Stuart "2D" Tusspot stared at the empty electric mixer, his blank gaze even more vacant than usual. Maybe this was a bad idea, he thought as he helplessly eyed the cooking implement's formidable chrome surface. I haven't even got the foggiest idea how to work one of these things.
"Eh, I can't let a tiny little thing like that stop me," he boldly stated for the benefit of the empty kitchen. "This is for mum, after all."
Steeling his courage, he dug a hand into his pocket and pulled out a folded, wrinkled piece of paper with the words "cherry pie" printed at the top. Let's see…step one: preheat oven to 350 degrees. "Well that doesn't sound too bad," he muttered. Carefully, he spun the oven dial until the number 350 sat at the very top and then grinned, pleased with his own handiwork.
That was easy, he thought. Maybe this cooking business isn't as hard as everyone says it is after all. Now for step two. He was so proud of making it through the entire first step without any major disasters that he decided to read the second step aloud, just for fun. "Combine four cups flour, two-thirds cup butter and a dash of salt until pea-sized."
Until pea-sized? What's that mean? He furrowed his brow and re-read step two in its entirety, but the cryptic phrase didn't make any more sense the second time than it had the first. He puzzled over the meaning for a few more seconds, and then shrugged and made his way over to the cupboard. Maybe it'll make more sense after I put it all together in the bowl, he thought.
But opening the cupboard only gave 2D more woe. There were shot glasses and beer steins, tea cups and wine glasses, coffee mugs and even a set of child-size plastic cups with Hello Kitty printed on them that Russell had given to Noodle for her last birthday. What kind of cup do they mean? he wondered.
"Maybe it doesn't matter," he doubtfully murmured. Deciding to leave things up to fate, he closed his eyes and chose a cup at random. When he saw the drinking vessel he had chosen, he frowned and wondered if perhaps fate knew even less about cooking than he did. He was holding a black coffee cup with small red cartoon devils printed on it. This is Murdoc's favorite cup, he thought. I'd better not use it…it might poison my pie.
That decided, he replaced the coffee mug and selected a child-size cup with a large, yellow smiley face on it. I'll use my cup, he decided. At least I know that there's nothing wrong with my own things.
Now that he had his measuring device pinned down, putting the ingredients together in the mixing bowl was an easy task. Humming to himself, he dumped the ingredients into the chrome bowl. "Hmmm…power button, power button, power button," he muttered. "Aha! Found it." Guess I want full power, to make sure it's all mixed together right.
Smiling at his own cleverness, he flipped the power switch from "off" to the highest power setting on the machine. Immediately, the blades whipped to life and a thick cloud of flour exploded into the air. The powdery cooking ingredient settled all over the counters, on the stove, on top of the refrigerator and on the floor like a thick layer of frost. It also rather unfortunately found its way into 2D's eyes.
"Ouch!" he yelped and then coughed as he inhaled a mouthful of flour. Rubbing at his stinging eyes, he blindly groped for the mixer's power switch to shut the possessed machine off. By the time he finally managed to stop the blades, he was almost completely covered with a fine layer of flour. It made him look like a strange mix between the abominable snowman and a ghost. He shook his head to get as much of the powdery stuff out of his hair as he could and then anxiously peered into the mixing bowl.
I don't see anything "pea-sized" about it, he thought, warily poking the greasy concoction he had created. The off-white colored gunk crumbled under his touch like wet sand. Well it's all mixed together, so it must be all right. Now for step three.
He dusted a film of flour off of the recipe and read the third step. Add six to eight teaspoons water. "At least that makes sense," he commented to himself. His confidence returning, he opened up the silverware drawer and dug through it in search of a spoon. Against all odds, there were no spoons to be found. There were plenty of knives, forks, chopsticks, potato peelers, meat cleavers and lighters, but no spoons of any kind at all. The closest thing that he was able to find was an ice cream scoop.
It'll be OK, he told himself as he measured out six ice cream scoopfuls of water and added them to the mix. It'll just be an extra…uh…wet pie. He used the mixer to blend the water with his greasy-sand creation, careful not to be lured into turning the evil machine on full blast again. When the blades stopped turning, he was left with a sticky, grayish blob that looked more like a lumpy brain than the makings of a tasty pastry treat.
In spite of the dough's mildly repulsive appearance, 2D decided to move on to step four. "Roll out dough to one-eighth inch thickness and transfer to a pie dish," he recited. Roll out the dough…sort of like play-dough. At the thought of the childhood toy, an epiphany occurred to him. I know exactly how to make this dough look nicer, he thought, a wide grin stretching across his face.
2D spent over ten minutes going through every drawer, cupboard, nook and cranny of the Kong kitchen to find what he was looking for. By the time he had found what he wanted, the kitchen looked like a war zone. Pots and pans were all over the floor. Bottles of various herbs and spices were scattered everywhere. A carton of broken eggs was in the sink. A smashed jar of peanut butter made a gloppy mess on the floor in front of the refrigerator. But 2D had found what he was looking for: a small box containing three bottles of food coloring.
"This'll be great," he excitedly breathed. He opened the bottle of blue coloring (Blue like my hair, he thought), dumped a generous amount onto the dough and then mixed it together with his hands. The effect was not entirely what he'd been hoping for (the dough looked closer to purple than blue and the color was blotchy), but in his own opinion, 2D thought that it looked much nicer than it had before.
The blue dough left him in such high spirits that it didn't upset him in the least when he tried and failed to find a rolling pin. Oh, who needs one of those dumb things anyways? he thought. This stuff is just like play dough. I can use my hands. And so he scooped the large, blue ball of dough into his hands and began to flatten it out between his palms.
He soon discovered that his pie dough was in fact very, very different from the child's toy. It was much stickier, and it didn't smell nearly as appetizing as the play dough had when he was four years old. (Mum never did let me have play dough after that, but was it ever worth it, he thought with a touch of nostalgia. It sure did taste good.) It reminded him more of pizza dough than of play dough.
Maybe I should try throwing it up in the air to flatten it out like those blokes on the telly. Even if it doesn't work, it'll be fun. He grinned, exposing his gapped teeth and tossed the Frisbee-shaped wad of dough high above his head. The dough spun in the air like a little blue flying saucer and wobbled unevenly, but 2D could see that the edges were beginning to spread. It's working! he excitedly thought. He was so excited he forgot to catch the dough as it fell. It landed on the flour-covered floor with a wet splat.
"Oops," he muttered and nervously bit his lip—an amazing feat for a man who has no front teeth. He darted a guilty look to his left and to his right as though to make sure that nobody was around to see his mistake, or what he was going to do to fix it. Adequately reassured, he knelt down and carefully peeled the dough off the ground. Aside from a lot of flour and a little dirt, it didn't appear to be any worse for wear. Better still, it appeared as though the tossing had done the trick: the dough looked plenty thin enough to use for his pie crust.
He dusted off as much of the excess flour as he could and said, "There. Good as—yike! How long have you been there, Noods?"
The small Japanese girl known as "Noodle" cocked her head and gave him an innocent look from her perch atop the counter. "Not very long," she replied. "What are you doing, 2D-san?"
2D shied away from the girl and self-consciously picked a bit of dirt off of the sheet of dough in his hands. From her place on top of the counter she was taller than he was, and it was a strangely disorienting feeling to have to look up instead of down to see her face. "I'm making a pie," he mumbled.
He found a pie tin on the counter and plopped the dough into it before answering, "'S for me mum. Every year she always makes a pie for the fair and wins prizes and things…." Huh, he thought as he eyed the crust in its tin. That looks like a lot more crust than I'm supposed to have. Oh well. Some people like the crust part best, so I guess that's all right.
"Can your mother not make one this year?" Noodle queried.
"Huh? Oh, sorry, Noods, I got a little distracted. So I was saying she makes a pie every year but this year she's gone to Italy for the month, which means she won't be able to make one this year so I thought that…." He trailed off a second time and furrowed his brow. Where did my recipe go? he wondered. I had it in my hand just a second ago.
"So you thought that you would make a pie and enter it in the fair for your mother," Noodle supplied. "That is very sweet, 2D-san." She frowned, noticing his perplexed look and said, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Not that I can think of right now…'cept maybe getting down off the counter." I don't know where it could have gone, but I guess that's all right. I think I can figure out the rest by myself.
Noodle sprang down from the counter and, after nearly breaking her neck by way of landing on an overturned frying pan, said, "What should you do next, 2D-san?"
"Er…." How did she do that? It's like she's a psycho or something. Er…make that a psychic. "Put…put the fruit in." I guess. "There's a bowl of cherries in the 'fridge if you want to get it for me."
Eager enough to help 2D in his cooking endeavors, Noodle picked her way around the various pots and pans that littered the floor until she reached the refrigerator. She opened the door cautiously, as though she was afraid that a wild animal might leap out and maul her—a fear that wasn't entirely without merit. The last time she had come traipsing out to the Kong kitchen to fetch a midnight snack, one of Russell's taxidermy projects had tumbled out of the freezer and cracked her squarely on the head. Once she was sure that she wasn't about to encounter any more animal corpses run amok, she peered into the refrigerator and frowned. "Anou…2D-san?"
"What is it, Noodle? What's the matter?"
Noodle gingerly plucked a large, steel bowl out of the refrigerator, wove around the mess on the floor, and wordlessly handed the bowl to 2D. The blue-haired man looked into the bowl and knotted his brow, completely confused. There was barely even a handful of cherries in it. "But…but I just bought a whole kilo of cherries yesterday," he stammered. "I know I did! Where did they all go?"
"Russell-san was eating cherries earlier," Noodle quickly replied. She put her hand in her pocket and guiltily fingered the cherry stem that she had managed to tie into a knot with her tongue several hours earlier. It's not really a lie, she reassured herself. Russell-san was eating them, too, and he ate a lot more than I did!
"Oh," he sighed. "I guess I should've hidden them." His eyes took on a glazed quality and he was quiet for so long that Noodle wondered if he was really that upset or if he was spacing out as he often tended to do when he was on an especially heavy dosage of pain killers. Finally he shrugged and said, "Oh well. I'll just use what I've got here then. It'll just give my pie character, right?"
2D dumped the cherries into the dough-lined pie tin and did his best to spread them evenly. There was barely enough fruit to cover the bottom of the pastry, but he refused to let that bring him down. Without a second thought, he began to fold the crust that hung out past the edges of the tin up and over the sadly lacking layer of cherries.
Noodle watched him work for several seconds before saying, "What are you doing now, 2D-san?"
"I'm putting the top on the pie, like I'm s'posed to," he answered as he mushed the dough together as best he could. Noodle didn't have the heart to tell him she suspected that he wasn't doing it entirely right (Isn't he supposed to make another crust to put up on the top? she wondered).
After several minutes of pinching, prodding and patting at the dough, 2D grinned and announced, "There! All done!" The…creation (for really there was no other word to describe it) that he was left with looked less like a pie and more like a large, misshapen, purple-gray egg. Humming merrily once again, he pulled open the oven and plopped the purple pastry inside.
"Well, Noods, I guess I'd better try and clean up this mess a little," he said. He took a quick, sweeping glance of the ransacked kitchen and frowned. The mess was so bad that even the thought of cleaning it all up by himself was enough to make his head ache—although there were lots of things that had that power. (Reading, going to the dentist, and a certain snarky Satanist bass player were all things that came to mind). Pulling his best sad puppy dog face, he added, "It's probably going to take me a really long time to fix everything up all by my onesie…."
Noodle shrugged and began to pick up the pots that were on the floor. This is to make up for eating the cherries earlier, she told herself as 2D exclaimed, "Thanks a lot, Noodle. You're a dear heart, you are!"
Thirty minutes later, they were sweeping up the last of the flour when there was a loud pop from inside the oven, although "pop" doesn't really give the sound justice. It was as loud as a firecracker, and as sharp as a gunshot. Noodle was so surprised that she jumped and accidentally knocked over the dustbin, sending another cloud of flour up into the air. 2D thought he even heard the sound echo back through the corridors and rooms of Kong studio. It was certainly loud enough for both of the other members of the band to hear.
Russell arrived on the scene first, sweaty, panting, and carrying a twelve gage shotgun in one hand and a half-eaten hoagie sandwich in the other. He took a quick look around the flour-dusted room, lowered the shotgun and took a bite out of his sandwich before asking of nobody in particular, "What in the hellwas that?" Upon receiving no answer to that, he directed his attention to Noodle and said, "Are you all right?" Noodle nodded and, softening his tone considerably, he added, "Get away from the window; I thought I heard a gunshot."
Before another word could be said, they heard a low, gritty voice ranting loudly and rapidly coming closer. The next second, the kitchen door flew open, smacking Russell on the back of the head and Murdoc stomped into the room. The bassist took one look around and abruptly left off his ranting to snap, "What in the name of bloody Satan happened in here?"
Russell shrugged. "I thought it was a gunshot."
"I thought it was a bomb," Noodle chimed in.
Murdoc muttered something under his breath that sounded like, "Face ache" and "those bleeding cherry bombs again."
"My pie!" 2D wailed as he looked into the oven. It appeared as though Murdoc had not been too far off the mark with his "cherry bomb" comment. The entire top of the pie had blown off and the inside of the oven was coated with a sticky mess of cherry goo and burnt crust. What had once looked vaguely like a purple egg was now little more than a mess of withered cherries and soggy crust.
Unable to see the catastrophe in the oven, Russell queried, "Hey, D, you made a pie?"
"Yeah," 2D glumly replied. Maybe it's not completely ruined after all, he thought. Maybe it still tastes all right. And it might win some award for…for creativity, at least. Brightening considerably at this idea, he grinned and said, "Want to try a piece before I take it to the fair?"
"Sure! What kind of pie did you…." Russell trailed off as 2D removed his "pie" from the oven, momentarily stunned silly at the sight of it. Finally, after he'd had a few seconds to recover, he cleared his throat and finished his question: "…did you make?"
"A cherry pie. Noodle, Muds, do you both want some, too?" The guitarist and the bassist were so horrified by the sight of the thing (much less the prospect of eating it) that they didn't answer one way or the other. 2D took their silence as a "yes" and began hunting around the kitchen for three plates and forks.
"That's a pie?" Murdoc hissed to his two band mates as 2D continued his search. "It looks like…like…I can't even come up with something disgusting enough to compare it with. But it certainly doesn't look like any bleeding pie, that's for sure."
"Maybe it tastes better than it looks," Russell doubtfully whispered back.
"Oh, don't tell me you're actually planning on eating that monstrosity! If the way it looks is any fair indication, it could be toxic enough to kill even a garbage gut like you."
Russell scowled, but decided to allow the personal dig to slide. "Look, man, D probably worked his ass off to make that thing, so the least we can do is try it."
"Well best of luck to you, then, mate. It's your own funeral. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to beat a fast exit out of here before—"
Murdoc never got to finish his sentence, because at that moment, 2D cheerily announced, "OK, it's ready! Come 'n get it!"
Looking like a lamb on its way to the slaughter, Noodle quietly walked over to the three plates of "pie." She examined each of them carefully before selecting the smallest piece. Russell gave Murdoc a menacing look and jerked his head towards the two remaining slices before picking one up for himself. Murdoc glanced longingly at the door, shot a death glare in Russell's direction and then finally snatched up the remaining plate.
For a long while the three of them stood there staring at the contents of their respective plates. Finally, mindful of 2D's eager gaze, Noodle chipped off a tiny piece of blue crust smothered in sticky cherry juice and put it in her mouth. She chewed experimentally and had to hold back a gag as the taste came to her. The crust was still mushy. It stuck to her teeth like warm, greasy caramel candy. The cherry juice itself was so sour it made her eyes tear up. With a great amount of effort, she managed to swallow the bite.
"Well, what do you think?" asked 2D, a wide grin plastered on his face.
"It's very…." Noodle racked her brain for a word to express how awful it was in the most diplomatic way possible. Finally, she said, "It's very different."
"Oh, different doesn't even begin to cover it, little sister," Russell muttered under his breath. He popped a bite into his mouth and grunted with mild discomfort as he nearly cracked his tooth on something small and hard. After a moment of hunting for the offending object with his tongue, he spit it into his hand: a cherry pit. "Uh…D? Did you take the pits out of the cherries before you put them in the pie?"
2D's grin faltered slightly. "No…was I supposed to do that? I sort of…lost…the recipe before I got to that part."
"Gee, what a surprise," grumbled Murdoc through a mouthful of the stuff. He frowned as he encountered something that definitely didn't taste or feel like a part of the crust or a part of the filling. It tasted like paper. He fished the foreign object out of his mouth and discovered that it was in fact a scrap of paper. Even though it was covered with purple-blue dough and the writing was badly smeared, he could still make out the words "cherry pie" printed on it. Oh hell, he lost the damn recipe and I just found it, he thought. I'm not taking another bite of this bio waste hazard.
"What's the matter, Murdoc? Is something wrong with your pie?" 2D queried.
Murdoc sighed. "Look, 2D, I'm going to try and say this as nicely as I can." He paused as though searching for the right words and then went on with, "Oh, bugger that. You want the truth, brain ache? I'll give you the straight and narrow. That…thing…you made is possibly—no, scratch that—it is the worstthing I have ever tasted in my entire life."
"Hey, man, try and show a little respect for once," Russell growled.
"Respect? Who, exactly do you think deserves respect here, Russ? I'll tell you who I think deserves a little respect: us! That's right; we deserve respect for trying to eat this…this schlock."
2D's face fell. "You don't like it?" he sadly queried.
"Quite frankly, face ache, I think a trained seal could have done better."
"Oh." 2D dropped his gaze to the ground. "O-OK…I guess…I guess I'll just go to…to my room then and…and play Pong or…or…." He trailed off and slunk out of the messy kitchen without looking any of his band mates in the face.
Noodle, Russell and Murdoc all listened to 2D's footsteps slowly retreating down the hall. When they had faded away, Noodle quietly said, "That was a mean thing to do, Murdoc-san. He was making the pie for his mother."
"Well it's a good thing I beat some sense into that pea brain of his then. I probably saved the poor old bird's life," the bassist replied with a shrug. "Honestly, anybody could have done a better job than he did."
Russell raised his eyebrows. "Oh, really? Anybody?" He gave Murdoc a pointed look.
"What in the…? Oh-ho-ho no. I know exactly where you're going with that and I have four words for you: over my dead body."
"That can be arranged," Russell darkly answered. "You want another broken nose?"
Murdoc opened his mouth and closed it like a fish before stammering, "Are you…you're not serious."
The large American man's only answer was to crack his knuckles in a very menacing fashion.
The following morning….
BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM!
2D groaned miserably and buried his head under his pillow, trying to block out the banging on his door. He'd had a particularly bad round of insomnia the night before and the sleeping pills he'd taken still hadn't worn off. Besides that, it was early—hours before he would wake up if left to his own devices.
Noodle's thickly accented voice drifted to his ears, muffled by the door. "2D-san, wake up! You need to wake up now!"
The blue-haired man sighed and clumsily rolled out of bed. I'll just see what she wants and go right back to sleep, he thought as he pulled a pair of jeans on over his briefs. He stumbled across the room, opened the door, and yawned, "What is it, Noods? What's going on?"
"Please get dressed quickly, 2D-san. If we don't leave soon, we won't make it to the fair in time to enter your pie."
"Enter my…." 2D trailed off and yawned again before sternly saying, "That's not funny, Noodle. You know I can't take that thing to the fair."
Noodle sighed and crossed her arms. "Yes, you can. You have to!"
"But…but Murdoc said that it was rubbish."
"Well, he was wrong. It…changed overnight. Come and see it if you don't believe me."
2D sighed, but plucked the first shirt he found up of the floor, threw it on over his head and followed Noodle to the kitchen. When he arrived, he was very surprised to see that the pie had indeed changed. It no longer looked like the broken remains of an ugly, misshapen egg. Instead, it looked like a beautifully made pie with three perfect, triangular pieces removed. Just the sight of the thick, syrupy filling made his mouth water. The only thing to indicate that it was indeed the same pie from the previous day was the fact that the crust was a strange shade of gray-blue.
"What?" he whispered. He approached the pastry as though he was afraid it might explode in his face. "How did…?"
"The pie fairy came last night and fixed it," Russell briskly explained as he entered the kitchen.
2D and Noodle both repeated, "The pie fairy?" but both said the words with a distinctly different tone. 2D sounded confused and slightly awed. Noodle sounded as though Russell had just said the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard.
"Yes, the pie fairy," Russell solemnly replied. "I saw her come in last night. She was this little lady about…oh, this big—" (He held his hands up to indicate a height of about six inches) "—with big blue wings, curly yellow hair and a cute little magic wand."
There was a long silence as 2D and Noodle digested everything he had said. Finally, 2D said, "Now, Russ, that's just silly. Everybody knows the pie fairy has glowing silver wings, not blue."
Russell raised his eyebrows and replied, "Uh…well, the lights were off, so I couldn't really see what color the uh…the wings were. Anyways, that's not the point. The point is that we need to get this pie to the fair before the entry deadline, so let's get moving."
Seemingly satisfied with this explanation, 2D happily scooped up his pie and walked out of the kitchen with Noodle and Russell right behind him. As they were all piling into the Geep, 2D frowned and said, "Wait; where's Murdoc? Doesn't he want to come, too?"
Noodle glanced over her shoulder and gave the Winnebago an uncomfortable look. "I think that he would rather sleep," she answered.
"Oh. OK. Let's go then!"
Russell popped the keys into the ignition and the Geep roared to life. A few seconds later, the three rolled out of the car park and onto the street. Meanwhile, Murdoc lay in his Winnebago, listening to the Geep's motor die away in the distance and silently plotting his revenge. I'll get you for this someday Russell, he thought. Not today, not tomorrow, but someday. He sighed and irritably looked down to his hands, which were tinted an ugly shade of gray-blue. All that flour and blue dye crap is never going to come out from under my fingernails….
Author's Notes: Somebody challenged me to write a "wholesome story" and oddly enough, I chose to write it about Gorillaz. Some of this story is based on actual events, some of it is not. Yes, pies really can explode in the oven if they're not made right. It's happened to me. I may write a more serious Gorillaz piece or I may not. I've got an idea swimming around in my head for one, so we'll see. Reviews are much appreciated.