Yum-Yum Meets A Tasmanian Devil
By: Darnell Cureton
Amy never imagined that Sweets Bakery would be a storefront for battling ghouls, goblins, witches, and vampires. When the young vampire hunter, Sallie Ann Sullivan and her dog YumYum saved Amy from a ghoulish bite and eternal darkness, she began helping the young woman and her guardian dog to battle the supernatural. Assignments filtered through the bakery by a paranormal phone connection. Now that her eyes were open to the supernatural, Amy felt satisfied crusading for clueless humankind. She loved helping hunters with the unknown, as long as it didn't interfere with her bakery business.
"Sweets Bakery, this is Amy. What can I getcha?" After a bad encounter with a vampire, her demeanor was as cheerful as ever. Customers flocked to the establishment because of her cheerful voice, fresh cookies, and croissants made daily.
"Two jellyfilled and one glazed. One large dark roast with cream and sugar," she repeated back to the man on the line. "What's that? Hold the sugar cause I'm sweet already? Oh, aren't you nice," Amy replied with a smile the caller could not see.
Many customers came in to see the girl behind the voice. Amy thought it was men looking for the old massage parlor that was there before the bakery renovation. Maisy, a homeless woman Amy hired after she fought off the vampire that tried to bite her, assured her the attention from both sexes was for the curlyhaired brunette with dimples, high cheekbones and smelled of cinnamon.
"I don't know why but your voice is intoxicating at times. Customers can't resist coming in to see you and getting a half dozen chocolate chip cookies," Maisy said. "Um by the way, any calls on the special phone yet?" Hopeful brown eyes blinked at Amy patiently, waiting for a response. She craved for a new assignment.
Maisy, a tall stout black woman with a pear shape, remembered being possessed by a grandmother’s spirit that fought the undead using her body. They fought alongside her granddaughter, a vampire hunter, to dispose of a dangerous nosferatu. Once Maisy regained control of her body, she became depressed. She longed for supernatural work, which gave her a purpose in life. Playing the ukulele for tips in the park and eating the profits of Sweets Bakery wasn't satisfying for her anymore.
"No calls yet Maisy," said Amy, as she watched hope drain from the black woman's face. Maisy's shoulders hunched back while she ate a cookie and drank a peppermint mocha latte.
She sighed. "The mocha latte is tasty, but I best watch my sugar," she lamented still sucking the candy cane that mixed her drink.
"You mean watch your diabetes?" Amy corrected.
"Same damn difference," Maisy fired back with more heat than needed, then walked away.
Boy, she's grumpy lately, Amy thought. It's time to do a job. "The next one that comes in I'll give to her," Amy decided. Then she remembered not all assignments were deadly or scary. The last two help requests were too fetish. One was helping an artist get rid of an 80yearold New York Rockette poltergeist with red toenails that constantly posed naked in his home on a bearskin rug. Another was a hairy wellendowed demon that relieved himself several ways, in a woman's bathroom with the door open and the toilet seat down. This was a wet and sticky situation for the woman if she didn't check before sitting down herself. Cases like these Amy referred to the Sex and the Supernatural hotline in New York City. As she prepared another pastry order to go, the special phone began to play the 1980s disco tune 'Funky Town', by Lipps Inc.
"Now that is scary," Amy said as she answered the call. "Twilight Crusaders, glad you called. How can I help?" she asked as she listened to the caller. Maisy came up with the name Twilight Crusaders since they took on most assignments just before daybreak or right after nightfall.
"Let me get this straight, you need someone to clean up after a Tasmanian Devil in the Enchanted Forest? Sorry, we don't take cleaning jobs. I'll connect you to Paranormal Potty Services. They have a wonderful cleaning program " Amy immediately stopped talking when she observed Maisy sitting at a customer table sniffling, her eyes heavy with tears. "I'm not homeless. I'm a Twilight Crusader," she sobbed quietly as she whittled her thumbs.
"On second thought," Amy said to the caller, "We'll take the assignment."
"So, what kind of case is this?" Maisy asked beaming with joy. "Am I fighting a Goblin or a Warlock like I did on Halloween? What weapons do I get for the purse?" She prodded.
"Well, um, you only need a broom and a long handle scooper," Amy insisted.
"What?"Maisy fretted in disbelief.
"Well, um, the thing is " Amy thought about how she was going to phrase this. "Well, the job is tracking a Tasmanian Devil and picking up the very evil he's leaving behind in the Enchanted Forest," Amy tactfully explained. Her face felt flush as she forced a smile.
"You mean clean up devil poop with a scoop?" Maisy mocked with arms akimbo, her trademark sign she was getting angry. Her eyes bore deep into Amy as she spoke, enunciating each word. "IDon'tTakeCrap. AndIDon'tShovelitEither," she quipped as her anger continued to a slow build.
Amy thought fast to stifle Maisy's fury.
"Maisy, this is a necessary job. They need an experienced Twilight Crusader that can tame a Tasmanian Devil in the wild. Besides, you get to team up with Sallie Ann whom you haven't seen in a long time. She will bring her guardian YumYum in case you need to track him down. When this request is completed, other jobs will open up. You will have more work than you can handle. I'll let you use the special designer purse if you want to," Amy said in a singsong voice. "How about it Maisy. What do you say?" Amy appealed. Her voice was soft and soothing.
"Well umm what about the bakery? Won't you need help?” Maisy asked.
"I'm using PTA, the Paranormal Temp Agency while you're out of town," Amy assured her. They're sending over a shy teenager that's been bullied a lot. Her name is Carrie. The bakery work will give her confidence and keep her mind off problems she had at the school prom."
"Okay then in that case, I'll scoop the poop," Maisy said with a smile.
Maybe there was something about her voice that affected people, Amy thought as she arranged for the Twilight Crusaders transportation to the Enchanted Forest.
Maisy sat at the bus stop on the corner of Bergen and Hemlock Grove, carrying the special purse Amy promised she could take on the assignment. The magic designer purse could fit any items placed in it. It was a perfect way to conceal a broom that might give Maisy the appearance of an evil wicked witch or a disgruntled janitor cleaning poop.
After Maisy put in the broom and pooper scoop, she added more items. In went a roll of quarters wrapped in a thick sock, her mobile phone, a dozen cookies, dog treats, and her ukulele. A half dozen special brownies she baked were the last to go in, but the purse still felt light as a feather. She reached in and nibbled on one of the cookies.
Walking down the street was her friend the vampire hunter Sallie Ann, eating a hand full of pumpkin seeds. She had her guardian YumYum, the Golden Lab with her.
"Hey Maisy!" squealed Sallie Ann, followed by a warm long embrace. YumYum stood on hind legs and extended a paw to Maisy, which she fondly shook.
"Wow, such a nicely trained Lab," Maisy exclaimed.
"Yes, they did a great job with him at guardian school," Sallie Ann said.
Maisy reached inside her purse and pulled out a doggie treat, a trick the spirit grandma taught her when she was possessed. YumYum wagged his tail as he gobbled up the snack. Maisy rubbed her fourlegged friend's belly to his delight. Before she could ask when their transportation was coming, Maisy saw an ancientlooking bus approaching on Hemlock Grove.
It was a throwback from the 1930s. Painted camouflage green, it had hardwood seats with no cushions and side windows without glass. The windshield was made of prescription glass that needed cleaning. A humansized rabbit was driving, wearing aviation sunglasses. The bus came to a stop and the door opened. He gestured for them to get inside.
"Express to the Enchanted Forest," the rabbit said matter of factly.
"That's us," Maisy said standing on the bus lift, pulling out the sock of quarters from her purse to give the coney.
"Your money is no good here," leered the bunny, as he stuck out a paw with five sharp toenails, preventing Maisy from boarding. The image of Maisy with balled fists reflected off his mirrored sunglasses.
"I already feel like a lottery winner, but if you don't pull back that foot I'll add it to my lucky charms," Maisy said with a snarl. She wrapped the sock of coins around her hand and started twirling it, gaining speed for a bunny head strike.
Sallie Ann ducked the spinning improvised weapon and stood in between Maisy and the giant rabbit.
"Whoa, Maisy! He means he wants a different currency," Sallie Ann asserted, handing the animal some of her pumpkin seeds as payment. The rabbit moved out of the way to let them aboard, then ate the snack satisfied.
Maisy put the sock back in her purse but watched as the giant rabbit finished the seeds then stepped off the bus. He lowered a black tarp over the back windows and latched it tight around the sides of the bus. The only light inside the passenger compartment came from the bus windshield. Light reflected off the windshield like a magnifying glass and warmed everything it touched. Maisy rubbed her hands in the warmth as the rabbit got back in the driver's seat. He started the bus and drove down a smooth paved road that soon turned into a bumpy dirt one.
"Taking a short cut to the forest," the rabbit said as the vehicle bounced and jostled the passengers. The bus swerved violently to the right to avoid something in the road. Maisy fell off the hardwood seat onto the metal floor. Lightning flashed up Maisy’s tailbone to her elbow. She suppressed a yell as she climbed back in the seat. YumYum sensing her pain growled his disapproval of the driver as Sallie Ann held his collar tight to prevent her dog from attacking the bunny.
"Stand down, boy, stand down," Sallie Ann purred in YumYum’s ear to calm him.
"Chicken crossing the road," the bunny smirked to his passengers on an ancient PA system that popped and distorted his voice. "He made it to the other side," the coney snickered finishing the announcement.
"If they have a soup kitchen for the poor in the forest, I'm making hasenpfeffer stew with bacon and garlic," Maisy declared, staring at the bunny. He continued driving, watching the road, ignoring the comment about soup prepared with rabbit meat. Squinting over his sunglasses, he strained to see through the windshield.
"So that's the problem," Sallie Ann said, shaking her head in understanding.
"What's going on with that fool driver?" Maisy asked, wanting to know too.
"Rabbits are nearsighted," Amy disclosed, as the bunny swerved and barely missed another object in the road.
"Were here," The rabbit announced 30 minutes later as he opened the door. Maisy and Sallie Ann stumbled out disoriented from the rough ride. YumYum appeared unaffected. He came out wagging his tail, looking at Maisy's purse.
The first thing the girls noticed was the ground. It felt cushionsoft and looked smooth as cobblestone. On the side near the road, grass swayed left and right from a gentle breeze controlled by a frog in a red top hat. Flying fairies the size of honeybees danced on yellow tulips causing pollen to float in the air, absorbing into other plants and flowers. Tall redwood trees rose to the sky as far as the eye could see. YumYum made a beeline for one of them.
"This must be the place!" said Sallie Ann enjoying the brilliant colors all around.
As Sallie Ann admired the forest, Maisy's attention went to the rabbit.
"Remember what I said about hasenpfeffer stew," Maisy threatened, snapping a finger at the rabbit. His big eyes blinked at her for a minute, then he returned to his seat and drove off.
"I think you scared him off," said Sallie Ann.
"So now what?" Maisy asked, annoyed that the rabbit took off, well like a rabbit. "How do we find this Tasmanian Devil?" Maisy queried.
"Before we look for him, call Amy. I told her we would let her know when we arrived," urged Sallie Ann.
"Sure thing," Maisy agreed as she reached into her purse and pressed the donut picture for Sweets Bakery on her phone. As it rang she turned on the speaker so Sallie Ann could hear.
"Sweets Bakery, this is Amy, what can I getcha?"
As Amy's voice blasted through the speaker, something big in the forest made its way toward Maisy and Sallie Ann.
The ground rumbled and shook as a herd of moose broke through the forest heading for the voice on the phone.
"We'll be stomped!" shrieked Maisy.
"The speaker! I think its Amy's voice. They're reacting to it," Sallie Ann exclaimed. Turn off the speaker Maisy! YumYum! Slow’em down boy! Sallie Ann commanded.
Guarding his hunter, YumYum charged the huge beasts like a canine sheepherder. Gentle bites on their hind legs, nose, and lips turned them back into the forest.
"Good boy YumYum," Maisy cooed as she gave the Lab another dog treat from her purse.
"We have to find out more about the power of Amy's voice when we get back home," Sallie Ann marveled while taking the phone and texting Amy about the incident.
"With all the commotion, we don't have to look for the Tasmanian Devil," Maisy said.
"Why do you say that?" asked Sallie Ann.
"Because if I'm right, there he is," Maisy said in a whisper, as Sallie Ann slowly turned in the direction Maisy pointed to.
In the middle of the forest stood a Tasmanian Devil. It was 9 feet tall. Long brown shaggy hair covered a plump walnut shape body with a beer gut. He stood on huge muscular hind legs. His arms were short like a TRex but had manly hands. He growled at the crusaders showing sharp yellowed teeth. Large bloodshot eyes looked between the two crusaders for weakness.
"I thought a Tasmanian Devil was a short little itty bitty thing that spins in circles?" Maisy asked.
"That's in the Warner Brothers cartoon. This is the real thing," Sallie Ann pointed out.
"Yeah, but like the cartoon, I bet music calms a crazy ass."
"You mean calms the savage beast?"
"Not where I come from," remarked Maisy.
Maisy opened her purse and took out the brownies. She tossed the treats heavily laced with pot in the animal's mouth. Then she started playing music on her ukulele which creature danced and swirled. His red eyes became droopy as he jiggled his tummy to the beat.
"See. Just like in the cartoons," Maisy said. Then the Tasmanian Devil bent over and pooped in the grass.
"They don't do that in cartoons," remarked Sallie Ann.
"Hey! Wait a minute!" giggled Maisy. "Look at the poop. It's golden! A rock. It's gold! The Tasmanian Devil poops gold!" Maisy shouted with joy.
"It's been a few days but I finally got him to poop off the grass and into a pot I placed in a safe place I can check at random. This keeps the grass clean in the forest and a bucket of gold nuggets for me. Winwin for everybody," Maisy said with a smile. "I can convert the gold to cash when I return home. It's surprising no one cares about the value of his poop."
"Well as you know, our money is no good here," Sallie Ann said returning the smile. "I don't know about you but I'm ready to go back home. You seem to have everything under control. Do you need me?"
"Nah," Maisy said shaking her head. "YumYum did all the work. He taught Tdevil one leg up on a tree for number 1, while I taught him to squat in the pot for number 2. That's a lesson I can take to the bank. I'll stay here until I feel he can follow the new routine on his own. In the meantime, go home. I've called a taxi for you and YumYum. That ride will be better than the bunny bus." Maisy grinned.
Just then a yellow cab with E.T. written on the hood pulled up. The humansized rabbit that drove the bus was behind the wheel wearing his signature aviation sunglasses. Three blind mice riding shotgun assisted with the navigation.
"Hasenpfeffer? Is that you in there?" Maisy asked.
"Enchanted Taxis, homeward bound," the rabbit said through another cheap speaker system.
Sallie Ann and Maisy looked at each other. YumYum tilted his head to the side as if to say "what the what?"
They all watched as the three blind mice attempted to clean the windshield.
"Never mind rabbit," Sallie Ann said. I'll wait for a convicted killer driving an Uber. It's much safer."