Young John Waldenthrottle rode his J.C. Higgins ten-speed bicycle over to the Chicken Shack and parked on the sidewalk in front of the plate glass window. Looking inside, he could see that most of the gang had arrived already so he walked on over to the door and went inside to join them.
“Hey Young John!” they all called out as he walked over to where they were sitting.
“Hey everyone!” replied Young John. “Sorry I’m late. I ran over a big sponge on the way here and it got all jammed up in my derailleur so I had to stop and dig it out.” He went on over and sat down at the table with Agnes, Manticore, James and Albert.
At the next table over was Melvin, with Max on the floor under his chair, Cyclops with the duck on his shoulder, and Medusa. At the end of the table, they had opened the window so that Pegasus could stick his head inside and be part of the gathering. (It had taken some fancy talking to get the manager to allow Max and the duck to come in. They struck out completely when it came to the large, winged horse!)
The Chicken Shack girl brought out a tray with three pitchers of beer, nine mugs and two bowls (yes, the duck drinks out of a mug!) and distributed them to the tables.
Young John looked over to Agnes and asked, “So where’s Vera tonight? She have to work?”
“Yeah,” replied Agnes. “Her boss is being a real jerk. Hasn’t given her any time off since the night she missed work and didn’t call in. You know, the night we were 'stoned' at the cemetery.” Then she looked toward the other table and said, “Sorry Medusa, no offense.”
“None taken,” said Medusa. “Oh, and I’ve decided to change my name to Marissa.”
“That’s right – I was gonna mention that,” added Cyclops. “People just really have this negative visual image of anyone named Medusa so we thought a name change would be a good idea.”
Then the Manticore piped up, “So when are you gonna get around to giving that duck of yours a name?”
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa there just a second, Manticore,” chimed in Melvin. “That’s no different than you being a Manticore and just going by the name Manticore – now is it?”
“Hey now! I’ve got an actual name.”
“Oh yeah? What is it?”
Just as Manticore was about to answer him, a 1956 Ford Country Squire station wagon pulled into the parking lot out front.
“Hey look!” interrupted Agnes. “Isn't that the car that used to belong to…”
And before she could finish that sentence, the driver’s door opened and out stepped: Carl Simpson!
The whole gang stopped everything and just stared out the window as Carl walked around the front of the Country Squire and over to the passenger side where he opened first the door to the front seat and then the one to the back. Out of the doors stepped two absolutely gorgeous women. Carl closed the doors behind them and the trio began walking toward the door to the Chicken Shack.
Suddenly, Medu- uh, Marissa shouted out, “Hey, those are my sisters – Stheno and Euryale!” Immediately she got up and ran to the door to greet them.
As the sisters hugged each other repeatedly and started carrying on in that excited, giddy sort of conversation like three sisters tend to do when they haven’t seen each other in a while, Carl ambled on over to the tables where everyone else was and sat down.
“Man, it is sure good to see you,” said Melvin. “I was sorta wondering what happened to you. Whatcha been doing lately?” Obviously not ready to tip his hand too much in case Carl wasn’t really aware of exactly what all went down last week. But he was definitely very curious as to what exactly did happen to Carl with regards to the aftermath of that fateful day. Melvin glanced over to Albert and James with a puzzled look on his face. He sensed that same puzzlement and curiosity in the looks on their faces also.
“Well,” began Carl. “The way I understand it from those two…” He paused to point over his shoulder to Stheno and Euryale. “...their sister, Medusa, turned me into a stone statue. That's the only part that I actually, vaguely remember. But according to what I learned from them, apparently some guy mowing the yard at the cemetery…” He raised his eyebrow in Melvin’s direction. “...bumped into me with a riding lawn mower and broke me in half. Then...” He turned his head toward Albert and James. “...a couple of grave digging guys assisted the lawn mowing guy in carrying the halves of my body over to the chapel - where they ended up locking me in a coffin and running off with the key.”
“Okay. Wait. Let me explain…” interrupted Melvin.
Carl raised his hand signaling Melvin to be quiet, and then he continued, “I’m not upset at all. It was a strange day to say the least. Apparently for all of us. Fortunately for me though, Stheno and Euryale… Wait, wait. They’ve changed their names to Juliana and Winnie. Which I’m totally okay with – I couldn’t properly pronounce those other names anyway. So like I was saying; fortunately for me, Juliana and Winnie witnessed the whole thing from the woods. When you guys left the chapel, they came in, broke open the coffin, and carried me off into the woods.”
As the three sisters approached the tables, Marissa said, “Excuse me everyone, I’d like to introduce my sisters - ‘Juliana’ and ‘Winnie.’ Girls, this is Agnes and Manticore and James and Albert and Young John. And here is Melvin and that’s Max on the floor and Cyclops and duck and you remember my son, Pegasus.”
“I’m changing my name to Alexander,” announced Pegasus.
Young John said, “Hi ladies. Carl was just telling us how you rescued him from the coffin.”
“Oh yeah,” replied Juliana. “If we hadn’t have glued the two halves back together when we did – My Zeus that would have been a big mess when he came back to life!”
And everyone laughed for a few seconds – then paused to think about what that would have actually looked like and went, “Eww!"
“Gross!" said Young John. "Can’t you see that we’re getting ready to eat?”
At that moment, the Chicken Shack girl came back out of the kitchen with a big tray full of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, biscuits, another pitcher of beer and three more mugs. The sisters sat down and everyone passed around the food then started eating.
A few moments went by without a word being spoken then Melvin took a drink of his beer and broke the silence by saying, “So what is your real name Manticore?”
“It’s Manfred,” answered the Manticore.
“Well that is strange," said the duck. "That’s my name too!"
And then they all really did live happily ever after.