The Rhino Finds a Home
Willy the Rhino found his flight to his new job almost as interesting as the person conducting the flight. She was a woman with wings. She wore a blue dress and glowed. She had lots to say but was over ridden by the cricket on his shoulder, a cricket with a suit and top hat who kept blabbering on about letting your conscience be your guide. Since Willy had never had such a thing as it would’ve interfered with his line of work he tried to ignore the cricket. He tipped his head up and caught the lady’s attention. “Wouldn’t it have been simple to take a car?”
She smiled. “Simpler but much harder. When you’re in Toon Town It’s better to fit in as I do as the Blue Fairy than as a vehicle. They tend to get destroyed.” There was a rush of flame and a cowboy riding a comet went streaking by them. “Good morning, Pecos.” She said.
“Morning, Miss BF.” He shouted and disappeared in a shower of pixy dust. Two planes threw by them with eyes in their front windows and then collided in a shower of debris from which they emerged unscathed.
“I think I understand, Madam.” Willy swallowed hard.
“It’s not Madam.” The cricket retorted. “She’s the Blue Fairy and worthy of your respect.”
“It’s all right, Jimeny.” She told him. “He doesn’t mean any disrespect.”
“Hmph. If you ask me, he belongs with that crowd that surrounds that rabbit.” The cricket snorted.
“Actually.” She replied. “I think he’ll fit right in with the weasels.”
“Weasels?” Willy frowned. “Aliens that look like weasels?”
“No.” Replied the cricket. Weasels that look and act ten times worse than weasels.” He snorted. “They all act like gangsters.”
Willy smiled a little to himself. They sounded perfect. Just like the guys at the water front. He folded his arms and watched the scenery pass below him. Rivers that went in circles or looped back on themselves like pretzels. A waterfall that flowed uphill and trains that rushed at each other without tracks and then jumped over each other.
A few moments later a city came into view with trolley cars running down the middle of the streets. Signs on their sides proclaimed them to be the Red Car Line. “Welcome to Los Angeles in 1945.” The cricket said.
They swooped down passing through a flock of birds of at least twenty different species to light on a roof top. The Blue Fairy set Willy down. As he brushed himself off, she asked. “Are you sure you couldn’t use my friend? He hasn’t had much work lately.”
“No, thank you, Madam. Who is the guy I report to?”
“He’s only called Boss. He wears a tan zoot suit with a red tie and a white fedora. He’s just downstairs. You can’t miss him.”
“Thanks.” He said. The Blue Fairy reached out with her wand with a star on the end and touched him. Suddenly he was clothed in a blue zoot suit with black pants and very long white shoes. “What?” He looked at her.
The Blue Fairy smiled at him. “You need to look the part your first day on the job. Good luck.” She took off with a couple gentle flaps of her wings. As she flew off he heard her answer an unheard question from the cricket. “You know why we do these jobs, Jimeny. It’s gotten too boring around here without guests from the outside to entertain.”
Willy started to enter the door when he bumped his head and realized he was wearing a large yellow hat with a white feather. He removed it and negotiated the stairs. He entered a dimly lit room smelling of cigarette smoke and old beer.
“Well look what the cat dragged in.” A voice said sarcastically. Willy looked over and saw a weasel with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth sitting up in a rumpled bed. “Tell me a story, bub, and it better be one I like.”
Willy saw the weasel was wearing a tan zoot suit with a red tie. This had to be the one the Blue Fairy had told him about. He held his hat against his chest and told the weasel the lines she had had him memorize. “Boss, I’m the new heavy. Central casting sent me over to replace Looney Phillip.”
The weasel considered this a moment and then lifted a partly full beer bottle to his lips and drained half of it. “Yeah, I remember now. Think you can cut the mustard?”
Willy found the expression strange. He shrugged and drew a switch blade. “You show me some mustard and I’ll cut it for you.”
The weasel stared at him and then laughed until he choked and had to take another swig. “You’ll do, kid.” He got up, pulled his pants on and set his fedora on his head. “Let’s go meet the rest of the mugs. We’ve got to hassle Valiant and the Rabbit and have a good old fashioned chase.” He stopped, reached under the bed, and pulled out a bottle labeled: “Toon Pick up.” “Here. Drink this. It’ll make you easier to put together after this is over.”
Willy uncorked the bottle and a death’s head floated out of it. “Looks like my kinda drink, boss.” He took a huge swallow and everything disappeared. The weasels later told him he bounced like a rubber ball and shot around the room like the rabbit with his tail on fire and that he had been just terrific and had almost caught the rabbit except for the fact a train ran him over. He remembered nothing until he came to in the wrecked police car.
“Well, ya mugs. They got away again.” Boss griped, but he didn’t sound like he was too unhappy.
“Quitting time, boss?” A fat weasel with a beany and a blue and white striped shirt asked.
“Ay, caramba. I hope so.” Said the weasel with the green zoot suit.
“Yeah, ya mugs, it’s quitting time and you know what that means?” The boss grinned at them.
“Ink and Paint Club!” They all shouted.
“Ya got it in one!” He slammed his foot on the accelerator, crashing them all into the back.
Willy found the Club to be the strangest bar he’d ever been in but the entertainment was top notch and the food was great and the women were even better. He was sitting there eating a three-inch porterhouse served by a smiling cow when a slinky woman in a white fur coat sat down across from him. She held out a cigarette in a long slim holder for him to light which he did with a little fumbling. She blew a ring of smoke, tossed her black and white hair back over her shoulder and then smiled at him. “You’re new here and I like new. Do you have any scruples?”
“Is that anything like that French thing, truffles?” He asked her.
She stared at him for a moment and then broke out laughing. “I deserved that. Handsome, you’ll do fine.” She leaned forward with a predatory grin. “I think I’ll show you how to paint the town red, or my name is not Cruella de Vil.”
The next morning when Willy woke with a raging headache in bed with three of the weasels and wearing a white fur coat, he knew he’d found where he belonged.