by CS Shew

Follows I'll Do Anything.

As Ezra approached Vin's apartment, he could hear thumping coming from the slightly open door. Concerned that Ms. Charlotte's father might be taking retribution, he cautiously opened the door further and peeked in. He found Vin sitting at his dining table, arms hanging by his sides, rhythmicly pounding his head on the table top.

"Mr. Tanner, am I to suppose that informing Ms. Charlotte of the disappearance of her dear Mickey did not go well?"

Vin stopped the pounding and looked somewhat dazedly at Ezra, "Ez, do you know how long rats live?"

"The study of Rattus norvegicus has never been something I have aspired to."


"No Mr. Tanner, I don't know how long a rat lives but I fear I am about to learn."

"Yeah, well according to Mr. Bombeck, a pet rat normally lives about three years. Do you know how old Mickey was?"

"No, pray tell how old was Mickey."

"Three years and four months."

"So I can asume that Mickey was living on borrowed time, as it was. Why is this bit of information important?"

"Well, it seems that Mr. and Mrs, Bombeck have been preparing Ms. Charlotte for Mickey dying. Even promised her a new pet of her choice when it happened. As soon as she found out that Mickey wasn't here she knew he had died. Took the event quite well I think."

"Yes, the fickle heart of a child. Can I take it to mean that she has already decided on a new heart's desire?"

Vin snorted, "Can you believe she wants a snake? Not just any old snake either, she wants a ball python. Do you know what a ball python eats?"

With a heavy sigh Ezra answered, "No Mr. Tanner, I don't know that bit of information either."

"Mice and small rats. Mice and small RATS. Don't that strike you as kind of odd, considering Mickey?"

"Children can be difficult to understand sometimes Mr. Tanner. Their logic does not always follow that of an adult's. Never the less, I am sure she will be happy with her new pet. Since this problem has been solved I will return home to complete my report and try to enjoy the rest of the week-end. I shall see you on Monday."

With a hopefull look on his face Vin asked, "Seeing as how this all turned out for the good, and I really didn't need your help after all, maybe we could forget my promise to "do anything"?"

Ezra looked at Vin as if he had lost his mind. " Mr. Tanner, not only did I transport a large deceased rodent in my vehicle. I provided a decent burial for said rodent. You owe me and you may rest assured that you WILL pay. I just have not decided what that payment will be yet. I'm sure something will come to me by Monday morning and I will let you know then."

Vin hung his head and sighed, "I was afraid of that."

As Ezra opened the door to leave he turned back to Vin, "I would suggest that you get an ice pack on your forehead. You are beginning to develope a very colorful bruise." He then turned and left the apartment.

Vin clutched his head and muttered, "Yeah and a pretty bad headache too."

+ + + + + + +

Sunday night Ezra took out his day planner to review the upcoming week. It would not do to forget an important meeting or worse yet, a very important date. Noticing Saturday's notes were in red he paid special attention to them. Suddenly he smiled and knew exactly what payment Mr, Tanner would be making. It was perfect, not only would Mr. Tanner pay his debt but he would be able to help out Goofus at the same time.

+ + + + + + +

Buck held Vin's chin as he admired the bruise on his forehead, "Dang boy, what does the other guy look like? What did he hit you with, a two by four?"

Vin jerked his head away and muttered, "Wasn't no fight, just an accident."

Buck laughed and asked, "What did you do, run full tilt into a brick wall?"

Looking up from his desk Ezra remarked, "I do believe that injury was self-induced. Mr. Tanner's forehead had a pecular attraction to the top of his dining table."

Leaning against Vin's desk, Chris looked from Vin to Ezra, "Don't know as I want to learn the particulars to this little incident. When you two get together strange things just seem to happen. Why don't we all just get back to work and let Vin alone." With that said, Chris grabbed Buck by the arm and led him back to his own desk.

Glancing over at Ezra, Vin muttered, "Thanks a lot Ez, now he won't let me alone until he gets the full story."

Giving Vin an decidely evil grin Ezra replied, "Oh, I'm sure you'll come up with some story. By the way, don't make any plans for Saturday. I have decided how you will pay me back for this past Saturday. Just make sure you're well rested and I'll pick you up around 10:00 a.m."

"It would be nice if you gave me some type of hint as to what I'll be doing."

"Yes it would but no one has ever accused me of being nice, now have they? You will just have to wait until Saturday." smirked Ezra.

The rest of the week was pure torture for Vin. Not only did Buck constantly bug him about why he sported the large bruise on his forehead, he had a knot in his stomach from Ezra's repayment plan. He was so not looking forward to Saturday.

+ + + + + + +

Vin opened the door and looked at Ezra in shock. The man was wearing a tuxedo fully accessorized including top hat and 10:00 in the morning, a Saturday morning. He then looked down at himself, dressed in well worn jeans and a soft t-shirt.

"Uh, Ez, are we going to a wedding or something? If so, I think I need to change."

"No, no Mr. Tanner, your attire is appropriate for your part in today's activities. While we will be together today, we will be playing entirely different parts. Now we really must be going, I don't want to be late and Goofus will need extra time to prepare you." Ezra turned and led Vin to his Jag.

After 15 minutes of driving, Vin finally broke the silence. "Do ya think ya could at least tell me where we're going? And why is it OK that you look like ya stepped out of GQ and I look like a tramp. And just who or what the heck is Goofus and what do I need to be prepared for? I gotta tell ya Ez, I'm getting a real funny feeling here and I don't mean ha ha funny."

"We'll be where we're going in a few minutes and then you can see for yourself. I already told you that we will be playing different parts, hence the different attire. Goofus is a she and you will be her assistant for the day. Actually, she will be changing your appearance even further which means we will be arriving before the others. Feeling funny, and I do mean the ha ha funny, is a good thing. You will need to have a little patience Mr. Tanner. All will be revealed in due time."

A few minutes later, Ezra pulled into the Doctor's Only parking lot of the Denver Children's Hospital and parked in a special reserved parking space. Getting out, he pulled Vin from the car, took three boxes from the trunk, handed one to Vin and lead him into the hospital towards a large conference room. Entering the room, Vin noticed several tables setup in no special order around the room. The tables had a dozen or more chairs setup in front of them. Ezra took command of one table, setting the smallest box he had carried from the car on top and proceeded to empty it. Curious, Vin inspected the contents. Several decks of playing cards, coins, a set of handcuffs, odd pieces of metal that were twisted together, a small bucket that appeared to filled with confetti, several different lengths of rope and a pile of hard candy. The other two boxes were set on the floor and remained closed.

When he tried to help himself to a candy, he received a swift slap on his hand. "Really Mr. Tanner, that's for the children. If there's any left at the end, you may have a piece. Now please sit down and wait for Goofus."

At that moment the door opened and a very colorful clown entered followed by what looked like an orderly. The clown commandered a table and set a decorated box on top of it. The clown also carried a suit bag and an overnight case. The orderly set down a large box on the floor by the table and left. At that point the "not ha ha funny" feeling returned.

"Ahh, Goofus, it appears we both arrived in sufficient time to prepare your assistant. This is Mr Tanner, we work together and he has graciously offered his services today. Mr. Tanner, this is Goofus, a well renowned clown whose regular assistant had to take leave due to having given birth to her first child. I have already set up my table so if you need any help in getting Mr Tanner prepared, just let me know."

Vin, whose eyes had grown to the size of sausers, extended his hand and stuttered, " Uh. Yes. Well. Uh. P-pleased to meet ya. I'm not sure exactly what I'm suppose to do, but I'm a pretty fast learner."

Goofus walking around Vin, sizing him up. "I see you wore light clothing. That's good as these suits can get a little warm after a while. Why don't you take the suit out of the bag while I get the make-up ready. Oh yes, we will also need to think up a name for you. Very few clowns are named Mister."

Ezra gave out an uncharacteristic giggle and offered, "I have been giving much thought to that and have come up with what I think is an appropriate name. What do you think of the name Doofus? Not only is it appropriate but it rhymes."

Vin turned his head to look at Ezra fast enough to cause whiplash. "Doofus??!! Don't ya think that's a bit harsh?"

"Yes but only a doofus would set himself up to care for an aging RAT and then panic when it died.".

Twenty minutes later, Vin was made up and dressed as a clown, including a colorful fright-wig. Looking at himself in a hand held mirror he sighed and said, "At least with all this make-up on no one will know its me under all this. I guess it's not too bad. So, Goofus, exactly how will I be assisting you."

"My speciality is ballons. I make all sorts of animals, hats, and swords. I need someone to keep me supplied with ballons and the lung power to blow them up. With this many kids, you tend to get a bit dizzy and breathless. We'll take turns so neither one of us will need an oxygen tank by the end of the day. You can also help entertain by making faces and just generally acting like a clown."

"That should be easy for you Mr. Tanner, I believe that comes naturally to you," said Ezra with a grin.

"Funny Ez, your a real hoot. Maybe we should change places."

While Vin was donning his new persona a man wearing overalls, a plaid shirt and a straw hat entered. After several trips he had brought in three dogs, a cat and two large parrots and took over another one of the tables. He set up perches for the birds, several large drums in front of the table and left the cat safely ensconed in its carry-all. He also had a large box that he set next to the table unopened. The next to arrive was a neatly dressed older woman with her salt and pepper hair pulled back in a bun. She set several books on her table and two orderlys carried in a comfortable rocking chair and again a large unopened box. The final person to enter was a man casually dressed and carrying a box of CD's, a large boom-box followed by an orderly carrying in the inevitable large box. He table was set up in a far corner of the room and the space in front was devoid of any chairs.

Soon afterwards, the children starting entering. The ambulatory ones pushing their IV poles along with them, many in wheelchairs and even several in wheeled beds. Some of the younger ones were carried in by nurses and orderlys. All looked excited and gravitated to the tables that interested them the most. The entertainers started their acts, Ezra putting on a magic act: Doofus blowing up ballons that were transformed in seconds by Goofus; the lady with the books was reading stories; the animal trainer had his pets performing tricks; and the music man was taking requests while some of the older children were doing their best to move to the music. After 45 minutes the acts came to a close and the mystery boxes were opened. They were filled to the brim with small stuffed toys and each child was able to choose one for their very own. Soon the room was emply of children and the entertainers took a much needed break. In all, three performances were done and all the children who were able were allowed to attend. Those confined to their rooms were not forgotten. Each performer visited the rooms and put on a short show, one dog and the cat accompanied the animal trainer. The stuffed toys were pushed along on a wheeled cart by several orderlys and there were very few left by the end of the day. After helping Ezra and Goofus pack up their things, Vin was given access to the doctor's shower room where he was able to return to his normal self.

Vin leaned back in the car seat and heaved a great sigh. "Man I don't think I worked so hard in my life. But you know, it was worth every second, Those kids really enjoyed themselves. How often do you do this Ez?"

"We try to make it once a month and if we are uable we make arrangements for someone to fill in like you did today. Goofus, whose real name is Mary Linder, will be needing help for several more months while her assistant is out with the new baby. If you really enjoyed yourself, she could really use you."

"Sounds like a plan to me. Just let me know when. Say Ez, do you happen to know how long a cat lives?"

"Does this question have point?"

"Ms. Charlotte got her ball python and Rupert decided to pay him a visit."


"Just wanted to know if he had lived a full life."

The End