’t want to go back to her old life.
A part of her missed Johnny – a very small part of her missed him but he made it clear that she wasn’t what he wanted. She made her line in the sand about how she wanted to live. They both made their choices and would have to live with them.
And speaking of choices, none of the stores that Gandra visited had much in the way of black dresses. She did manage to find one. It was about a size too big but it was better than nothing. She paid for her dress and left the store feeling a little bit better but not by very much. She passed the rows of store and saw a hobby shop near the bus stop. There was an advertisement in the window showing off a brand-new robotics set. It was kind of dinky but cute. Gandra waited for a moment but went in anyways to buy the set. It was heavy and awkward to hold onto along with her dress but Gandra felt better for it.
When she returned home, her father didn’t say a word to her. It was better this way. She didn’t feel like getting into another fight with him.
The next morning, Gandra wished she could have said slept peacefully through the night but she didn’t. The idea of presenting an invention to Scrooge and the Board kept her up the entire night. The only good thing about not sleeping at all was that she was able to prepare for the day bright and early. She showered, put on her new dress, and when she went to do her hair, she decided to put it up in a neat bun.
It made her look more professional in her opinion. A quick once over and she gave herself approval to leave the apartment but to her horror, she could not. Her phone, the one that The Board gave her, were gone. Where had she left them? Where were they?
Gandra was prepared to rip the apartment to shreds to find them when her father, still reeking of booze and cigarettes glared at her.
“Can you keep it down? Some of us are sleeping off a hangover.”
“I can’t find my phone!” she nearly cried.
“It’s in the kitchen,” he groaned, still bleary eyed. “I plugged it in for you.”
“You did?” she sniffled.
“Yeah, I did. You left the apartment without it last night. You’re welcome,” he grumbled and then he went back to his bedroom to sleep.
When Launchpad came to pick her up for work, Gandra was quiet. LP talked above the roar of the engine the entire time.
“I hear that you and Fenton and Gyro are doing a presentation for Scrooge!”
“That’s so cool! What are you working on?”
“Engine. A new thermal one.”
“Everything okay?” he asked.
“I had a fight with my dad. I was a jerk. I need to apologize but I’m not sure how.”
“He got a job and I was such a jerk, LP.”
“I’m sure you didn’t mean it.”
She didn’t mean it but Gandra still felt at fault. She should have said something more. Her father didn’t have to get a job but he did. He didn’t have to plug in her phone for her but he did. She felt terribly guilty about the fight.
Her spirits were lifted when she arrived at the Money Bin. Fenton was waiting for her in her office. He smiled brightly when he saw her.
“Gandra! Hey! Um, here, I got you something.” From his back, Fenton revealed to her a bright white lab coat. “Mr. McDuck likes it when we wear our lab coats when we present to the Board. He says that it gives us an edge. Do you like it?”
“I love it! Fenton, this is the nicest thing anyone’s ever given me! Oh!” she put it on as fast as she could and did a little spin. “I love it! How do I look?”
Fenton’s heart fluttered. He sincerely but shyly answered, “You look great. Are you nervous about today?”
“Yep! My heart is pounding like crazy. How about you?”
“I wasn’t able to sleep,” he admitted.
“Me too! How is Gyro handling it?”
“Gyro?” Fenton laughed. “He’s not scared at all. He breathes confidence when it comes to this sort of thing.”
Fenton nodded. “Watch, any minute now, he’ll come charging into the room and –“
At that exact moment, Gyro did come into the room, but he did not have the slightest bit of confidence that Fenton knew him to have when showing off. Instead, Gyro entered the room looking as though he was attending his own execution. He stiffly marched into the office and sat down at Gandra’s desk.
“Are you okay?” Fenton asked.
“I saw The Board,” he grimly replied. “They’re not happy with me.”
“But they’re never happy with you,” said Fenton.
“They’re talking about firing me if this invention doesn’t go well.”
“That would never happen. Mr. McDuck thinks too much of you,” said Gandra.
“Yeah, besides, your other invention, the suit-“
Gyro glared at Fenton and he quickly shut up. “It did well!”
“I know it did well but it doesn’t make money. The Board wants to see something that will making money. Something that’s marketable!” then he added venomously. “They want something like…ugh, WADDLE.”
“The engine isn’t marketable like Waddle products,” said Gandra. “It’s entirely different. Waddle is primarily a social media company. Phones, laptops, that’s all Waddle. This is an engine. We’re not going to make a phone from it.”
“You know that, I know that, and Fenton knows that but do you think The Board knows that? No! All they know is that Waddle is beating us. And Mr. McDuck doesn’t like losing. And I don’t like losing to MARK BEAKS!”
“It’s going to be fine!” said Fenton. “We have an actual product! We’re better than Beaks any day of the week.”
“It doesn’t matter if we’re better if we’re not winning. We need solid marketable products. I’ve already got Manny brainstorming. This presentation has to go well.”
“Maybe I should sit this one out,” Gandra worried. “I don’t want to mess things up for you guys.”
“You’re the one who redesigned the engine in the first place!” squawked Gyro. “It’ll look bad if you’re not here with us.”
“Gandra, please,” Gyro begged. “Please, Gandra, The Board hates me. They’ve never liked me in the first place. Scrooge had to pull a lot of double talk just to hire me on! Please, look, look, if you help me with this then I’ll…” he thought about what he would do. “I will give you access to the lab.”
“No, you don’t have to….really? Lab access? For me?”
“Yep! You’ll have your own space. I recommend taking a spot near Manny. He’s a great partner and he takes good notes.”
“Gyro, you don’t have to give lab access.”
“I know. That’s how desperate I am.”
“I’ll do it but not for lab access.”
“Then what for?” asked Fenton.
“Nothing? I like making inventions with you guys. It makes me happy.”
“Aww,” went Fenton. “Gandra, I –“
The doors to office opened with a bang and in came Scrooge McDuck with The Board right behind him. Their eyes narrowed when they saw Gyro. He returned the gesture. He knew when he wasn’t wanted. As they walked to the board room, they dropped a folder and the papers went everywhere. Gandra bent down to pick them up. They were termination papers with Gyro’s name in big bold letters.
“Here you go,” she mumbled, handing back the papers to The Board.
Bradford smiled. “Thank you Ms. Dee. Mr. McDuck, before we begin, once more The Board and I would like to remind you that in the past year, we have nearly tripled lab costs and that Dr. Gearloose’s request for funding has doubled recent months?”
Scrooge who sensed that this presentation would be long and drawn out ignored Bradford and asked Gandra, “Could you please make me some tea?”
“Yes, Mr. McDuck,” she answered. She left the tense boardroom as Bradford dived deeper into costs and Gyro’s spotty working record. She hated to be in Gyro’s shoes at that moment. Honestly, she felt bad for him. The way The Board looked at him reminded her how Johnny would look at her when she did something stupid.
All too soon the kettle whistled and Gandra absentmindedly made the tea. Scrooge wouldn’t let The Board fire Gyro without a fight, would he?
“What is Ms. Dee doing here? This is a private meeting.”
“Gandra helped redesign the engine,” said Gyro. “She’s a member of the team.”
“A member of the team? If I recall correctly Ms. Dee has a high school education?”
“If I recall correctly,” spoke Scrooge, sipping his tea, “My own education was less than that. Go on lass and lads. Wow us.”
Fenton took the lead when it came to the presentation. Gandra was too scared to go first and The Board, having made their feelings clear on Gyro, it was best decided that Fenton should take the lead. He explained the basic idea for the engine as well as the inspiration behind it. But even the introduction was fraught with disaster.
“We have designed a brand new thermal engine to –“
“For the record, Mr. Cabrera, would you kindly state what happened to the sound monorail?”
“The expense for soundproofing the monorail exceed the given budget. We had to scrap it.”
“Ah, yes, that’s how much money gone?” asked Bradford. “One million?”
“Two million,” admitted Fenton.
Gyro made a sad noise that sounded like he was being strangled. Scrooge looked distressed as well.
“And what was the deciding factor for creating a thermal engine?” asked The Board. “Does this have anything to do with the latest technology announcement from the Waddle corporation? That they have created an engine capable of safe transport?”
“It was,” Fenton said. “However, our thermal engine can do what Waddle’s technology can’t do and that is work.”
Scrooge nodded proudly at this. It was Gandra’s turn next. It was her job to explain how it worked and the improvements that were made over the previous models.
“Just stick to the science,” whispered Gyro. “They don’t care about the details unless we can do it faster or cheaper than our competition.”
She nodded. “Hello everyone. I am-”
“Ms. Dee, before you begin, can you please state what your contribution to the project was?”
“I designed the engine. I –“
“But you don’t have any formal training in thermodynamics, engineering, or –“
“I believe that we’ve already covered this,” said Scrooge. “Let’s move on. You were saying, Gandra?”
“Thank you, Mr. McDuck. Previous designs of the thermal engine proved to be too large for anticipated transport models. However, by changing the exhaust ports, we were able to keep the second heat reservoir large enough to maintain balance and therefore –“
Scrooge began to cough. Gandra lost a bit of her nerve but she continued.
“The thermal engine will be able to –“ More coughing interrupted her. Gandra became flustered. Scrooge tried to stifle his coughs. He motioned for Gandra to go on.
“The engine will-“
Gandra was never able to finish her presentation. Scrooge coughed and hacked and when he removed his hand from his mouth there was blood.
Someone had poisoned Scrooge McDuck.
Scrooge McDuck did not live an ordinary life. More people had tried to kill him than there were stars were in the skies. While their attempts did vary from person to person, they all held one thing in common: they had failed. Somewhere after the 20th attempt on his life, Scrooge became blasé about all future attempts. He expected it more as his fortune grew but with certain would be murderers such as Magica DeSpell, Scrooge knew that he needed to protect himself. While it wasn’t possible to protect himself 24/7, he did want to be able to protect his fortune.
Thus, the Money Bin became as Scrooge would often boast, the safest place in the world. No curse could harm it, no Beagle Boy could break it’s walls, and no nasty assassin could sneak in and attack – or so Scrooge thought as he laid in his hospital bed.
He hated hospitals. Having lived in areas where medical care was scarce, he was more than capable of taking care of himself. It was his body, he knew what was going with it. But no, The Board had him rushed to the hospital. Honestly, he didn’t know what was worse, Fenton fussing over him or Gandra’s shrieking in terror.
Goodness, he didn’t know how anyone could scream that high.
It wasn’t like he was dying. It wasn’t even that much blood – okay, it was a fair amount of blood and it was true that he didn’t remember much after he started to cough. What he did remember was coughing and then there was all that blood and it was all dark after that. Then he was here in the hospital. But he felt fine! He wasn’t on his death bed or anything. Ah, but The Board wouldn’t listen to his reason. They blocked off the room, didn’t allow anyone but medical professionals and themselves to enter, and swore up and down that they would increase security at the bin before the day was out. While he did appreciate their concern, he felt it completely unnecessary as did Beakley who showed up not twenty minutes after he was admitted.
She had her arms crossed and there was a grim look on her face. “You were poisoned?”
“I’m fine! It’s not like this is the first time. Beakley, don’t give me that look. I’m alright.”
“Was that before or after you nearly lost a liter of blood?”
“Was it a liter? I swear, it felt like a pint.”
“Scrooge,” scolded Beakley. “It’s not funny.”
“Right, sorry. I’ll be fine in a few hours and then off to home we go.”
“Home yes but you can forget about going back to the Money Bin tomorrow.”
“It’s my Bin!” he exclaimed.
“And someone poisoned you there. You’re not going back until there is a sweep of the place.”
“Fine,” Scrooge shrugged. “Then am I allowed back to work?”
“If you’re well enough, then yes.”
But before he was even allowed to go back to work, there was work for Beakley to do. She knew better than anyone the extremes Scrooge went to in order to keep the Money Bin safe and secure. Poison was an intimate way to kill and it was used mainly by women. Gandra was the first person that Beakley interrogated. Of course, she didn’t call it an interrogation. As far as anyone was concerned, it was a chat. She went to Gandra’s humble apartment the next day. A bustle of locks coming undone and Gandra timidly opened the door.
“Mrs. Beakley?” she asked, opening the door a little bit further. “What are you doing here?”
“Came for a visit. I thought you could use the company. May I come in?”
“Uh, sure, yeah. I guess.” She opened the door and Mrs. Beakley strode in. The apartment was small and cramped. The foul scent of cigarettes hung in the stale air.
“How are you?” she asked, choosing to stand.
“I’m good, good,” she answered, picking the trash laying around and trying to discreetly toss it without Mrs. Beakley seeing. “H-How’s Mr. McDuck? The Board wouldn’t let Gyro, Fenton, and I visit. They made it sound like he’s dying.”
“Scrooge is fine. Cranky but fine.”
She forced a laugh but Beakley knew that she was disturbed by the events.
“Are you alright?”
“I guess, I was really scared. I haven’t seen that much blood since I was a kid…it’s scary, Mrs. Beakley. He just started coughing and then there was blood everywhere!”
“So I’ve been told. I heard you gave quite a scream.”
Gandra shook her head. “I didn’t scream. I gasped but not scream. That was one of the members of The Board.”
“I don’t know,” she sighed. “We were getting ready for the presentation then The Board showed up. Things got kinda heated and-“
“What do you mean?”
“The Board wanted to fire Gyro. They had the termination papers and everything,” said Gandra uncomfortably. “Mr. McDuck asked me to make tea and then-“
“He asked you to make tea?”
She nodded. “Yeah but normally I don’t make it. Mr. McDuck is very well, he’s very precise about how he likes his tea made. I tried making it once for him and he didn’t like it. So, he makes it himself.”
“How did he act during the meeting?”
“Fine I guess,” she shrugged. “I wasn’t really paying attention to Mr. McDuck. I was nervous and I spent most of the meeting watching Fenton or staring at my shoes. I couldn’t help it! The Board scares me. They make me feel like they’re waiting to kill me.” She shuddered.
“Perfectly understandable, Gandra. I – What this?” she saw blueprints on the table.
Gandra made a dive for the plans and laughed nervously. “They’re nothing! It’s nothing! It’s just things!”
“It looks like robotic things.”
“It’s just, uh, a little something, you know, fun! I…I was thinking about the thermal engine and it gave me an idea for a new robot. It’s still experimental but I’d like to think that one day it could really help people!”
“I look forward to seeing it.”
Her chat with Gandra went as expected. She didn’t think Gandra was going to declare that she knew who the poisoner was but it did assure her that Gandra was working and developing a spine. It was good news but the bad news came when she visited The Board. They were thoroughly convinced that the would-be murderer was inside the room during the attack.
“It had to be Ms. Dee,” said Bradford, “She did serve the tea.”
“Or that madman Dr. Gearloose, if you can call him a doctor. He knew that we were going to fire him and how many times has he swore vengeance on us?” said the other board member.
“Or they could have been in it together.” Spoke the final board member.
Beakley barely resisted rolling her eyes. “Neither Ms. Dee nor Dr. Gearloose are capable of such actions. I believe that the poison was in the tea. It was contaminated before it arrived to the bin. Gandra serving it was a fluke.”
“Hmm so you say.”
The Board members, as luck would have it, were right. As soon as Scrooge was released from the hospital a strange phenomenon pursued Scrooge. Wherever he went, death seemed to stalk him. It didn’t surprise him but the attempts were getting more and more frantic. There was that crash that wasn’t Launchpad’s fault. Someone drove directly at him and if he hadn’t moved at the last second, he would have been a stain on the road. Then there was the that random poison blow dart. Scrooge had bent down to pick up a penny and the blow dart struck his hat. It tore right through it.
“Whoo, that one nearly had my name on it,” he chuckled.
“Scrooge, that’s not funny,” Beakley snarled.
“I know! Look at my hat!”
The Board shared Mrs. Beakley’s distaste for the constant murder attempts.
“Sir, this is getting out of hand,” they pleaded.
“How is this any worse than that one week when Glomgold kept trying to kill me? Am I the only one who remembers the bombs attached everything?”
“He eventually gave up. Granted that we still get his death threats but Mr. McDuck-”
“Whoever is trying to kill me will stop once they realize that they can’t kill me.”
“Sir, this is getting tedious,” spoke Bradford. “It’s also bad for business.”
“Good people don’t have multiple attempts on their life. It makes you look morally corrupt.”
“I’m Scrooge McDuck! I made my fortune by being smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies! I didn’t earn my fortune by not taking risks or stepping on people’s toes. Life is messy. Besides, I’m perfectly fine!”
“And the poisoning?” Bradford asked.
“A one-off incident,” Scrooge growled. “I’m allowed my off days.”
“Sir, I will tell you what I have told Mrs. Beakley and anyone else who will listen. There is a mole in the Money Bin and that someone is trying to kill you. As we have previously stated, we believe that it is either Gearloose or Ms. Dee.”
“Ah, Gyro’s a little eccentric but he’s harmless and as for Ms. Dee she’s couldn’t hurt a fly.”
A series of soft knocks came to the door. Gandra entered with a few files under her arm. When she saw The Board, she quivered in her heels.
“Mr. McDuck? I have those reports that you wanted.”
“Thank you, Gandra.”
She was soft-spoken and demure – hardly the kind of person who would ever think about poisoning, running over, or maiming her boss in any way. No sooner had she given Scrooge the files did she make the most innocent of suggestions.
“It’s a little dark in here, Mr. McDuck. Do you want me to turn on the lights?”
“Aye, Gandra. Thank you.”
She turned on her heels and ignored the stares of The Board. With a flick of her finger, she turned on the stately chandelier that hung over Scrooge’s desk. Three seconds later, it came crashing down – nearly killing him. There were a few scrapes and cuts but overall, he was fine. The Board members suffered minimal cuts as well but were shaken. And as for Gandra?
She had walked away without a scratch.
Things go from bad to worse for Gandra.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It was a generally accepted fact that if you were to work for Scrooge McDuck, you had to be a little crazy. It wasn’t that his business practices weren’t sound but rather Scrooge was eccentric. He was a person who had garnered more wealth, death threats, curses, and enemies than any other person in the world. To work for such a person who had more villains than he had coins in his bin was insanity itself. But it didn’t deter people from working for Scrooge. It was thought that if he had survived for so long and maintained his wealth so well that working for him was a stable life. This made people very fond of the old man who had become their employer. However, it also made them angry when someone tried to kill him and therefore interrupt their livelihood.
After the chandelier incident, Gandra Dee became the most single hated person in the entire Money Bin.
There was little doubt about her guilt. While some had stuck up for her (the loudest being Launchpad and Fenton), stating that she couldn’t be the assassin because she was no nice, their protests were drowned out by the increasing coincidences and the rumor mill that spewed tall tale after tall tale.
“I hear she’s a spy for Glomgold,” spoke the workers on the loading docks.
“Glomgold? Nah, he likes to do the spying himself.”
“What if she’s Magica DeSpell in disguise?” whispered the workers in the accounting department.
“She would have made her move by now.”
“I hear she’s after Scrooge’s fortune,” became a popular rumor that was said in hushed tones in the halls.
The whispers disappeared whenever Gandra entered a room but the looks remained. Wherever she went in the Money Bin, she knew exactly what people thought of her. She was reviled by all except for a handful of people. Scrooge McDuck remained convinced that Gandra was not the cause.
“I know when people are trying to kill me. Gandra isn’t giving off that vibe,” he said to anyone who asked him what he thought of Gandra.
As a show of force and trust, Scrooge kept Gandra close. Although many were divided if this was truly to show his trust and whether he wanted to keep an eye on her. The motto keep your friends close and your enemies closer was heard frequently at the Money Bin. Nevertheless, Gandra never strayed far from Scrooge’s side. She even went with him to the Duckburg’s Billionaire Club but stayed silent and still. Most days, she blended in with the rare treasures that adorned the club. No noticed she was there until one day when Mark Beaks entered the room.
“Hey Scroogey McMoney Bags!”
Scrooge groaned. He was in the midst of a staring contest with Glomgold and he wasn’t in the mood to deal with Beaks’ braying. He grunted and Gandra stepped forward.
“Mr. McDuck is busy. He requests that you leave him alone.”
Her voice was clear soft but clear. It cut through the room like a knife and startled Glomgold. His eyes flitted to her and he screamed, “HOW LONG HAS SHE BEEN HERE?”
“NO! Wait! That doesn’t count!”
“I win again!” he laughed happily.
“What is this? A robot? Very lifelike, very beautiful,” said Beaks, snapping photos of her. “Don’t tell me that Gyro designed her? It’s too complex for someone like him. Who have you got designing your robots now, McDuck?”
He reached out to touch her face and Gandra grabbed him by his wrist. “Don’t,” she growled.
“She’s really lifelike!” gasped Beaks who attempted to wiggle his way out of her grasp.
“That’s because she is. Her name is Gandra Dee, she’s my secretary.”
“A secretary? Getting too old to remember things now, McDuck? Need someone else to keep track of your life?”
“Yes, well, when you’ve earned as much money as I have it never hurts to have back-up but you wouldn’t know anything about earning money, would you Glomgold?”
“I agree with McDuck,” said Beaks. “I’ve got an organizer on my phone, my laptop, my tablet, my watch, my fridge, my stove, my laundry machine, my –“
“Gandra is wonderful in keeping my life organized. She’s very capable, very smart, and knows everything happening inside the Money Bin.”
At this, Beaks grinned. “What’s McDuck’s latest project?”
“That’s private information.”
“What’s McDuck’s monetary worth?” demanded Glomgold. “Is it more than mine?”
“It’s changing too often to give an exact amount, Mr. Glomgold,” she said coldly. “But it is always more than yours.”
He growled and ranted that she didn’t know what she was talking about but Scrooge contently laughed. “Good answer, Gandra.”
“Thank you, Mr. McDuck.”
“Bah! You think you’re so smart, don’t you, Scrooge?”
“I AM smarter than the smarties AND tougher than the toughies,” he smirked.
“But you don’t have loyalty,” laughed Glomgold. “Isn’t that right, Dee?”
“What is that supposed to mean, Glomgold?”
“Old guys fighting! Who will win? Money Bags McDuck or Flintheart Shark-Guy?” shouted Beaks to his phone as he began to livestream the event. Gandra stepped between Glomgold and Scrooge before a fight broke out.
“Mr. McDuck, you have an appointment with Mrs. Beakley in an hour. You’re having tea with her at the Money Bin. We should go.”
As quickly as she could Gandra escorted Scrooge back to the limo. The ride to the Bin was fraught with silence. It was broken only once by Gandra who asked, “You think that I’m working for Glomgold, don’t you?”
Scrooge didn’t say a word. He didn’t know what to think.
Once there was a time when Gandra hated to come home. Between the rough hours at the diner and her father and Johnny shouting at her, it made home a very unwelcoming place. But Johnny was gone now and her father didn’t come home until late in the night. Coming home that night, brought an untold amount of relief to Gandra. She shuffled to the sofa and laid down. It was dark and quiet – just the sort of thing that she needed. Her nerves were fried.
She didn’t know when but soon she knew that she was going to be out of a job. She could sense it. After Glomgold practically announced to Scrooge that she was his spy…she would be fired tomorrow, she was sure of it. How Scrooge didn’t fire her right in the club she didn’t know. Despair washed over Gandra like a wave.
What was she going to do about a job now? Most people wouldn’t want to hire someone who had her reputation. Gandra spent hours thinking over her future. She didn’t get very far. Her thoughts were interrupted by the horrors of going back to poverty and not finding work. Gandra couldn’t help but think that maybe her situation was some sort of karma payback for not listening to Johnny or her father. She should have known better.
“What was I thinking?” she muttered into the couch cushions. “Me, working for Scrooge McDuck? I’m so stupid…”
She stayed there for hours until her father came home. He was laughing and whooping.
“Gandra! You home? I got dinner! Nice little treat from Sam’s on account of your old man –“ he stopped cold when he saw her lying down. “Hey, what’s a matter? You sick or something? Hey…” he whispered to her. “Why are you sitting alone in the dark?”
Only her sniffles could be heard. Her father placed the pizza on the table and took a seat next to her. “You wanna talk about it?”
She furiously shook her head. Her father placed an arm around her shoulders. He hugged her the best that he could. “I’m not good with words, Gan. You know that. So, whatever is bugging you and got you all riled up, it won’t last long. All bad things pass eventually.”
“This won’t,” Gandra sobbed. “Everyone thinks I’m going to kill Scrooge. They really do. They don’t say it, but I know it.”
“Who cares?” he asked.
“I do!” she cried. “I love my job, dad! I…I don’t want to hurt anyone! Mr. McDuck is a great guy! Do you know what he called me today? Smart! Capable! Wonderful! I haven’t felt like any of those words in forever…and now I’m going to lose my job!” she bawled.
“Okay, okay….um, look, you can find a new job. What about working for that Glomgold fellow? He’s pretty relaxed with his employees. A couple of accusations like assassinations don’t ruffle his feathers.”
“Dad!” gasped Gandra. “I couldn’t for him. He’s the one who got me fired from the diner – another job that I liked!”
“So, you don’t work for Glomgold, big whoop. There’s Mark Beaks or you could find work elsewhere. It’s better to quit your job with McDuck then to be fired. Have some dignity and go out on your own terms.”
The idea was tempting. Rejection hurt no matter who was giving it or why. She didn’t think she could stand it to march out of the Money Bin unemployed with everyone looking at her. How could she quit without another job lined up? However, the next day at work, unemployment looked attractive. Somehow word had gotten out about Glomgold’s little comment in the club and around noon, The Board came in. They were grim as was Scrooge was grim but he faked a charming smile and said to Gandra, “Why don’t you take an early lunch, Ms. Dee?”
They were going to fire her, she fretted. A part of her wanted to fight back and shout that she was innocent but how The Board looked at her with complete disdain robbed her of any courage she had.
Gandra left the office as fast as she could. If she was going to be fired, then she might as well be fired on a full stomach. Her final walk to the cafeteria was filled with suspicious looks and hateful whispers. She despised the way that they looked at her. All the stares, she knew exactly what they were thinking. It drove her crazy. They seemed to scream at her: Monster, Villain, Assassin…
She was so preoccupied with what everyone was thinking about her that she didn’t even realize that Fenton was calling out to her.
“Gandra! Hey! We saved a seat for you,” grinned Fenton as he gestured to the open seat next to him and opposite of Gyro.
She gasped but once she saw a familiar face, she relaxed a little. “I don’t think you guys should be seen with me,” she muttered moodily. “I’m not very popular right now.”
“I don’t care,” Fenton said, crossing his arms. “Do you Gyro?”
“Like I’ve ever cared what’s popular. Have a seat,” he said, not looking up from the blueprints that he held in his hands.
“Thank you. Um…listen, I’m not –“
“We already know that you’re not trying to kill Scrooge,” yawned Gyro. “You lack the necessary viciousness to murder him.”
Fenton laughed nervously, “Yeah, um, yo-you’re a good person. You’re not like Scrooge’s enemies at all. Mark Beaks is –“
“A half-wit who wouldn’t know how to code if his life depended on it,” grumbled Gyro.
“He thought I was a robot yesterday,” she said, a small laugh escaping her.
“He can’t even tell a person from machine!” cackled Gyro. “He’s stupider than I thought. What else did he say?”
“Eh, he thought that my “design” was too complex for you.”
“That little b-“
“He’s jealous, Dr. Gearloose,” said Fenton, trying his best to calm his boss. “You know that he’s jealous with the success that we’ve had with project Blathering-“
“Thank you, Fenton!” he growled, “Thank you very much for keeping secret projects secret!”
“Sorry but it’s true! We have ingenuity, the creativity, and more importantly the smarts to make the project the best thing ever! Mark Beaks doesn’t stand a chance against it. He’s…He’s grasping at straws. I know what The Board wants, for us to copy Waddle tech but it’s only a matter of time before they see the true brilliance of our work!” shouted Fenton, taking a stand on the table.
Gandra applauded while Gyro was uninspired. “We don’t have time. We need to wow The Board with something BIG!”
“But project Bl-“ he caught the glare and sheepishly said, “It’s an amazing project. It would work.”
“It is but it’s too dangerous. After the last fiasco, we need to play it safe. Besides, I don’t a certain someone to damage it again!”
“I am so sorry about that. Really, I am –“
“What’s project Blathering?”
“Telecommunications!” shouted Gyro.
“Security!” shouted Fenton
Gyro kicked Fenton under the table. “It’s private, Gandra. You don’t have clearance for it.”
“I understand,” she nodded. In the end, it wouldn’t matter. She knew that her time at the Money Bin was coming to an end. She expected to be fired when she returned to Scrooge’s office. Instead, she heard Scrooge and The Board arguing furiously behind closed doors. She stayed late as they did. It felt like they never stopped arguing. Close to nine, Scrooge and The Board finally left. Neither looked happy. If anything, it appeared as if they were close to blows. Gandra followed them out but when they reached the garage, their paths diverted. Any other night, Gandra would have caught a ride home with Launchpad but as her days at the Money Bin were numbered, she preferred her own solitude and chose to take the bus home.
It was the last bus to leave the Money Bin. Not many employees stayed late enough to catch the bus but those who did avoided Gandra. She sat in the back by herself. The bus stopped three times. Gandra watched the others depart one by one. Soon, there was only Gandra and another passenger. Eventually, she reached her stop, a block away from her home, and got off.
The sweet summer air was getting cold. Autumn was on its way. Gandra pondered how long she would have to be without a job. It would be tough during the winter months but as soon as January came along, new jobs would be opened. She would find something – anything if it meant a steady paycheck. Things would go her way, she just knew it. As soon as she found a job, she would –
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Smoke bombs blinded her. A voice, true and strong, rang out through the night.
“I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the weirdo that sits next to you on the bus! I am DARKWING DUCK!”
Everything went black for Gandra. She never knew what hit her.
When I was writing this story, I had initially included DW as St. Canard's hero before we saw him in the reboot. Even though he's just a show in the new series, I, for one, have never allowed something like canon to deter my plots.
There was seldom worse than knowing your idea wasn’t ready for the world. Flying through the air, Fenton patrolled the streets od Duckburg. It was a quiet night with very little crime. There wasn’t a robbery or a major accident to speak of. His patrol would be short tonight. Fenton liked to think that the absence of crime was due to his presence as Gizmoduck but he knew that the chill in the air and the promise of a heavy rain was the actual deterrent.
His gaze went out to the city’s landscape. Across the way was St. Canard. That city had a greater criminal element than Duckburg ever had. Of course, Darkwing Duck had made it clear that there was room for just one hero in St. Canard and that was him. To say nothing of Gyro vehemently being against the suit going anywhere near as dangerous as St. Canard or in highly dangerous situations.
“But Dr. Gearloose!” Fenton had pleaded, earlier that day.
“I don’t want to hear it. You’re still learning how to use it.”
“I’ve got great control! Don’t worry, I can handle it!”
“I’m more worried about the suit,” Gyro replied. “I’m on thin ice with The Board as it is already. If you lose control of the suit during an emergency, then it’s my neck on the chopping block!”
Gyro did have a point. The suit was his invention and he did know it better than anyone but he didn’t use his brain as the processor. Being Gizmoduck felt natural. Everything fit like a glove. With the suit, there wasn’t an emergency he couldn’t handle, no criminal he couldn’t apprehend, no person that he couldn’t save –
A shriek of terror was picked up his sensors. The suit analyzed the pitch, frequency, and duration. At once it indicated that the scream was a woman and was located in – Fenton groaned – St. Canard. He hated to step on another hero’s shoes but it wasn’t like he would be fighting one of Darkwing’s foes. He was just going in for a quick visit, be in and out, in less than five minutes. At breakneck speed, he raced to the source of the scream. An undeniable thrill coursed through Fenton as the suit narrowed down the possibilities for the scream. It was either a fight or a kidnapping emergency.
Ah, his first kidnapping! How exciting!
He arrived at the lonely and broken down warehouse near the water of the city. He took a deep breath and busted down the door. “NEVER FEAR, GIZMODUCK IS HERE!”
Fenton expected a hostile situation with Beagle Boys or other nefarious criminals. Instead, he found Darkwing Duck mid-rant with Gandra bound and gagged to a rickety old chair.
“Ga-MISS! Are you okay?!”
She shook her head and struggled against the ropes. Darkwing Duck was absolutely enraged to see his rival in crime fighting. “What are you doing here?” he snapped. “This is MY turf! And MY interrogation!”
Fenton didn’t care to answer. He zipped over to Gandra. “I’m so sorry about this. Please hold still while I get you out. You’re going to be okay.” He cut through the ropes and was nearly done but Darkwing pulled him away.
“She’s not going to be okay!” growled DW. “She’s a criminal! A devious and deadly murderess!”
“She hasn’t killed anyone!” defended Fenton. “How could you even think that?”
“SHUSH thinks it. These orders from right from the top. Mrs. B says that –“
“I don’t care what SHUSH thinks! Look, this is about the McDuck attempts, right? Well, I’ve been working very closely to that case and I know for a fact that she isn’t involved.”
Darkwing frowned and folded his arms. He turned to Gandra, still partially bound and unable to speak, and said, “Excuse me, miss, I need to have a word with my associate.”
Gandra continued to try and escape and gave no notice that she had heard Darkwing at all. Darkwing pulled Gizmoduck to a private corner away from Gandra and whispered, “What’s the deal here? I was told that this case was mine but then you say that you’re working “very closely” on it?”
“I’m sorta working on it. Undercover at the Money Bin and –“
“Uh-huh. Be honest, this woman, you have a thing for her, don’t you?”
“I..I…it-it’s not like I think about her! Or day dream about working in the lab with her…or wanting to hold her hand and spend time with her and…oh dios, I have a bad crush on her.”
“Knew it,” he smirked. “That’s why I’M the world’s BEST detective.”
“You may be the best detective in the world but I know Gandra. I work with her and she’s not that kind of person. She’s nice.”
“Nice is not the same as good. Gizmoduck, I’ve been where you are and it’s easy to fall for a pretty face and-“
“She’s not just pretty! She’s smart! She redesigned a thermal engine in less than an hour! Do you know-“
“Whatever. It happens to everyone. It even happened to me but unlike you, my darling Morgana became reformed. A crook of her caliber doesn’t do that every often, but she did it for me out of love. If your girlfriend –“
“She’s not my girlfriend,” explained Fenton. “We’re co-workers, kind of.”
“So, she doesn’t even know that you exist,” laughed DW.
“She does! We have lunch together with…my boss and…” Fenton realized what he was saying, “She had a boyfriend a little while ago and they broke up. I haven’t asked her out. I’m giving her the space she needs.”
“Yeah, whatever you say but I say that she’s a criminal and one that will face justice for –“ he turned around and Gandra was gone. “WHERE’D SHE GO?!”
“GA-UM, MISS DEE? PLEASE COME BACK!”
Gandra ran as fast as she could. Her legs felt like jelly as she bolted past the warehouse. She had to get away. She had to escape and get as far aware as she could from that demented Darkwing Duck. But she didn’t know the area well enough and Darkwing Duck who spent his life trolling the dark underbelly of St. Canard caught up to her easily. She didn’t know what was worse him lording over her or the rant he went on about how the criminals of his city could never outrun him.
“I’m not guilty!” she protested as he handcuffed her. “SOMEONE HELP!”
Gizmoduck arrived on the scene and broke the handcuffs apart. “Darkwing! Wait! Please, don’t arrest her!”
“I can’t now! Those were my last pair!”
“I’m not a criminal!” she pleaded to Gizmoduck. “I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve never even gotten a speeding ticket! Please, you have to believe me.”
Gizmoduck melted under the gaze of her beautiful blue eyes. “I believe you. Darkwing, do you have any proof?”
“Proof? Eh, proof? She made the tea that poisoned Scrooge McDuck!”
“But I never make his tea. I’m terrible at it! He prefers to make it himself! Mr. McDuck only asked me because of The Board meeting we were having.”
“Then what about the driver that nearly ran him down?”
“I was with him when that happened,” explained Gandra. “I thought it was LP but it wasn’t and then this guy kept on driving and he nearly killed both of us.”
“What about the blow dart or the chandelier falling?”
“I don’t know anything about blow darts and I turned on the lights and then the chandelier fell! I’m sorry,” she started to sob. “I don’t know anything. I didn’t do anything. Please, leave me alone. I just want to go home and –“
Her phone ringing stopped everything. She looked at Gizmoduck and Darkwing as her phone vibrated in her hands. “It’s my father…um,” she sniffled. “Can I…can I take this?”
“Put him on speaker,” demanded Darkwing.
“It’s okay. Take your time,” whispered Gizmoduck.
She sniffled again and answered her phone. “Hi? Daddy?”
“GANDRA! WHERE ARE YOU?” he bellowed.
“I’m uh,” she looked at Gizmoduck and Darkwing Duck. “I’m at work.”
“This late? It’s nearly midnight!”
“I know but I figure that Mr. McDuck won’t be keeping me around for much longer so I’m…I’m getting as much overtime that I can?”
“Atta girl! Get as much money as you can from that prick.”
“…thanks dad,” she grimaced. “Um, dad, I’ve got to um, file some paperwork so I’ll talk to you-“
“You’ll talk to me now, Gandra. Now, you know you’re going to need a new job soon, right?”
“Right! And your old man went out and did something marvelous. Guess where I am?”
“I don’t know, Dad? My old diner?”
“Better than that dump! I’m at Flintheart Glomgold’s office!”
A look at Gandra's father
Mr. Simon Dee had three main interests in his life: Money, Wealth, and Cash. All in that order. He didn’t want anything else. He thought his good looks and his talent at coding and programming would provide a fantastic living for himself. At one point, it did. He worked on some of the finest firms that were available. It was how he met his wife, Moira, a lovely young heiress. She was drenched in pearls and gold. He charmed her senseless. She was too happy to accept a marriage proposal.
He thought he was marrying into wealth.
She thought she was marrying into love.
Neither got what they wanted. It was an unhappy marriage for both and when Gandra unexpectedly came along not too long after, tensions flared. Mr. Simon Dee never wanted children. He didn’t like how they cried or whined or wanted attention all the time.
Gandra was the worst kid he ever saw.
She was an insanely curious child who couldn’t be satisfied with ‘because I said so’ as an answer. No, she needed to know everything. He would shout at her and then she would bawl and go running to her mother who would shout at her for shouting at Gandra and a fearsome fight would ensue.
She may have had beauty, but Moira was an idiot.
She would go on and on how they as parents needed to “nurture” and “inspire” Gandra’s mental development. He disagreed. He didn’t care about mental development this and stunted emotional phase that. All he wanted was to be alone and make money but a wife and child took up a lot of time and a lot of his money. His so-called family was a black hole. They sucked the life out of everything. Weekends weren’t for himself anymore.
Moira wanted him to spend time at home – with the family.
He wanted to get out of the home – away from the family.
They fought really bad the day she died. It was over something stupid, a missing library book. She was pissed that he had thrown it out with the trash, and he was pissed that she was getting on his case. They fought outside in the stairwell. He wasn’t sure who pushed who first, it might have been him, but between the cursing and shouting, he pushed her hard. She stumbled and tried to support herself with the back railing. The thing was so rusted out that it wasn’t fit to support a fly let alone a full-grown woman.
It all happened so fast. Did she even scream? Gandra did. She saw everything. She screamed and she cried and she wouldn’t shut up. He wanted to shout at her. Yes, Moira was dead and no, there was no bringing her back. Would Gandra listen? No. She kept on screaming and wailing.
Heavens above, he didn’t want children.
It didn’t get better as Gandra got older. She cried at the drop of the hat. She was so damn needy. He hated it. It was never enough for her. But then Johnny came onto the scene. He was enough for her. He told her that he loved her, how he adored her, and could never live without her.
It kept her tame and out of his hair.
At least for a while, it did. Then she had to go and get a job with McDuck and then suddenly, nothing was good enough for her and she was just like her mother. She wasn’t satisfied with anything. All she talked about now as McDuck and how life was so much better now that she had a job. She was just like her mother.
He hated that.
She just had to kick him down. Like it was his fault that no firm would hire him now. Nothing was good enough for her. She kicked Johnny to the curb like he was garbage. How soon would it be before she got sick of him too? It was all that McDuck’s fault. Who did he think he was? Gandra wasn’t a smart person. She was as dumb as Moira was. He knew why McDuck wanted her around. It was the same reason why he had married Moira: it looked great and felt great to have a beautiful young thing on his arm. Soon, he would start sweet talking her and taking her out on trips and the she’d come home gushing how much she loved him.
It sickened Mr. Simon Dee.
But that’s what people like McDuck did. They took whatever they wanted and people like him, unemployed and rejected by every decent firm in the area, were left to wallow. He hated Scrooge. He hated everything about the man. From his wealth, to the exotic lifestyle that he led, and the fact that he kept his daughter, HIS DAUGHTER, around like some trophy to be shown off drove him crazy.
He might not have been the best father but Gandra was HIS daughter and it was under his will that she lived her life by and he would be damned if some billionaire was going to take that away from him. But it wasn’t like he had the ability to go up to McDuck and say that to his face. Nah, the man was too protected. So, he took his angst online. There were hundreds of forums dedicated to hating Scrooge McDuck. He found one that he liked and soon, he was rubbing elbows with everyone else who despised the name Scrooge McDuck. One account, ‘NumberOneBillionaire&Scotsman!!!!111!1111’ became his best online friend.
He didn’t know that it was Flintheart Glomgold though.
He thought a rich man like Glomgold wouldn’t spend time trolling online forums but there he was – workshopping his next insane scheme. At first, Dee didn’t take him seriously. It’s the internet and everyone lies but after suggesting a simple poisoning scheme and a sudden deposit of fifty grand in his bank account, made him change his mind.
And that’s how he found a new job as a murder planner.
Glomgold’s plan were large and bombastic. Dee’s plans were simple. McDuck may have been wealthy beyond belief but he was still mortal and thus he could be killed by the same means as anyone else. He told Glomgold to put the sharks and the multiple disguises away. As for executing the murder, that wasn’t hard. Where Glomgold went big, Dee told him to go small.
CouldaBeenAContender: You got any robots?
NumberOneBillionaire&Scotsman!!!!111!1111: I’ve got giant mechas that could crush McDuck underfoot!!!!!
CouldaBeenAContender: Got anything smaller?
NumberOneBillionaire&Scotsman!!!!111!1111: Prototype models. Why?
CouldaBeenAContender: I’ve got an idea.
It was surprisingly simple to reprogram a Glomgold bot. It wasn’t a brilliant AI by any means, but it got the job done. It had one task to do and then it would self-destruct and leave nothing behind.
CouldaBeenAContender: This will get you in and out without any problems.
NumberOneBillionaire&Scotsman!!!!111!1111: But how do I get to McDuck?
Gandra had left her phone. Waddle phones were sleek and beautiful, but they were a joke when it came to security. He hacked into it and found everything that he ever wanted to know about McDuck’s schedule.
CouldaBeenAContender: I’ve got a way to find out.
The next morning, McDuck was poisoned and he was paid another fifty thousand. It was the best job that he ever had. He was sure that he had missed his calling in life by not arranging murders earlier. If only murder was legal, he would make a killing. He was already planning the next attack to inflict on McDuck when Glomgold decided to hire him on full time. They celebrated wildly and then Glomgold had a brilliant idea, “Your daughter, Glinda, -“
“Gandra,” he corrected.
“Same thing, She’s going to need a job once McDuck fires her. I’ll take her on. It would be hilarious to rub it in McDuck’s face that I’ve got his…his…what does she do for him?”
Simon snorted, “She stands there and looks pretty.”
“Then I’ll make her my ‘stand there and look pretty person’! That will show McDuck!”
Glomgold was almost as rich as Scrooge but he was by far less insufferable. He liked the idea of Gandra working for him and by being employed by Glomgold too, he would be able to keep an eye on her. It was a perfect set up! But when he called Gandra to tell her the good news about how he scored her a job with Glomgold, what did she say to him?
“Dad! I can’t work for him! I work for Scrooge McDuck!”
“You’re not going to work for him much longer! You said so yourself. How much longer are you going to be at work?”
“I…I don’t know. Maybe another thirty minutes, I guess?”
“Well come home, we’ll talk and then you can start work for Glomgold on Monday.”
He didn’t hear the rest of it. He hung up on her. He thought she would have been happy. How many other parents could line up work with a billionaire for their kid? But when she came home, she was grim.
“Dad, we need to talk,” she said.
“That you were at Glomgold’s office. Daddy, Glomgold is not a nice man.”
“You’re only saying that cause you don’t know him like I do. If you were to spend some time with the guy, you would see that he’s a regular joe like me.”
“Daddy, I don’t want to get to know him. He’s tried to kill my boss before in the past.”
“So! Dad, I need to know that you know this and that you would never do anything to –“
“Are you accusing me of trying to kill McDuck?” he growled. “Do you think so little of me? What’s the matter with you? How could you even ask me such a question! After everything I’ve ever done for you, you have the nerve to accuse me of attempted murder! Gandra, I –“
“I’m sorry! I…I didn’t mean it like that,” she whimpered. “I-I’m sorry!”
“You better be. Running your mouth like that…no wonder you haven’t been able to get a date since you kicked Johnny out. You think any guy wants to near your nagging?”
“Then shut it.”
She should have been grateful. She should have thanked him to the moon and back and instead she had the nerve to be think the worst of him? That was just like her. It was working for McDuck that caused her to think the very worst of him. She never talked back to him when she worked at the diner. He was glad when she went to her room crying. It served her right for thinking that she was better than he was.
So, I'm late to the party but I've recently learned that Gandra's debut ep is coming up next month so I'm going to try to finish the story before it happens. Wish me luck.
That night, Gandra barely slept. She left her phone out on her nightstand and waited and waited. The minutes ticked by. The wait was unbearable. She buried her head under her pillows and she prayed for the moment where her father would be exonerated. She needed to know that he wasn’t behind it. He was her father. He raised her. He, in his own way, loved her when no one else would. He couldn’t be behind it. He just couldn’t.
He wouldn’t do that. Sure, he had his moments where maybe he wasn’t the best father in the world but he made it work. He really did! He wouldn’t do this. She believed him when he said that he didn’t and…and if he didn’t then he didn’t. He –
Her bedroom door opened. She heard his laugh. Under the cover of her pillows and blankets, she saw her father with her phone. He was doing something with it. It was attached to a USB cord and his phone.
He’s charging it, she desperately thought. He’s just charging it for me.
Her faith was misplaced. She pulled back the covers and caught her father in the act of hacking her phone.
“What are you doing?” There was a lump in her throat.
“Gandra, baby, sweetie, I was…uh”
“You said that you weren’t involved.”
“And I’m not,” he said, lying straight to her face. “Gandra, you…you’re not seeing things right.”
“BUT I AM!” declared a voice, unseen.
“Who said that?!”
“Me! I am the terror that flaps in the night! I am the guy hiding under your daughter’s bed! I AM DARKWING DUCK!”
Purple smoke filled the room and standing between Gandra and her father was Darkwing Duck. The cuffs were on him in a flash.
“What?” he gasped and in an instant, his rage turned to his daughter. “GANDRA?! YOU SET ME UP! YOU STUPID STUPID IDIOT!”
“I’m sorry!” she cried, shaking and gasping. He shoved Darkwing out of the way and lunged towards her. For a moment, she thought that she might be killed. He looked mad enough to do it and with his hands outstretched towards her neck, she thought she was dead.
A timely punch from Gizmoduck, hiding in her cramped closet, prevented that. Her father didn’t have a chance to strike or strangle. Instead, he collapsed on the ground in a heap, moaning and groaning.
“I can’t believe,” Gandra sniffled. “That he would do this.”
Darkwing gave a small frown. “I’m sorry about your father. It’s not…um…great but he did try to kill someone and I…I have to arrest him. I’m sorry.”
She shook her head. “I don’t care! I can’t…I hoped. I never want to see him again!” She ran from her bedroom.
“Hey! Miss Dee! Hold on!” Gizmoduck raced after her. She was already down the street. “Miss Dee!”
“WHAT?!” she screamed. “What do you want from me?!”
Momentarily stunned, he stammered, “Are you okay?”
She scoffed and laughed as she cried. “Tonight, I’ve been kidnapped, interrogated, had my father arrested because he tried to KILL MY BOSS! I….My father is the only family I have left. I don’t have anyone else and when Mr. McDuck finds out about this, I’m not going to have a job either. So, might as well do it now.” She paced up and down the street.
“You’re going to McDuck Manor?”
“Someone has to tell him. I rather it be from me. My name’s been dragged through the mud. This is the last bit of dignity I have. I need this.”
“Miss Dee, wait, please. I understand, you -”
“You understand?” she seethed.
“Sorry, wrong word um…I sympathize with you. Tonight has been a disaster and I’m sorry for you. So, please, let me help you.”
“I can give you a ride to the Manor?” he nervously offered.
“It’s dark, it’s cold, and it looks like it’s going to rain again. It’d be a long walk to the Manor, so…can I offer you a lift?”
She rubbed her arms and shivered. He was right to her unhappiness as she already felt a rain drop hit her. “Alright…”
The travel accommodations to McDuck Manor were lackluster. Gizmoduck’s idea for giving her a ride consisted of him awkwardly holding Gandra bridal style. It wasn’t great but at this point in her night, Gandra didn’t care how it looked. All she wanted was to get it over with. The rain came down hard about halfway to the Manor. Gandra was silent the entire time. Inside his armor, protected by all, Fenton desperately wanted to say something to her but what?
Sorry your dad tried to kill Scrooge and you?
Sorry that you lost your family?
Sorry about everything?
What did you say to someone after that? If words failed then maybe actions could save him. What kind of friend would he be if he could at least protect her from the rain? A small but sturdy umbrella popped out from his helmet and shielded Gandra from the oncoming storm.
“Thanks…I’m sorry that I yelled at you,” she said after some time.
“It’s okay, Miss Dee. I’m a hero. I can take the heat,” he gallantly answered.
She frowned. “I wish I was that strong.”
Upon arriving at the prestigious McDuck Manor, Gandra descended from Gizmoduck’s arms. “Thank you for the ride. You didn’t have to do that.”
“I’m a hero,” he said once more. “I’m supposed to help people.” Feeling bold, he continued. “We haven’t been properly introduced. I’m Gizmoduck, local hero.”
“Gandra Dee but you already knew that.” She faintly smiled but looking at the large home on the hill, she was filled with apprehension and worry. “This is going to suck.”
“Mr. McDuck will hear you out. He’s a good guy.”
“Yeah, a good guy who my dad tried to kill. I’m going to lose my job.”
“I’ll come with you. I’ve got your back.”
“You don’t have to,” Gandra said.
“I’m a hero,” he shrugged.
Together, they went up to the doors of the Manor. They stood side by side. Gandra cleared her throat. “Do you, um, do you want to knock or should I?”
“I think there’s a doorbell around here somewhere?” he muttered as he looked.
“Maybe we should go back down the hill?” Gandra suggested. “There’s the intercom system we could use.”
“We’re already here but –“
“STATE YOUR BUSINESS OR PREPARE TO BE ERRADICATED!” a prerecorded voice of Scrooge McDuck declared. The sound of lasers warming up could be heard.
“We’re employees!” Gandra and Gizmoduck shouted.
The lasers, out of sight, died down. The front door to the manor opened. Mrs. Beakley, in her robe, stepped out. She looked absolutely crossed. Mrs. Beakley took one look at Gandra and scowled. “I thought as much. Thank you for your service.”
“No!” he shook his head. “I didn’t – she didn’t!”
“I didn’t do it!” Gandra defended. “It was my dad!”
“Oh?” Mrs. Beakley looked to Gizmoduck to confer.
“It’s true! Darkwing arrested him a while ago.”
“I’m innocent,” she said. “My dad was working with Glomgold. He…he was the one who tried to kill Mr. McDuck.”
“I see,” she nodded. “You two better come in.”
Mrs. Beakley ushered them into the foyer where she had them sit and while she disappeared upstairs. They wait for an unbearable amount of time.
“I hate this,” Gandra whispered. “I want to run.”
“I know,” he whispered back. “But where could you go that Mr. McDuck wouldn’t follow?”
“You’re a hero, right? Don’t heroes have secret lairs and stuff?”
He shook his head. “Darkwing Duck has a lair but I don’t.”
“I’m new,” he grinned. “I’ve got a garage….actually, garage is pushing it. I’ve got a bedroom and like half a garage.”
“Half a garage?” Gandra asked.
“The cars take up most of the space but when they’re both out, I have half a garage.”
She leaned over and asked, “How exactly did you get this superhero job again?”
“I had the suit for the job…sort of. It’s a loaner but it’s my brain making everything happen.”
Gandra wanted to inquire more about the suit and the brain controlling it but before she could, Scrooge McDuck came down the stairs with Mrs. Beakley not too far behind him. Both Gandra and Gizmoduck stood up but Scrooge waved them down and back down they went.
“Mrs. Beakley tells me that you had something important to tell me? Something that justified a quasi-slumber party meeting?”
Gandra was suddenly and painfully aware that she was in her boss’ home in her Issac Asimov pajama pants and her Unimate t-shirt.
“I’m not a murderer,” Gandra started to say. “My father, he was the one who tried to kill you. Gizmoduck and Darkwing Duck arrested him tonight which is why I’m here. I’m sorry for what my father has done. It was my fault. I left my phone out. He took and accessed your schedule. Through my carelessness, he used that information to try and kill you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have been so stupid. I shouldn’t have –“
“What?” Scrooge asked. “You shouldn’t have trusted your family? It isn’t your fault, Gandra.”
“It’s family. You’re supposed to be able to trust them,” he sighed. “If you can’t trust your own family, who can you trust? I don’t blame you – not one bit. Your father’s actions aren’t your own. As far as things are concerned, your name is still good in my book.”
It had been a long night for Gandra Dee. Between her father getting arrested and losing the last member of her family, her spirits were low and the outlook for her future was grim. All signs pointed towards destitution. A life of poverty was imminent. After all, who would hire an accused would-be murderer? Her reputation sullied, Gandra accepted her fate only to be saved by eight little words from Scrooge McDuck.
“Your name is still good in my book.”
Reputation be damned, she still had a job! Gandra wept openly. The strain being kidnapped and interrogated, of knowing her father betrayed and used her to further his own goals and ego, and of nearly being killed by her own father had exhausted her.
In the foyer of McDuck Manor, she was invited by Mrs. Beakley to rest and sleep. Gandra was glad for the opportunity. She’d arrived in McDuck Manor in her pajamas, soaked to the bone, and her bedroom back home carried nothing but unpleasant memories. She would have to find somewhere else to live in the near future but for now, she stayed at McDuck Manor.
The room she was given was nicer than any place she stayed and the bed was larger than every apartment she ever lived in. But Gandra didn’t have time to marvel over the beauty and comfort. As soon as she curled up on the large and warm bed, she fell asleep.
When she woke, Gandra felt sick and tired. A headache pounded against her skull. The slightest bit of motion made her dizzy. With painful clarity, she recalled last night. Immediately, she thought about hiding under the covers and to never let her face see the light of day. How hard could it be to live life as a hermit?
But hermits didn’t make money. They stayed in their sad little holes and lived on the margins. She’d already done that her life, she didn’t want to do it again. So, despite every bone in her body to stay inside and hide, she knew that she needed to get ready for work.
Wearing what, she thought. Nerd pajamas weren’t work clothes. The idea of going back to her apartment was awful. A knock at the door interrupted her thoughts. Gandra sat up in the bed. “Come in.”
It was Mrs. Beakley who the same terrifying instinct that she used to keep the manor running steady had a cup of tea and a small bag with her. “I brought you something to wear and to drink.”
“Because you’re a guest,” she answered. “Now drink.”
Gandra swirled the inky blue contents of the cup. It smelled strange and didn’t look like any tea she had ever seen before. “What is this?”
“A cure-all for hangovers, cry-fests, and family betrayal. A McDuck classic.”
Gandra took a sip and was instantly overpowered by the bitter taste of it. “Oh! Oh my gosh!” she gagged and coughed.
“Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. I’ve found that candy often helps with the tea although Mr. McDuck does take his with pizza and soda but to each their own. There’s jolly ranchers in the bag if you need them.”
“I do!” She dove into the bag and found the stash. Inside the bag, she also found a white jumpsuit with a purple belt and boots. “What is this? A jumpsuit?”
“Something of the sort. It will do until you can find proper clothes to wear to work.”
“Will this fit me?”
“It’s one size fits all.”
“This fabric is bizarre,” Gandra gasped. “It’s like Egyptian cotton decided to have a child with nano-kevlar.”
“Actually, yes that’s about it.” Nodded Mrs. Beakley. “Consider it a loaner until you can get back into your apartment and find something decent to wear.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Beakley,” Gandra sniffled. “I’m sorry. I’m a crier.”
“That’s quite alright. Miss Dee, in light of your current situation, you may be feeling…”
“Awful? Terrified? My father made multiple attempts to kill Mr. McDuck!”
“I’m aware. Which is why I want to offer you the chance to give yourself a little defense.”
“Like what?” Gandra wiped her eyes. “Seeing someone?”
“Seeing a mental health professional would certainly be a boon for you but my thoughts were more aligned with training.”
“Training? Like those moves you taught Webby?”
She nodded but Gandra shook her head. “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
“The aim is not to hurt a person but to defend against being hurt. If you like, I could teach you.”
“I’m sorry but I can’t do it. That’s not for me. Thank you though for everything.”
Putting on the jumpsuit, Gandra thought she looked more retro than ever. Her mother’s blue suit was strictly 80s but the apparel loaned to her by Mrs. Beakley? It was 60s at it’s finest. Gandra started to doubt that she would ever wear clothes of the current decade when she saw a tag that said SHUSH on the inside. Hadn’t Darkwing Duck said something about SHUSH? And a Mrs. B?
“She’s a spy!”
It all made sense. The fighting moves, why Mr. McDuck regarded her so highly, and how she knew everything and – “She knows Darkwing Duck. She had him kidnap me! Oh my gosh! Mrs. Beakley!”
Part of her wanted to be angry and upset but then she thought of Mr. McDuck and what he said about her. He cared for her and he trusted her with his life. Something told her that it wasn’t like Mrs. Beakley to send masked men after intruders. Nevertheless, it made Gandra wary of the woman who helped her. Spies were not to be trusted even if they did give her clothes and tea and candy.
For now, she would wear the SHUSH uniform but not with pride. She would find new clothes soon. Stepping out in the SHUSH outfit gained a variety of looks and comments. Scrooge and Mrs. Beakley seemed to be amused as if they were sharing a private joke. She didn’t know what they found so amusing but she was willing to bet that whatever spy past Mrs. Beakley had, Scrooge McDuck was involved in.
Arriving to the Money Bin, Gandra’s new look earned her scorn. She walked through the halls, talking of Scrooge’s schedule and important papers to review and sign but she was not blind to the looks and the whispers of the Money Bin employees.
“Look at that outfit! She’s not even trying to hide it anymore.”
“What a tramp.”
“I can’t believe Scrooge still keeps her around.”
“A pretty face and a body like that will get you out of most trouble.”
The judgment by her coworkers followed her like a black cloud. They thought she was behind it all but then again, the news hadn’t broken yet, had it? People didn’t know. They still thought that there was someone out there waiting to kill Scrooge. True, yes, there were probably other people besides her father who were trying to kill him but at the moment, her father was the only person who was doing it.
Once people found out, there would be no escape from the scandal. Every gossiper in town would know and she was doomed. What little reputation she had left would be in shreds. She would never get another job again and what was to say that Scrooge would keep her on? It didn’t help his image at all and if the Board of Directors thought for even a moment that she was a danger to him, she would be out in a heartbeat.
Then what would she do?
Being accused of murder, would anyone look at her resume? Gandra held back a pitiable moan. All she ever wanted in life was stability. Why was that so hard to achieve? She didn’t have time to worry for the future as Scrooge’s schedule had taken a sudden urgent turn. All appointments for the day were taken off the calendar in favor of a breakthrough invention in the lab.
Gandra stayed behind, claiming that she needed to work on the monthly expense forms. She did want to visit the lab and to see what new brilliant inventions but the thought of going through the gauntlet of gossip to do it put her off. There was no doubt about it. She would have to find a new job and soon. The Money Bin was amazing and Scrooge paid her better than any job that she had but the scorn that everyone had for her was too much to bear. No one ever thought she was a gold digger at her last job or in general. Why was it so hard to have here?
Gandra worked for two hours in quiet bliss on the expense reports. They weren’t difficult to do. By now the dollars and cents that Scrooge poured into the Money Bin were easy. A million here, a million there, and five thousand towards this and twenty-five thousand towards that. She heard the elevator doors open.
“Welcome back, sir,” she greeted, too engrossed in the figures to look up.
“Gandra, hi!” Fenton was walking towards her but he looked uncharacteristically grim.
“Hey, shouldn’t you be down in the lab?”
“Yeah but when Mr. McDuck said that you couldn’t make it, I thought that I would see how you were doing.”
“Why would you do something like that?” she asked.
“Cause…um, I-I heard about your dad. I’m sorry, Gandra.”
“WHO ELSE KNOWS?!” she gasped.
“No one yet!” he said quickly. “Mr. McDuck told us.”
“He told you,” she sighed. “That’s great. That’s really great. What do you think? Six hours before everyone in the Bin knows?”
“No! He swore us to secrecy. I’m only telling you cause well, it’s you, you know. I’m sorry, Gandra.”
“It’s fine,” she said, shaking her head. “Everyone has issues with their dad, right? Mine is a little more homicidal than others.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Fenton said. “My papa isn’t in the picture.”
That was perfect. She managed to open a wound about his father. Could today get any better? “Sorry, Fenton. I didn’t mean to.”
“I know and it’s okay!” he smiled. “If anyone should be sorry, then it’s me. I didn’t mean to make you upset.”
“You didn’t. Today is just garbage,” Gandra groaned.
“Let me make it up to you? Can I buy you lunch?” Fenton offered.
Honestly, she didn’t want to leave the office but Fenton was kind and understanding. If she had to brave the gauntlet for anyone today, she would do it for him. They stepped into the elevator and Gandra as she always did with her fear of heights, pretended that she was far away. Fenton hummed along to the music which made the descend a little better. He had a nice voice.
Entering the cafeteria made her feel like she was back in high school all over again. The looks, the gossip, where the cool Bin workers sat and where the Science Team, ostracized to their own table, sat. Gyro was missing from his usual seat. Fenton noticed her curiosity and said, as they got into line, “He’s still in the lab with Mr. McDuck.”
“What project are you guys on now?”
“Missiles,” Fenton said with a sigh. “A new design.”
“Boring work?” she asked.
“No, it’s because Mark Beaks made one for speedy deliveries. Word going around is that it’s going to replace drones.”
“That is pretty cool. You’re changing how the world uses tech!” she beamed.
“It would if we didn’t have to keep copying Beaks,” Fenton frowned. “We’ve got more originally in one feather than Beaks does. I wish we could have our chance to shine!”
“The Board again?” she guessed as she grabbed a slice of pizza.
“Yep,” he groaned. “I want to work on original projects.”
“Is that so, lad?”
Gandra and Fenton gasped. Scrooge accompanied by Gyro had snuck up behind them.
“I thought you were still in the lab,” said Fenton.
“Mr. McDuck insisted on eating at the cafeteria today. Now move, you’re holding up the line and I wanna eat.”
They made their way down the line. Gyro started to talk about the missile project and how it was a flawed idea from the beginning.
“Sir, I’ve seen Beaks’ tests. The missiles had a tendency to explode.”
“Aye, missiles do that,” Scrooge nodded. “So, change that up.”
“It’s not that easy,” Fenton said. “Beaks claims that he’s able to have his missiles land on people’s yard without exploding.”
“Do his test videos show that?” Gandra asked.
“No!” growled Gyro. “He’s just saying that so we’ll invent it and once that happens, he’ll come in and steal our work again! He’ll stick that stupid W on it and increase the price three times!”
“Alright!” Scrooge said, sitting down at the table with them. “Fenton, you want to work on more original projects and Gyro, you want to stick it Beaks, right?”
“More than anything else in this world, Mr. McDuck,” said Gyro.
“That’s exactly what I wanted to hear! I’m adding a new person to the project. Gandra, you’re on the Science Team.”
“Yes, starting now.”
“Sir, are you sure about this?” Gandra nervously asked.
“Of course, I am,” Scrooge said. “I trust you with my life, Miss Dee.” He said loud enough for everyone to hear. It was like magic how suddenly everything changed. The looks were gone, the whispers had died on everyone’s tongues. She was cleared of everything.
It was startling how fast time went by. In a few short months, September was gone, October came and went, and with November rushing by as quickly as it wanted to, December and the annual McDuck Employee Christmas Party was on the horizon. In the past, arranging the massive party fell onto Duckworth’s shoulders. Once he died, the task fell to Mrs. Beakley. Now that Scrooge had a proper secretary and personal assistant, the task of putting together the party for over a thousand people was now up to Gandra. Not one to leave such a task to a new comer, Mrs. Beakley and Duckworth decided it was best to help her.
Between her current job with Scrooge and designing a new missile delivery system with the Science Team, Gandra was swamped. She would take all the help she could get and did she need help. And so, that was how she found herself sitting in front of Mrs. Beakley and a ghost butler. Gandra was mesmerized by the ghost in front of her. When he came floating into the room, arms full with plans, Gandra made an unholy noise. It was by Mrs. Beakley’s intervention did she manage to calm down and yet, she was still scared but then again, she was always scared.
She was scared of her family, scared of the future, scared of what threats she might face, and scared senseless at the idea of being part of the Science Team and arranging the party. Gandra could hardly recall a moment in her life where she wasn’t scared or worried about things. Seeing Mrs. Beakley and Duckworth fire back ideas and cutting remarks made her feel completely out of her league. Beakley was a spy, Duckworth was a ghost, and she?
Ah, she was a little nobody.
How had she come by this prestigious position? Pure luck and pity. Everyone else at the Money Bin, well, they were badasses. Scrooge McDuck was an amazing adventurer who earned and massed a great fortune, Donald and the kids were fearless and went on adventures all the time, Launchpad could pilot anything and without fear of dying, Gyro was constantly creating new inventions, Fenton wasn’t afraid to make mistakes in the name of progress, and Manny was Manny.
I have gotten by because of other people, she thought miserably.
She gotten her job because Scrooge felt bad for getting her fired, she’d only been allowed in the lab because Fenton and Gyro were nice to her, and now she was passing off her duties as Scrooge’s personal assistant off to two far more capable people than she could ever hope to be. It was a crushing blow to Gandra’s already pitiable self-esteem. Almost overnight, when she would take her meals with the McDuck family as her apartment was still being investigated as an active crime scene, she was reminded that they were on another level and that she did not belong.
After the latest Christmas meeting, Gandra started to draft her resignation letter. She loved her job. She loved the people who surrounded her but how long until they knew that she couldn’t get anywhere without help? In her humble opinion, it was better to leave while still in good graces. But the shift in Gandra’s emotional state did not go unnoticed.
“You’re thinking of quitting, aren’t you?” Mrs. Beakley said one evening.
“What? No! No, I’m not…I swear….I am…Please don’t tell Mr. McDuck. Please! I haven’t told anyone yet and this is kind of embarrassing to do but I don’t feel like I can work here anymore.”
“And why is that?”
“Why?” she scoffed. “Hello! Look around! I’m surrounded by brilliance and what do I have to bring to the table? I’m not very smart or clever. All I can do is file and try to make sure that Mr. McDuck sticks to his appointments. And once that’s over, what do I do with my life? I’m not smart. All I’ve got are my looks.”
“Why do you think that you’re not smart?” Beakley asked.
“Because I’m not? I’m stupid! Can you see it?” Gandra replied.
“What I see is a young woman who is handling her stress poorly. I’ll give you that working in the Money Bin or for Scrooge is not an easy task. Stronger people have come in with their heads held high and left with shattered dreams. But Scrooge doesn’t hire people out of pity or for charity purposes. Everyone in the Money Bin is a special kind of treasure, each with a skill, or personality, or thirst for knowledge that can’t produced by just anyone. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are a treasure and it would do you well to shine.”
“That’s easy for you to say! You’re a spy!”
Mrs. Beakley shrugged. “Guilty as charged.”
“And thank you for your getting me kidnapped by a masked weirdo!”
“Darkwing was…enthusiastic about the assignment but his heart is in the right spot and I couldn’t afford to take any chances. Scrooge means a great deal to me but I am deeply sorry for the emotional and physical distress that you suffered. It was never my intention to put you through that.”
“What was your intention?”
“Scrooge has many enemies and with your brains I thought that you would be up to the task of murdering him. It seemed probable.”
“What? Do you have, like, a probability chart of people who could murder Scrooge?”
“Of course, I do,” she lightly laughed. “It comes with the job.”
Gandra shook her head. “Yeah, I don’t want that. I don’t want any kind of job where I have to fend off death or be in danger or worry about people killing my boss!”
“Then what do you want?”
“Stability and normalcy! This sort of thing doesn’t happen to other people! Other people don’t worry about their boss dying or their father trying to murder said boss! I just want a normal life! Why is that so hard to get?”
“You’re working for Scrooge McDuck. No one here is normal.”
“That I got! And that’s why I’m leaving. I can’t hack it here and I’m not sure that I would want to if I could.”
“I understand,” Beakley said with a nod. “And it is your choice but let me make it clear, not just anyone can get a job in the Money Bin. You do have talent. Whether you realize it or not is another thing entirely but I know that if you want to grow and put your neglected talents to work, then you will find no other place to do so than the Money Bin.”
Mrs. Beakley left Gandra wondering what she meant by talents. What did she have that could be considered special? She couldn’t think of a single thing and was once more assured that she was stupid by her inability to pinpoint that spark she carried within her that apparently everyone could see except for her.