The Bred and the Bald: Rubberduck and Little Cheese
Being With One’s Family
by Andrew Troy Keller
Rubberduck helps his fellow Zoo Crew member, a depressed Little Cheese, find his long-lost mother.
’Twas the holiday season on a planet known as Earth-C, and inside the Z-Building, Earth-C’s greatest super-heroes — Captain Carrot and his amazing Zoo Crew — were all getting their headquarters ready for the Yuletide celebration.
All of them were getting ready, that is, except for Chester Cheese, a student at Follywood High, who was really the micro-mouse known as Little Cheese. Instead of enjoying his first Christmas with the Zoo Crew, he was sitting in front of a blank computer screen, staring at it with a sad look on his face.
“Hey, kid, are you OK?” asked movie star Byrd Rentals, alias Rubberduck. “You look like me after my fight scene in The Canine-Bull Run.”
Turning toward the malleable mallard, Chester said, “Oh, I’m sorry to worry you, Rubberduck. You see, before I had received my powers to become Little Cheese, I usually had spent the holidays with my mother and father. Now, I’m no longer sure who my family is.”
“Look, kid, I’m really sorry about the murder of your father,” said a concerned Byrd. “But could you answer me this one question? What happened to your mother?”
Taking a deep breath, Chester said, “I don’t know. For some reason, she left me and my dad when I was five.”
“Don’t tell me, let me guess…” said Byrd, while stretching his arms around Chester, in order to turn on the computer and type on the computer’s keyboard. “After she left, neither of you ever saw her again, right?”
“Bingo,” answered Chester, who had by now sat back and closed his eyes.
After he stopped typing on the keyboard, Byrd let out a smile and said, “Well, then, kid, since this is the season for being with one’s family, I really think you should go visit your mom and patch up whatever it is that separated your folks in the first place.”
“Are you kidding?” asked a confused Chester. “I’ve told you that I don’t know where she is!”
“That was then, kid,” said Byrd, who pointed at the computer screen. “This is now.”
Chester also looked at the screen and was astonished to see some information on where his mother might be. His mouth dropped open, and his eyes grew wide. “How’d you find this info so quickly?”
“Our crime-computer is linked up to all major police departments and government agencies,” explained Byrd. “And it’s always being updated, so I had a hunch we might already have it on our computers.”
“That’s fantastic!” said Chester. “What do we do now?”
“Let’s get you reunited with your mom!” said Byrd.
The next day, after a private jet landed in Gnu York’s own Lagrowldea Airport, Byrd and Chester got off the plane and took a cab over to an apartment building in the west side of downtown New Yak City. The two Zoo Crew members took the elevator up to the fourth floor and walked up to the door of apartment 4-B. Byrd knocked on the door, while Chester tried to make himself look presentable.
The door opened just a bit, and a scruffy-looking female mouse took one look at Byrd Rentals and said, “Hello. Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
“Byrd Rentals at your service, ma’am!” he replied.
“The actor?!” she said incredulously.
“Yes,” said Byrd, grinning his patented Hollywood smile.
“But what are you doing here?” she said, hiding herself behind the door a bit. “My fur is in such a mess right now!”
“I’m just here as a friend,” explained Byrd. “It’s this young mouse who’s come to see you.”
Receiving a nod from Byrd, Chester stepped forward into view, took a deep breath, and said, “Hi, Mom. It’s me — Chester.”
Hearing that, Chester’s mother forgot all about her appearance and opened the door all the way. With eyes as wide as Chester’s were, she said, “Oh, dear God! Chester!”
Wrapping her arms around him, the relieved mother’s face was quickly covered in tears. “I’m so sorry, Chester. Mommy didn’t mean to leave you. I really didn’t mean to leave you.”
After the tearful reunion, the middle-aged female mouse ushered Chester and Byrd into her apartment. A curious Byrd, looking around, asked her, “Mrs. Cheese, may I ask why you left Chester?”
“That was my married name, Mr. Rentals,” she replied. “I switched it back to my maiden name, Parmesan — as in Helena Parmesan. As for your question, Edam and I met and got married in college at a young age, when neither of us were really ready for it — he a promising scientist, and me an art student. Opposites attract, I suppose, but having such different outlooks on life certainly doesn’t help keep a marriage together. Chester was born during our first year, so we stayed together, but we were always fighting. Edam’s obsession over his experiments and all his constant chatter about science made me finally reach my breaking point. I had no choice but to get out of there. Like a lot of young artists, I came here to Cranewich Village to find myself. But not a day has passed when I didn’t regret leaving you behind, Chester.”
“Mom, if you want me to, I would like to start spending the holidays with you,” said Chester, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.
Turning toward him, Helena smiled, placed her arms around him, and said, “Oh, I want to, Chester. I really want to. And who knows? Maybe I’ll let you pose for a portrait for you to give as a gift to your newfound friends.”
“Hey, you know what, Mom?” said a happy Chester. “That sounds like a great idea!”
“Well, then, in that case,” said Byrd, walking to the door, “I’ll go outside and walk around while you two work on the gift.”
Just before Byrd left the apartment, Chester looked at Byrd and said, “Hey, Byrd. Merry Christmas… and thanks.”
“Sure thing, kid,” said Byrd, letting out a genuine smile. “And Merry Christmas to you, too.”
Saying that, Byrd left the apartment and went out for his walk, leaving Chester Cheese and his mother, Helena Parmesan, to re-bond with each other on this very special holiday.