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Big Bang Theory: HofstadterHoffman Cohabitation

By William Collins

Humor / Mystery

Chapter 12

12

As Leonard struggled with how to tell Sheldon he was not allowed back at Jimmy's place, he found he really didn't have to mention it. Sheldon's hatred of Jimmy already made him leery and reticent to even wanting to step on the grounds much less enter the premises. Leonard was also making a lot of time with Penny. They were together almost every night either watching TV in the game room or going to the movies. Looking forward to this night off, Penny kept looking forward to it as she served patrons who dined at the Cheesecake Factory.

"Here's your Baked Tilapia…" She was serving Michael Bluth, former manager from Bluth Realty, and his date, Dr. Stephanie Barnett, an attractive and shapely red-haired physician from the local hospital. "And here's your Chef Salad." Penny recalled Stephanie as a former girlfriend of Leonard's.

"Thank you…" Stephanie looked up. "Penny, could I get more Diet Pepsi?"

"Sure…"

"Excuse me…" Michael eyed his sandwich. "Could I get more tartar sauce on the side?"

"Of course…"

"Michael, glad I found you…" Someone briefly blocked Penny at the head of the booth and stood before it. "You sure made it hard to find you."

"I didn't want to be found." Michael looked up to his brother Gob and was irked to see him taking some of his French Fries. "Stephanie, you know my brother."

"Yes, I recall Gob."

"Michael, you're still dating the fat girl?" Gob was hardly skilled when it came to being discreet. Stephanie dropped her jaw a bit offended. She had briefly dated Gob until he broke up with her to try re-joining the Magician's Alliance, but Michael felt a bit of a bond with her and had started dating her. Chuckling under breath, Gob looked down to his brother. "Look, Mikey, I need some money to buy a new illusion."

"Gob, I'm not giving you, Lindsay, Buster or our mother any more money." Michael lightly shook his head. "I tried helping by keeping the company afloat for three years. I told you guys not to sell your shares. I'm not helping you clean up after your own mistakes."

"But you're my brother…" Gob played the brother card. "Or… I knew it! You're a robot!"

Stephanie just sat and watched this umpteen Bluth brother spectacle play out in public before her.

"I'm not giving you more money to waste on another trick, Gob…"

"Illusions, Michael!" Gob insisted. "Illusions!" His spring-loaded arm trigger launched a spray of a dollar's worth of pennies across the table. Coins landed in the drinks, Michael's French fries, Stephanie's salad, her cleavage and everywhere else. Penny came with the tartar sauce and extra drinks just in time to see the spray of money covering the table along with coins falling down and rolling across the floor.

"That was supposed to be a flame." Gob checked his device.

"Holy crap on a cracker…" Penny moved in to help. "Sir, would you like new French Fries. A new salad, Stephanie?"

"It's not that bad, Penny, thanks…" Stephanie started pulling pennies from her salad.

"I suppose somewhere in all this my brother left the tip." Michael joked. Gob stepped back briefly then noticed Penny. He eyed her long blonde hair, her lovely bone structure then lowered his gaze down to her bosom.

"See a penny, pick her up, and all the day you'll have good luck…" He grinned to her. "Hi, I'm Gob Bluth, Michael's brother, the good-looking one. Free tonight?"

"I've got a boyfriend." Penny turned after taking the old sodas from the table with pennies in them. For the moment since encountering her again, Penny was embarrassed for Stephanie. They might not have been friends during the time she had dated Leonard, but they didn't harbor any bad feelings for her. Turning in the old drinks at the dishwasher's counter, she shared a look toward her fellow employees, Bernadette and Chloe, then hastened to help another customer in her section of the restaurant.

What was wrong with this picture?

It was the guy in the booth behind Michael and Stephanie. Sitting alone, he had another small figure next to him that Penny at first thought was his kid, but this figure looked like a cross between a Muppet and a cartoon character. It had purple skin and a tuft of neon green hair made of yarn at the slender top of a turnip-shaped head just breaking over the surface of the table as it looked at the menu on the table with its human companion.

"Oh God…." Penny paused reluctantly then did her job. "Hello, welcome to the Cheesecake Factory, would you like to hear our specials?"

"I'd like the Subway Club."

"No, he doesn't." The little guy said. "He wants the seafood sandwich."

Penny stood and watched this scene with curious surprise.

"No, I'd like the Subway Club."

"No, he wants the seafood sandwich." The little guy insisted.

"No, I don't."

"Yes, he does…" The woozle stood in the seat to his look his best friend in the face with unblinking painted eyes on neoprene foam. "Search your feelings, Jeff-Fuh-Fuh…" Jeff stared back at his little friend with restrained amusement. It was at that moment that Penny noticed her patrons arm extended up the back and into the head of the puppet. The restaurant was not far from the Emerald Night Club in Pasadena. Comedians, ventriloquists and magicians were always slipping in the Cheesecake Factory for lunch or dinner.

"I get it!" Penny started grinning. "You're a ventriloquist! You're really good!"

"Thanks…" Jeff sipped his water with his free hand. "This is my buddy, Peanut."

"Do you have a boyfriend?" Peanut looked at Penny.

"Yes, I do." Penny was smiling ear to ear. Stephanie in the next booth was watching excitedly with Michael. Rushing out of the restaurant, Gob had rushed to his girlfriend's house to get his puppet Franklin.

"Are you sure?" Peanut postured human-like. "Once you go purple, you never go back!"

Penny started laughing to have a dummy hitting on her.

"I'll take the Seafood now and a Subway to go." Jeff gave Penny his order. "Pepsi to drink please." Penny wrote down his sandwich order.

"Are there any jalapenos in that club?" Peanut asked.

"No, would you like some."

"No, they might be someone we know." Peanut did a little tip of the head as Jeff drank his water grinning at the joke. It was a reference to a character named Jose in their act who was a giant talking jalapeno on a stick. Penny started laughing again and headed to turn in the order at the kitchen. In the next booth, Stephanie was watching and giggling as Peanut was standing in the seat next to Jeff and swaying his head back and forth, his hips making a sort of dance for the restaurant patrons. It would be good publicity to sell out his show at the nightclub. At that moment, Leonard and Howard entered the restaurant for lunch without Raj and Sheldon. They looked around once and noticed an empty booth in Chloe's section, but then a couple left a table in Penny's section and they moved to take that one. The table was mostly clear except for two cups of coffee and a tip.

"What are you going to tell Sheldon when he gets here?" Howard spoke out loud. Raj had lost the short straw to take the long way to lunch in order to give them time to talk.

"I don't know…" Leonard was conflicted. "I mean… Sheldon's still my friend. Do you think it will matter to him if he can't come to Jimmy's house anymore?"

"But you said Jimmy told you it might be best to not to hang with Sheldon anymore."

"I know what he said, but…" Leonard was reluctant to completely cut Sheldon out of his life. "Look, Jimmy makes a good point. Eventually, Sheldon's going to insult or make a stupid comment to the wrong person who won't ignore him, and I'm going to get hit with the fallout. How do I tell a guy who's my best friend that I can't be a part of his life anymore? He kept me from getting arrested by Homeland Security."

"Five years ago!" Howard was there when the rocket propulsion experiment blew up the elevator shaft in their building. "As far as I can tell, that debt is paid! Cut him loose!"

"I can't…"

"Do you remember the great sinus infection of '08?" Howard made a good argument. "He made you watch him all night in case he slipped into a coma! What about when he made you scour the kitchen clean with a toothbrush when Raj's mouse got loose for seven seconds? How about when he sent you all the way to Santa Barbara to exchange a Star Wars PEZ dispenser? How about when…"

"You want a room at Jimmy's, don't you?" Leonard's eyes narrowed suspecting a motive.

"Three hot teenage girls next door and five hot older sisters? Come on!" Howard jumped across the table to beg. "I've got to get out of my mother's house!" Penny had come by to get her tip and clear the table.

"Hi, guys…" She wiped the table with a new cloth. "Sorry, but we're a bit slammed. Where are Raj and the geek nobody wanted?" She was still in the good mood from meeting the ventriloquist.

"They'll be along in a few minutes." Leonard responded.

"Did you tell Sheldon he can't come by Jimmy's anymore?" Penny knew about the talk.

"I'm working on it."

"What's to work on?" Howard didn't see a problem. "Sheldon, you're out. Phfft…" He made it simple.

"If Jimmy's sisters come home, Howard, there won't be an empty room in the house." Penny pointed out.

"I will live in the attic!"

"Is there room for me in that attic?" Peanut was eavesdropping.

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