And that was when the idea came to Pixie—the truth is always cognizable!—and he communicated it swiftly to Dixie, who scoffed at first, and Simon, whose eyes brightened as he understood the implication, so the three casually withdrew from the melee around the front of the Luncheonette and made their way to the rear, where the windows of the kitchen and other facilities were, and there they saw the unscrupulous boss, 'Lugless' Douglas Fairpants, former child star of such forgotten single-reelers as Laddie goes Walkies in the Park, Rin-Tin-Bin Saves Custard at the Big Little Horn and She Wore a Pink Ribbon in her Garter, up to his elbows in the sewage run-off, hauling out lumps of the fatberg which had accumulated over 15 years of fast food and slow maintenance and quietly let themselves in by the kitchen door, and in the main diner they found Lollobello, tied to a bench, struggling helplessly against the bonds which Fairpants, with her own clothes and apron, had used to bind her and when she saw them it was Simon who silently—demonstrating an unusually expressive talent for mime—but effectively, urged her not to cry out, lest the yever—as he aptly, with hands and feet, described the gluttonous boss, causing Dixie to wonder if he was signing in Yiddish—should overhear, and she mouthed: "he's caught some strange disease, kinda zoonosis, from the dreadful waste disposal system he put in, the cheapskate refused to hire a Union Plumber, did it all himself and he's scared the Inspectors who're due tomorrow will connect him with the deaths of at least fifteen patrons and another fifty who're sick in hospital right now and throw the book at him for causin' a Pandemic, so he fired the entire crew 'cept me, made up some cockamamey story about me stealin' Caroli Neroli's family formula to divide an' rule the staff, the creep! an' to keep everybody out while he tries to get rid of the evidence, you gotta blow the whistle, guys, get the cops here and that fat bastard thrown in gaol, I'm beggin' you!' all without uttering a single word, but thanks to her mobile lips, eyes, eyebrows, nose, ears, chin and the dimples on her cheeks, her three rescuers got it all, so Pixie ran off PDQ to summon HBPD while Simon and Dixie worked feverishly to free the damsel from her dress before Fairpants should return, but the question in all their minds was: is this a two-reeler and is there time for a happy ending?
Pixie was pie-eyed
as the accusations
Simon inveighing against
her, though, in truth, he knew
nothing, other than he had wakened
her with a kiss, but what had
made her turn Aunt Tom
fellow workers, or
steal from her best
friend? it was just a
meaningless calligram in an
old dead empty Universe
"What could be worse than bein' accused by her co-workers of bein' a Aunt Tom?" asked Pixie, outraged at the very idea, so Dixie explained: "well, 'ccordin' to Olive, she stole a old family formula and a litre bottle o' Neroli Oil from Caroli Neroli—you know her, gives you extra cheese on your cheeseburger, yeah?" and Pixie grinned mischievously while Dixie continued, "—well, she's spose'd to be in cahoots wi' Douglas Fairpants—he's the owner of the Luncheonette, an' reputed to have his fingers in all sorts of subterfuges an' shady pies," he explained for Simon's benefit, "—to promote an' market the perfume they're makin' wi' the Neroli Oil under her name, Lollobello, wi' the slogan: 'Lollobello wins the Fellow' an' Fairpants believes it'll be a slam dunk into the top bin, an' there's nuthin' Caroli can do to stop them—he's already countin' the dollars pourin' in—'cause the Oil ain't copyrighted or patented or nuthin'!" and Pixie, horrified that someone he had always considered a friend could be guilty of such a betrayal, and in league with a dodgy former matinee idol like Fairpants, to boot, exclaimed—using the strongest and most shocking language he ever uttered—the single word which summed it all up: "shucks!"
And unnoticed by anyone except Simon, the young mining engineer mistakenly believed by Sleeping Beauty to be her Prince Charming, Pixie and Dixie left the party beside the Schola Saxonum Toll Bridge and headed back into town, but before they'd reached home, Pixie—hearing footsteps behind them—looked back and was pleasantly surprised to see Simon approaching, and told Dixie, so both Meeces were waiting when he reached them: "where are you going?" asked Dixie and Simon told them, "well, Henry, the Cat in the Hat, told me about your friend Sleeping Beauty mistaking me for a Prince, so I thought I'd look her up and see how she's doing, is it far?" and Dixie looked around, then said: "well, that's our house just over there, not actually ours, but we live there, but it don't look right, see Pixie, the door's on the wrong side, it's gone sinistral, see?" and Pixie stared, looked away and then back at the house, then laughed, "that Top Cat's a quick worker, it's been turned round, that's why it's got the door on the left side now, instead of the right, and those windows are on what should be the back, looking on to the yard, not the front, I wonder what Cinderella thinks of it?" but Dixie wasn't listening: "follow us," he said to Simon, it's just around the block, and led their new friend by the same route as they had the stranger and Simon also realised they had walked almost right round the block before they reached the Luncheonette, but there wasn't much Lunch business going on, because a crowd of people waving placards were jostling around the entrance and the Meeces realised that they were most of the workers—all the cooks, waitresses and cleaners from the different shifts, gathered en masse—and they were demanding better pay and conditions and being cheered on by another crowd, customers from the neighbourhood, with Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear at the front: "not a very quiescent part of town, is it?" said Simon, adding, "I don't see Sleeping Beauty there, you did say she's a waitress, right?" and Dixie nodded, then, "hang on, Olive our Secretary/Receptionist is over with Huck and Yogi, I'll ask her if she knows," and he scooted across the road, leaving Pixie with Simon and asked Olive, who looked around furtively, then whispered something to him, and he ran back over, narrowly missing being run down by a bewhiskered and tattooed leather-clad biker tearing along on a Penny-Farthing, and arrived breathless and in a state of consternation, "what is it?" asked Simon, "are you having a heart attack or something?" but Dixie waved the concern away, "nah, it ain't me, but Olive says that Lollobello Montecello—that's Sleeping Beauty's real name—is a turncoat, a quisling, a class collaborator, they're calling her an Aunt Tom, cause she refused to strike, crossed the Picket Line and she's in there now, the only one," and Simon and Pixie gawped, but then Dixie said: "and it gets worse!"
"I ain't chicken-peckin' Uncle Godfrey!" declared Mayzie McGrew stoutly, "when he gallops aroun' the meadow with me on his shoulders it's more fun than blowin' bubbles in the wind, or listenin' to grown-ups talkin' politics over Auntie Dusty's rhubarb pie, which is, in my humble - childish - opinion, a nutterly disgraceful way to thank her for her gloriously delicious pie, whereas I - a mere topsy infant orphan - can tell that when an ambitus politician promises to end corruption an' kick-backs, that promise or pledge is as clear as day a meteorwrong, cause it's a catch-22, puhlain as the nose on my face: crooked politicians stand for elected office so they can stick their snouts in the trough an' that's a fact o' life which nobody can deny, so if they put an end to all the bribes an' perks they wouldn't get the goodies they're after, so they wouldn't bother they'self to run for office in the first place, but if there's no crooked politicians how's all the other crooks gonna win the contracts and orders their businesses need to give them the profits they want, they'd positively insist that without the crooked politicians, government in the US of A would grind to a halt and nuthin' would get built or dug or made anywhere, even in Hanna Barbera, fer goodness sakes and the folks who work for all the companies owned by the crooks and crinimals would be outa jobs and they'd riot and tear down City Hall demandin' that the crooked politicians be elected cause that's the only way the system can run smoothly but nobody ever admits to bein a crook so the politicians say they're gonna end bribery and brown envelopes changin' hands at the chimes o' midnight an' you so-called adults and grown-ups an' you in particklar, Henry Hat, has the audacity to rebuke me for bein' open an' honest in askin Uncle Godfrey to gallop me aroun' the meadow on his shoulders simply and truthfully cause it's more fun than hearin' you all talk about the Labor Rights o' Silk Worms instead o' letting me enjoy this bowl o' rhubarb pie, in peace!" and the silence seemed to roll over the heads of everyone at the table like a muted thunderstorm as the air-pressure broiled and brewed until it was broken by Pixie who stood up on his chair and said: "please Mizz Dusty, please, may I please have another slice of this absolutely delicious rhubarb pie, please? thank you very much," and while that triggered a clamour of similar requests, old Godfrey the Troll hoisted Mayzie onto his broad shoulders and galloped around the meadow which was always one of his particular favourite activities because it made him feel young again.
Which was when a kind of trap-door, covered in a square yard of turf, opened upwards and the head, then the shoulders, arms, body and legs of an elderly, nut-brown Troll climbed out, turned and extended a hand to pull up his companion, a handsome, dark-skinned, much younger man, or boy, even, tall, sturdily built and with a warm smile on his face as he approached Dusty Lester: "Mizz Dusty," he said confidently, "Mr Godfrey has earned a large slice of rhubarb pie and I vouch for his inalienable right to have both custard and cream with it," and then he noticed the strangers and doffed his workman's cap, "apologies if we intrude upon private business, but it is lunchtime for those who toil on or under ground and we have earned our midday repast," at which Lucky asked Henry if he wouldn't mind pulling out another couple of folding chairs and once they were placed at the table, Godfrey and the young man joined the party; Godfrey introduced his employee as Simon Legree, and Simon added that he was a Principle Chartered Mining Engineer, having trained at the Underground University of Pennsylvania, and Henry whispered in an aside to Dixie and Pixie: "looks like we found Prince Charming, seems like your Sleeping Beauty has selective hearing, put the bits she liked together and BINGO!" and Godfrey announced that in addition to Plastic Mining, they were considering extending into sericulture: "we gotta lot of tunnels down there, standin' empty and I read that an underground location is great for breedin' silkworms, whaddaya think Lucky, we are equal partners after all, it ain't just up to me, you like it?" and Lucky said, "it's a great idea, Godfrey, I'm with you all the way on that, and there ain't nuthin' Simon don't know about what goes on under the Earth's crust," and Simon, laughing, assured the company that he certainly didn't know everything, but he'd read the story that Godfrey had found in a Mining Journal and it looked like sericulture was just one of the things old worked-out tunnels could be used for, and if it all proved successful, would provide a good income even after the Plastic Seams were done, adding: "mining is a business that eventually comes to an end, when there's nothing left to bring up, but the silk-worm business is sustainable and self-perpetuating, these little guys produce mile after mile of silk, so long as you treat then well and provide all their creature comforts, and they produce the next generation," and Godfrey added, "it may seem as if we're yawin' away from the original set-up here, Lucky, and Lord knows, Trolls have been in the minin' business for thousands o years, but diversification's the name of the game nowadays, heck, we started diggin' fer Iron, an' Bronze, an' Copper an' such, then got into Gold and Silver, when we came across coal, it weren't no use to us, so we threw it on the fire in disgust, then realized it did have a use, Plastic's a recent development, you gotta move with the times," and Lucky said: "don't look at me like I'm a stick-in-the-mud, Godfrey, I've allus moved with the times, that's why I'm happy Managin' the Bridge, though I'd never managed anything before, young Simon here an' my kids and Mayzie over there are the next generation an' we gotta leave 'em a Planet they can call Home; you came here cause you hated and suffered under the Jim Crow Laws down in the South, Simon refused to be an Uncle Tom to some redneck thinks he's better just cause o the colour of his skin, that's hokum, nobody's got the right to tell another person, regardless o their species, be they human, feline, canine, meeces, equine, insect or avian—or silk-worms come to that—what they can an can't do, so I propose that if we're gonna go down the Silk Road, we run a Unionised Plant, give every worm a fair contract, a decent wage with health insurance, sick pay an' reg'lar hours, child support and even pensions when they reach our ages in worm-years, whaddaya say, Partner?" and he gave Godfrey a strange look, part invitation, part challenge, part casual, part deadly earnest, and the others - for whom this was a unique moment in the History of Hanna Barbera - held their collective breaths, until Godfrey leaned across the table, spat in the palm of his hand and shook Lucky's for all he was worth: "well said, old timer, we owe it to the Future!" at which Mayzie piped up: "you used to put me on your shoulders, Uncle Godfrey, and gallop around the meadow, do it again! do it again!" and the Cat in the Hat stood up and said, in all seriousness: "Mayzie McGrew, your blatant attempt to chicken-peck Mr Godfrey, at a moment like this should make you feel ashamed, when the older generation are trying to do stuff that will benefit their workers and their descendants an all you can think about is your own pleasures—if you aren't ashamed, well, I am!"
And so they approached the bridge over the river and Pixie and Dixie—who'd never been in this part of the County before—were amazed at the four-story house which rose high over the bridge and ran the full length, about twenty feet or so, with an archway through which even quite tall people—in comparison with Pixie and Dixie—could walk without ducking their heads or bumping them, and wide enough for a single horse and cart, or motor car, and sitting at a small table by the entrance was a jolly-looking fellow, dressed in a red sweater and blue pants, with one leg in a kind of caliper, and a jaunty yachtsman's cap at an angle on his head; Lucky Lester, for it was certainly he, according to the sign beside him which stated that he was the
Schola Saxonum Toll Bridge,
horses and riders 9c,
horse-drawn wagons 10c,
motorized vehicles 15c-30c depending on length
"why's it called that?" Dixie whispered to Henry, who crouched beside him and whispered back: "cause it crosses the Schola Saxonum River, okay? now leave the talkin' to me," and he turned to the Bridge Manager, doffing his hat which gesture the jolly man emulated, then Henry said: "looking better, Lucky, I guess workin outdoors like this is better than bein a miner, eh?" and Lucky agreed: "sure thing, Henry, it's a young man's game underground, although Godfrey ain't young, as you well know, but I spose Troll years ain't the same as ours, and the new Engineer he's got knows a thing or two, he's fairly mechanised the place since my accident, but I'm not complainin', sure it was a lucky turn for me, got me this billet an' Dusty's inside bakin' a pie - rhubarb still yer favourite?" and Henry acknowledged the truth of this, then Lucky asked Mayzie, "how're you gettin' on with the cartwheels?" and she told him her record was twenty-five in a row, and offered to demonstrate, but Lucky suggested she wait till after lunch, then told Henry that the Engineer, Simon Legree usually stopped the diggers at Noon and he and Godfrey would be coming above ground: "course, Legree's a bit of a hard taskmaster and he'd have the machines runnin' round the clock, but Godfrey's an Old School Troll, 'Down Tools for Mealbreaks,' sez he, can't abide the feel of the vibration down below when he's eatin' says it spoils his appetite and brings on a malaise - you ever see a Troll with a malaise, Henry?" but Henry shook his head, so Lucky explained: "turns him sorta greeny-orange, and comes out in purple boils, an' 'is breath gets like cinnamon, an' you knows how Trolls can't abide cinnamon," which Henry admitted he did: "yepp, I was up in Down City when there was an epidemic of cinnamon-itis among the Old German Trolls, in the middle o their Annual Weimarization Festival, you ever been to that, Lucky?" and the jolly man beamed: "oh for sure, Henry, me an the Missus was there for our Honeymoon that very week - not when they had the cinnamon-itis, I think it musta been two years after the one you're talkin' about - but it was the Festival Week, oh what a Lucky man I am to be married to Dusty an' have my beautiful kids, but you know what happened last week?" and Henry grinned, "nope, although I guess you're gonna tell us," and Lucky nodded: "I didn't win the Lottery!" and despite Henry's reproachful glance, Mayzie blurted out: "what's lucky about that? we didn't either," but Lucky didn't take any offence, he said: "well, it was Hiram Herman, you know him, Henry, the Hermit over in Underhill, he won it, single ticket, no sharers, so he went to the Post Office to collect his winnin's an' just as he came out, with that big wad of notes in his hand, a runaway goat butted him an he fell in the road, got run over by a bus, let go of the cash, an it got sucked up by a twister, distributed over five Counties, poor old Hiram got taken to hospital, seven busted ribs, both legs broken, cracked spine, fractured skull, lost eleven teeth—an he only had twelve before that—he's in plaster from his ankles to the top o his head, that's how lucky I am!" at which very moment, Dusty Lester appeared carrying a tray which she set down on the table, "good to see you, Henry, I looked out an' saw you and Mayzie an your little friends," at which Dixie opened his mouth, but Pixie clamped a paw over it, "so I brung out extra, you always look like you could use a decent feed, Henry," and the Cat with the Hat grinned like he was from Cheshire, and said: "I guess it's my metabolism, Dusty, but the fact is, I always can!" and with that, and the extra chairs Dusty took from behind the sign, they all settled in to enjoy lunch, and await the arrival of Godfrey the Troll and the mysterious Simon Legree!
"So," said Dixie, thoughtfully, "what can you tell us about this Troll, this Godfrey geezer?" and Henry laughed, then said, "he's no 'geezer' as you put it, he's just an old Southern Troll, out of the Blue Mountains as I recall, his family went way back to the time before America was discovered!—as if it hadn't been here all along, needed some Italian to sail up on a boat and claim it for the King and Queen of Castile, not realisin' that Vikings had reached Newfoundland about 600 years earlier, but who's countin'?—anyhoo, Godfrey didn't approve of the Jim Crow Laws in those Southern States, so he upped an' came west an' settled just outside town, built hisself a nice Bridge House—that's Trolls speciality, they acquire Toll Rights to a bridge an' they live right over it—although Godfrey didn't know it at the time, but under his house runs a seam of the finest plastic anybody could find and one day he was diggin' in his garden when he struck Lucky, you'll meet him too, Lucky Lester, he got hit by a lump of plastic that came out on Godfrey's pick, and he knew exactly what it was, so Godfrey and Lucky went into partnership, registered Lucky Godfrey's Plastic Mine and started to dig, but poor old Lucky got hurt when one of the tunnels collapsed while Godfrey was in town buyin' supplies, so Godfrey wanted to shut down the mine, but he was approached by a consortium of manufacturers who offered to 'take it off his hands' and when he found out how much they were offering, he knew it was worth twenty or thirty times more; now, Trolls are kinda sere, by nature, they ain't gregarious and Godfrey's no exception, but old Lucky was much more sociable, he had a wife, a vivacious gal named Dusty, an' they had three little girls an' a baby boy, but Lucky was kinda impecunious and hadn't made any provision for his family if he couldn't work, and even owed rent on their cabin, so realizin' what the mine was worth, Godfrey went to visit Lucky an' Mrs Lester an' he offered them a proposition: they should have Lucky's half-share o' the mine, and he would be mighty obliged if they an' the little 'uns moved into Bridge House, where they could all coorie down safely an' would she be willin' to take charge o' the house an' provide him with home-cooked meals an' mend his work-clothes when they got tore, an such-like and would Lucky become Manager o the Toll Bridge?; so that's what happened, Dusty Lester became Godfrey's Housekeeper an' Lucky minded the Bridge while Godfrey toiled in the Plastic Mine, with the help of any casual labourers he could hire, but accordin' to your Client, he's now kidnapped this Prince Charmin' an' set him to workin' the mine, but that don't chime with the Godfrey I've known for years, and look, there's the Bridge House up ahead, let's just take things easy till we can find out what's goin' on there."
So, as they strolled along the Northbound Yellow Brick Road, with Mayzie still acting the hysteric—what with her cartwheels, snatches of song, imitating a merlion in full flight or a ferret down someone's trousers—Henry, the Cat in the Hat, explained his approach to the Detecting or Inquisitioning business: "it's all down to my old Bronx Babushka, guys, cause she always said to me, 'Heini,' she said, that's what she always called me, Heini, 'Heini,' she said, 'if you wanna know someone, you gotta know their ייִדיש,' you dig that guys?" as Pixie and Dixie exchanged a puzzled look, and Mayzie piped up, "my Babushka Mehgrewski, that was our name before the Port Authorities changed it to McGrew, told us to speak with an Irish accent, settle in the Bronx, hah! we went to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, well she used to say that too, ייִדיש but more guttural, you know," and Henry noticed the bemused look the two little guys were still passing between them, like soccer players doing Keepie-Uppie, and he chuckled, "if I say it as Sitz im Leben, is that any clearer?" but the mice shook their heads, so he translated, "okay, literally it means Place in Life, which can be about where you live, who with, where you work, what you do, how old you are, all that stuff, but properly it's more about your beliefs, your Faith, the Religion you follow, your Politics, what kind of a guy you are, your values, the essence that makes you you instead of him, dig?" and slowly, slowly, Pixie and Dixie nodded, grasping what Henry meant.
Now, just so you know, Henry's friend Mayzie McGrew was blonde and dimpled, which gave her a rather superficially angeliferous appearance, although once you realised that she had a tendency to sidle up to a person and blow bubbles over them with all the showiness of an hysteric, that was likely to colour your view of her—not to make you suspicious, as such, just a little less beholden—but the fact that she was Henry's Associate and when you learned that they had worked as a team on umpteen of the biggest legal cases in Hanna Barbera, both Civil and Criminal, some of the confidence that may have slipped was quickly shored up and, so far as Pixie was concerned, when she gave him a cheese cookie, he was in her pocket, listening to Dixie outline their own first case, that of the Kidnapped Prince Kevin, the one that had been brought to them by Sleeping Beauty herself, otherwise Princess Lollobello Montecello, now reduced to working split-shifts as a waitress in the Luncheonette, and the way Dixie told it was enough to reduce a block of granite to tears, with all the detail about the Troll having moved back under the very same Bridge as he had been evicted from by the Billy Goats Gruff—in their capacity as Enforcers for the Property Owners Association of West Hanna Barbera, not perhaps the most kosher of Landlords, but they kept their noses just above the legal waterline, although the tactics employed by the Gruffs were, in the Cat with the Hat's considered opinion, "shady, edging towards suspect, with a hint of sadism in the mix," although he didn't claim that the Troll, whom he knew as Godfrey, was always entirely innocent—and then waylaying the runaway Prince and Princess and abducting the Prince to work for him in his Plastic Mine, deep underground, where he extracted the Plastic Ore which he then supplied to just about every manufacturer in the Tri-County Area who produced just about everything that could be bought or sold in that same area for just about any purpose under the sun: "oh, Ol' Godfrey's pretty rich, I'd say," said Henry, batting away one of Mayzie's bubbles, "an' that may be why the POA were puttin' the squeeze on him, but that's no excuse for him to kidnap this Prince Kevin character, why don't we roll over to his Bridge and see if we can sort this little mess out, without recourse to the Police Department and all the unpleasantness that can entail," and Dixie whispered to Pixie, "see, I told you he was smart!"
Still smarting from Boo Boo's refusal to become involved on the side of Justice, Dixie was muttering about the hysteric little bear's lack of honour, integrity, desire to right wrongs, as well as his height, which, Pixie thought, was a bit rich considering their own—even compared with Boo Boo—diminutive stature, because, after all, they were among the smaller citizens of Hanna Barbera County, never mind the Town, but once Dixie went off on one of his diatribes there was really nothing Pixie could do but let him rant until he ran out of steam, or forgot what, or who, he was raving about, and any way, the calabash tree was just up ahead and lying in the shade beneath it, his hands clasped over his midriff, was the Cat in the Hat, while leaning against the tree, playing with a bubble-blower, sat a small girl: "whadda we call him?" whispered Pixie, "can't just say 'Hi Cat,' can we?" but Dixie marched straight towards the calabash, where he stood a few inches from the Cat's head and said: "Hi Cat!" and the Cat's right eyelids parted a scant few millimetres and he purred: "bless me, if it ain't Dixie Donut, it's been years," and he pushed himself up on one elbow, extending a finger for Dixie to shake, "an' who's your sidekick?" at which Dixie introduced Pixie and the Cat introduced himself as Henry and the girl as Mayzie, and she blew a bubble which completely enclosed Pixie for seven seconds, and Henry said: "that's one of her chicanes—get a hostile witness in the box an' he's spinnin' a sob-story that has the entire jury wantin' to vote his brother-in-law Citizen of the Year and Mayzie blows one o' them over him an' pretty soon he's blubberin' the whole sordid story an' putting himself in the frame alongside his brother-in-law, gets 'em every time, don't it Mayze?" and she smiled coyly, "sure does Hen, hun," and went on blowing.
To cut to the chase or—as Pixie put it when he and Dixie were explaining their client's dilemma to Boo Boo later that day—"long story short, girl under spell, boy rescues girl, girl loses boy, boy abducted by wicked troll, what's girl to do?" and that prompted Boo Boo to scratch his head, then his chin, then his bottom, and at last say: "I don't know, why you askin me? I'm just a little bear!" and when he had left the Luncheonette, Dixie said, somewhat harshly, "little bear my ass, he's a chicken-livered, cowardly custard and I wouldn't grubstake him to find a needle in a haystack that's got planning permission for a loft conversion next door to the Hanna Barbera/Santa Barbara Xpressway," and Pixie looked impressed: "hey, that's somewhat analogous to being very similitudinous, buddy, howd'ya think of those things?" but Dixie just shrugged and said, "must be in my jeans."
Now, as it happens, the very first Case—in fact it was filed in their Filing Cabinet as Case #1—that PDInquisitions took on, had nothing to do with either Mr Jinks or Sookie Soo, or even Top Cat—Jinks supposed BFF, but actually a lot closer to SS than any of us may have had any justification in expecting, on the basis of what little evidence we had amassed so far—but was actually brought to them by the waitress at the Luncheonette, Miss Lollobello Montecello, or Sleeping Beauty if you prefer, and that on their very first day in business—and perhaps it might be useful to explain that the business premises of PDInquisitions was the curtained off two booths at the far end of the Luncheonette from the door, normally set aside for Private, Discreet or even Secret meetings, whether personal or commercial, which the participants preferred not to conduct before the eyes and ears of the general public—and was brought to the Partners, Pixie and Dixie, by the normally demure Olive, but now tantamount to ithyphallic, what with the hand gestures implying some form of self-abuse, the side-eye way she had of looking at the Partners and the Client simultaneously—no mean feat—when she placed three tall glasses of nuée ardente, as the Menu referred to what, anywhere else, would be generally—and more prosaically—known as Hot Lava Java but, once Olive had left them, Miss Montecello poured out her heart-full of woes and had the two Inquisitors staring at her with huge, round eyes, filled with wonder and brimming with tears at her plight!
And that was how it came about that Hanna Barbera's first Private Detective Agency—PDInquisitions—was born, when Pixie and Dixie pulled on their new pairs of gumboots, somewhat pugnaciously took up pipe-smoking, employed Olive Oyl—who had by now finally and irrevocably broken up with Popeye—as their Secretary/Receptionist and discovered that she was something of an aficionado of—not only—the Town's Society Folks, and therefore the Social Climbers who pray on them—but also—the Lower Depths, whatchamightcall The Underworld for, while most folks who think they know anything about Hanna Barbera believe it to be the archetypal Hometown of either their childhood memories, or their sentimental longings, behind it's bonhomie and Hail-Fellow-Well-Met warmth, generosity, fine feelings and an innocent sense of fun, there lurk cockroaches, poisonous mushrooms and a whole network of shady businessmen, corrupt politicians, depraved Boy Scout leaders, spies and saboteurs from every continent and State of the Union, serial-killers with all the spidey-sense of a tarantula with an MBA, and good-old common-or-garden mobsters, who'll buy and sell anything and anyone, and are happy to Deep Six anybody who crosses their path and challenges their profits, and Olive's knowledge of this milieu was encyclopaedic!
Now, if he was truly being himself—and not a love-stricken swain—Mr Jinks would have found the whole concept and philosophy of Feng Shui risible, indeed he might have muttered in an aside—if there was anyone else with whom he could safely confide—"it's all Fuckin Hooey!"—but there was no such person present, and so, not wanting to appear iron-hearted and desperate to win favour in the limpid pooling, not to mention pulling and beguiling too, eyes of the hottest Queen he had ever encountered in his life, he let Sookie Soo fly her kite, and he began to believe, he, the most down-to-Earth guy in the whole of Hanna Barbera began to believe in all the schmaltzy hocus-pocus, in invisible forces, quasi-scientific mumbo-jumbo about Ley Lines and Tram Lines and Railway Lines and Palm Lines and Washing Lines—no, I think he made that one up—about the interrelationships between what Sookie, in her purring, sensuous accents called "the Scented Beans," which apparently referred to the Animal Kingdom, "and the Leaves and Pebbles," being Plants and the Planet itself, although in truth he could make very little sense of it all, indeed, was past caring, so besotted with her was he, to the extent that it seemed to the watching mice that they had become soul-mates, or as Dixie, who had once read a book, put it: "metempsychosis, as clear as day, she's taken him over, lock, stock and barrel, like a squatter movin into an empty building and claiming Right of Possession," and cost would be no object, he said, anything—to please Sookie, though he didn't say that, or not in so many words—and he would meet her tomorrow in the Luncheonette, to sign the contract and pay her deposit, and he helped her roll up the plans and he carried them to her sporty little two-seater and fancied the idea of the pair of them tootling out to the Blue Hills for a picnic and perhaps a swim in the lake and sunbathing on the warm grass, as he watched her drive around the corner and disappear, then turned back, to find TC getting ready to leave too: "I'll get the boys to find us a crane so we can turn the house around, and once that's done, Sookie can start on the yard and then the inside, you sure Goldilocks won't object?" and Jinks laughed louder than he intended: "nah! so long's she can catch her favourite TV shows and has her bottle and a pack of Lucky's, she don't really notice nuthin else, leave her to me, I'm the one wears the pants hereabouts," and when TC cast an eye over his legs, Jinks conceded, "well, figuratively!" and at the back of the yard, Pixie and Dixie rolled their eyes and agreed, "the sap's been hooked alright."
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