Title: Q is for Quest
Author: Bohemian Fling
Posted: 27 January 2003
Disclaimer: The Scarecrow and Mrs. King characters still belong to Warner Bros. and Shoot the Moon Enterprises LTD, no matter how much I wish they were mine. The content of the story, however, belongs to me. Please do not post or redistribute this story without the author’s consent.
Summary: When the stakes are high enough, even the fiercest rivals can learn to work as a team.
Timeframe: late December 1985 (after “Fast Food for Thought,” which aired on 12/17/85)
Feedback: Yes, either on or off list.
Archive: With the alphabet stories, a_bit_dotty’s site, Merel’s site. Anyone else, please ask.
Thanks: Thanks to my crackerjack beta team for giving this the ole one-two, catching all my errors and offering great suggestions! Any mistakes left in the posted version are definitely mine and are absotively, posilutely no reflection upon the high quality of betaing I received. :-)
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“Shh!” the somewhat reluctant participant in the search cautioned as his comrade pushed small items to one side of a shelf. “Someone might hear you!”
His companion, the one in charge of the operation, gave an aggravated sigh. “For the millionth time, nobody’s gonna hear us.”
Glancing over his shoulder, the more nervous of the two looked for signs of anyone who might catch them red-handed. “You don’t know that,” he protested. “In the movies, someone always hears the burglars.” He took another fearful look behind him and whispered, drawing out the last word for emphasis, “If we get caught, it’s gonna be bad.”
The ringleader nodded, acknowledging the truth of the statement. “So we won’t get caught.” Taking a large canister from the shelf, he opened it and scowled at the powdery contents. “Where is it? There aren’t that many hiding places in here.” After thrusting the container and lid into his sidekick’s hands, he
reached for another.
With a shrug, his cohort replied, “I dunno, but it’s hidden really good. We’ve looked all week and still can’t find it.” His eyes widened. “Do you think she knows what we’re doing and keeps moving it?”
“Don’t be stupid. We’d know if she knew, because . . . “ He suddenly froze. “Did you hear that?”
Head bobbing furiously, the other answered, his voice quavering, “Uh-huh. I told you someone was gonna hear us! Now we’re gonna get it!”
“Be quiet!” the leader ordered in a harsh whisper. He cocked his head and listened intently for a few moments. Satisfied that the noise he’d heard wasn’t anyone coming, he breathed a sigh of relief. Taking a look at the clock, he realized they’d soon have company. “It’s almost five. We should stop now,
“Yeah,” his companion quickly agreed. “Let’s get outta here.”
The two quietly crept from the room--one intent on returning early the next morning to continue the search, the other planning how to avoid it.
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“Mother, did you use the flour for anything last
“No, dear.” Dotty looked up from the morning paper and bent her head slightly to peer at Amanda over the top of her glasses. “Why do you ask?”
Amanda held up the flour canister for her mother to see. “This was on the counter next to the coffee pot.”
“That’s odd.” Dotty’s eyebrows bunched. “You know, yesterday morning, I found my box of recipe cards in the crab pot, and the can of coffee was on top of the breadbox.”
“And the other day, the container of spaghetti was in the cabinet over the dishwasher.”
Dotty pulled off her glasses and shook them at her daughter. “I think we have mice.”
“Two little rats is more like it,” Amanda observed with a knowing nod. “But what are they up to with all those things?”
“I don’t know. I’m sure I don’t have any recipes in that box that call for flour, spaghetti and coffee. One of the boys isn’t doing another ‘foods of other cultures’ section in school, is he? People in other countries do eat the strangest things. Remember that unpronounceable dish we had to make for the
last one?” Dotty shuddered. “It tasted worse than it sounded.”
“It wasn’t quite that bad, Mother,” Amanda said as she put the flour back in its proper spot. “Neither of the boys have cooking projects at school, so I don’t know what they could be up to.”
“I think we need to plan a little spy mission tonight to find out, don’t you?” Dotty’s eyes gleamed. “We can stake out the kitchen and catch ‘em in the act then grill ‘em till they crack!”
With a laugh, Amanda asked, “*Where* did you learn to talk like that?”
Dotty shrugged. “Cop shows.”
“Well, I don’t think we’ll need to ‘grill ‘em till they crack,’ but I do think we need to ‘stake out the kitchen’ tonight.” Hearing the unmistakable sound of the boys heading down the stairs, she quickly added, “We can make plans tonight after they go to bed.”
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Kneeling on the counter, Phillip retrieved a ceramic jar from the top shelf of the cupboard. Opening the lid, he grinned as his hand closed on what he and Jamie had been looking for all week. He set the jar on the counter, pulled the item from the hiding place and whispered a triumphant, “Got ‘em!” As he turned
to show his find to his brother, he shielded his eyes from the sudden glare of the kitchen light. “Hey, what’re you doing? Mom and Grandma will notice the light!”
“I think the question is, what are you doing?” Amanda asked.
“Oh-oh,” Jamie murmured. Gulping loudly, he sidled toward his brother. “We’re in trouble now.”
While his mother and grandmother were watching Jamie, Phillip thrust his hand behind his back to prevent them from seeing what he was holding. “We were just looking for something,” he stated. Meeting his mother’s eyes, he defensively added, “We weren’t doing anything wrong.” When Amanda arched an eyebrow and held Phillip’s gaze, he hung his head. “We weren’t,” he muttered to the
Amanda advanced on Jamie, and he retreated, stopping when his back met the counter. “Honest, Mom, we weren’t doing anything wrong.”
“No?” She waggled her finger between her two sons and addressed her mother. “Does this look like they’re not doing anything wrong to you?”
Dotty folded her arms across her chest and gave each boy a withering stare. “It looks like two little burglars to me.”
“No,” Jamie shook his head vehemently. “We were just . . . um . . . we’ve been on a . . . well, um . . . it was a . . .” Jamie stammered under the combined glares of the women.
“Quest!” Phillip enthusiastically exclaimed.
“A quest?” his mother repeated. “You were on a quest?”
Finding his tongue, Jamie elucidated, “Yeah, you know, when you search for something that’s hard to find.”
“I know what a quest is, what I don’t know is why you’re on one and just what you’re trying to find that’s so important that you’re sneaking around the kitchen at this hour?”
Jamie pointed at Phillip. “Because he wanted to find them.”
“You wanted to find ‘em, too!” Phillip shouted.
“It was your idea!”
Amanda stepped between the boys and held up her hands. “Enough! You,” she pointed at Phillip, “are going to tell your grandmother and me exactly what’s been going on here, and you,” she swiveled her head to fix Jamie with a hard look, “are going to be quiet until he finishes. Understand?” When both boys nodded, she turned back to Phillip. “All right. Talk.”
“You know how I’ve been studying medieval times in school, and we had to do reports on knights and castles and junk like that?” Phillip paused, and both women nodded, silently encouraging him to continue. “Well, Andy Castle read all about how knights used to go on quests to find stuff.”
Dotty rolled her eyes. “I should have known that Castle boy was involved somehow. He’s always doing something dumb.”
“It wasn’t dumb, Grandma, it was neat!” Phillip’s eyes shone as he warmed up to his subject. “The knights would go off on journeys looking for cool things, treasures, for their girlfriends. Sometimes, they were gone for years, because the stuff they were looking for had to be difficult to find. It was chiv . . . chival . . . “
“Chivalrous,” Amanda supplied, a small smile forming on her face as her son’s enthusiasm grew.
“Yeah, that. The girls back then went for the knights who brought back the stuff they really wanted.”
“What does that have to do with you two sneaking around the kitchen?”
“He’s trying to impress Linda Montez!” Jamie blurted.
Phillip lunged for his brother. “Shut up, big mouth!”
“Phillip!” Amanda stopped him mid-lunge. “Is
that true? You were on a quest
to find something for Linda?”
The boy’s head sagged, and his chin hit his chest.
“Phillip?” his mother gently prodded.
A muffled “yeah” came from him, and then he lifted his head to give Amanda an embarrassed look. “She said I’d be just like a knight if I found them.”
Amanda and Dotty exchanged a puzzled glance. “What would Linda want you to find in our kitchen?” Dotty asked.
When Phillip hung his head again and didn’t immediately answer, Amanda lifted his chin with her index finger, forcing him to look at her. “Phillip, your grandmother asked you a question.”
Slowly, he reached behind his back and displayed the ‘treasure’ he’d located for Linda.
“Marshmallows?” Amanda choked back a laugh. “Linda Montez sent you on a quest for marshmallows?”
With a pained expression on his face, Phillip nodded.
“But why?” Dotty asked. “Doesn’t Linda have marshmallows at her house?”
“Yeah, but . . .”
Amanda prompted, “But what, sweetheart?”
“A quest is supposed to be for something difficult, and when Linda was here last week, we had hot chocolate, and she wanted marshmallows, but you weren’t here, and nobody knew where they were. Not even Grandma. We said we couldn’t find ‘em, because you hide ‘em too good.” Phillip shot an accusatory look at his mother. “Linda was really upset that she couldn’t have marshmallows in
her hot chocolate.”
“That’s when Phillip said that he would find the marshmallows and bring them to her, just like the knights brought junk to the ladies in the olden days. Linda got all mushy and said she knew Phillip was smart enough to find ‘em and he’d be her hero if he could do that and,” Jamie made a face, “she’d give him a kiss! Yuck!”
Phillip ’s eyes shot daggers at Jamie. “I told you not to tell anyone about that!”
Dotty clamped one hand on her mouth and the other on Amanda’s arm, and Amanda pressed her lips together as tightly as she could.
Taking a step behind his mother, Jamie said, “You did not. You told me not to tell anyone at school about it.”
Regaining her composure, Amanda placed a palm on Phillip’s chest before he could leap off the counter to attack his brother. “Boys, that’s enough. I think you had better go get ready for school, and we’ll talk more about this over breakfast.”
“Okay, Mom,” Jamie quickly agreed and scampered out of the kitchen.
With a scowl, Phillip slid off the counter and landed with a flat-footed thud on the floor. Handing the bag of marshmallows to his mother as he walked past her out of the kitchen, he muttered, “I guess I’m not Linda’s hero.”
Amanda called after him. “Phillip? How was Linda gonna know you found these here and didn’t buy them at the store?” She held back another laugh at the stricken look on her son’s face.
“The store!” Phillip smacked himself on the forehead. “Why didn’t I think of that?”
“Head too full of Linda to think clearly, I suppose,” Dotty commented. “Go get dressed now, and I’ll get started on breakfast.”
As soon as they heard the bedroom door shut, Amanda and Dotty grinned at each other. “A quest for marshmallows. That’s a new one on me!” Amanda shook her head.
“Let’s hope this is the most unusual thing Phillip does to get a girl’s attention. We should be grateful he was told about quests and not jousting!”
“You’re right about that.” She looked at the bag in her hand then at her mother. “Time to stop hiding the marshmallows?”
“Oh, yes! It’s embarrassing to tell the boys’ friends that I don’t know where you hid them!”
“All right, Mother, no more hiding the marshmallows.” She placed the bag on the counter. “During breakfast, we can all decide where to keep them.”
“You know, with Andy Castle and Linda Montez around, we’d better start battening down the hatches to prepare for Phillip’s teenage years,” Dotty commented as she opened the refrigerator door to retrieve eggs, bacon and juice. She tilted her head sideways to look at Amanda. “Isn’t it nice to know that boys still behave that way when they want to impress girls?”
A slow smile spread over her face as the thought of Verdi tickets flashed through her mind. “Yes, Mother. It really is.”