I know. It’s been a very long time since we checked in with our favorite world-traveling bon vivant, he of the jaunty headgear. I assure you it is not because he hasn’t been having adventures. No, no. Of course he has still been having adventures! More adventures than you can shake a stick at. I mean, if you’re shaking a stick at adventures. Why would you be doing that? That seems like a strange thing to be doing. Adventures are kind of ephemeral and I would think would be difficult to be stick-shakey at, but what do I know? I can’t be overseeing all the things you’ve waving wood at. Heh. Wood.
WOOD. Totally a euphemism.
No, it is not for a lack of adventures that we haven’t heard from our favorite bon vivant lately. See, The Person Who Writes These adventures needs a whole chunk of time to write and research…um…I mean TRANSCRIBE them from the ACTUAL TRUE STORIES AS THEY HAPPEN, and The Person Who Writes These has not had that chunk of necessary time in quite some time to do so. She’s quite busy, overall. Not with bon-vivantery or anything. She doesn’t bon vivant. But she does other things. Time-sucking things. Also sometimes she needs to sleep and her brain’s not working at maximum capacity currently . So please forgive her. She does her best.
But The Person Who Writes These started feeling VERY GUILTY recently because there are SO MANY bon vivanty stories to be shared, and they’re not going to write themselves, you know? And people need to know these things. They make the world a better place, these stories of bon vivantery. I’m quite sure of that, as is The Person Who Writes These.
So…without further ado…I bring you…The Further Adventures of the Fanciest World-Traveling Bon Vivant (yes, of course he still has his hat.) And, yes. I realize how long this is. I’d apologize, but bon vivantery cannot be tamed. It utterly cannot. So grab a cool beverage. And maybe also some cookies. It’s worth it. I promise.
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble
If you all remember (I know, I KNOW, it’s been like MONTHS, go back and read the last posts, this’ll wait for you to get up to speed), when we last spent time with Ken, our favorite bon vivant, he traveled through time with his BFF, Kate Winslet, to help Bach save the Brandenburg concertos from the evil clutches of his nemesis, Jeff Goldblum. It was an epic tale, full of all kinds of skullduggery and chicanery. You know. As you’d expect from Ken. You’d expect nothing less. And you shouldn’t. Never settle! That’s rule number one when dealing with a bon vivant.
Many adventures happened in the meantime, of course. Listen, Ken’s always having adventures. It’s not like he just STOPS because The Person Who is Writing This is BUSY. No, no. Many adventures were had. It was actually a struggle: what adventures would you like most to hear about? The treasure map and the hidden kingdom? The time Lindsay Lohan almost started World War III? The fourteen lost keys and the doorway to doom? All exciting stories, to be sure, filled with all MANNER of excitement and bouncy red dogs and of course, tea-drinking. So much tea-drinking, you can’t even imagine. Like, think of the tea-drinking you can imagine? Then MULTIPLY IT TIMES A BILLION. Then add on MORE. That much tea-drinking, you guys.
SO much more than you can even imagine. SO much more.
But then I thought, yes, yes, those are all GOOD stories, but not as good as the story I’m going to tell you now. This one is the BEST of all those stories. It’s got foreign CLIMES and FANCY MOVIE STARS and a YOUNG SIDEKICK and of course HAPPY RED DOGS. And a skateboard! I mean, come on. How could I not choose this one?
One day, not long after the Brandenburg Imbroglio, Ken was bon vivanting in Japan. He always liked when he got to go to Japan. Most bon vivants do. It’s a country ripe for bon vivantery, with many delicious foods (Ken would like you all to know that the Japanese word for squid is “taco” so if you are bon vivanting in Japan and you order “taco” you’re not getting a crunchy Mexican treat, you’re getting squid. See? These are the things a person knows, when he is a bon vivant. And now YOU know them TOO) and adventures to be had. Also? Bidets. It is a country of bidets. And listen, there is very little a bon vivant like Ken likes more than a good bidet. Even one with the instructions written in Japanese, so you never know if you’re flushing or bidet-ing. Ken decided to go to Tokyo. They had many beautiful attractions there, and he loved to see the gardens. (You’re probably wondering, were Ella, Louis, and Mrs. Ken with him on this trip? Well! I am happy to tell you. Ella and Louis were most definitely with him on this trip. Mrs. Ken was not, as she had been called away on a very important journey of her own; this time, she was working with tribal elders to establish a fair and balanced system of government in a small village in Zimbabwe. As one does, when one is ALSO a very fancy bon vivanteur. Ken had wanted to go with her, but she said once she was done, she would meet him – and the dogs – in Japan, and they would do some joint bon vivantery there. Bon vivantery is fun, but bon vivantery with the one you love is even BETTER.)
The happiest of happy red dogs!
While walking through the Koishikawa Korakuen gardens and admiring the waterfall and the lines of Japanese children walking by, all wearing bright yellow helmets for safety (and, he was quite sure, WHIMSY) purposes, Ken heard crying.
Well! This doesn’t sit well with bon vivants. Bon vivants are very helpful. All the time. They don’t like people to be sad or in pain or distressed. So of course Ken had to go investigate this weeping situation. It’s all you can expect from a bon vivant. And his hat. And his happy red dogs.
Ken rounded the corner of the waterfall. Louis bounded ahead, as Louis is wont to do. Ella stayed back. She likes to assess a situation more before jumping in with all paws. Ella still remembers the time Louis was kidnapped by the Arabian sheik and had to be rescued with a hovercraft because he ran ahead without looking what was going on first because he was just SO DAMN EXCITED and she wants no part of that, no no, not Ella.
Louis was licking the face of a very pretty dark-haired woman who was sitting by the rocks on the far side of the waterfall. Ella looked at Ken with a long-suffering look. Ken knew that look well. It was her “don’t blame ME for my brother’s foolishness” look.
“I’m sorry,” Ken said, “Louis has a mind of his own, sometimes. Are you alright? I don’t mean to pry, but I couldn’t help but hear you crying. Is there anything I can do to help?”
The woman looked up. Well! Imagine that! It was Academy-Award winning actress Rachel Weisz!
“Oh!” Rachel said. “Ken? Ken, the World-Traveling Bon Vivant? Is that you?”
Ken was a bit amazed, but not THAT amazed. People recognized him all the time. Just not always Academy-Award winning actresses who once had a guest-spot on The Simpsons.
“Yes,” he said, slightly abashed. “It is me, Rachel Weisz. How nice that you recognized me! I’m sorry, I don’t know that we’ve met before, although I’m a big fan of your work.”
“My good friend Kate Winslet talks about you all the time,” Rachel said. Ken nodded sagely. He WAS BFFs with Kate Winslet, of course he was. “She’s always talking about your joint adventures! I’ve always wanted to meet you! I recognized you immediately by your jaunty hat. And also your dapper beard. How embarrassing to meet under these circumstances. I can assure you I am not often crying next to picturesque Japanese waterfalls.”
Ken sat next to Rachel. Ella settled next to him, daintily. Louis bounded around the three of them, as happy as a red dog can be. New friends! thought Louis. There is nothing better than new friends! Or, that’s what it seemed he thought. He’s a dog, and there’s only so much about this story The Person Who is Writing This can know. You know?
“Any friend of my BFF Kate Winslet is a friend of mine,” Ken said. “What’s wrong, Rachel?”
“Oh, Ken,” Rachel sighed. “I’m not sure even you can help, but I’m willing to give anything a shot. My husband has disappeared!”
Ken knew Rachel was married to Daniel Craig, who was the current James Bond.
Rachel told Ken the story. A week ago, Daniel had called Rachel on his way home from work. He’d never arrived. Rachel had left more and more panicked messages on his cell phone, because she knew he had a commercial shoot early the next morning so should be home by then, and just as she was about to call the police, she got a call.
“He or she was using that voice software? Where the voice is disguised? So I didn’t recognize the voice, of course. But the caller said if I ever wanted to see my husband alive again, I needed to bring £500,000 here to this waterfall, and await further instructions.” Rachel showed him a satchel filled with hundred-pound notes. “But the caller was supposed to contact me hours ago. I don’t know what happened. Daniel could be anywhere. He could be…dead! He’s not really James Bond, you know. He’s just a man. The man that I love. Ken, is there anything you can do to help?”
Ken thought. And thought. And thought some more. His head felt fuzzy. Ella nosed his hand and when he looked at her, pointed with her head back toward where they’d come. He knew exactly what she meant.
“Rachel, let’s go get something that will help us think,” Ken said as he stood, and held out his hand, like the very chivalrous gentleman that he was, to help her to her feet.
“Oh, Ken, I don’t do drugs,” she said, very seriously.
Ken laughed. “No, no! Not drugs. Something much better for thinking than drugs, and much less likely to make you chew a friend’s face off, like those evil bath salts do. Tea!”
Rachel, Ken, Ella and Louis (Louis had found a very choice stick near the waterfall, which he kept smacking Ella in the face with as he pranced along with it; Ella took it with good grace, as she does, but not without some very deep doggy sighs) walked to a very beautiful teahouse he had noted on his way into the garden. He’d heard good things about this teahouse from his tea-contacts throughout the world and was very much looking forward to trying some of their special green tea.
“Hello!” the waitress said as they sat. “What type of bubble tea can I interest you in today?”
Ken smiled. “Oh, no thank you. I’d actually heard such good things about your Gyokuro that I was hoping to try that. Rachel, how about you, any preferences?”
The waitress gave him a strange look. “Oh, sir, my most abject apologies, but all we have here is bubble tea. We stopped serving anything else very recently.”
“What?” Ken said. “But you are one of the most well-renowned teahouses in Tokyo! How could this happen?”
“No one wants anything but bubble tea anymore,” the waitress said with a shrug. “We had to change with the times.”
“Well, there much be somewhere else we can go,” Ken said. “Can you recommend anywhere?”
The waitress gave him the look again. “No, sir, I’m sorry, but there are no more places in Tokyo that serve anything but bubble tea. That’s all you can get here now. We were the last holdout, actually. When we realized we weren’t making any money on our tea, we stopped selling it.”
Ken was flabbergasted. There was nowhere in Tokyo to get a good, traditionally-brewed pot of tea? All he could get was a plastic cup of the overly-sweetened bubble tea, which bore about as much likeness to a cup of tea as…well…a flip-flip bears to a fine Ferragamo loafer? (Bon vivants know things about fine Ferragamo loafers. No, seriously. Trust me. They do. Of course they do.)
Why had no one told him about this? Before he could say many things that he might regret to the very nice, very confused-at-his-anger waitress, Rachel led him out of the establishment with a very kind smile so no one was angry. Well, except Ken. Ken was quite angry. And Ken very SELDOM gets angry. However! THIS WAS AN AFFRONT TO TEA. This was NOT to be taken lightly. No no. Not this.
Luckily, he still had some tea in his flask, so he and Rachel and the happy red dogs had an impromptu tea party (no, not that kind, the real kind, WITH TEA, not the political kind, come on now) on a park bench. Once the tea settled his stomach and he had some time to think, he turned to Rachel.
“After some thought, I think our best course of action would be to…” he said, and a boy on a skateboard smashed into their bench.
“Oh! I am so sorry!” the boy said. “I was reading the paper and I wasn’t paying attention! This is all my fault! Please forgive me!” No one was hurt, and Ken and Rachel of course forgave him. Ella was a little miffed. Louis licked the boy’s knees, just because he could.
“What was in the paper that was so interesting, young man?” Rachel said. The boy smiled at her. Listen, Rachel was very captivating.
“Penguin 337 was kidnapped from the Tokyo Sea Life Park!” the boy said. “Do you remember Penguin 337? He escaped from the Tokyo Sea Life Park, and then they found out he or she was living happily in the Tokyo Bay, then the zookeepers caught him or her again not long after? Well, just last night, a man dressed all in black was seen kidnapping him from the park, then stuffing him in a backpack on the banks of the bay, hopping on a motorcycle, and running away! No one has seen him since! We all love Penguin 337 so much here, and this is such sad news!” The boy looked very bereft.
Ken looked at the paper. There were a lot of photos of Penguin 337, and one grainy photo of a tall, somewhat stooped man with a backpack on the banks of the Tokyo Bay. Not much to go on.
“Hey, aren’t you Ken? The World-Traveling Bon Vivant?” the boy said. “We read about you in History class! You saved all the tea in London! Look at your hat! It IS you, isn’t it?”
It was a very fine hat. They always are.
Ken blushed. “Yes, that’s me.”
“If anyone can save Penguin 337, it’s you! Can you help, sir? You can, can’t you?”
Ken thought. This was a lot to process. Missing husbands! Missing penguins! Plus – he had to do it all with only the tea he could brew himself in his hotel room, because THERE WAS NO REAL TEA TO BE HAD IN ALL OF TOKYO!
“It’ll be ok, Ken,” Rachel said. “The tea thing, I mean.”
“I said that out loud, didn’t I?” Ken said. “I’m sorry. It’s got me very upset.”
Ken thought of Mrs. Ken, who did so love penguins. Also, a certain unruly-haired blogger in New York, who would be bereft, UTTERLY BEREFT, if anything happened to Penguin 337, who she loved so much because he was reported to have escaped due to “a sense of adventure,” according to the zookeepers, and that unruly-haired blogger did so love creatures with a sense of adventure because she felt akin to them.
“Yes,” Ken said, “of course I will help. Both you, Rachel, and you, young man. We will solve both of these heinous crimes.”
The young boy cheered and Rachel choked back a sob. Ken worried that he had maybe bitten off more than he could chew, but he was a bon vivant. He’d been in difficult situations before. He’s always come out on top. Yes, that’s a euphemism. A bon-vivanty euphemism.
Rachel’s cell phone rang. “Hello?” she answered. Her face went white. “Yes,” she whispered. “Yes. I’m so sorry. Yes. Of course. Whatever you say. Please. Please don’t hurt him. Please.”
“Was that them? What did they say?” Ken asked. Rachel’s hands were shaking.
“The caller said they showed up at the garden, but they saw me there with you and had told me not to bring anyone. They’re so angry at me! Oh, no, Ken, what if they hurt Daniel?”
“What did they say to do next, Rachel?” Ken said. Louis put his muzzle on her knee and Ella leaned against her other leg. Happy red dogs are very comforting, you see.
“To meet them tonight behind the Cocoon Tower; to come alone, and bring the money. They said if I do that, they’ll return Daniel to me. Do you think they’re telling the truth, Ken?” Rachel looked very worried.
Ken thought hard. It was easier, since he’d recently had some tea. SOME REAL TEA THAT IS. “No way to tell. Well, since we have until tonight, I’m going to go over and check out the Tokyo Bay, to see if there are any clues. Do you want to come?”
“Oh, yes. It will help keep my mind off things,” Rachel said.
“Me, too!” the boy said. Ken was surprised. He’d forgotten the young boy with the skateboard was still there!
“Oh, it might be dangerous,” Ken said. “I’m worried you might be putting yourself in harm’s way.”
The boy puffed out his chest. Ken smiled inwardly. He was a very small boy, and it was a very brave little gesture. “I am tough,” the boy said. “I can be a lot of help! I can show you around the city!”
Ken nodded. “Ok, but if it gets dangerous, you have to promise to go home,” he said. The boy nodded. “What’s your name?”
“Taiki,” the boy said. They all shook hands and there were happy introductions all around, and both dogs approved heartily of the new addition to their team and gave him many licks and sniffs.
The group walked to the bay. There were no police tape or barricades set up as there wasn’t really a crime scene. Ken walked around looking at the bay, and the ground. The dogs sniffed everything and were very excited about being near the water. Louis found a duck and barked merrily for a long time. Ella kept her mind on the task at hand.
Rachel and Taiki didn’t find anything and eventually stood together, watching Louis and smiling. You really can’t watch Louis without smiling, even when you’re worried. It’s nigh-on impossible.
Ken noticed something pale in the weeds, by some footprints in the mud on the bank. He walked over and crouched to see what it was. A business card. Strange, to be over here in the weeds. There was a short, oily feather stuck to it. A penguin feather! A clue!
“What’s that, Ken?” Rachel asked. She and Taiki came over.
“It’s a business card for Gyoko BT LLC. I think it’s a clue. Do you know what this company is, Taiki?”
Taiki laughed and sang a little song. “Gyoko! Gyoko! Bubble tea for you and me! Gyoko! Gyoko! Bubbles in your tea will give you glee!”
“What’s that?” Ken asked. He immediately had started frowning when he heard the dreaded “bubble tea” words leave his new friend’s lips.
“Gyoko is the main company that makes all the bubble tea in Tokyo. They have commercials with all kinds of celebrities in them, and they always sing that song. Also, they have a little dancing penguin mascot. Everyone here loves Gyoko!” Taiki said.
Ken suddenly had a moment. You probably have never had one of these moments. That’s because you’re not a bon vivant. They’re kind of hard to explain. They’re like a moment of clarity, when all the puzzle pieces move into place and it all comes clear. Sometimes people in the movies have them (usually with a music montage in the background) but they’re just playacting. These moments of clarity really are the property of a select few people; and Ken, being a bon vivant, was one of those people.
The missing penguin. The kidnapping of Daniel Craig. The lack of real tea in Tokyo. The £500,000. The business card.
“Rachel,” Ken said slowly. “You said that Daniel had a commercial shoot the day after he was kidnapped. What was the commercial for?”
Rachel thought for a moment. “Oh, it was a foreign commercial. I remember! It was actually for – isn’t this funny that I would have forgotten? – tea! It was a Japanese commercial for tea! Real tea, not bubble tea. I remember, because they sent us a bunch of their loose-leaf tea to try. Some very excellent green tea.”
The sun was starting to set over the bay, which was a very pretty sight on the water. Louis was snapping at early-evening bugs that were flying around the water. Ella was assiduously cleaning the mud from between her toes. She’s a neat one, that dog.
“We need to get to the Cocoon Tower,” Ken said. “It’s starting to get late.”
“You seem to have a hunch, Ken,” Rachel said. “Do you know who’s done this? Do you know what’s happened?”
“I have an idea,” Ken said. “But there’s a piece missing. The key player. I’m not sure who’s the mastermind. But, with a little luck, I think we might be able to flush him out at the Tower.”
The band of crimesolvers made their way to the Cocoon Tower. Once they were there, they split up. Rachel sat on a bench at the back of the building, as she’d been ordered. Ken hid behind some trees with the dogs, who he cajoled to be quiet with some treats. Taiki was around the corner, ready for action.
A man walked up to Rachel after about an hour. He was tall and thin, wearing a voluminous jacket. Ken knew better than to trust a man in a voluminous jacket. He’d learned that lesson with L. Ron Hubbard. Ken had set up a monitoring system using their cell phones so he could hear Rachel and the man talking.
“Is my husband safe?” Rachel said. “Please, can I see him?”
“Where’s the money?” the man said. “I need that money!”
Rachel handed him the satchel. He looked inside and nodded.
“I’m going to need your husband for a few more days. Then he’ll be given back to you, good as new. Or as always. Or whatever. He’s James Bond! Ha ha! He’ll be fine!”
Ken furrowed his brow. He knew that voice. Louis was busy with his treat, but Ella was sniffing the air, and her upper lip was beginning to snarl a little. She recognized it, too! Why did he know that voice? It was quiet, but…it sounded like…
The man started to walk away. “Wait!” Rachel said, her voice starting to sound panicky. “Please! I gave you the money! Where’s my husband? How do I know he’s ok?”
“He’ll be FINE, sheesh,” the man said. He shook her off and started to walk away quickly. Suddenly, Taiki darted from around the corner on his skateboard. He tried to cut the man off. Ken and the dogs ran out from the trees, but the man, realizing he was outnumbered, broke away and ran.
Rachel, Ken, Taiki, Louis and Ella chased the man in the dark. He was wearing all black so it was hard to keep an eye on him. “He just went in the Cocoon Tower!” Taiki said, and they saw a door just about to close. Louis ran and blocked the door with his body, and stood there until they could catch up to him.
“Good boy, Louis!” Ken said. Ella gave her brother a grudging lick. Louis barked joyously and wagged his tail so hard he almost fell over.
The Cocoon Tower was tall and maze-like. They ran around, looking for signs where the tall man might have gone. Ken knew that voice. That voice gave him a chill. It upset Ella. Who…whose voice was that?
Suddenly, from the end of a hallway, they heard a type of barking yelp. Louis answered it with some barking of his own. Louis always barked like that when he heard animals at the zoo. Animals at the zoo!
“It’s the penguin!” Taiki said. “Penguin 337!”
They all ran to the end of the hall. There was a big set of double doors marked “STUDIO.”
“What kind of building is this, Taiki?” Rachel whispered.
“It’s an educational building,” Taiki responded. “This must be some sort of recording studio?”
The doors were closed, but not latched all the way. Ken opened one of the doors as quietly as he could and shushed everyone as they walked in.
“Now, say the lines,” they heard,”and say them RIGHT this time. The sooner you get this done, the better. You can go home as soon as you’re done. What don’t you understand about this? You’re supposed to be SMART, Mr. BOND.”
It was the man who’d taken the money from Rachel!
They peeked around the corner of some sound baffling. Daniel Craig was sitting there in a bright circle of stage lighting, surrounded by cameras. He was wearing one of his James Bond suits. His arms were free, but his legs were tied. By his side was Penguin 337. They were sitting at a cafe-style table. Both of them had a large bubble tea in front of them. Daniel glared at someone that none of them could see.
Daniel began saying some lines in a very clipped, bitter tone.
“When I want a refreshing drink, I reach for a Gyoko Bubble Tea. Traditional tea is for losers! James Bond drinks nothing but Gyoko Bubble Tea. It makes me strong and brave. Just ask my best friend…”
And then Ken realized why he recognized the voice, as someone he knew all-too-well walked onto the stage. Someone EVIL. Someone FILLED WITH CHICANERY.
Jeff Goldblum sat at the third chair at the table. They could see he had something in one of the pockets. It seemed to be a gun, and he was pointing it at Daniel Craig. He was carrying a bubble tea. “Yes! Thank you, Bond! I am your best friend, and you’re right! There’s nothing better than a Gyoko Bubble Tea!”
Then he looked at Daniel. Daniel glared back at him. He pointed the suitcoat-covered-gun at Daniel. Daniel grudgingly reached out and took one of Penguin 337’s stubby wings in his hand. Jeff Goldblum took another. Together, they sang the Gyoko theme song; Jeff Goldblum with much verve and panache; Daniel Craig with a tight jaw and very angry eyes.
“Gyoko! Gyoko! Bubble tea for you and me! Gyoko! Gyoko! Bubbles in your tea will give you glee!”
Penguin 337 squawked and shook his little body. Jeff yelled “CUT!” and laughed maniacally. “Not that there’s anyone TO cut, as I’m doing this on my own, but YOU know that, right, Craig ol’ buddy ol’ pal!” Jeff Goldblum got up and turned off the cameras, talking to himself and laughing. “It was expensive to get this studio time and these lights – £500,000, hey, thanks for paying for that for me, old buddy old pal old BFF – but Gyoko said if I could get this all pulled together, they’d buy it, so it’ll all be worth it! Just wait until they SEE this! Now, I’m going to watch these back, see how they look, and if they’re no good, we’ll do it again, and again, and AGAIN, until it’s JUST RIGHT! And once everyone sees this, my career will TAKE OFF! I mean, you’re a HOT TICKET, Craig! And if everyone thinks I’m your BFF, well, they’ll want me in EVERYTHING! And EVERYONE loves ol’ Penguin 337 – I mean, everyone loves Gyoko’s cartoon penguin mascot, but think how much they’ll like THE REAL THING! This is GREAT!” Jeff began to skip around the table like a child excitedly.
Rachel was shaking. Taiki looked up at Ken, confused. Ken watched Jeff Goldblum, furious. Damn Jeff Goldblum, that evil nemesis. Damn him!
“You’re crazy, Goldblum,” Daniel said. “Just let me go. This commercial won’t help your career. It’s just a Japanese commercial. No one sees these but Japanese people. That’s why so many celebrities do them.”
Jeff Goldblum laughed, a hollow, soulless sound. “Well, it won’t be MY fault if someone leaks it on YouTube, will it? And by SOMEONE, I mean ME! HA HA HA!” Jeff began to watch the playback on the first camera. While he was distracted, Ken saw his opening. He gestured to Ella. Ella quietly padded over to Daniel and began daintily gnawing at the ropes around his ankles. Daniel wasn’t even fazed. He’d learned how to act cool under pressure in all of his movies.
“Louis would be faster,” Ken whispered to Rachel, “but he’s a little louder. Also, if he saw the penguin, he’d start barking. He has very little control over himself when zoo animals are concerned. He really just wanted to be their friend, but they don’t know that.”
All of a sudden, Penguin 337 saw Ella and squawked. Jeff looked up and saw Ella. “What’s THIS?” he said, and ran out from behind the camera, pulling his gun out of his pocket. Ken couldn’t allow his dog to be in danger. He ran out from his hiding place.
“STOP RIGHT THERE, GOLDBLUM!” he boomed. Jeff Goldblum stopped, frozen. He saw Ken and began to laugh.
“Well! Ken! I was HOPING I’d see you, but didn’t know it would be so SOON! How ARE you, my old friend?” He pointed his gun at Ken. Daniel, Penguin 337, and Ella froze at the table in the lights. Rachel, Taiki and Louis stayed hidden in the dark corner. Ken wasn’t pleased with this development. He didn’t care much for gunplay.
“What kind of dastardly plan have you hatched this time, you schemer?” Ken said, hoping to draw Jeff Goldblum’s attention away from the others in the room. That’s what bon vivants do. They are very self-sacrificing.
“Oh ho ho! Well! First, I will make a very high-profile commercial with James Bond and a penguin! What does everyone love? James Bond and penguins! Everyone will love me for being in this commercial! I will get many job offers! People will stop mocking me on the interwebs!”
“I don’t know that people mock you that much on the internet,” Ken said. “Well, other than me.” Jeff Goldblum shushed him.
“THEN, once they love me, they’ll start to hate YOU, you see! It’s the perfect plan!” Jeff Goldblum began to wheel around in circles and cackle.
“Why would they hate me?” Ken asked.
“Well! We all know what keeps you calm, Ken. It’s tea. And what’s getting harder and harder to find, due to my plan? TEA! See, I’ve been talking up bubble tea for the past YEAR. Every time people would drink tea, there I’d be, pushing bubble tea on them. Buying them free bubble tea. Making it IRRESISTIBLE to them. Until NO one wanted regular tea. NO ONE. And now, due to my stopping of Daniel Craig’s commercial, which was sure to help tea get popular here in Japan again, and my very fancy commercial for bubble tea with James Bond and a penguin? REAL TEA IS OVER AND DONE, KEN! DONEZO! And everyone knows that Japan is where trends get started! Tea’s impossible to find here – it’s only a matter of time before it’s impossible to find ANYWHERE! And once you can’t find tea anywhere, you’ll get CRANKY! And people will look at you suspiciously, because you won’t be drinking their beloved whimsical bubble tea, but some sort of mysterious beverage out of a FLASK! And they will start to look at you with DISDAIN and MISTRUST! And they will need a HERO, Ken! A HERO! And who will be there, ready to step in as needed? ME ME ME! JEFF GOLDBLUM!!!”
Jeff Goldblum’s spinning in circles had led him closer and closer to the cafe table where Daniel Craig was. In one quick move, Daniel Craig stood, shaking off the shredded ropes, and lifted the cafe table. Bubble tea cups flew left and right. He swept Jeff Goldblum off his feet with the heavy table, which was possible because Daniel Craig is really quite a buff gentleman, and Louis bounded in and *whoof!* jumped on Jeff Goldblum’s stomach. When Jeff Goldblum was out of breath, Ella daintily took the gun from his hand and carried it to Ken and deposited it gently in his hand. Louis sat on Jeff Goldblum’s stomach, panting merrily. Jeff Goldblum coughed in a weak sigh.
Ken knelt by Jeff Goldblum. “Jeff Goldblum! When will you learn! Evil never conquers! Also, NOTHING will stop tea. NOTHING!”
Rachel ran out from where she’d been hiding and threw her arms around her husband, who was so happy to see her there that he almost had a couple of very manly tears, but not quite. Because Daniel Craig doesn’t CRY, come on. Taiki petted Ella and watched Penguin 337 in joy. Jeff Goldblum attempted to get up, but Louis growled at him. He flopped back down, sighing.
“Damn you, Ken. Damn you,” Jeff Goldblum hissed.
“Thank you, sir,” Daniel Craig said, coming forward to shake Ken’s hand. Ken stood. “You’re truly a wonder. You kept Rachel safe and saved me and Penguin 337. I’ll never forget this.”
“And the world,” Rachel whispered. “The world would be drinking nothing but bubble tea if it weren’t for Ken. He saved the WORLD.”
Ken laughed. “You’re both too kind,” he said.
Suddenly, there was a loud clatter! Dogs barking! Penguins squawking! Wheels rolling!
Louis had gotten distracted by Penguin 337, as is Louis’s downfall. When his attention was turned toward the jolly little penguin who loved adventure, Jeff Goldblum had heaved himself up. Louis, flung from Jeff Goldblum’s chest, had been launched at Penguin 337! Penguin 337 had waddled off in fright! Louis had been very excited! Ella had been EXTREMELY DISGUSTED but would have said “Yeah, could have seen THIS coming!” if she’d been asked!
Jeff Goldblum, seeing Taiki’s unattended skateboard, had boarded it (ha! no pun intended, good one, Person Who is Writing This!) and quickly wheeled himself toward the door. As he wheeled past Ken, he WHISKED his jaunty hat from his head and PLOPPED it onto his own head, cackling. Ken (now, sadly hatless), Taiki, Daniel, Louis, Ella, and Penguin 337, all in a disarray, started toward him, but he was moving quickly!
“I’ll get you, Ken,” Jeff Goldblum said. “It’s only a matter of time. If someone was writing epic stories about MY bon vivantery, I’D be beloved. I KNOW WHAT TO DO NOW. It’s not FAIR. It’s not RIGHT. I’m JUST as bon vivanty as you are. I WEAR HATS JUST AS WELL. LOOK! Look how good I look in your hat! I WILL GET YOU, KEN. If I have to go to the ends of the earth to do it.” He shook his fist and skated from the room. Ken and Daniel ran after him, but it was too late. He knew the building well and had a skateboard, and (strangely) was quite good at it. Probably picked it up on a movie set here or there. People like Goldblum often pick up skills they can use for nefarious purposes.
Ken looked seriously at Daniel, Taiki and Rachel. “You all ok?” They nodded.
“Well, he might have gotten away, but we’re all safe. That’s what matters.”
Taiki walked up to Ken. “What will we do with Penguin 337?” he asked. “I know we should give him back to the zoo, but he’s so happy on his own. I don’t want to.”
Ken nodded seriously. “I think Penguin 337 has made his choice. He wants to be free. The zoo shouldn’t have captured him. And he doesn’t seem any worse for wear. I think we’ll put him back in the bay. My unruly-haired blogger friend in New York would never forgive me otherwise.”
So the intrepid gang brought Penguin 337, safely ensconced in the now-empty money satchel, back to the bay, where he waddled to the water. Before he left, he solemnly touched his beak to Louis’s nose, then Ella’s. That’s how animals make BFFs. Louis didn’t even bark at the penguin. Penguin 337 was really magical like that. He swam away into the moonlight and Ella and Louis watched him go, a bit sadly, until Louis started licking an itchy spot and fell over into the mud and Ella walked away disgustedly.
Taiki shook all of their hands very seriously, which made them all smile. “Thank you all. You are true heroes. You have saved a Japanese icon. I will never forget you.” He threw his arms around Ken, then grinned, shoved something in Ken’s hand, and ran away towards home. Ken couldn’t help but smile. Taiki was pretty infectiously joyous. And what had he given him? It was a traditional Japanese hat! So Ken was hatless no longer! It was a little bigger than he was used to, but one of the hallmarks of a bon vivant is adapting to new circumstances with STYLE and VERVE. Also panache.
Daniel shook Ken’s hand and Rachel gave him a hug. “Thank you,” Rachel said. “If I ever am crying next to a Japanese waterfall, I hope you always happen by with your two amazing dogs.”
“You’re quite a fellow, Ken,” Daniel said. “If I ever need saving, I’ll know who to call.”
“Quite a statement, coming from you, Mr. Craig. Thank you so much,” Ken said. “And it was my pleasure, Rachel. You are welcome to come and bon vivant with me anytime.”
Rachel smiled and blew Ken a kiss. She had very much enjoyed bon vivanting with Ken and was pleased to be invited to do so again.
Ken’s phone rang. It was Mrs. Ken! “I have to get this,” he said. “Keep in touch, Rachel and Daniel. Be safe.”
They waved and walked off, their arms around each other.
“Hello,” Ken said to Mrs. Ken. “Are you on your way to Japan? Oh, good. Yes, everything’s great here. Just fine. No news. Same old, same old. You know. Just…when you come, can you bring something with you? Tea. Bring lots and lots of tea. If we’re going to be here any length of time, we’re going to need it. At least until things get back to normal around here. Don’t worry. I’ll explain when you get here.”
Louis barked merrily as Penguin 337 splashed in the bay. Ella put her paws on her muzzle. Oh, her silly, silly brother.
THE END. (For NOW.)
(As always, thank you, Ken, for letting me make you a SUPERHERO OF TEA and BON-VIVANTERY! And for being the best sport and giving me Japan stories. You’re the best.)