A/N#1: I don't own anyone from this story.
A/N#2: This was co-written with my baby sister, Snickerdoodle, for my mother's birthday. As such, Sweet will not be visiting at the end.
A/N#3: Happy birthday, Mom. I hope you enjoyed your present.
The day started off like any other Saturday morning in Mayberry. It was a beautiful, fine summer day- the kind that made you want to spend time outside. Barney Fife, the deputy sheriff of Mayberry, had big plans. He was going to go fishing with Sheriff Andy Taylor and Andy's son Opie. Andy was at the barbershop, but he was due to be done at any moment, so Barney dropped by Andy's house to pick up Opie so they could get going.
"Hi, Ope," Barney greeted the young boy. "Ready to go fishing?"
"You bet!" the child replied eagerly. "I'm going to catch the biggest fish in the lake!"
"Oh, I'm sure you will," Aunt Bee pronounced with an indulging smile as she came out of the kitchen. Aunt Bee was Andy's aunt. She kept house for him and did all of the cooking. "Before you boys go, why don't you have a look at the cake I'm making for Andy's birthday party on Monday? I just finished frosting it."
"Why, sure, Aunt Bee," Barney agreed good-naturedly. "That's one of the things I love about your cooking. It looks as good as it tastes!"
They followed her into the kitchen. There, sitting on the counter, was a beautiful looking cake. It was a golden brown two-layer cake with white frosting spread on the top and between the layers. Orange zest was sprinkled over it artistically.
"Gee, Aunt Bee, that looks great!" Opie gushed.
"Sure does," Barney acknowledged. "I can't wait to try a slice on Monday!"
Aunt Bee beamed at the praise.
"Oh, you," she said with a slight blush. "Really now. It was nothing."
"No, really, Aunt Bee," Opie said. "Your cooking is alway the greatest!"
She laughed lightly.
"You boys flatter me, but Andy should be finishing up with his haircut about now. You'd better get ready to go."
"Sure thing, Aunt Bee, but say, while we're here, do you mind if I grab a bite to eat? I'm starved!" Barney asked.
"Oh, not at all. Go right on ahead," she answered.
Barney grabbed a slice of bread and toasted it. There was a jar of orange marmalade sitting on the counter, so he took out a knife and lathered a thick spread onto his bread. Opie did the same, not one to ever pass up on food.
Barney and Opie simultaneously took huge bites out of their toast. Barney's eyes widened in comical horror, and Opie looked disgusted. They looked over at each other, the same thought in their minds. Why does this taste like gasoline?
Barney choked down the bite, while Opie quietly spit his into the trashcan while Aunt Bee's back was turned. As casually as he could, Barney put down his toast and took an enormous swig of water to try and wash away the taste. Opie started rubbing his tongue with his shirt.
As soon as he was sure he could open his mouth without losing his lunch, Barney leaned against the table and spoke.
"Say, Aunt Bee," he managed in what he thought was a nonchalant tone. "Where'd you get that marmalade from? Is it store bought?"
"Goodness, no! You remember, I made a big batch of marmalade just a few weeks ago. I thought it was all used up, but then I found this jar under the sink. I must have put it there by mistake."
Opie and Barney exchanged horrified glances. They had missed a jar? Oh, no!
A few weeks ago, Aunt Bee had made up a huge bunch of marmalade that was toxic to taste. They had switched it out with store bought stuff, but they must have overlooked this one jar.
Another terrifying thought struck Barney.
"Uh, Aunt Bee? Why was this jar sitting out? Did you use it for something?" he asked with growing dread.
"Well, of course! I used it for the cake. It's an orange marmalade cake, you know."
His worst fears confirmed, Barney knew they had to do something about that cake before Andy's party, or Andy would start wishing he'd never been born at all!
Barney grabbed Opie by the shoulder and started walking him to the door.
"Well, thanks for, um, just thanks! We should get going. Andy'll be wondering where we're at," he said hastily.
She frowned at him in confusion.
"Aren't you two going to finish your toast first?"
Barney gagged, then turned it into a fake coughing fit to try and cover his slip.
"Oh, oh, no. I'm all full. That bread is just so filling, one bite was enough for me!" he explained hurriedly.
Opie nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, I don't think I could eat another bite," he said, breaking away from Barney and running out the door.
Barney shrugged and gestured towards the fleeing boy, as if to say he had to follow.
"We're off now. Be back later, Aunt Bee."
Before she could say another word, he fled out of the house, hot on Opie's heels.
Aunt Bee looked confused at their strange behavior, then shrugged her shoulders and started to clean up the kitchen.
A few minutes later, Barney and Opie burst into Floyde's barbershop, where Andy had just finished getting his hair cut.
"Well, hello, Opie. Morning, Barney. Boy, you two are sure in a rush to get to fishing, now aren't you!" Andy exclaimed, seeing their red faces and how they were panting from exertion.
"Oh, ah, that's right. We couldn't wait," Barney managed. "Um, hi, Floyde."
Floyde regarded them with a surprised look at their abrupt entrance, but he shrugged his shoulders and accepted the payment that Andy was holding out to him.
"So, what's all the hurry about?" the barber asked curiously.
"Oh, um, sorry Floyde, but it's sort of a private matter," Barney stammered. "I hope you don't mind…" He trailed off nervously.
"Oh! No, not at all. I'll just store this away really quickly," Floyde said understandingly as he held up the cash Andy had given him. He quickly disappeared into the backroom, and Andy turned and gave Barney and Opie a curious look.
"Now what was so important that you couldn't wait until I got to the house to tell me?" he asked with an arched eyebrow.
"Oh, Andy, it's awful! We missed a jar! It's a disaster! I don't know what we're going to do!" Barney wailed, albeit in a quiet voice so that Floyde wouldn't overhear.
"Hold it, hold it," Andy commanded, raising his hands in a calming gesture. "Now just slow down there a moment. Missed a jar of what?"
"Marmalade, Andy! Marmalade! You remember that nasty homemade stuff Aunt Bee made a few weeks ago that we thought we'd disposed of? We missed one! And she made your birthday cake out of it!" he explained in an anguished voice.
"We what?!" Andy exclaimed with a horrified look. "Oh, no. That IS awful. We've got to do something about this before she can ruin anything else."
"And your cake, Andy," Barney added. "If we don't fix that, it'll poison your whole birthday dinner!"
"Yeah, Pa. What are we gonna do about it?" Opie piped in.
Andy rubbed his chin with his thumb and forefinger and thought.
"Hmm," he said slowly. "Ya know. I think I've got a plan all worked out. We may have to miss our fishing trip today, but this is a dire emergency that needs immediate fixin."
"What is it, Pa?" Opie asked eagerly.
"Yeah, tell us, Andy!" Barney begged. "What can we do?"
"Alright, Barney, here's what I need you to do," Andy confided in a low voice. "I'll sketch a picture of the cake, while you go over to Thelma Lou's place and tell her everything you just told me. Get her to make a replica of Aunt Bee's cake. Once that's done, Opie will distract her and get her out of the kitchen so we can swap the cakes out. We can use the back door to get in and out without her knowing. Then we can get rid of the cake the same way we got rid of those awful pickles she made."
"That's genius, Andy!" Barney shouted.
Opie and Andy quickly shushed him.
"Oh, sorry," he whispered. "I forgot."
"We'd better leave now," Andy decided. "I'll head over to the house while you go talk to Thelma Lou. Opie, you're with me.
"Okay, Pa," Opie replied.
Andy and Opie watched the house with a discerning eye, looking for movement that would tell them where Aunt Bee was. They were crouched down behind the bushes, and they saw her walk into the kitchen.
Andy leaned over and whispered into Opie's ear.
"Now, remember. Do whatever you have to to keep her out of the kitchen while I sketch, okay?" he instructed him.
"Sure thing, Pa," Opie answered. He stood up and skipped cheerfully in through the front door.
Andy waited a moment, and then crept around to the back. Glancing through the kitchen window, he saw Aunt Bee walking away into the living room. Quick as a flash, he eased the backdoor open and set to work drawing the cake. He could hear voices in the other room as Opie explained to her that he'd forgotten his rod and he needed her help looking for it. As she hurried up the stairs, Andy drew with all his might. An agonizingly long time later, Andy finished up and snuck back out the door.
He put the picture down behind the bushes where it wouldn't be seen, then walked up and stuck his head in through the door.
"Opie?" he called. "I found your pole in the trunk. I plum forgot I stored it away there last week. Come on down now, and let's get going."
"Okay, Pa," Opie yelled back. He came thundering down the stairs and followed Andy out the door.
"Have fun, you two," Aunt Bee sang merrily. "Enjoy your fishing."
"Will do," Andy replied with a cheerful voice.
They grabbed the sketch and drove off to deliver it to Thelma Lou.
The next day, Andy, Barney, Thelma Lou, and Opie stood in her kitchen regarding the cake sitting on her table with a critical eye. Barney kept looking between the cake and the drawing, trying to find any discrepancies, while Andy circled the table, looking at it from all sides. Finally, Andy spoke.
"It's perfect, Thelma Lou," the sheriff declared. "Aunt Bee will never know the difference."
"Happy to help, Andy," she said with a smile.
"Alright, now all that's left is to make the switch," Andy said. "Barney, you grab the cake, and let's head over."
Barney said his goodbyes to her, then they all piled into the car.
Once at the house, Opie headed in to distract Aunt Bee again, and Barney and Andy slipped in the back to swap the cakes.
Barney had just put down the new cake and was holding the bad one in his hands, when, to their horror, they heard Aunt Bee's voice getting louder. She was coming their way!
"I'll just grab you a sandwich from the kitchen," she was saying. "A growing boy's got to eat!"
Barney and Andy froze in terror. There was nothing they could do, nowhere they could hide. They were trapped.
But to their relief, they heard Opie break in.
"Oh, no really. It's okay, Aunt Bee. I'm really not hungry. I just ate some food at Johnny Paul's house," he assured her.
"Really?" she asked. "Well, if you're sure…"
Barney and Andy let out the breaths they'd been holding as they heard her voice get farther away again. They quickly hurried out the backdoor, and were gone before Aunt Bee knew they'd even been there at all.
Barney dropped Andy off at the police station, and continued on out of town. He waited by the highway, and stopped the first car he saw that had out of state plates.
"Hello, sir," Barney said, walking up to the driver's window.
"What did I do wrong, officer?" the man asked nervously.
"Oh, nothing," Barney said cheerfully. "You were just driving so good, we thought you deserved a reward."
"Oh, no, you don't!" the man replied. "I was driving through here a few weeks ago and I was given one of your 'rewards'. Those pickles were the worst thing I've ever had the misfortune to put in my mouth! You can keep your reward. I'd rather not."
And before Barney could say another word, the man drove off at twice the speed he'd been going before. Barney just stood there dumb-struck for a moment before he scratched his head.
"Well, I'll be," he murmured before shrugging and going to wait in his car for the next passer-by. He didn't have to wait too long before another person from out of state happened by, and this time, Barney had no trouble foisting the cake off on them.
"...Happy birthday to you," Aunt Bee, Barney, and Opie finished singing to Andy as Aunt Bee brought the cake in from the kitchen and placed it in front of him.
"Blow out the candles, Pa!" Opie encouraged.
Andy smiled at them all and blew all the candles out with a single blow.
They all clapped and cheered.
"Now, let's all get a taste of this, Aunt Bee!" Andy exclaimed. "It looks so good, I don't think I can wait another second to get some in my mouth."
She smiled at him broadly, and, slicing off a generous portion, placed it in front of him before serving everyone else a piece and returning to her seat.
Barney and Opie leaned forward in their chairs and Andy looked them squarely in the eye and had a bite. He chewed slowly and then swallowed.
"De-lishous," he announced, grinning from ear to ear. "I declare, I think this here is the best marmalade cake there's ever been."
"Oh, stop it," Aunt Bee said humbly. "Really, I just whipped it up. It was nothing."
"No, no, really," Andy insisted. "This is the best gift you could have gotten me. Thank you, Aunt Bee."
She blushed, and they all dug in and ate the cake with gusto.
Andy and Barney were hanging around the police station the next afternoon, talking about the night before.
"Seriously though, Andy," Barney was saying. "If it hadn't been for your quick thinking and Thelma Lou's cooking genius, we would have been in trouble. Boy oh boy am I glad I didn't have to eat another bite of that stuff. That wasn't orange marmalade, it was petroleum jelly!"
Andy laughed. "Yes, sir, I'm glad to see the last of it too. I-" He stopped suddenly and got a curious look on his face. "Barney," he said slowly. "When we grabbed the cake, did you take the marmalade jar too?"
"Why, no, Andy," Barney said with a confused look. "I thought you had it."
They locked eyes, horror growing on each of their faces as the same terrible thought struck them both.
Just then, Aunt Bee came bustling in through the door.
"Hello, boys! I brought your lunches, and I have a treat for you!" she bubbled merrily. She placed a straw basket on the table and started to unload it. "Look! I made you both some marmalade muffins!"
Barney's jaw dropped.
"Ma-marmalade muffins?" he squeaked out.
Andy's eyes were wide.
"Oh, really, you shouldn't have," he managed.
"Oh, it was no trouble," she said brightly. "I made enough for a week's worth of lunches!"
As soon as she'd left again, Andy turned to Barney.
"Well, don't just stand there," he chided. "Call Thelma Lou. I'll get my sketch book."